Friday, December 26, 2008

favorite restaurants this year

yesterday i spent a good ten minutes talking up oakland to someone who thought that it was pretty much one big homicide scene. yes, there are LOTS of problems in oakland- i know. i literally heard someone get shot and killed on the block behind me this year, so i get it. but, even so, oakland is an amazing place to live and i'm glad i live here. maybe i'll do a list about that now that i think about it...i digress. one of the great things about oakland, and one of my talking points in yesterday's pro-oaktown convo, are the many delicious and diverse restaurants. this entry is kind of oakland centric, so apologies to my out of town friends. (although perhaps the list will entice you to come visit me)

so, matt and i hit some new spots and stuck to some old favs this year...we disagree on some, but i'll throw them all in there in no particular order:
  • bakesale betty- the best fried chicken sandwich you have ever had. glorious. there seemed to be a dip in quality control a few months back; i think they were trying to make too many every day and the sandwiches took a bit of a hit, but lately they seem to be back and just as good as they ever were. one of the highlights of waiting in line? you always get free treats: cookies, fresh lemon or strawberry icees, or strawberry shortcake. they hand them out constantly so you can pretty much bet on getting lots of extra sugary goodness to top off your already calorie-laden meal.
  • vientian- this lao thai cambodian restaurant is a couple of blocks away from our house and is cheap and really good. somehow i always forget about it, and then i go there and it's fabulous, and i get out of there with leftovers and change from a ten dollar bill.
  • camino-matt loves this spot on grand avenue. we've gone twice, once just the two of us and once with our friends geoff and francesca. here's why matt likes it: not many options. they make seasonal, fresh, local stuff, and they make it well. here's why i don't like it quite as much: not many options. since i am not that into the taste of creatures that dwell in the sea, and the menu seems seafood heavy, i am limited to maybe one or two things. also, the drinks are in glasses the size of a thimble and cost $10 and up. hello, i am not one of the littles. and when we went with francesca, the waiters were constantly bugging her to see if she was done with her labor-intensive crab salad. attentive servers are nice, but it was a little overkill. i do love the vibe and decor-old church pews with hymnal holders still intact and huge simple chandeliers that look like they're out of an old monastary. and the food i've had there is delicious. (the mint ice milk with pomegranate seeds that a waiter recommended sounded random but was a revelation.) but there's no way you can get much of anything with a ten dollar bill there, so keep that in mind...
  • pizzaiolo- hands down matt's favorite. consistently great food. plus they have a great breakfast option of toast, jam, and coffee or tea. it's a great place to spend the morning if you have work to do. grab a big table, drink up, and don't feel an ounce of guilt as you linger for hours.
  • barneys- ok, so this spot is soooo not on matt's list, but i love their steak fries. love. also gregoire's potato puffs of goodness are worth a trip in and of themselves. and rouge's burger and fries are sensational.
  • chez panisse cafeour friends christie and nick treated us to lunch here when little m was just an itty bitty thing, and it was so good. we've never gone to the actual downstairs superfancypants restaurant, but our very generous and thoughtful friends got us a gift certificate as a christmas gift so i can't wait!!!!!!! foodie mecca, here we come. i'm sure it will make next year's list.
  • mi pueblo- the mexican supermarket down the street has, in my opinion but not matt's, the BEST carne asada burritos and chips in oakland. hello, for a couple of bucks you are well satiated for the next two days. i'm guessing, but matt would probably pick the taco truck on the corner of foothill and 38th for tacos, and taquieria san jose for burritos. and we are no strangers to the taco bell on the corner of 35th and macarthur. hey, late at night with a newborn? crunchy taco supreme or bean burrito anyone? sometimes you've gotta make a run for the border, that's all i'm saying.
  • incanto- we went here - the only non-oakland restaurant on the list so far- with our friends steve and renetta. there were a few mis-steps, but i had bay leaf panna cotta for dessert and it rocked my world like nobody's business. um, wow. i only got it because ren raved about it (bay leaf??? sounded weird), but after eating it, i think i would go eat dinner and have only that as my entree. 
i know matt will remind me of a few more, so perhaps there will be a part deux. we'll see. but all i know is i did a lot of eating in 2008; here's to fewer calories in 2009?


  1. here are my two cents on the two resurants I know from your list....I'm neither here nor there on Barneys. Decent but nothing to write home about (ok that's not much of a comment). Bake sale betties on the other hand is amazing. Before I gave up meat I loved that fried chick sand. The egg salad is my choice now and it is amazing too. Bettie her self always comes from around the counter to great us when we come in on duty (in uniform) offers a big thanks for our work (even though she is not in our Piedmont distrct) and sends us on our way with a lite bill free cookies and often a free pie! An entire pie! Not to mention we would still to there if we paid full price. Maybe Its just selfish but I really dig buisnesses who suport local fire/police/ems folk. I try to put a plug in for local entrapanures like bettie when I can so here is my support of her being on your list.

  2. Oops... That was suppsed to be "Betty". Hooked on fonix destroyed my sense of letter sounds and spelling, ironicly.

  3. so love barneys - whenever - unfortunately my expanding waist band might not quite agree.

    need to get to camino. k and i have tried a couple times and never made it.

    i also love le cheval, phnom peng and los compadres. think i'll post my own list too.


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