If you’ve heard the buzz that Oakland is hotter than ever and want to cross the bridge and check out San Francisco’s cool-kid neighbor for yourself, start by spending an afternoon around Temescal Alley in North Oakland. The village-within-a-village is a microcosm of everything that’s put the East Bay city on the map of late.
Over the past decade, the once-neglected neighborhood of Temescal has become a hotbed for artists, chefs, designers and indie shopkeepers, many of whom have set up shop in a pedestrian alley that once housed stables for horse-drawn trolleys in the early 1900s. The area is sunny, with charming bungalows, plenty of ethnic restaurants, shady trees and an overall community vibe. On the first Friday evening of the month, the neighborhood breaks out into a block party with extended shopping hours, live music, art exhibits and food. From San Francisco, BART trains will take you to the nearby MacArthur and Rockridge stations.
Temescal is home to a wildly successful Sunday farmers market and an up-and-coming food scene. Join the line for Bakesale Betty’s fried chicken sandwich, named one of the nation’s best by Food and Wine magazine.
Find out why locals obsess over Doughnut Dolly, where the organic treats are filled with Naughty Cream (crème fraiche and vanilla bean) and pluot jam and made by the daughter of a former longtime Chez Panisse pastry chef.
Pizzaiolo draws crowds with its with wood-fired pizzas and uncompromising commitment to the farm-to-table philosophy. Dinner or brunch on the festive patio at Doña Tomás feels like a trip to Mexico City, and Cholita Linda’s tacos, filled with crispy fish, slow-braised pork or seasoned tofu, are some of the Bay Area’s favorite. If you’re in need of a liquid caffeine fix, grab a pour-over coffee or cold-brew from the tap at the petite CRO Cafe.
Many of the shops in Temescal Alley incorporate artist studios where the merchandise is made onsite. Desert-chic boutique Esqueleto carries handmade fine jewelry with an organic feel by indie designers including Rebecca Overmann and Satomi Kawakita, plus designs made on location by shop owner Lauren Wolf.
You can shop for obsessively curated, mostly American-made menswear at Standard & Strange or build your own West Coast urban uniform at Ali Golden, stocking hand-sewn, light and minimalist dresses, totes and separates.
Around the corner, sift through an eclectic collection of vinyl records at Stranded. Crimson Horticultural Rarities, purveyor of succulents, air plants and terrariums, is also a destination for taxidermy and locally made candles and soaps. Most days at tiny Marisa Mason you’ll see the jewelry-designer at her workbench, creating edgy, beach-inspired designs.