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Uptown Oakland

By Dameon Bledsoe

Crowded bars and restaurants paired with unrivaled rent and property prices have left San Francisco social seekers looking elsewhere. Traveling just a few BART stops away has landed man of the city’s defectors in the city of Oakland. Downtown Oakland, specifically, has been a major hub of interest for East Bay transplants. Helping visitors and newbies delineate between neighborhoods and easily navigate themselves around, Downtown Oakland has been divided into four parts: Old Oakland, Lakeside, Kono, and Uptown.

Uptown Oakland is probably where you’ll find the concentration of action in the Downtown Oakland area. Home to both the Fox Theater and the Paramount Theater, there are concerts with lines wrapping the Town’s blocks seemingly every weekend. The smaller but equally as energetic New Parish keeps a consistent lineup, housing both local and touring artists. Lukas Taproom and Lounge is another intimate setting where one can take in some live music, get a good drink, and maybe even indulge in some shrimp and grits.

While on the topic of food, the truffle fries at Umami Burger are a necessity to pair with any of their gourmet burgers, including the Impossible Burger. The Cali Belly Fries from Belly, with or without a few of their innovative taco selections, are also at the top of the list. Whether it’s happy hour oysters, or a curry garlic crab dinner, Alamar is always a great choice. Tell Chef Nelson, D.Bledsoe sent you. If you find yourself in Uptown Oakland in the A.M. hours and require a filling and quick breakfast, you should definitely stop by Gastropig. The Bacon Slut is as intriguing as it sounds, and they offer an ever-changing lunch menu as well. Ikes has just about any sandwich one could fathom, if you’re in need of lunch on the go. The buffalo chicken salad at Rudys Cant Fail Café truly can’t fail, especially when chased by one of their famous milkshakes. There’s a rumor that if you’re over the age of 21, they have a special milkshake menu for their adult patrons If your palette calls for fine dining, Flora is a delightfully creative option. Their rabbit ragù with gnocchi comes highly recommended (by me). Perhaps wine and pasta is on your mind. Duende is authentic Italian done very well. Pho 84, ParlourAgave, Quick Bite and Five10 Pizza are a few other Uptown staples that you must try.

For those on extended stays in the area, you can work off some of the food at places like 24 Hour Fitness on Webster St., CrossFit, or the YMCA on Broadway. The Great Western Power Company offers an alternative workout with its power building turned rock climbing gym. Cooler climates make for more favorable conditions for some to work out, and the Oakland Ice Center offers just that. Not many cities in the Bay Area can stake claim on offering ice skating to its visitors and residents. Left Coast Power Yoga, Ume Yoga and Barefoot Movement are perfect options for your sun salutations and downward dogs. Ford has also lined many of Uptown’s busier streets with bicycles that you can rent hourly, making it easier to exercise and take in the sights that Oakland has to offer. Betti Ono, Johansson Projects, and Spun Smoke are art galleries with reputations for providing popular exhibitions in Uptown Oakland.

There are plenty of places for socializing by night in Uptown Oakland after a long day at the office, or during an escape from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco. Not that I’ve visited them all, but to make an informed opinion, I had no option but to do my research. Make Westing offers a rustic and open experience inside, and extends the fun with an exposed patio facing Telegraph Avenue. With bocce ball, popcorn, and their inexpensive beer prices, Make Westing would assuredly make my bar crawl list. The Lost & Found Beer Garden is very unassuming inside. But, a step through their backdoors reveals ping pong, corn hole and delicious soul food. With a wide range of local crafts, I have personally lost track of time and found myself feeling a bit different than how I entered. The Legionnaire Saloon is small in size but huge in importance, to me in partiucular. This is where I met my wife in person for the first time. It went by a different name at the time, but what hasn’t changed is that it remains a constant for great music and good drinks in the Uptown area. Drakes Dealership, Hopscotch, and Dogwood round out my Uptown bar crawl list.

After a long night of celebrating life, or simply when in need of some retail therapy, there are a few options in Uptown Oakland, so no need to hop back on BART just yet. Solespace is a great store for any sneaker head, trendsetter, or hipster alike. Oaklandish has fresh new designs and takes on everything that represents Oakland, from t-shirts to hats and even socks. Ladies can find fun seasonal clothing selections at Spoiled Boutique while in the Uptown neighborhood. Pure, Urban Stitch Boutique, and Divas Closet are a few other retailers drawing foot traffic in the Uptown area.

After nabbing new apparel, there are many options in Uptown for one to spruce their look all the way up. Benny Adem is an upscale barbershop and grooming parlor that gives off a sophisticated-urban feel. It provides a great escape from the noise of Broadway while tending to one’s grooming requirements. Doors down, Moods Beauty Bar, a hair salon that continues with the minimalist theme in their ambiance, allows patrons a relaxing setting while addressing their hair needs. Beauty Nails and Nailphoria are wonderful options for manicures and pedicures, or so I’ve heard. For further personal maintenance, Sequoia Healing Clinic and Spa and Mohari Wellness are great relief options by way of fantastic massages.

With all of these amenities and attractions, Uptown Oakland has and continues to create and cultivate living space for its natives as well as those wishing to make this area their new home. Uptown Place Homes is comprised of 88 condominiums built in 2009, a block in between Telegraph and San Pablo. Its convenient location finds this building in the heart of Uptown Oakland. Then, there are also the 78 units at The Jade Building located at 1511 Jefferson. Built in 2007, this building is steps away from the Elihu M. Harris State Building, Frank Ogawa Plaza, and City Center Plaza. The Telegraph Lofts at 2633 Telegraph contains 54 live-work units that sit residents in the middle of the First Friday festivities that take place on the first Friday of every month. At 420 W. Grand, overlooking a large portion of Downtown Oakland is the 43-unit condominium building, originally built over 100 years ago.

As a resident of Downtown Oakland, the growth and change here is very exciting to witness. While change isn’t always easy to accept, the options and opportunities that come along with it can make coping and adapting worthwhile. Never has Downtown Oakland been more inviting and more appealing than now. Not only is it cool to hangout here, it is also a destination for many to make their homes. With many of the tech giants having made their homes here or planning to relocate to Uptown Oakland, this is becoming one of the top destinations in the Bay Area. As a Real Estate Professional, the challenge is finding enough homes in the Uptown area for the multitude of clients looking to relocate here. I take the challenge as one of delight, because it gives me gratitude to work and participate in such a vibrant and busy resurgence of a deserving community.

Uptown Oakland is the bustling entertainment district of Downtown Oakland, California. It is located between 27th Street, San Pablo Ave, City Center and Harrison St. You can find more information on Uptown Oakland at https://www.visitoakland.com/explore/neighborhoods/uptown/.