Around town with Allison: Grab your pals and head to Oakland’s Temescal

Allison Fong/Staff

One of the oldest neighborhoods in Oakland, Temescal is full of good eats and fun shops that’ll surely knock everyone’s socks off! Just a quick trip down Telegraph Avenue sits a neighborhood like no other. Offering cuisines from all over the world and shops that cater to a diverse array of interests, Temescal really has it all. Temescal Alley is home to several artisan shops and remains to be an iconic component of the neighborhood. Listen up and get ready to take notes, because this small neighborhood packs a punch!

Coffee, sweets and treats

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Whenever I’m in a public area, the first thing I try to search for isn’t an emergency exit, but rather a coffee shop (or should I say shops). As a person who literally runs on caffeine and has cold brew running through her veins, this is a must. But I’m not down for just any old coffee — it needs to be good. Lucky for me, Temescal offers two great spots for a quick pick me up. Located right in the Temescal Alley, you might walk right past the Cro Cafe without even knowing. What’s most important is that you backpedal it right into line at this charming coffee shop and order yourself a cup of local Sightglass coffee. If you prefer more of a minimalistic style, Subrosa is another great option for local coffee. This trendy little coffee shop offers brew that’s bold in flavor. Swing by to either of these places for a cup of coffee the next time you’re in the area! (Or you could be like me and just go to both.)

If coffee’s not your jam, ice cream probably is. Well, let’s just say that it’s a good thing Temescal is also home to two of my favorite ice cream spots. That’s right folks, your favorite Rockridge ice cream spot, Tara’s Organic Ice Cream, has a second location on this side of town. Although smaller, this location still has a great selection of fun flavors. With a rotating menu, you’ll always find something new at Tara’s! Pro-tip: Don’t skip out on the sesame cone. Even if you don’t like waffle cones, order the damn cone — you won’t regret it.

Curbside Creamery is another one of my favorites, mainly because it’s one of the few places that can do both regular and vegan ice cream exceptionally well. Made with cashew milk, Curbside’s vegan ice cream is packed with so much flavor that you wouldn’t even believe that it didn’t contain dairy. No matter where you decide to grab some post-dinner dessert, there’s no losing here — it’s a win-win situation all around. (Those are the best types of situations tbh.)

Food

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Now, Temescal isn’t here to play games when it comes to food. Just within a block or two from each other sits three of my favorite restaurants: Burma Superstar, Pyeongchang Tofu House and Cholita Linda. Burma Superstar is an iconic Burmese restaurant that’s famous for its tea-leaf salad, and rightfully so. Who knew that fermented tea leaves could get me feeling some type of way! TL;DR: get the tea-leaf salad. This is not a suggestion, it’s a must.

Nothing is more comforting than a bowl of tofu soup from Pyeongchang Tofu House, a Korean hotspot for stone pots, crispy rice and of course, tofu soup. Lucky for all of us, Pyeongchang is actually opening up a second location on University Avenue! Just a couple blocks away is Cholita Linda, another local favorite, which serves up delicious Latin American street food. Do I dare say that Cholita Linda serves the best fish tacos in the Bay? (I do. Fight me, SoCal people.)

Temescal is also home to Homeroom, an eatery that specializes in all things mac n’ cheese. Serving fun takes on a popular comfort food, Homeroom is a favorite amongst many. Another spot that serves great comfort food is Aunt Mary’s Cafe, which was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Aunt Mary’s Cafe offers comfort food with a Southern twist, with dishes such as grits waffles, fried chicken and southern bubble and squeak. If Guy Fieri went here, then it has to be good, folks. If fried chicken is more your jam, Bakesale Betty is a popular joint that’s known for its fried chicken sandwiches. Served on a bed of slaw on Acme bread, this sandwich isn’t here to play! And don’t fret, fellow vegetarians, there’s also a tofu option! Remember to proceed with caution — I can guarantee that there will be a line, but I can also say that it’ll be worth the wait!

Shop

Temescal Alley houses many different shops, some of my favorites being Crimson Horticultural Rarities, Ali Golden and Marisa Mason. Crimson is a plant shop where I go to live my best life as a plant lady — and that’s a fact. Located right across the alley is Ali Golden, with its minimal and modern clothing. A little further down the alley sits Marisa Mason, a handcrafted jewelry shop, featuring artisans from all over the place. Whenever I’m around, I’ll always pop in to see what new goodies they have in store. If you’ve just had lunch at Burma Superstar, head next door to Concept Forty-Seven, a shop that offers the cutest prints and gifts. If you’re looking for some hip menswear, Standard and Strange has a curated collection of quality goods.

Who knew that there was so much just a little further down Telegraph Avenue? Me, that’s who. So grab your friends and head over to Temescal for a night out, brunch with the fam or some well-deserved alone time for some exploring in a new part of town!

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