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Hidden Food and Drink in Alameda (Diablo Magazine)

[image: alley & vine]

The word’s out. Between its restaurant-lined main drag of Park Street and scenic Spirits Alley boasting breweries, wineries, and distilleries, Alameda has always been something of an under-the-radar food and drinking destination. But a recent influx of younger families and an uptick in residential development has put this once-sleepy East Bay city squarely on the foodie radar. And the offerings are not just more upscale and contemporary, they’re available all over the island, from the beach to the estuary to the residential neighborhoods in between.

Here’s a primer to mining Alameda’s surprisingly rich culinary treasures:
Hidden Food and Drink in Alameda (Diablo Magazine)


Explore Alameda (Sacramento Magazine)

The city of Alameda, accessible by bridge, ferry or underwater tube, combines Navy history, waterfront charm and a throwback vibe to provide a relaxed day in the Bay. It's an island that sits in the East Bay across from San Francisco.

Park Street and Alameda City Center is laid out on a grid, so it’s easy to park the car and walk. It’s also easy to spend a whole day in this section of town, with Park Street’s shops and restaurants and the beautiful buildings and landmarks to admire on surrounding streets.

The Art Deco-style ALAMEDA THEATRE, built in 1932, has been beautifully renovated; you can see movies there today. Favorite Alameda stops for foodies include ALAMEDA MARKETPLACE, DAN’S FRESH PRODUCE, OLE’S WAFFLE SHOP, HOMESKILLET, MONKEY KING, SIDE STREET PHO, and COFFEE CULTURE.

Stop in BOOKS INC. to check out the latest releases, play a few games at HIGH SCORES ARCADE, pick up a gift for a friend at DAISY’S MERCANTILE, and peruse the used books, vintage records and throwback clothing at ROCKET REUSE.

Let’s explore the island:

Historic Alameda Theatre & Cineplex

The Best Day Ever in Alameda (on Park Street)

[image: Best Day Ever Alameda cover]

Alameda has gone through considerable change in the last 15 years. Once a sleepy city, Alameda is now a dynamic dining destination with an exciting, eclectic mix of restaurants serving top-notch croissants, inventive burgers, and upscale small bites.

Today, Alameda’s food and drinks scene is split between the western and eastern halves of the city, with most of the island’s restaurants concentrated along a walkable section of Park Street. The dining options include a mix of relative newcomers like upscale casual spot Alley & Vine and longtimers like neighborhood gem Sandwich Board.

The newer restaurants have brought a diverse set of cuisines to the city while allowing Alameda to retain its small-town charm. Along with an abundance of restaurants, the downtown area is dotted with shopping, entertainment, and personal service venues.

Here's how to spend one delicious, fun-filled day in Downtown Alameda...
The Best Day Ever in Alameda (SF Chronicle special feature).

Explore Alameda (SF Gate)

One can argue that, more than any other characteristic, independent businesses are what distinguish one town from another. This is especially true in the East Bay, where so many towns and cities seem to merge together. Look no further than Alameda for proof of exactly how unique shops and restaurants “make a town special” in the words of one store owner. Of course, a unique geography and colorful history also add to Alameda’s appeal. From international cuisine to Victorian architecture to exceptional outdoor recreation, Alameda offers a bit of everything the greater Bay Area has to offer, with much easier access.

Alameda continues to see visitors from around the Bay Area, drawn by the quiet convenience when shopping along Park and other streets, the open space for walks, play and picnics, the waterfront for paddling or reflection. Alameda’s shops range from curated mercantile, to independent toy shops and booksellers. The culinary scene is just as varied with distilleries, brewpubs and a variety of restaurants that prepare exceptional ethnic and American fare.

Discover what you may have missed about our unique island in the bay:

The Local coffee shop

At Home for the Holidays? Support Alameda Retailers

Toy Safari Alameda

Now, more than ever, it’s crucial that we look out for our neighbors. One of the easiest ways to do that is to check off the items on your holiday wish list at local shops and eateries. Not only does your business directly support local shopkeepers, merchants, and restauranteurs, but studies show that for every $100 spent at a small business, $67 stays in the community to support schools, safety, and public amenities. Spending local is truly a gift to the community.

“Most of Alameda’s shop owners also live in town,” says Barbara Mooney, co-owner of Daisy's. “That’s about as local as it gets.”

Meanwhile, Alameda shop owners are looking out for us. They have followed public health recommendations to make in-person and virtual shopping experiences safe and enjoyable. For online shoppers, they’ve expanded virtual and remote options to include video tours, live shopping experiences, and personal shopping by phone. Many businesses offer same-day curbside pickup or will deliver direct to your doorstep. Even out-of-town family and friends can send Alameda magic this year by purchasing e-gift cards for the loved ones on their lists. Shoppers at some outlets can even schedule private shopping experiences.

Local shoppers and people shopping for locals won’t make memories by shopping at big box stores or giant online warehouses. Instead, help spread holiday cheer by thinking of your family and your neighbors, and shopping and dining safely in town.

"You’re not going to get toy store visit memories from a computer,” says Helen Deane of Toy Safari.

By spending locally, you are ending 2020 by giving a gift to your community.

Learn more about supporting your neighborhood stores in this SF Gate special:

Alameda Launches Spend Local Campaign for the Holidays

As the holiday season approaches, shopping locally and supporting independently owned shops and restaurants is more important than ever for small businesses. To jump-start the action and offer the best holiday shopping possible, the city of Alameda — in partnership with local business associations — has launched a Spend Local campaign for the 2020 holiday season, inviting everyone to spend the holidays in Alameda.

The campaign has three components including local marketing to encourage residents to shop locally this holiday season, a Spend Local Giveaway for customers spending more than $50 at a business, and a Visit & Shop Alameda Gift Cards that support participating local businesses.

The Spend Local campaign also encourages businesses to offer a range of shopping experiences, from in-person, online or personal shopping via phone to delivery and pickup options. Customers can find the method that allows them to shop comfortably and safely. Businesses are also putting special customer services into place by offering free returns, gift-wrapping, and gifts with purchase, and other special holiday touches. All of it is meant to let customers know they’re valued.

Many Downtown Alameda businesses are already on board including Daisy’s Mercantile, Toy Safari, Bead Inspirations, and Park Street Wine Cellars.

Read more about these businesses and the Spend Local campaign in the East Bay Times:

Daisy's Alameda gift display

Park Street Frozen In Time

Park Street historic photo

What do historic photos reveal?

The photo shown here was taken some time after 1906.The photographer stood on the east side of Park Street and Central Avenue.

Close inspection of the photography shop on the left reveals two women and two small children in front of the store with the word “photographs” emblazoned in large, fancy print. The sign tells us that Oscar DeJoiner owned the shop. The sign also informs passersby that DeJoiner sold postcards.

DeJoiner was an artist and photographer doing business in San Francisco. He moved to Alameda after the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906. The photograph may have been taken shortly after his arrival in Alameda to advertise his new studio.

Read more about what this historic photo reveals and other local history stories in the Alameda Sun:

Alameda Businesses Get Creative During COVID-19 Lockdown

Alameda Theatre & Cineplex

Like most of the rest of the country, Alameda’s businesses have been deeply affected by the coronavirus closures, with doors to retail operations not open and restaurants that can only offer take-out or delivery. To cope with greatly reduced revenues, businesses have had to be creative and innovative to keep continue operations during the shutdown.

On Park Street, the owner of Toy Safari put numbers on toys displayed in the window so they can be ordered by text; Island Print Express Inc. is printing out and donating all the required signage for essential businesses, and Twirl has shifted their business model to creating craft kits and offering free delivery.

The Downtown Alameda Business Association has turned their website into an information portal and stepped up their use of social media to share information among businesses and the community.

Read more in the East Bay Times:

One Fine Day in Alameda

With summer almost upon us, it’s time to start planning seaside outings. But you don’t have to head to Marin, the Peninsula, or Santa Cruz for an escape to the beach. The East Bay’s own Alameda features sandy shores and outdoor activities galore.

Fresh bay air begets healthy appetites, which Alameda’s two business districts stand ready to satisfy. On the island’s east end, Park Street presents so many dining options that choosing is the hardest part.

Alameda’s bike paths cover not just the main island along the shoreline route, but also Bay Farm Island—​the adjacent peninsula that connects to Alameda proper via two bridges (one for cars and a separate one for cyclists and pedestrians).

So cross a bridge or tunnel, or hop on the ferry from Jack London Square, and enjoy the island adventures that await just a short drive away from home.

View Diablo Magazine's picks for an island visit, including Downtown Alameda eateries:

Mama Papa Lithuania_Diablo Magazine

Why Alameda Is One of the Coolest Suburbs in America

Apartment Therapy-alameda-theater

Alameda was chosen as one of Apartment Therapy’s "Coolest Suburbs in America 2019." The publication showcases the burbs nationwide that offer the most when it comes to cultural activities, a sense of community, and simply a good quality of life.

Most people who live in San Francisco can tell you about hip new restaurants in Oakland or the best way to get to Berkeley. But ask them where Alameda is, and they might pause to check their phones. It’s too bad, because this low-key island city, located off the coast of Oakland, is a friendly-family town with lots of coastline and charm.

The island is a place for families who want to live in a small town that’s close to San Francisco, with bikeable streets, beaches, and a lively downtown shopping district.

Find out which Downtown Alameda places and activities help make our island city the coolest suburb:

Best of Alameda 2019: Downtown Alameda Businesses Take Top Honors

Congratulations to all the Downtown Alameda businesses that have been selected “Best of Alameda 2019” by the readers and editors of Alameda Magazine. As usual, there are a lot of them -- more than 50 this time around!

Winners were selected in four categories: Food & Drink, Retail, Services, and Lifestyle & Leisure. This year we saw quite a number of service-oriented businesses receive “Best of Alameda” honors for the first time. These friendly, professional service people are definitely worth checking out in addition to the marvelous shops and restaurants!

To view a list of all the Best of Alameda 2019 winners located in Downtown Alameda, check out our blog post:


A Weekend Escape to Alameda

The Star on Park Alameda

The city of Alameda, in the San Francisco Bay Area, is adjacent to Oakland — but it’s a world apart. Separated from the mainland by an estuary and connected by bridges, Alameda has a small-town, family-friendly appeal. Kids play outside on streets lined with large trees and striking Victorian homes; there are parks and beaches with million-dollar views fronting the bay. Visitors and locals can bike along the bay front, kayak or kite surf, or enjoy a picnic while watching the sunset.

Alameda Island, often overlooked in the high-wattage glow from its hip San Francisco and Oakland neighbors, has been discovered by popular Bay Area restaurateurs, betting that this city of young families will gobble up new offerings.

Get the scoop on popular Downtown Alameda eateries visited by Irene Lechowitsky, a Los Angeles Times travel writer:

The Essential Guide to Eating and Drinking in Alameda

Only a quick drive from the East Bay or a 22 minute ferry ride from SF, this island community has long offered a slower pace of life than its rambunctious neighbors Oakland and San Francisco. However, the tiny town of Alameda has seen an explosion of activity in recent years that’s turned it into a Bay Area dining and drinking destination in its own right.

The sunny island offers a surprisingly diverse range of cuisine for a land mass measuring only six-by-one square miles, from Japanese classics to the west coast’s only Lithuanian restaurant. Pair that with an ever-growing number of distilleries, breweries, and wineries, and it’s no wonder people have caught on to what was once known as the Bay Area’s best kept secret.

From breweries to old-school diners and tiki bars, this island has it all. Make it a day in the East Bay at one of these 38 essential restaurants: (half of them are located in Downtown Alameda!)

Mama Papa Lithuania Alameda restaurant

7x7 Magazine: A Modern Guide to Alameda

7x7 magazine and alameda

Alameda's time warp elements — think vintage arcades and a World War II-era aircraft carrier museum — are being paired with more modern spots: a number of art galleries, craft breweries, and waterfront cafes dreamt up by islanders looking to help Alameda grow without selling the soul of the city.

The area is also becoming a food-and-drink destination thanks to downtown restaurants serving authentic fare from as far away as Lithuania and Ethiopia, plus the solidified reputation of Spirits Alley, a popular stretch of former Navy hangars-turned-urban tasting rooms.

Eat... Drink... Play... Shop... 

Read about Downtown Alameda's featured businesses in the article "A Modern Guide to Alameda: A Small Island on the Path to Revitalization" posted on the 7x7 website:

This One Street In Northern California Has Every Type Of Restaurant You Can Imagine

It’s undeniable that Northern California has a thriving food scene. We’re home to an endless amount of talented chefs and unique restaurants. It’s pretty much a foodie’s paradise. However, there’s one specific town that contains almost every type of restaurant you can imagine. Whatever you find yourself in the mood for, there’s likely a restaurant that can satisfy your craving. The best part is they are all within walking distance of each other. You might just find that you have trouble picking one place out of all the amazing restaurants that line this street.

Park Street in Alameda, California could easily be considered a foodie's paradise. There's no chance you'll go hungry in this town because it's full of amazing places to eat:

Park Street, Alameda CA

Oakland Restaurateurs Are Opening in Alameda


Some of the East Bay’s most iconic restaurants are flocking to the Island for its family atmosphere and high foot traffic. Oakland is sharing some of its favorite tacos, pizza, and Asian fare with Alamedans by opening restaurants on the Island.

Restaurateurs are betting that customers will be willing to cross over bridges, barrel through the Webster Street tube, or just travel across town to indulge in some favorite East Bay dishes. The restaurant owners agreed that Alameda — booming with young families looking for affordable eats and, increasingly, visitors from around the Bay Area — was a logical next step in their evolution.

What once was often referred to as a Bay Area best-kept secret is a secret no longer:

Zagat: 10 Island Gems for Food & Drinks in Alameda

Oakland may grab the East Bay dining headlines these days thanks to a surge of restaurant and bar openings. But the adjacent residential island, Alameda, reflects the same growth and is equally rewarding for diners.

Mornings are made brighter with top-tier pastries at Crispian. Black Bull has several enticing taco creations. Diners will be satisfied by honest, straightforward cooking at Pappo. The island's distilleries and breweries alone could fill up your afternoon with beers and craft spirits.

Here are 10 delicious reasons to check out Alameda:

Zagat likes dining in Alameda

Alameda: Your Next Weekend Day Trip

If you mention “The Island” to most Bay Area locals, they might think you’re talking about Alcatraz and not the island just off Oakland. The City of Alameda (which is also in Alameda County) was once a sleepy town home to a Navy base and the Del Monte cannery. Today, it’s bustling with bars, restaurants, shopping, and, of course, the beach.

The Island hosts two major annual fairs on Park Street. Alameda also has a lot to choose from when you’re craving food from around the world, and it's mostly concentrated in the downtown district.

Take a break from the grind and head over to Alameda -- there’s a lot to dig about The Island’s vibe:

Sidestreet Pho Alameda

Alameda Magazine: Revisiting Park Street

Angela's Kitchen Alameda

For as small and quiet as the Island may seem, Alameda always keeps things fresh on Park Street...

It’s no secret that Park Street is one of the—if not the—cutest shopping and dining strips in Alameda County. For as small and quiet as the Island may seem, Alameda always keeps things fresh on Park Street. Last year, some 20 new businesses opened. Ring in 2016 by exploring what’s new in a day along Park Street’s tree-lined blocks.

For those who like a little history, just walk along Park Street to find remnants of the past, including the Masonic Temple and Lodge dating back to 1891 -- the building is one of many reminders of what Alameda looked like at the turn of the 20th century.

Shop... Fun... Eat... 

Continue reading about the featured businesses in the article "Park Street is for Lovers (of Shopping and Dining)" in the Jan-Feb 2016 issue of Alameda Magazine:

Park Street featured on CBS’s Eye on the Bay

A number of Downtown Alameda businesses have been featured on CBS Channel 5’s popular show “Eye on the Bay.”

If you had been on Park Street in the 1950’s you would have seen soda shops and old diners. Actually, you still see those remnants of days gone by, alongside the modern businesses of today. 

Stops included Alameda Marketplace, Alameda Museum, Alameda Theatre & Cineplex, Ole’s Waffle Shop, Toy Safari, and Tucker’s Ice Cream.

If you missed the original episode shown on May 19, 2011, you can view it on this page:
Eye on the Bay - Day Trip Alameda

shop downtown alameda

The Park Street Business District is California's Gold

shop for books in Alameda

Huell Howser made a stop in Alameda back in 2009. The Alameda episode of "California's Gold" featured Ole’s Waffle Shop, Alameda Theatre & Cineplex, and Tucker's Ice Cream.

While strolling along the sidewalks of our historic downtown, Huell exclaimed in his distinctive Southern accent, "Look at the windows! Look at the work!... The architecture!" while pointing out the historic buildings that are home to We Are Hair, Burma Superstar, Daisy's, and Books Inc.

If you missed the original episode, you can view it on the California Redevelopment Association's YouTube page. It's also available for purchase on the Huell Howser Productions website.

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