Oakland day trip: Temescal

This neighborhood is the East Bay's new Gourmet Ghetto
Josh Sens

Why go now: Restaurant openings keep building the buzz in the East Bay’s other Gourmet Ghetto (Berkeley’s is so last decade).

What’s so gourmet about it: Wave after wave of culinary types have moved into this rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, where home prices quintupled from 1995 to 2005.

Local transport: Skateboards, fixed-gear bikes, jogging strollers.

Graze anatomy: Within a few blocks on Temescal’s main strip, Telegraph Avenue, diners can progress from Morocco to Italy, Burma, Korea, and East Africa.

Number of fried chicken sandwiches Bakesale Betty can sell on a Saturday: 1,100―but the bakery’s regulars are lining up for the new brisket sandwich, layered with caramelized onion, arugula, horseradish cream, and, yes, crushed potato chips ($; 5098 Telegraph Ave.; 510/985-1213).

Vintage Oakland: Marc 49 (4915 Telegraph; 510/652-2100) has filled the need for a wine bar. Check out its off-street patio.

The buck pops here: One dollar gets you into the Wine Mine’s weekly tastings (2–5 Sat; 5427 Telegraph; 510/547-9463), which have the upbeat mood of a block party.

Done nibbling? 3 ways to work it off

Climb it off

Hoof it up the Claremont Path in Oakland’s Upper Rockridge, from Brookside Avenue (just off the Broadway exit of State 24) into a cluster of ooh-la-la homes. Turn left on Ocean View Drive, then right on West Lane for sparkling views.

Jog it off

In a eucalyptus grove just south of UC Berkeley, the Golden Bear Track has a sylvan setting. Circle the oval, enjoying bay breezes and sweeping vistas of the Golden Gate. Open to public when not in use for university events; calbears.berkeley.edu

Bike it off

A scenic stretch of the Bay Trail runs along the waterfront from Marina Park in Emeryville to the Berkeley Marina. It’s an easy 7-mile roundtrip, but if you still have energy to burn, you can continue as far as Point Richmond. baytrail.org

 

1. Where the neighbors meet and greet

The Temescal Farmers’ Market is ground zero for gourmands, and Chez Panisse alum Joel Baecker bakes its best new grub―beautifully blistered pizzas―in his portable wood-burning oven. He tops the 9-inch pies (from $8) with spring onions, mushrooms―whatever’s at its peak. The most satisfying item never changes: breakfast pizza ($10), a cheese pie brightened by a sunny-side-up egg. 9–1 Sun; 5300 Claremont Ave.; urbanvillageonline.com

2. Morning hangout

Doughnuts are the new breakfast of choice since Pizzaiolo―better known for what Chez Panisse alum Charlie Hallowell does at dinnertime―started offering morning counter service. Stone fruit turnovers and apple spice beignets round out the super-short menu. The updated Tuscan farmhouse–style dining room is full of people happy for the Wi-Fi, plus the Blue Bottle espresso drinks to get them wired. Closed Sun; 5008 Telegraph Ave.; 510/652-4888.

3. A shaded amble to the park

Join the farmers’ market shoppers migrating down the tree-lined footpath to FROG Park, which acts as the community’s backyard. You’ll get a good sense of the neighborhood’s makeup: 30-something couples and their culinarily precocious toddlers, who can name not just the letters of the alphabet, but also eight varieties of plum. Claremont Ave. at Hudson St. to Redondo Ave. at Clarke St.; frogpark.org

4. The new lunch spot

A popular newcomer, Aunt Mary’s Cafe does creative comfort food in an atmosphere of casual cool. Dishes range from posole verde, a redolent pork stew, to an oyster po’boyster, a classic Southern sandwich modernized with a side of fennel slaw. $; 4307 Telegraph Ave.; 510/601-9227.

5. The tapas place everyone’s talking about

The district’s splashiest new arrival is Barlata (pictured at left), run by Daniel Olivella of San Francisco’s acclaimed B44. Warhol-esque artwork (a sardine can, not a soup can) lends a touch of urban irony. But kiss-me lighting and a long communal table make the backdrop intimate, and the vibrant dishes (try the slow-cooked octopus, smoky with pimentón) prove this tapas place to be entirely sincere. $$; 4901 Telegraph Ave.; 510/450-0678.