There are those who love their family—don’t get me wrong, I’m one of them—warts and all. And they have magical moments together around the holiday season. Or, the holidays can be a moment when the family that’s anywhere from mildly irritating to downright problematic can be an amplified nightmare.
Or maybe, sometimes, great family, mediocre or no family at all, we just want to spend the holidays solo. Well, this is my official seal of approval for all those looking for a holiday reprieve this year, and further, a list of spots to visit while dodging the family and getting some much-needed R&R.
Xochi the Dog Cafe
Looking for an adorable local cafe with a garden, weekly events and a delectable menu? Xochi the Dog is my favorite Oakland spot for an iced americano and a pastry—baked at Starter Bakery, they’re nothing short of delectable. Full of intriguing characters and a sense of worldliness, this neighborhood spot is perfect for a restful and reflective solo visit. Bring a journal, a book of poems, and revel in the peace that comes from sitting amidst the chatter of Oakland’s eclectic and curious coffee community. Check out the events, listed on a chalkboard above the register, for potential evening activities. Anything goes, from fundraisers for abortion access to poetry and story nights with Oakland’s youth poet laureate, Nadia Elbgal.
I cannot say enough. Love this place! Emporium Arcade in Oakland is hands down the most fun to be had on Telegraph. Go alone, bring a friend; there’s no wrong way. Racing games, Night of the Living Dead 4, foosball, Pacman, Pinball—easily pass four to six hours in the glitter and flash of the lights. Grab a beer from the bar, and vegan tacos or a vegan burrito from Taqueria Venganza, and play the night away. There is a catharsis to shooting zombies, which might be just what the doctor ordered… Oh and my favorite thing about Emporium? They have a movie library of just under 400 of the best in surreal, cult classic films, playing on a loop, curated by their gaming king manager, Adam. This is the ultimate escape into a 1980s/timeless mashup dream.
The Fox Theater
Probably not news, but this place pulls some of the best musical acts in the world. Caroline Polachek, LCD Soundsystem, Giveon… I could go on. The red velvet, inner sanctum vibe is completed by two massive, ornate Ganesha statues that flank the stage. Ganesha, by the way, is the Hindu elephant god, known to be the remover of obstacles and the harbinger of new beginnings. Come snag a drink at Fox’s bar, the Den—yep—dance out every single moment of frustration the year or the family has ever caused, and let those golden elephants clear obstacles and ring in the future!
Yoshi’s Jazz Club
Inimitable Japanese cuisine and jazz on the waterfront? A no brainer. Yoshi’s is also a place out of time—this classic Jack London Square located jazz club has been home to such genius as René Marie, Karrin Allyson and Melody Gardot, to name but a few. It’s an intimate setting with a classic feel, small tables and booths dispersed gracefully around a stage. I was amazed to learn the space seats 310—it truly feels like being in an underground Berlin jazz club. Spend the evening nibbling tako sunomono, hamachi crudo, sipping junmai or Dewazakura “Tobiroku” sake and listening to music—current artistic director Daniel Grujic has expanded the lineup to include a wide variety. Happy listening!
The New Parkway Theater
The New Parkway Theater is on a whole other level of fun. For starters, they have something going on literally every evening, from karaoke to creative nights. For seconds, they bring a wide variety of films, one of which was the recent documentary Fire of Love, which covers the life and work of volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft and their incredible work with and footage of volcanoes. (It’s a visual/emotional masterpiece that must be seen.) Thirdly, the seats are all couches. Yes, couches and comfy chairs! No squirming in stiff theater seats. Literally lay out with a hard kombucha and some popcorn smothered in nutritional yeast, and enjoy the show.