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Oakland

Follow ace chefs and sip your way along an urban wine trail in the “other” city by the bay

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No wonder it’s been called “San Francisco’s Brooklyn.” Located just across San Francisco Bay, Oakland has the same assets as that famous New York borough—a fascinating maritime history, bay and cityscape views, a stunning bridge, and an exploding food and wine scene. Diverse, dynamic, artsy, edgy—a trip to Oakland adds a colorful twist to your Bay Area adventures.

An influx of young locals, drawn not only by the vibe but also by the city’s lower rents, have moved into downtown lofts and condos, and arriving with them are the single-pour coffee bars, cutting-edge art galleries, and cocktail lounges. Lower costs on the East Bay have also lured chefs—both established big names and new-gen whiz kids—to open restaurants in settings ranging from splashy Art Deco (Flora) to sleek hipster-chic (Mua).

Every flavor of international cuisine has found a home in Oakland, giving diners a choice of meals that spans the continents. Slurp silky Japanese noodles at Zen-like Soba Ichi, taste flavorful Burmese creations at Grocery Café, sample African-Caribbean beef skewers at Suya African Grill, and grazeon trendy tapas—or sip rare mescals—at Tamarindo Antojeria.

Oakland puts its spin on American food, too. Chicken-and-waffle fans flock to Brown Sugar Kitchen, where chef Tanya Holland whips up her amped-up version of traditional soul food. Mockingbird delivers a modern riff on hangar steak and Brussels sprouts. Locals line up for fried chicken sandwiches at always-packed Bakesale Betty. To get schooled on Oakland’s culinary renaissance, take a guided walking tour with the food-and-culture experts at Savor Oakland.

In the last decade, Oakland’s beverage scene has also gotten a jolt. The city’s warehouse-filled back streets have attracted urban wine warriors who blend and bottle amid the city buzz. Drop in to 20-plus wineries and wine bars on the Oakland Urban Wine Trail. And of course, beer lovers aren’t left out—you’ll find a dozen breweries on the Oakland Ale Trail.

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