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  • Writer's pictureMona Shah

Oakland Urban Hike

Since the pandemic started MoJo upped our hiking game. But one can get bored of stunning vistas and soaring redwoods, no? The beautiful rolling green hills and babbling creeks started to get monotonous.

So, we have resorted to Urban hikes. This 81/2 miler is an exploration of some of our fav haunts in Oakland. I would suggest you add each bolded entry into google maps, and it will give you a nice walking loop to follow.

As you know, we love dining in Oakland, it’s an incredible place to eat. I’ll list some of my favs at the very end, so make sure you scroll all the way down.

Start at the imposing Alameda County Courthouse. The courthouse is a fine example of WPA Moderne (aka “Greco Deco”). Pay particular attention to the low relief eagle on top of the entrance, and the metalwork on the balcony railings and elevator doors. The ornamentation is understated, but it is there. The base is granite, and the tower is exposed concrete with terra cotta ornament (also typical of the style and period).

The most striking features are in the lobby: two 10′×30′ marble mosaics, backed with gold and silver leaf. “Exploration” depicts the Native American and Hispanic history of Alameda County, while “Settling of California” depicts the settlement of the area by frontier settlers.” A caption in the bottom left corner says “WPA Federal Arts Project 1938 – artist Marian SimpsonGaetano Duccini architect.”

Next walk towards Downtown Oakland. Downtown is eclectic and diverse with Victorian and Art Deco storefronts. Some of my favorite things to see are, cool shops like Umami (selling Japanese barware), Oaklandish, and art pioneer Joyce Gordon Gallery. Downtown is peppered with architectural marvels: the African American Museum and Library in a 1902 Carnegie; the Pardee Home, dating back to 1868; and the Rotunda Building, a massive elliptical dome in the heart of the district.

Preservation Park. Occupying two blocks in the heart of downtown Oakland, it’s a Victorian neighborhood, beautiful historic residences, some of which have been transformed to offices and a wedding venue.

Uptown. With theaters like the Fox and Paramount, Oakland's Uptown district has long been a destination for entertainment. Beautiful art deco buildings house some cool one of a kind stores—great for clothes that no one else can replicate! I shop here a lot. Now the neighborhood, which hugs the main drags of Telegraph Avenue and Broadway, roughly spanning 17th Street to West Grand, has experienced a resurgence, with the proliferation of breweries, bars, and a diverse selection of restaurants. We usually stop at Brown Sugar Kitchen for its unbelievable biscuits.

Tour a huge sampling of the murals, including the Bernie Meme Mural on 27th and Broadway, as you make your way towards….

Piedmont Downtown—flowers shops, restaurants and lots of specialty shops. This is a great place to take a short break and window shop. Have coffee: Timeless, our fav! Or ice-cream: at Fenton’s or if you are vegan/dairy free: Mr.Dewie's Cashew Creamery.

A slight detour will serve you well: to the Marcom Rose Garden with its grand staircase, if you happen to go around the time the roses are in full bloom.

Lake Merritt via Grand to check out some new neighborhoods and great one of a kind homes and their beautiful gardens.

Loop around Lake Merritt. A unique lake with both freshwater and salt water. It is the largest lake of its kind in an urban area and home to large breeding populations of herons, egrets, geese and ducks, is the oldest wildlife refuge on North America. Countless migratory birds make the lake their home during the winter months. There is so much to do here: walk around the lake, hang out on the green, Rotary Nature Center, Kayaks for rent at the Lake Merritt Boating Center, rent a Gondola for a romantic cruise down the lake, visit the Main or Lakeview Library, Children's Fairyland.


· Friends & Family: This explicitly women-led bar brings good food and craft cocktails — both classic and creative in a cozy, soft-lit space full of antique touches, from the glassware to the table toppers.

· Kingston 11 Cuisine: Chef Nigel Jones’s Jamaican specialties remaining a draw after nearly a decade.

· Viridian: If you know Joe, you know he is a sucker for dessert. This stylish, cinematic space with Asian-inflected sweets — boasts a dessert menu that’s twice as long as its dim sum menu.

· Shawarmaji: Jordanian-style chicken shawarma shop serving a menu of halal meat-packed wraps, loaded fries, and salads. His garlicky toum sauce so popular he sells it by the tub.

· Little Giant Ice Cream: Some standouts, Coconauts (a coconut milk base stracciatella) or the Beez Cheez (honey, goat cheese, and black pepper). They have ice-cream of dogs too!

· Fenton’s of course!

· Xolo: Mexican taqueria, with all the regular tacos/burritos. They have a great vegan pozole.

· Duende: Basque and Catalan cuisine, we come here when we miss Barcelona’s fried fava beans and patatas bravas

· Parlour Restaurant: for its pizzas and homemade bread

· Champa Garden: small in a residential area, but the best Laotian, Thai, and Vietnamese

· Nyum Bai should be on your personal hit list: incredible Cambodian dishes like stir-fried rice noodles

· Burma Superstar: the original, the best

· Bakesale Betty’s: the best fried chicken sandwich

· Drakes Dealership-beer tasting and great noshes

· Mua- open atmosphere, eclectic décor, art events and delicious food.

Vegetarian and Vegan

  1. Souley Vegan (Jack London Square)

  2. Barney Burgers in Piedmont (also my fab neighborhood to hang out)

  3. Millennium (my fav special occasion spot) also in Richmond, which is a great downtown with many other fab spots

  4. Golden Lotus in Chinatown

  5. Two Mammas (great for lunch takeout)

  6. Vegan Mob (bbq if you like that)

  7. Shangrila on telegraph is great. Pieology is another fav there and Burma superstar

  8. Well Organic also on telegraph

  9. Lion Dance….open for takeout (near lake Merritt)….fab Singaporean food.


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