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The Oakland 100: 50-82

Edited by Sara Deseran | May 22, 2014 | Story

Editor's Note: This is one of many dispatches from Oakland that San Francisco is publishing over the next month, all part of our June "Oakland Issue." To see the rest of the issue's contents, and to read stories as they become available online, click here.

50-53. The Bagel Boomlet

Jason and Mark Scott, the brothers behind the Authentic Bagel Company (463 2nd St.), make their new York–style bagels with a sourdough starter, bringing the east and West Coasts together in chewy, crusty harmony. A storefront expansion is in the works. The specimens at Beauty’s Bagel Shop (3838 Telegraph Ave.) are made in the Montreal tradition—boiled in honey-sweetened water and baked in a wood-fired oven—but owners Blake Joffe and Amy Remsen also season the dough with salt and proof it for 24 hours. The result? A bagel that’s 100 percent Oakland. Dan Graf at Baron Baking experimented for six months before discovering the secret to his richly flavored, crusty creations: a double-stage fermentation and a bit of lye in the poaching water. Graf lacks a storefront but has outposts—including the excellent Stag’s Lunchette (362 17th St.). —R.F.M.

54-57. Uptown Bar-Food Hopping
Thanks to the continued revitalization of the neighborhood north of 14th Street along the Broadway and Telegraph arterials, these few square blocks are now the best place in the city to get a craft cocktail and food to go with it. Consider this your itinerary. —E.C.

Bar Dogwood (1644 Telegraph Ave.)
To eat: Grilled cheese with whiskey-bacon chutney ($7)
To drink: the Bee's Knees, $9 (gin, honey, and lemon)

Make Westing (1741 Telegraph Ave.)
To eat: Braised oxtail sandwich with bourbon-glazed onions and horseradish aioli ($13)
To drink: Buffala Negra, $8 (rye, balsamic syrup, basil, and ginger beer)

Fauna (1900 Telegraph Ave.)
To eat: Burrata cheese toast ($7)
To drink: Dial D for Derby, $8 (bourbon, grapefruit, and cofee-honey syrup)

Plum Bar (2214 Broadway)
To eat: Pork rillette sandwich with coleslaw ($13)
To drink: Ember, $12 (bourbon, Campari, sweet vermouth, and sassafras bitters)

58-59. Body-Conscious Soul Food
Where in the world is there more than one health-obsessed, environmentally friendly soul food restaurant? You guessed it. At Souley Vegan (301 Broadway St.), Tamearra Dyson serves southern-fried tofu, black-eyed peas, and okra gumbo that lack animal fats but not flavor. Meanwhile, the year-old Grease Box (942 Stanford Ave.), run by South Louisiana native (and celiac disease sufferer) Lizzy Boelter, proves that gluten-free (not to mention locally and sustainably sourced) southern food can include fried chicken made with a blend of chickpea- and millet-flour batter. But don’t miss out on the 12-hour-smoked Texas-style brisket, either. —E.C.

60. Empire Builder: James Syhabout
Chef-Owner, Commis, Hawker Fare, and Box and Bells
Q: When it comes to opening a restaurant, how does Oakland compare with San Francisco? “You feel like it’s much less of a risk. It promotes people to kind of stick with the original plan. You just do it. You don’t think about the what-ifs, per se.”

61. Key Players: The Bread Bakers
“We wanted to do it from day one,” Fred and Elizabeth Sassen of Homestead (4029 Piedmont Ave.) say of the burgeoning bread program that they kicked off in their quintessential neighborhood restaurant almost a year ago. The entire kitchen crew have a hand in the dough’s four-day production process. With their help, the Sassens produce outstanding loaves of sourdough and rye, along with Parker House rolls so tender that they all but dissolve on the tongue. It didn’t take long for customers to request take-home loaves, which the Sassens now sell for $7 a pop. And woe to those who underestimate the bread’s olfactory power over innocent passersby: “We sell more bread in the morning, as it’s coming out of the oven, than at night,” Fred says. —R.F.M.

62. Alterna-Order: Eisbein at Brotzeit
Brotzeit Lokal (1000 Embarcadero) is as popular for its waterfront views as for its assorted wursts on a roll. But the best thing on the menu isn’t a sausage at all: Brotzeit’s eisbein ($45), a dish best split among four or five carnivores, features a prehistoric-size pork trotter that has been brined, slow-braised, and smoked. —L.T.

63. Key Player: Doug Washington’s Grand Idea
“I’ve been wanting to do Oakland for so long,” says Doug Washington of Grand Market (3265 Grand Ave.), the restaurant-cum-marketplace that he and his wife, Freya Prowe, plan to open this fall. The longtime San Francisco restaurateur behind places like Town Hall and Salt House is using London’s Ottolenghi as inspiration. The 3,500-square-foot space—currently only home to Washington’s Grand Fare café—will sell prepared foods, all made in-house and of the farm-to-table variety (although he admits, “I hate that term”). There will also be the requisite soft-serve ice cream, not to mention locally made breads. “Charlie Hallowell and I are talking about building a bakery for him. His bread is the best!” he says. While a sprawling gourmet market seems a little dreamy, Washington is ready to put down roots in a town where he’s long been a resident. “The neighborhood is young and exciting.” He can’t wait. —R.F.M.

64. Empire Builder: Jon Smulewitz
Chef-Owner, Dopo and Adesso
Q: How would you describe Oakland dinners?
“A big Sicilian family. And it’s a little dysfunctional for the same reason—too many passionate people over-flowing with strong feelings. It causes friction but sparks creativity.”

65-68. Where the Ferry Building Got Its Inspiration
Newcomers take it for granted, but old-timers know that the Rockridge Market Hall (5655 College Ave.) was on the culinary cut-ting edge when it first opened. The brainchild of the Wilson siblings (Sara, Peter, and Tony)—the owners of the Pasta Shop—it was modeled after a European marketplace. Today, with Paul Marcus Wines, Hapuku Fish Shop, the welcome addition of Marin Sun Farms butcher (which joined four years back), and more, it’s still a one-stop shop for locals looking to pick up fancy olive oil and great cheese, or cook up something special. More impressive? Twenty-seven years into it, in this dog-eat-dog foodie world, the Market Hall is still completely relevant. —S.D.

69-82. Women (Like, a Lot) Are Cooking Here
An argument can be made that the city’s relatively affordable rents and programs designed to help small businesses get off the ground make it an ideal place for women wanting to incubate intimate restaurants. Whatever it is, Oakland’s burgeoning restaurant scene is flush with chefs of the female persuasion. In Old Oakland, Dominica Rice cooks farm-to-table Mexican fare at Cosecha in the same building where Caribbean soul food comes courtesy of Sarah Kirnon of Miss Ollie’s. At Jack London Square, Silvia McCollow of Nido serves rustic Mexican dishes, and Lacey Sher of Encuentro offers modern vegetarian bites. Meanwhile, in uptown, the fresh sensibilities of Kim Alter are apparent at Daniel Patterson’s Plum, Sophina Uong puts a contemporary spin on southern food at Picán, and Lexi Filipello slings hella good sandwiches at Stag’s Lunchette. Over in Temescal, Julya Shin shines at Charlie Hallowell’s Pizzaiolo, Preeti Mistry draws diners for her mod Indian-American menu mashup at Juhu Beach Club, and Vanessa Chavez, a farmers’ market favorite for her fish tacos, just opened Cholita Linda. Holding down the fort on the west side, Tanya Holland, whose fried chicken and cornmeal waffles have a cult following at Brown Sugar Kitchen, brings her style to B-Side BBQ, where she makes a mean smoked brisket, too. Then there are chefs Elizabeth Hopkins of Homestead on Piedmont Avenue and Melissa Axelrod of Mockingbird on San Pablo. And look for more women to join the migration to Oakland’s culinary scene. Coming soon: Romney Steele’s The Cook and Her Farmer and Abeni Ramsey’s Township. Stay tuned. —Sarah Henry

1-11: The case for soulful food; Josh Sens's top 10
12-24: Fancified doughnuts; the 1 a.m. hoagie guy; so many taco trucks
25-49: Walking Chinatown; urban winetopia; a farmer's market picnic
50-82: The bagel boomlet; Uptown bar-food hopping; healthy soul food
83-100: Fried chicken sandwiches; gourmet shops; roasters to buzz about

Originally published in the June issue of San Francisco.

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