Let the “gentrification” continue! Until morale improves ;)

Downtown Oakland is really coming up…

When was the last time you went to a bar, lounge or club in Oakland and had to wait in line to get in?? Maybe I need to get out more? I recall doing that in SF back in the day but never here. Everyone from the Bay comes to Downtown Oakland now – from Hercules, Rockridge, Walnut Creek, Berkeley, San Francisco, Hayward….and yes there were lines last night, at Somar Bar and Era Art Bar and Lounge among other spots.

Waiting in Line, SF, 2005, photo by Thomas Hawk (example pic since i didn't take any last night)

It wasn’t an Art Murmur night. No concerts at FOX or Paramount. Just a nice Saturday night in “Tha Town.” It’s hard for me to fathom Oakland’s chilly windy weather at night.  A month and a half ago we had an 85 degree day, which I figured was Oakland’s “summer.” Daytimes are sunny but at night it can get windy and cold around here! Well, that’s gonna change next week, and get ready to party, cuz the lists of places to go are getting longer and longer!

I became acquainted with a new spot last night – 389 Grand, a bar with taco truck attachment. While I didn’t check it out,  some people I met did. They liked. Grand/Lake is a nice area but downtown is definitely where it’s at for premier Oaktown nightlife these days. More people and more places would be great!

There are so many spots downtown, it’s not possible to visit them all in a night… and we need more!


  • Flora – pricey but good, new chef from Pizzaiolo here now! And they still have the donut bignettes 🙂
  • Xolo Taqueria – okay and so close by…
  • Uptown Nightclub
  • Chef Edward’s – delicious down home burgers!
  • Hal’s Hotdogs – spicy hot links!
  • Somar Bar – yum, St. Germaine!! and house music
  • Cafe Van Kleef – the veritable museum that helped start it off
  • Catered to You – good burgers, down home
  • Dogwood Bar – fancy sliced meats I haven’t tried yet, getting coffee soon
  • The Den – big space with leather chaises
  • Bench and Bar – want to visit!
  • Feelmore – not yet
  • Coming soon: Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe
  • Coming soon: Some restaurant across the street from RCFC
  • Ozumo – okay sushi, Ichiro is a bit better but the ambiance is fun here. Scene.
  • Luka’s – great garlic fries, ask for them. salsa dancing! +pool
  • Pican – need to try
  • Plum – need to try
  • The Punchdown – yummy biodynamic wines! (the owners have even helped make some of the wine themselves) and french onion soups and bready foods
  • Vo’s – haven’t been here yet
  • Mua – solid fusion, get Backseat Creamery made-in-downtown-Oakland organic gelato-ish ice cream here!
  • Nex – California fusion and pretty window bar
  • Shashamane – good Ethiopian close by! nearly all Ethiopian patrons dancing the night away, or loosely following soccer matches on screens
  • Cafe Randevu –  live music last night, haven’t been yet


  • Radio – two floors, haven’t been since owners/management changed
  • Ruby Room – the diviest post-hipster grungy bar you’ll ever find in Oaktown 🙂
  • Geisha – need to visit
  • The Layover – solid
  • Uncle Dougie’s – available at Layover!
  • The veggie Filipino place (hours?)
  • Pho 84!
  • Lake Chalet – okay for brunch or very very special occasions – i hear the owner-chef is  a HUGE jerk! (so don’t expect to see the same staff every visit)
  • Maxwell’s(?) – old school jazz/R&B lounge, don’t know if still open
  • Oasis – re-opened(?) need to check it out again
  • Ichiro Sushi – yummy sushi & bee-ru
  • Bar 355 – good showing, not my fave spot tho


  • THE Trappist – I love Belgian sour beers, good eats too, and the coasters are fun! After you drink…
  • Beer Revolution – haven’t drunk anything here yet, broke down hipster version of Trappist with “hella” beer selection
  • Pacific Coast Brewing Co – okay toasted sammiches
  • Tamarindo – haven’t been here yet!
  • Miel – Tamarindo’s bar
  • Leige Spirits Lounge – still need to check this out
  • 1st Thursdays: Turrets without Regrets 3rd & MLK – ditto
  • LCX (downsized Le Cheval) – ditto
  • Penelope Bar
  • B Restaurant
  • Air Lounge – haven’t been yet
  • Arsimona – ditto
  • Marriott
  • Courtyard Marriott – haven’t been
  • The area is fun in the daytime too. Still need to try Cafe Gabriela, go back to G B Ratto’s deli and grocery
  • Chinatown spots… Gum Kuo, New Gold Medal, Yung Kee (yankee?:), a place or two inside RenPlaza

Chinatown needs some work — I don’t think there’s any Korea/Japanese style karaoke bars or lounges there. There are some pimp ‘n ibanker priced ones in Japantown but that’s out of my range.

Jack London needs a LOT of work, not much nightlife but there are options:

  • 24hour Chicken and Waffles (not that great i hear, haven’t been)
  • Buttercup Grill & Bar – haven’t tried this chain yet
  • La Furia Chalaca – okay Peruvian
  • Nation’s! – get your grease on 🙂
  • Pearl’s Jam House (daytime only I think…connected to Joie de Vivre Waterfront Hotel)
  • Latin nightclub around the corner from former Soizic
  • Heinhold’s 1st and Last Chance bar
  • Kimball’s billiards
  • Sweet Jimmies – it looks mostly closed, that shooting this month must have done them in :\ The shooter is really helping with “gentrification” unfortunately, which makes me wonder…
  • Movie theater (AMC?)
  • BevMo and Cost Plus!
  • There are lots of other good places but they are daytime only (Chop Bar, Encuentro, Bocanova, JLS pricey seafood spots)

Removing/reducing the freeway would help. More people living/working there would help. Bringing back Old Spaghetti Factory would help — oops, JLS developers got greedy and their bet went south!

The streets are where nightlife happens, is enabled. So turning Telegraph into a one-lane affair both ways would help down here. Bring the BRT. Bring night life, NYC Broadway style – close off streets to cars, open them up for humans. Us.

Crime note: I did see police taking reports from people last night – at 25th and Broadway, 17th and Franklin. Not sure what for. Some flashy lights too but no way to know where en route to.

Anyway, as you can see, the lists places to eat, drink and be merry in Downtown Oakland above are long and growing longer every time I mentally put them together.

Gentrification screed :

I think the g-word is code for cracker/whitey/The Man.  If you’re gonna be a racist, be honest about it. What gentry really means, is people who own land or who are high up in society. I wouldn’t say that everyone with resources/money/education moving into Oakland is “high up in society” especially in the flats. Who doesn’t want to be gentry? Or fake it? It’s a biological imperative to floss and be wealthy, no? More, better, faster. Infinite wealth and psychological pathways to the short term gain. Only people who plan for long term gain really Make It.

2 responses to “Let the “gentrification” continue! Until morale improves ;)

  1. Just found your blog. Good stuff. Gonna throw out a counterpoint on the thorny question; disclaimer in advance.

    I’m not really sure what you’re stance on the gentrification issue is there; you seem to be at least superficially in favor of it. But I think you’ve fundamentally misunderstood elements of the debate by attributing it as a codeword for race. For me and the people around me who have been and/or are affected by gentrification, it’s more an issue of class than race.

    You’re correct when you refer to the etymology of the term as in landed elite, and this is the core element of the gentrification process: people with more resources and/or higher socio-economic status moving into an area that is predominantly and/or historically lower-tier, with the systemic effect of raising the cost of living to the point where the previous residents cannot afford to live in their home and/or shifting local culture into alienating the traditional community.

    You speak of the people moving into Oakland as not being “high up society” as if it invalidates the argument against gentrification, but that misses the point; gentrification is about relative social status, not absolute. Thus Novella Carpenter, while not being a banker or developer, is still an agent of gentrification, because she is relatively higher up than the neighborhood into which she moved.

    You seem to think that there’s an innate quality of wanting to move up socio-economically in the species, and while that may be true on some level (I’m not gonna get into details b/c I doubt either of us in really qualified to speak on the matter scientifically), most of the poor and working-class folks I know have either accepted or are actively proud of their station in the world. It may not be easy, and you may envy people higher up on the food chain, but at some point you just accept that you are what you are. We used to have a sense and culture of working class dignity in this country, and while you don’t see much of it in the media, it exists on the ground.

    You call for more upward mobility in the demographics of Oakland including moneyed outsiders, apparently unmoved and unconcerned with the effect this has on the long-standing residents of the city that will eventually be pushed out or alienated. I just started reading you, but based on your tone and your About info I’m gonna guess that you’re not an Oakland native; additionally, your tone and perspective tells me you are not working class, and if you are, you are not actively attached to your class-status.

    Either way, you are not of the demographic affected by the gentrification phenomenon, and thus are inherently biased in favor of the process. It’s analogous to mountain-top removal companies and local communities in Appalachia: both sides have a position based on their socio-economic status and self-interest, except the former has more resources, and the enaction of it’s self-interest inherently eradicates the existence of the latter’s way-of-life.

    Think about it this way: how many people that are partaking in all this new development are actually Oakland natives, especially concerning the low-income segments of the city?

    The development and revitalization isn’t inherently bad, but when it eradicates the capacity of locals to have a say and/or presence in their home community, it becomes an insidious and unjust form of class violence.


  2. I don’t disagree that it’s dine to be proud of one’s station. I presume you might not include walmart greeters in that category but rather the immigrant entrepreneur. sure.I am working class. I don’t mind IDing that way.I don’t doubt change is disruptive. but, it is constant. sometimes you win. other times you don’t. that is life. ideally nobody would be screwed. it sounds as if you want no change… I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be painted with this brush but the caste system in india is like that. (as much as many people say it’s been “abolished” – not true in reality)change for the better is good. no change is suspended animation, being frozen in time cryogenically like walt disney.though I’m not an economic winner, I’d still acknowledge that cities were historically built and settled by higher income folk. should the poor who are here by default be given allowances to stay? b4 you say I’m classist (true) or antipoor  (untrue) note that I’m observing that we are reverting to historical norms. I also fully support #occupywallstreet. not against millionaires, or even billionaires, but against trillionaires. 

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