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Eat List Oakland 2019

The 9 best restaurants in Oakland to try right now

The best restaurants in Oakland reflect the city's rich diversity with authentic Mexican, Asian and African on the list

By Virginia Miller

Oakland is a hotbed of diverse cuisines and cultures, which means the best restaurants in Oakland run the gamut from Montreal bagels and modern Oaxacan fare to Asian fusion and authentic Ethiopian. From the nationally lauded Cambodian cuisine and taco trucks on Fruitvale Avenue to the high-end Italian and tapas on Piedmont Avenue, Oakland is a city where you can travel the world from the dinner table. When you're full, head to Jack London Square to find some of the best waterfront wineries in the Bay Area. 

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Best restaurants in Oakland

Fried Chicken, Nyum Bai
Photograph: Flickr/Thomas Hawk

1. Nyum Bai

Chef Nite Yun brings her fresh take on Cambodian cuisine to Fruitvale. Served in a tiny, sunny space, try her comforting rice dishes (like the koh with carmelized pork belly), a crispy catfish and green mango salad and the popular fried chicken with ginger sauce.

Photograph: Courtesy Dyafa

2. Dyafa

Restaurants Oakland

James Beard Award semifinalist Reem Assil (her first restaurant, Reem’s, can be found at the Fruitvale BART station) brings her modern Palestinian-Syrian cooking to Jack London Square. Dine on Arabic breads like kohbz chickpea “pancakes” and mana’eesh bread with traditional mezze spreads like muhammara (roasted red pepper, pomegranate, walnut dip) or hummus kawarma topped with tender spiced lamb and dried lime.

Zachary's Chicago Pizza
Photograph: Flickr/Tess Dixon

3. Zachary’s Chicago Pizza

Legendary Zachary’s has been an employee-owned co-op and East Bay institution since 1983. For over 35 years, the original Rockridge location in Oakland has turned out killer deep dish,  stuffed and half-baked pizzas. 

Homestead, Oakland
Photograph: Courtesy Homestead

4. Homestead

The glowing hearthfire of Piedmont Avenue’s Homestead has been drawing diners since 2013. A thoughtful wine list, warm bread, friendly service and a cozy vibe draw in regulars for dishes like grilled duck breast with mission figs and linguine alla chitarra with chanterelles. 

Commis Oakland
Photograph: Flickr/Thomas Hawk

5. Commis

Restaurants Californian Oakland

Oakland's only Michelin-starred restaurant offers eight innovative courses for $175. In the kitchen, Chef James Syhabout pairs well-sourced, local ingredients with precise technique to create his sophisticated nightly tasting menu.

6. Agave Uptown

Restaurants Mexican Oakland

Chef Octavio Diaz is at the helm of this bright Mezican food and mescal destination where you’ll find classic Oaxacan dishes like tlayudas (often dubbed Oaxacan pizza) or the 20-ingredient mole negro (made from Diaz’ family recipe). Get schooled on flights of tequila and mezcal, served with sal de gusano (worm salt), of course. 

Cafe Colucci
Photograph: Flickr/mary

7. Cafe Colucci

Restaurants Oakland

Café Colucci serves hearty Ethiopian grains and legumes in a humble, heartwarming setting. Chef Fetlework Tefferi sources custom blended spices and ingredients directly from Ethiopia. Their injera (spongy bread from teff grain) is exemplary, a base for scooping up dishes like buticha (chickpea, garlic, onions, jalapeno, olive oil), gomen (collard greens) or tibs (chicken, shrimp, beef or eggplant sautéed with onions, rosemary, garlic).

alaMar nachos
Photograph: Flickr/Thomas Hawk

8. alaMar

Restaurants Seafood Oakland

alaMar is a seafood-centric, modern restaurant in Uptown Oakland. Dominican-American chef Nelson German serves seafood boils featuring everything from PEI mussels to Alaskan snow crab, alongside Dominican rice bowls, Cajun oyster shooters, crawfish tacos and lemon pepper waffle fries. Raw oysters, crushable cocktails and outdoor seating make it a neighborhood favorite.

Teni East Kitchen
Photograph: Courtesy Teni East Kitchen

9. Teni East Kitchen

Temescal’s Teni East Kitchen is an only-in-Oakland Asian fusion spot pulling heavily on Myanmar and Burmese influences with touches of Southeast Asia, India and owner Tiyo Shibabaw’s native Ethiopia. The sparce, wood-lined space turns out roti with curry, kale tea leaf salad and coconut shrimp curry. House signatures, like a crisp pea shoot salad laden with peanuts, shallots, chickpeas, garlic and lime, steal the show.

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