Best Of the East Bay

Fun, Feisty and Full of Flavor

Drake’s Brewing Co. has long been a pioneer in the craft beer industry, and its many fans won’t be surprised to see the local San Leandro brewery named “Best Brewery of the East Bay”—again. Drake’s has been brewing top-quality beer in the East Bay for over 25 years, and its commitment to excellence shows in every batch. Drake’s always offers something tasty, from Best Coast IPA and Flyway Pilsner to innovative seasonal brews like Foraging Racoon and Block Party Hazy. Drake’s Brewery and Barrel House, proudly located in the gritty environs of industrial San Leandro, is a welcoming space where everyone can enjoy a pint or two with friends in the beer garden or the taproom. Beer lovers can choose from as many as 24 beers on tap—including small batches of Belgian beers, IPAs, Pilsn...

Best of the East Bay 2022 – Arts & Culture

Friday Nights Off the Grid Oakland Museum of California  The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) has been a staple of the Oakland community since its foundation in 1969. OMCA’s collections span art, natural science and the history of California, making it a unique, ever-growing time capsule of the Golden State.  They also host a great shindig, including every Friday night, when Oakland residents and visitors alike can head over to the garden and amphitheater for a community-oriented good time. Friday Nights at OMCA include dancing; crafting; local food; a bar with beer, wine and spirits; giant lawn games; and the chance to meet someone, or a bunch of someones, new.  As a newbie on the Oakland scene, crushing an old-fashioned glaze from Johnny Doughnuts at a garden picnic tab...

Best of the East Bay 2022 – Freight & Salvage

“Since its founding in 1968, the Freight & Salvage has been deeply rooted in that aspect of Berkeley’s culture that embraced freedom, justice, acceptance, collaboration and innovation,” the beloved music venue’s website says. And that goes a long way towards explaining why “the Freight” has not only survived, but thrived for those five decades—and is a “Best of the East Bay” pick again this year. “We believe that music builds community,” says Freight & Salvage Marketing Associate Anica Odell-Smedley. “The Freight is more than just a venue; it’s a meeting place.” A place, she says, where cultures come together through the music that represents them. Its long history means that multiple generations now have connections to the Freight, including Anica’s own family. “I grew up with par...

Best of East Bay 2022 – Beauty, Health & Wellness

Emerald Elegance Simply Green Day Spa Though the title may remind one of a certain punk band from the early 2000s, this is in fact one of the better spas in Alameda County, and I’m a major stickler. Not only is the service fantastic, but the front desk attendant is one of the nicest and funniest men I’ve met.  From massage to gel manicure to an exceptionally thorough Brazilian, there’s not a lot that Simply Green Day Spa doesn’t offer, and none of it dips below great quality.  Their files, buffers and pumice stones are never reused, and are included in the service if the customer wants to keep them. All of their polishes are vegan based. None of their products are animal tested, and they are DBA, toluene, formaldehyde, paraben and phthalate free.  The space feels as clean as it i...

Best of East Bay 2022 – Cannabis

You Need a NUG Embracing state’s first Asian-owned equity dispensary  While not suffering from a shortage of cannabis dispensaries, NUG is a trim above the rest, and I highly recommend it. NUG is the first Asian-owned equity dispensary in California, and a supporter of Oakland’s Social Equity Cannabis program, which provides opportunities in the legal cannabis industry to those targeted by the “war on drugs.” NUG is all about normalizing cannabis use, and curates their dispensary impeccably with the finest in California edibles, beverages, flower and more.  Their location on Broadway in Oakland is underground, through a security guard, down a hallway with a lightning-esque neon installation and down a flight of stairs. The music is always good, and the bud tendersare informed and...

Best of East Bay 2022 – Everyday

Shop Local How Oaklandish gives back Purchasing items from Oaklandish—Oakland’s 20-year-old apparel brand and social experiment in culture-keeping, community-building and promotion of civic pride—will help you give back in ways that are layered, multiple and—in the current moment—vital.  The brand features signature tees, hoodies and snapbacks printed with a spreading-crown-and-roots oak tree, as well as their already-sold-out branded dominoes and doormats.  Buying right now from any local business, large or small, helps keep neighbors employed and sends sales taxes into our towns’ coffers, which are unusually depleted due to pandemic-related expenses. Simply shopping locally, even from the most conglomerate stores, is a form of giving back this holiday season.  Buying from small...

Best of East Bay 2022 – Food & Drink

What’s Up, Doc? Rick & Ann’s Restaurant in Berkeley I’ve been ordering “Doc’s Delight” at Rick & Ann’s Restaurant for the better part of two decades. You get a perfectly crisp and tender waffle, two chicken apple sausages and two eggs any style. My style is poached hard. Sometimes I order a buttered bagel too to smash against the bright yellow yolks. Well, every single time. Because I’ve never met a carbohydrate I didn’t like. I don’t know who Doc is or why waffles delighted him, but he is my culinary soulmate. Rick and Ann—the owners’ actual names—opened their eponymous restaurant in 1989. They are part of what I like to think of as a triumvirate of the best places to brunch in the East Bay. The other members include the recently rechristened Oceanview Diner and La Note, which spe...

Best of the East Bay 2022 – Family

Green Scene Ecology Center’s Youth Environmental Academy A local green movement has probably flourished in the East Bay since the area’s inception, but from 1969 onward many of the initiatives to make the world a better, greener place have come from Berkeley’s Ecology Center.  A nonprofit organization focused on improving the health and mitigating the ill effects of environmental impacts upon urban residents, the center’s many services include everything from organizing local local farmers’ markets and residential curbside recycling programs to  classes, workshops, a seed library and a store for sustainable living, among many other offerings. As the Ecology Center’s event coordinator, Cynthia Murdough, told the East Bay Express last May, though global issues like climate change can ov...

Best of East Bay 2022 – Home Improvement

Cabinets of Curiosity Mod Cabinetry, Berkeley As always, we can thank the Germans for coming up with awesome compound words to describe esoterica.  Consider the “wunderkammer,” which roughly translates to English as a “cabinet of curiosity.” More than mere furniture, the wunderkammers contained multitudes—well, at least, in terms of odd collectibles often depicting (if not outright falsifying) intriguing specimens of natural history and other baubles sure to capture the imagination. Should you install one in your home to establish your social position as a person of cultivated and rarefied tastes as some 16th century collectors did? Sure. But first, you’ll need a cabinet. Look no further than Mod Cabinetry, which offers a remarkable way to design and buy assembled cabinets—completely ...

Best of East Bay 2022 – Romance

Romance Recalled Piedmont’s Pomet brings back memories Everyone’s idea of romance is different. My boyfriend and I used to love going to Spettro on Lakeshore Avenue. Its brick-lined interiors always made us feel comforted and cozy. But an old friend of mine disliked the food there so intensely, he once wryly exclaimed that everything on the menu tasted like “dirt.” Spettro has since closed, but not because of his sardonic critique. Pomet, on Piedmont Avenue, reminded us of what we’d been missing. It was pleasurable to hold hands again on a cold night while we were waiting outside for our table. What clinched the mood though, was the welcoming, kind-hearted greeting from the restaurant’s owner, Aomboon Deasy.  Pomet’s interior is also brick-lined (I guess brick goes a long way with us)...

Best of East Bay 2022 – Recreation

Writer’s Pick: Big Red Roberts Regional Recreation Area  There is no shortage of parks in the East Bay, but few have as many amenities as Roberts Regional Recreation Area.  In addition to sweeping views of San Francisco and the bay, the 82-acre park has numerous picnic and BBQ spots, a baseball field, a sand volleyball court, an outdoor heated swimming pool, an archery range, hiking trails that connect to trails at the neighboring Redwood Regional Park, and a sprawling, wheelchair-accessible playground. The park opened in 1953, but the area, known for its grove of redwood trees, has played a vital role in East Bay history since the early 1800s. Many pre-1900s structures were built using redwoods from the park, and two giant redwoods, known as the “landmark trees,” were used as navigational...