Thomas J. Story
Why go now: As block after block of condos pop up, so do bars, restaurants, and art galleries to entertain the young new locals.
East vs. west: Think of downtown Oakland as San Francisco’s Brooklyn.
Downtown then: For years, lonely blocks of abandoned storefronts were the rule.
Downtown now: Tastemakers and artsy types meet up to talk shop.
Why here? Big-name chefs can’t resist a cost of doing business that’s about a third of what it is in San Francisco.
Urban pioneer: Art deco–inspired dinner spot Flora ($$$; closed Sun; 1900 Telegraph Ave.; 510/286-0100) really got the momentum going when it opened with a swanky splash two-plus years ago.
Next up: Nearby Jack London Square’s reinvention, including a marketplace patterned after S.F.’s Ferry Building and Seattle’s Pike Place, has been delayed due to the downturn.
But the marketplace is on track to open by summer, chain restaurants have been purged from the neighborhood, and the area is already repopulating with drive-worthy eateries.
Next: What to do and where to go