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Where to live in Oakland for food?

In terms of price per sq ft on that Trulia data, 4 of the top 8 neighborhoods (Fairview Park, Shafter, Upper Rockridge and Rockridge) are generally considered to be in Rockridge -- in fact they more or less compose what is commonly thought of as Rockridge -- whereas the other 4 areas (with the possible exception, depending on how you look at it, of the neighborhood they call "Piedmont Avenue") don't really have their own retail districts. In a sense those other four districts are "ringers", specifically they are residential real estate designations more than they are self-contained neighborhoods with their own neighborhood restaurants.

So I'd argue that Trulia data could be interpreted to support the contention that Rockridge is the most expensive neighborhood in Oakland. More than anything, it depends on one's definition of "neighborhood", which gets really tricky any time real estate values are increasing and property owners and developers get motivated to carve out new neighborhood names and so forth.

Jun 07, 2014
jayporter in San Francisco Bay Area

Where to live in Oakland for food?

The things you're looking for are plentiful in many parts of Oakland. I live in "downtown" Fruitvale, and here you can find almost everything on that list Fruitvale/Dimond/Laurel area between Fruitvale Av, High St, MacArthur and 880, which about a 5-8 minute drive all the way across (i.e., everything is close).

- weekly farmers market - This is one exception for me, at this point. Fruitvale Station has one though it's really not at the level of the others in Grand Lake, Temescal, etc.

- great bread baker - La Farine is well regarded, though I have no personal experience with it.

- neighborhood coffee place where DH can get coffee beans (of the single origin, small roast variety) - The Hive on MacArthur (Highwire), Cafe 3016 on MacArther (Wrecking Ball)

- regular supermarket - Farmer Joe's (two locations, I usually go to the big one)

- good, cheap, baby friendly week day restaurants - Many, particularly the Mexican restaurants

- vegetarian friendly options - Fists of Flour pizza (aka the Dough-Jo), Cafe Vientian

- nice craft beer bar - closest so far are Brotzeit and Portal

- nice place to have drinks outside - Obelisco for beer once they get their license, a little north is Brotzeit on the water, Portal

- near costco - San Leandro, Hayward

- several different kinds of ethnic grocers nearby - here we have lots of Mexican grocers, a couple neighborhoods north (San Antonio) is a collection of Asian markets.

- several superlative restaurants - Many including Campos, Obelisco, Vientiane, The Doughjo, El Grullense; and for street-style eats there is Gran Chiquita, Pipirin, et al.

Hope you find this helpful!

Jun 06, 2014
jayporter in San Francisco Bay Area
1

Eating in Valle de Guadalupe, Baja - Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

@SDClark5 the current thinking is November/December 2014 but it could be pushed a couple months in either direction depending on circumstances.

Apr 16, 2014
jayporter in Mexico

Eating in Valle de Guadalupe, Baja - Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

I'm in touch with Drew off and on, and he told me that Deckman's is not going to be open in April. If I hear when exactly it is opening, I'll try to remember to let folks know one way or another. Last year I think it was a bit later in the season.

As an alternative, I believe Chef Ryan Steyn is working at the El Cielo winery, the restaurant is Latitud 32 (mentioned below in another post). (for more, see http://www.lifeandfoodblog.com/?p=5869 ). I've not been there, but I really like Ryan's cooking. http://vinoselcielo.com/contacto.php

Also, La Villa del Valle has an outdoor, casual place next to their winery (Vena Cava) now, called Troika. It's a pretty enjoyable setup.

Apr 15, 2014
jayporter in Mexico

Fresh masa items, made to order

In SF, I'm pretty sure that both Nopalito and La Urbana nixtamalize their own corn and make their own tortillas. At La Urbana I've only had them in the taco garage, I don't know about the main restaurant.

In the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland, Taco Grill, El Grullense and Taqueria Campos make corn tortillas to order, although at the latter too you have to specifically request it. (There are more places than these in the neighborhood that make their own tortillas, but I don't remember them all.) I don't know for sure that the nixtamal comes from corn and not masa harina, but based on the flavor I suspect it is fresh.

Apr 09, 2014
jayporter in San Francisco Bay Area

Carnitas - East Bay

A little internet research suggests that Jesus moved from the 3800 block of Foothill to his new location on the corner of Foothill and 36th.

Apr 07, 2014
jayporter in San Francisco Bay Area

Carnitas - East Bay

You know, I can personally verify that the current operator of Taqueria Durango (Foothill at 36th Ave) is a gentleman named Jesus who is originally from Durango, and he barbecues in the parking lot every day, smoke and all. I'm guessing from your description it's the same person you remember. (Also, his carnitas are tasty.) You might want to check back in if that's what you're hoping to find.

Edit: I've also had the beans in question recently and they were super, too.

One more edit: I said every day but I think he takes one or two days off per week. I don't know which ones.

Apr 07, 2014
jayporter in San Francisco Bay Area

Uno Dos Taco [Russian Hill, San Francisco]

In Baja -- specifically Ensenada and San Felipe, the towns from where the dish hails, but most other towns too -- the fish is usually fried in lard in a kind of upside-down comal (I forget the name of it) that looks like a wok with a ledge around the edge. You can see one in the picture that @Melanie Wong posted below. The fish is deep fried in the lard and then set on the ledge until someone orders it, at which time it's dunked back in the lard for finishing and to heat it up.

BTW, the stand in that photo, El Nuevo Jaliscience, makes the favorite fish/shrimp taco of many people in Ensenada, and their preparation is very traditional.

Apr 05, 2014
jayporter in San Francisco Bay Area

San Diego breweries among best in the world....

I think you misread my post.

Apr 04, 2014
jayporter in San Diego

San Diego breweries among best in the world....

@MrKrispy, regarding doing a tour, there is actually a kind of nexus of craft beer forming around the waterfront: San Leandro, Alameda, Fruitvale (Oak), West Oakland, Berkeley and Dogpatch (SF). Once everything is going full steam you could do a pretty great bike tour particularly if you incorporate the ferry or BART, and I imagine at some point a water-based tour might develop. (Uber would also be easy if bikes aren't your thing.) Off the top of my head in this area I can think of Magnolia Dogpatch, Anchor Brewing, 21st Amendment (building in San Leandro), The Rare Barrel, Linden Street, Ale Industries, Drake's, and Faction.

I see a parallel to how in San Diego in the last couple years, breweries have found a way to expand from the more remote industrial areas into integrating themselves more in the urban and close-in areas, whether it's Stone opening satellites in the city or Societe choosing to be in the CMB as opposed to inland North County. I think it's great for a city/region when this happens because it helps weave the product and places into day-to-day life (and make it more of a tourist draw, too).

Apr 03, 2014
jayporter in San Diego

Great coffee in SD..?

Thanks @jmtreg. I think you're saying that to you, "hipster" refers to the fashion & design aesthetic you describe. I get that. I feel like some other people use it differently, but I don't have a lot of evidence.

Apr 01, 2014
jayporter in San Diego

Great coffee in SD..?

Oh, I spent plenty of time there in my car or cubicle - 7ish years in tech. You are right about me having no appreciation for the vibe! :-)

Apr 01, 2014
jayporter in San Diego

Great coffee in SD..?

It's an all-cars land.

Apr 01, 2014
jayporter in San Diego

Great coffee in SD..?

Well, yeah, it's easy to see it as kind of cultural conflict between craft/3rd wave people and the "mainstream" and of course I'm kind of well known (justified or not, probably mostly justified) for being disposed to that position anyway.

But I don't think the "hipster" appellation is that simple. For instance, in the conversation I was having with my friend last night, we both think C&TC is fantastic -- great quality, friendly service, etc, totally different than @globocity's take on the experience -- and yet we still referred to it as a "hipster" place. I know what we meant, but I don't think it's what @globocity meant and I'm not sure if it's what @jmtreg meant.

Simply put, I do think people must have an idea in their heads of what it means for something to be "hipster", but I also think that not many of us have the *same* idea. In fact, I wonder how divergent that idea is! And I suspect the differences may be illuminating. Certainly the readiness with which that label is attached to certain food and beverage endeavors must be relevant, too.

Basically, I'd just like to know more about where everyone's coming from. I don't really have a hypothesis.

Mar 31, 2014
jayporter in San Diego

Uno Dos Taco [Russian Hill, San Francisco]

For what it's worth, pico de gallo -- while less common on fish tacos in Northern California -- is a typical condiment on a Baja fish taco. The photos in this blog post by Bill Esparza provide a good overview of how fish tacos typically look and are dressed in Ensenada: http://www.streetgourmetla.com/2010/1...

Ensenada is pretty remote from most of Mexico -- it's closer to Vancouver than Mexico City -- and I observe that oftentimes cooks who are expert in Mexican cuisine don't have as much familiarity with Baja food, and they re-interpret it fairly freely. I notice that at many places in the Bay, dishes from mainland Mexico are prepared with intense authenticity, while dishes from Baja seem like they've been run through a conceptual filter.

I should add that better tomatoes are more available year-round in Baja than they are in Northern California, which may also account for some of the difference in how often pico de gallo is used.

Mar 31, 2014
jayporter in San Francisco Bay Area
2

Great coffee in SD..?

@globocity - can I ask what the word(s) "hipster" or "hipsterness" mean to you in this context?

I appreciate your willingness to engage, I'm really interested in the topic and I think it has a lot of relevance to the food scene.

Mar 31, 2014
jayporter in San Diego

Great coffee in SD..?

@jmtreg -

Please indulge a question which is tangentially related to the core subject of this thread.

I was having a conversation yesterday with a friend who is a national travel writer and who, like me, thinks C&T Collective would be popular and quality-competitive in even the most coffee-forward cities in the country (well, that part is directly on point to the OP, so there).

Of course, in our conversation about C&TC, the word "hipster" came up. We mooted our thoughts about what that word means in such a context, and now I'm curious -- 1) what it is about C&TC that, for you, evokes the word/idea "hipster" and 2) how would you describe what you mean when you use that word in this context?

I feel this question is somewhat important to understanding certain dynamics of the market for independent food businesses, and I'd love to understand it better.

Thanks
Jay

Mar 31, 2014
jayporter in San Diego

Fish Tacos - SF Dish of the Month March 2014

IMO the price of doing real fish tacos in the Bay Area would be far beyond what the market would bear -- I think it would end up costing over $6 per taco, sometimes well over that, depending on the season. Additionally, I think frying fish in lard wouldn't fly here and they don't taste right in canola (or other vegetable) oil. Plus, serving shark, which I think is the most characteristic taco fish in Ensenada, is difficult. Even sustainably caught small sharks from robust fisheries tend to generate negative energy in California, a la Patagonian Toothfish/Chilean Sea Bass.

Personally, I've come to just enjoy that fish tacos are a Baja thing that don't translate to other places. It's nice that there are still some things like that.

Mar 27, 2014
jayporter in San Francisco Bay Area
4

"Authentic" inexpensive homestyle Mexican?

Of that kind of restaurant, Taqueria Campos in Oakland is the one I've most enjoyed in (Alta) California. Foothill near 37th.

http://www.facebook.com/TaqueriaCampos

Mar 23, 2014
jayporter in San Francisco Bay Area

Atlanta Chef Richard Blais Opening "Juniper & Ivy" in February

Did you guys notice this piece? :

"What's your impression so far of San Diego, food-wise, and why do you think it rarely attracts national attention?

There's no reason why it can't get national attention, there's tons of talent here. To be honest, I think there's a gap in the market; there are some really amazing white tablecloth fine dining spots and then there's another level of restaurant that's really fun and high-design, where the cocktails are great and the food's just good enough. There's a gap between those two and hopefully Juniper & Ivy can fit in there.

Why can't San Diego go through the renaissance that Los Angeles has over the last five years or be as good as San Francisco?

It's not the products, it's not the cooks, it's not the diner, so there's no reason why San Diego can't be as good as LA"

If he's correct in his observations, and if his organization can bring a lot of resources into the scene to bridge that gap, it could be great for San Diego.

Feb 24, 2014
jayporter in San Diego
1

San Diego dining scene getting better?

I disagree, 9/10 is totally wrong.

Feb 14, 2014
jayporter in San Diego

San Diego dining scene getting better?

I can tell you that, from discussion I've had with people who owned "mid-level" restaurants in the center city area, the amount of money that customers spent in those restaurants declined notably starting with the crash in 2008 and continuing for several years afterwards. Bistros that had $40+ guest spend averages (which is computed before tax & tip) in 2007-08 were finding that their guests were spending more typically $25. (Remember, this is an average, not any one person.) That shift has obviously had an effect on the menus, formats, ingredients, and product mix of center city restaurants. Also I think it's why, even for mid-level bistro places, you see them expanding/moving to North County Coastal, where it may be possible to keep check averages up higher (cf Solace, Cucina Urbana, and now potentially Farmhouse).

To oversimplify a bit, basically a $40+ per person spend is kind of the minimum average you need to do a good mid-level bistro with the kind of offerings and quality that, for instance, posters on this board would appreciate. And you need to be busy with customers while keeping that average high. When a market can't support those numbers, you're going see a lot operators explore other business models, the kinds of places that have become familiar now in central SD: bar-centric venues; counter-service casual; flour (pizza/pasta/ramen) based menus; burgers; beer. Given that the options are limited for operators in the area, I think central SD restaurants are acquitting themselves pretty well and doing amazing work given the constraints they operate in.

That said, a bunch of other bistro-style restaurants may figure out the code for how to get the margins they need in central SD (for instance, Smoking Goat may start a trend in that way). So it's not like what's happened the last few years needs to define the future. But I think that's why the ecosystem has changed in the way that it has.

[One quick edit, there are couple ways to calculate guest spend average, in this post I'm using the lower way. For restaurants that use the higher way, the numbers might be, say $50 and $35 instead of $40 and $25, I'm not totally sure. Basically the difference is if you include people who don't order a main dish, i.e., if they're coming in just for drinks or snacks or dessert. Restaurants usually pick the method depending on their own circumstances and goals.)

Feb 14, 2014
jayporter in San Diego
1

San Diego dining scene getting better?

When I'm in that situation (i.e., in SD but not for long enough to cross the border) I try to get to TJ Oyster Bar. I crave those flavors and don't know anywhere in the Bay Area (or any other place in the US for that matter) to get them, with the same quality seafood.

Feb 14, 2014
jayporter in San Diego

San Diego CLOSED Restaurants: Thread Three- The Saga Continues.

@FN

I don't disagree with anything in that response. I would add that, in contemporary life, selling *any* product that is not a strict commodity is an exercise in connecting people with the idealized version of themselves. Or, as you say, "wrapping one's identity around the product that goes well beyond the rational enjoyment of the product." That gap -- between a good product and the experience of reimagining yourself as having an identity associated with that product -- is the sole source of profit in consumer-driven capitalism.

Which means that that gap, minus the costs of branding and marketing, *is* the profit. Which means that that gap is actually the *product* itself. (I know you know all this from your day job, but I just like to write it out step by step.)

I think what may be the source of the frustration you express on the beer issue, is how large of a percentage of the population of San Diego has an idealized version of themselves as Cicerone-grade beer aficionados, compared to how small of a percentage has an idealized version of themselves as, say, people who really enjoy high-quality food and wine, or art and design, or thoughtful conversation, or whatever other options are out there. In certain contexts, I share(d) similar frustration, so I relate (or perhaps I just ascribe my feelings to you, who knows).

Anyway, like I said, I don't disagree with you at all. I just think you're taking out frustrations with other issues on the one culinary area in which San Diego has actually, honestly, organically, excelled.

Feb 04, 2014
jayporter in San Diego
1

San Diego CLOSED Restaurants: Thread Three- The Saga Continues.

The link to the full article got smushed in that post, it should be: http://www.ediblecommunities.com/sand...

Note that it is a PDF link.

Feb 03, 2014
jayporter in San Diego

San Diego CLOSED Restaurants: Thread Three- The Saga Continues.

@Fake Name,

I'm pretty sure that, at this point, there's no indication that Napa's physical terroir is far better suited for making great wine than other California winemaking regions (including, for that matter, San Diego's). The reasons Napa came to the forefront had to do with its cultural history that supported great winemaking including growing the right grapes for the location, and some great business development and marketing (like the Judgement of Paris). Which, as you've pointed out, are pretty much the same reasons San Diego has come to the forefront of making great beer.

The big difference you point out between a local wine scene and a local beer scene is that, with wine, the core product is grown in the region, but with beer, that's not the case (in San Diego). That's true, but it doesn't make the connection of beer to the place any less relevant.

For instance: another product that doesn't grow in San Diego is beef -- the core component of a carne asada burrito. But that doesn't render the cultural connection of San Diego and the CAB meaningless. CABs are part of the local culture, with an interesting history that speaks, somewhat, to what it means to live in San Diego. Certainly it's no shame that there are so many CABs in San Diego, nor is it a bummer that San Diego's restaurants usually serve good beer.

As to Honkman's point that a craft beer program can be (and in many cases are) marketed to hide a lack of a focus on food, well, I don't disagree with that.

Feb 03, 2014
jayporter in San Diego
1

San Diego CLOSED Restaurants: Thread Three- The Saga Continues.

Here's a little more on that point (from an article I researched/wrote for Edible San Diego in 2008: http://www.ediblecommunities.com/sand...):

Chuck Silva, brewmaster at Green Flash, says that, for brewing purposes, San Diego water is actually rather good. “San Diego has hard water with some higher mineral content similar to the water in England, which favors ‘ale brewing.’” (Now I know why my English friends prefer beer to water.) Chuck believes that, in particular, “Hop character tends to be enhanced in ales brewed with hard water.” This combination of our water composition and the trend to heavily hopped styles may provide the foundation on which San Diego brewing has flourished.

Feb 03, 2014
jayporter in San Diego

The Headquarters at Seaport Village. .

Hi Honkman! We (The Linkery & El Take It Easy) did try out South Bay Salt Works salt, and several others, but we eventually settled on San Felipe Salt (http://sanfelipesalt.com/) as our finishing salt.

Dec 05, 2013
jayporter in San Diego

The Headquarters at Seaport Village. .

Actually, that may well be true (that CF and its ilk are responsible for cancer). There's a growing amount of research indicating that cancer and other "western diseases" are precipitated by changes to body chemistry that result from the large amount of sugar, HFCS and processed flour we eat in our industrial diet.

It's easy to blame people's "self-discipline" for that diet, but the fact is that humans evolved in a context where sweet food wasn't abundant, and for health reasons was best consumed whenever it was encountered. The processed-food-industrial complex -- specifically companies like Sysco and their retail partners like CF -- do in fact exploit that evolutionary maladaptation for profit, at the expense of the health of their customers.

Sysco and other broadline distributors do, as you say in an earlier post, carry products at many levels of quality, but none of those quality levels are particularly good. As a result, CF, and any other restaurant that depends on the industrial food system for its ingredients, can't serve particularly good food. It may be better-prepared, or more palatable, than most other industrial restaurants -- but it can't be good in any meaningful way, nor can it be nutritious in any meaningful way.

That said, I can't imagine it won't be successful, given their proven ability to execute, their strong national brand, and a location that seems to be able to draw both toursits and locals.

Nov 19, 2013
jayporter in San Diego
1

Nixtamal

At the tortilleria part of Pancho Villa in North Park/City Heights, they sell both plain nixtamal and prepared nixtamal (for tamales). Check in the deli fridge across from the tortilleria first, and if they are out of stock there (or if you want to buy a lot of masa) they will package some up for you. Just ask one of the team members. Also, IIRC the tortilleria is open in the mornings and closes midafternoon, so it can be a little harder to procure in the evening.

(Disclaimer: this information was good a few months ago, I haven't been since then.)

Oct 29, 2013
jayporter in San Diego