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Oakland Food that Touring Bands Should Eat

March 22, 2011

[Bakesale Betty’s Chicken Sandwich via Bay Area Bites]

Some of my favorite feedback has been from bands contacting us about where to play in the Bay Area and then complimenting us on our ‘preoccupation with food.’ With that in mind, I’ve been compiling a list of must-trys for you poor shmucks who might only have a day or two to enjoy what this fine city has to offer. Peep the list after the jump, and of course additions to the list are welcome.


Mama’s Royal Cafe

The collections of aprons, vintage plasticware, and radios add to the charm of the high backed wooden booths and waitstaff who are as hungover as you are. Great variety of Eggs Benedict, and mimosas are available. Cash only though, and prepare to wait. If you can’t, check out the bubble and squeak at Aunt Mary’s or the legit huevos rancheros at J’s (the latter is pretty much guaranteed to be half-empty).

Brown Sugar Kitchen

Amazing chicken and waffles. And young kids playing an old piano outside while you wait an hour for said chicken and waffles. Try it once so you can name drop, and then go to House of Chicken and Waffles next time.

Commonwealth Cafe

A great place for that traditional UK beer & sammie combo, but with a “contemporary” vibe. We highly recommend the innovative and addictive “beermosa.” We also recommend brushing up on your Belle & Sebastian discography and ‘futbol’ stats for traditonal UK pissing contests.

Mama Buzz

The artsy cafe every college town wish it had. Although smoking is no longer allowed in the covered patio out back *tear* you can still get a beer and watch the goldfish tank with East Bay Express in hand. Peruse the rotating art in the adjoining gallery, or plunk down with your laptop for some highly encouraged anti-social behavior. I highly reccommend the Oaktown bagel- with cream cheese, cucumbers, and “facon”- as well as their vegan donuts. If you’re craving meat and/or some kind of professionalism, though, go elsewhere.

Bakesale Betty II

The second location of the always-packed Bakesale Betty seems to be trying to keep a low profile. With blacked out windows and no signage, hardly anyone seems to know about the delishagasms held within. The fried chicken sandwich is THE item to order, and is oftentimes too much to eat in one sitting. Be sure to get some of Frank’s hot sauce while you’re at it, and hope for sunny weather so you can pop a squat at their outdoors-only ironing board table thingies. (closes early)


This place is just Hella tasty with a capital H. They grind their own meat every morning and will get you hooked on garlic mayo. Everything is fresh and reasonably priced. Even though they offer beer, you’ll probably be swayed to lay off the booze for once with fatty numbers like the Cake Shake…. featuring whole twinkies shoved into a blender. (closes early)


Cafe Colucci / Addis Ethiopian

I know, I know. I scoffed at the concept of Ethiopian food too. But it’s so fun! You get to eat with your hands! These two places are pretty much tied. And they’re a few block away from each other. And they’re priced the same. And offer the same things. I recommend the combo platters and a bottle of honey wine.

Golden Lotus

Really impressive vegetarian Thai food. Although there is no alcohol offered, there IS great reading material from the Divine Mother, or something like that, about how vegetarianism will save the world. Food for thought.


I have not actually been here yet, but it was immediately proclaimed to be added to the list by a friend when discussing the nature of this post. Not sure if I understood correctly, but the gist seemed to fall somewhere along buying one of their $6 ‘classic punches’ as a golden ticket to an amazing buffet? I will have to confirm, but it certainly sounds like something worth investigating.

Shan Dong

Super tasty dumplings made fresh in the restaurant. Cheap. And the decor will make you and your grungey ass clothes feel right at home. Also, you get to witness the glory that is Oakland’s Chinatown and its Bermuda Triangle of traffic patterns.

Luka’s Taproom

Dollar Oysters on Mondays, oh what?! Other than that it can get a little pricey, but the hamburger, mac and cheese, and Belgian fries are solid bets and their drink selection is amazing, whether you’re into beer or cocktails. The back room has a pool table and the crowd is refreshingly diverse.

Dan Sung Sa

A suspicious looking place with no windows, you will think this is a strip joint. As a matter of fact, the name apparently means ‘Porno Palace.’ You can order an entire Korean-style fried chicken and a bottle of soju for, like, 20 bucks. A bevy of entertaining Korean movie posters and their inevitable graffiti adorn the walls, and the area’s young asian population flocks here after 10- probably because that’s when you can start smoking indoors.

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