Big Flavors in the Little Neighborhood
Story and Photos by Meredith Pakier
North Oakland’s Temescal district has no shortage of notable restaurants and bars. It’s also where I’ve been lucky enough to live for the past six years, curating a list of reliable favorites. When I want to stay close to home, here are the restaurants and bars I visit most often.
I love the breakfast menu at Alem’s Coffee, but I have a soft spot for their shihan ful. The Eritrean cafe’s vegetarian stew stars ground fava beans, tomatoes, and jalapeños in a comforting olive oil–rich broth spiced with the lingering heat of berbere. It comes with two crusty bread rolls, crucial for sopping up every last drop. 5353 Claremont Avenue
FOB Kitchen serves up craveable Filipino fare from their restaurant tucked inside one of the neighborhood’s mini strip malls. Feast on classics like pork adobo or the daing na bangus, a whole, butterflied milkfish that’s flaky and tender. No visit to FOB Kitchen should go without the ensalada talong, an umami-laden union of diced eggplant, jicama, tomato, seabean, and rice crackers tossed in a soy vinaigrette. 5179 Telegraph Avenue
Come for the beer but stay for the snacks at Roses’ Taproom. Choose your own adventure from among their curated selection of tinned fish, cheese, charcuterie, and accoutrement. Plates arrive with generous slices of bread from local darling the Midwife & the Baker. My personal favorites include the pork terrine, red pepper caponata, and boquerones. 4930 Telegraph Avenue
Former pop-up Ok’s Deli recently opened their permanent brick-and-mortar to sling towering sandwiches stacked with creative spins on Asian American flavors. Case in point––the Spam Mi, a twist on banh mi starring Ok’s house-made version of the canned meat. Made with pork shoulder, ham, garlic, and ginger and molded into the signature slab, this fresh interpretation shines against the vinegary bite of pickled daikon and carrot. 3932 Telegraph Avenue
The Lede has something for every mood. Sip cocktails al fresco during aperitivo hour and snack on small, seasonal bites like Stepladder Creamery chèvre with black mission figs. Still peckish? Order the hot dog piled high with sauerkraut tucked into a soft pretzel bun, and be sure to order it “shot dog” style with a beer and a shot of mezcal if you’re feeling frisky. Unfortunately, the Lede will be closing its doors on December 2, so take advantage of their wonderful menu and ambience while you still can. 308 41st Street
Don’t let the playful disco vibe at Daytrip fool you, the food is seriously good. The bar features lively wines from small producers and the fermentation-driven menu is punchy with unique options like housemade pasta coated in Shared Cultures urfa miso and peppered with kelp pearls. The celery salad—dressed with lemon verbena chlorophyll with a zing of habanero and a heaping mound of salty, savory Sardinian sheep’s milk cheese—is a must-have. 4316 Telegraph Avenue ♦
When Meredith Pakier is not writing as part of the Market Hall Foods marketing and communications team, she’s hiking with her dog, Nico, and dreaming about starting a garden.