Neighborhood Roundup: Grand Lake, Oakland

With its wide boulevard, neoclassical movie palace, and weekly farmers' market, Oakland's Grand Lake neighborhood is a walkable paradise of restaurants, cafés, and shops that frequently appear on Chowhounds' list of favorite destinations. Aside from the usual suspects that can be found in glossy magazine write-ups, hounds recommend the following:

Jong Ga House [East Bay]
372 Grand Avenue, Oakland
510-444-7658

At Jong Ga House, jillyju appreciates the generous spread of banchan (which drewskiSF says has increased over the years to now include 18 varieties of Korean hors d'oeuvres). Both recommend the free kimchi noodle soup that arrives before the meal.

Café Romanat [East Bay]
462 Santa Clara Avenue, Oakland
510-444-1800

While many hounds recommended Enssaro, another neighborhood Ethiopian restaurant, moto says that the food at Café Romanat is seasoned slightly more assertively, and the seating and ambience are more comfortable than at Enssaro.

Ikaros [East Bay]
3268 Grand Avenue, Oakland
510-899-4400

Stephanie Wong praises the hefty portions at this sit-down Greek restaurant, such as the lamb shank. Ikaros serves beer and wine (unlike the takeout-friendly Simply Greek), and its pita and dips, made with yogurt produced on the Peninsula, are also excellent, Stephanie Wong says.

Caña Cuban Parlor & Café [East Bay]
530 Lake Park Avenue, Oakland
510-832-1515

Though Caña claims to be the Bay Area's "only authentic Cuban restaurant," abstractpoet wasn't a fan when it opened, although its tasty Media Noche sandwich has since won him over. Made with ham, roasted pork, a pickle, cheese, and a ton of mustard, the Media Noche differs from the Cubano sandwich in part because it's served on a slightly sweet, eggy bread. At $6, it's one of the better bargains on the menu.

Grand Lake Farmers Market [East Bay]
Grand Avenue and Lake Park Avenue, Oakland

daveena points out that this market has been killing it in recent weeks with a "compact collection of excellent East Bay vendors" that includes Starter Bakery, Scream Sorbet, Barlovento Chocolates, OctoberFeast Bakery, and Phoenix Pastificio. It's open on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. year-round.

Oaktown Spice Shop [East Bay]
530 Grand Avenue, Oakland
510-201-5400

In a thread earlier this year, santoku45 said that this new spice outlet on Grand Avenue features a comprehensive selection of spices, including three types of vanilla bean, five kinds of cinnamon, and many varieties of both salt and black pepper that are conveniently packaged.

Discuss: Grand Lake (Oakland): What to Eat and Where?
Best Place in the Bay Area to buy Spices?