Around town with Allison: Oakland’s Piedmont Avenue

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Allison Fong/Staff

Located in North Oakland, Piedmont Avenue is a meeting space for locals and visitors alike. This neighborhood is aptly named after the main street, Piedmont Avenue, which is filled with independent shops and restaurants. Offering cuisines from all over the world and shops that fit every niche, Piedmont Avenue is truly a worthy destination to visit! I grew up visiting this little neighborhood mainly for its coffee scene, but now that I’m older, I’ve begun to venture into Piedmont Avenue to explore more of the great food scene.

Coffee, tea and treats

There are two coffee shops that I swear by in this neighborhood: Timeless Coffee and Snow White Coffee. Timeless Coffee is a vegan coffee shop that serves great coffee and even better pastries and food! I’m honestly living my best life with an iced oat milk latte from Timeless and a vegan scone. (Like honestly, name a better duo — that’s right, you can’t.)

Snow White Coffee is located further down Piedmont Avenue and serves a mean pour-over coffee with locally roasted beans. Let’s just say the folks at Snow White Coffee know a thing or two about coffee. If you’re like me and have only ever consumed iced beverages, be sure to try the Oakland Chill, cold brew, simple syrup, half-and-half, shaken with ice.

For my non-coffee folk —  I will never understand your choice of beverage, but I do have a place for you in mind as well. Be sure to check out Mr. Green Bubble, a popular boba spot with milk teas, fruit teas and smoothies! If you like to satisfy your sweet tooth by other means, chances are ice cream will do the trick. Head on over to Fenton’s Creamery and Restaurant, an iconic, retro ice cream parlor that has been around since 1894. Fun fact: Fenton’s was featured in Pixar’s “Up” — so basically it’s kind of a big deal. If you’re looking for something a little lighter, Lush Gelato is a great option for you! Made with local ingredients, Lush offers creative gelato flavors that are sure to please everyone. Can’t get enough of this yummy gelato? Luckily for us, Lush has another location in North Berkeley! 

Food

Piedmont houses such a great array of restaurants, offering cuisines from all over the place. If you’re looking for Italian food, be sure to head over to Lo Coco’s or Dopo for phenomenal handmade pasta and pizzas. Belotti Bottega, a small pasta shop, is also a great option for delicious handmade pasta and sauces. If Japanese food is more your thing, head over to the ever-so dependable Geta for quick and easy Japanese cuisine.

As a Bay Area native, I value farm-to-table restaurants. Luckily for me, there are a couple of amazing places on Piedmont Avenue that offer just that. The Wolf , formerly Bay Wolf, offers seasonal and modern takes on your classic favorites. Rebekah and Rich Wood, owners of your Rockridge favorites — Wood Tavern and Southie — actually had their first date at Bay Wolf. When they heard that the owners of Bay Wolf were retiring, they took the opportunity to continue the tradition of this neighborhood spot. With a modern setting and fresh local ingredients, this spot is the perfect combination of good eats and aesthetic decor, making it a great high-quality neighborhood restaurant.

Similarly, Homestead is another great option if you want that farm-to-table feel, with its open kitchen, farmhouse decor and changing menu of thoughtfully prepared local ingredients. With the delicious food and welcoming environment, you’re definitely going to want to stay a while. If you’re really trying to ball hard, be sure to make reservations at Commis, a two-star Michelin restaurant that offers creative dishes with a fixed menu. Nothing says creativity like chef James Syhabout’s signature egg dish. (And I really do mean nothing.) 

Shops

I love cute shops more than anything (besides coffee, of course), so my over-caffeinated self literally thrives when I’m in this neighborhood. With so many independent shops on Piedmont Avenue, I could literally spend an entire day just walking around. Although there are many shops worth mentioning on here, I’ve listed some of my favorites!

The first stop I make (after I’ve picked up some coffee from Timeless) is Neighbor,  a general store for all things handmade. From home decor to stationary, this place has got you covered. If that isn’t enough for you, the cute garden behind Neighbor will be! Located right next door is Good Stock, a shop that offers handmade jewelry and natural beauty products. This spot is worth checking out if you’re on the lookout for some new jewelry or just to appreciate the whimsical decor! Farther down the street, you’ll find Mercy Vintage, a cute little boutique with fun vintage clothing, and Resurrect, a hub for local and handmade goodies. On the other end of Piedmont Avenue sits the ever-so-trendy Maple Street Denim, a shop that offers quality staples for your wardrobe with their wide range of denim. And let’s not forget about Rare Bird, a shop that has the cutest selection of prints and local goodies.

Things to do

Watch a quick flick at the Landmark Piedmont Theatre, which features a small but thoughtful selection of films. This spot is actually Oakland’s oldest operating movie theater. If you’re trying to see a film and it’s offered at this location, be sure to swing by and check it out.

If movies aren’t your thing and you’re looking for something more educational and active, check out any of the classes that are offered on Piedmont Avenue. These classes range from jewelry making at Blue Door Beads to classes for candle making, weaving and even perfume making at Rare Bird. It’s time to get crafty, folks!

Piedmont Avenue is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Oakland for many reasons. Maybe it’s the plentiful restaurant and shop options that are offered or the fact that there’s a vegan coffee shop here that makes phenomenal pastries. Maybe, it’s both.

Allison Fong writes the weekly blog column on places and activities to try in and around Berkeley. Contact her at [email protected].