Oakland City Guide

Traci’s guide for what to eat and do while you’re in her hometown of Oakland for the Live in The Stacks tour.


Kissel in Uptown Oakland

There are two new hotels in downtown Oakland, which is known as Uptown Oakland, which is a bit confusing. Both hotels are near Crybaby, the venue for the show. Check out Kissel Uptown Oakland or Moxy Oakland Downtown.

Check out a Bay Area legend, and stay at The Claremont Hotel. This is where my parents were married back in 1980. If you do stay here be sure to get breakfast across the street at Rick and Ann’s. (Full disclosure the hotel is in Berkeley, but it’s a stone’s throw from Oakland).


I know I’m biased but Oakland has so much fun stuff to do. Here are a few of my favorite activities.

Lake Merritt
The Bay Bridge path

I also recommend Montclair Village, Lakeshore Avenue, College Avenue, and Piedmont Avenue, as cute areas with shops, restaurants, and more that are walkable and have lots to offer.

This is an Oakland guide so I’m giving you Oakland activities, but if you’re inclined, you can also visit San Francisco, and here are some ideas of what to do there. Oakland is a short BART ride away!


I obviously cannot be chill when it comes to food, so I am giving you a range of places to eat, drink, and be merry. I’ve got pizza counters to sit down spots, and I’ve left you a handful of places right by Crybaby to make it easy on the day of the show. 

Near Crybaby
Pizza from Mama’s Boy Pizza
  • Mama’s Boy Pizza is the spot for a slice of NYC style pizza.
  • For a delicious sit down California cuisine spot MUA is top tier.
  • For some sushi, sake, and cocktails check out Yonsei Handrolls.
  • Palmetto is two doors down from Crybaby and one of Mama Stacks’ favorite spots. They also have the Kon-Tiki Room attached if you want to get your vibes extra right.
  • Parche is a Colombian spot up the block from Crybaby that also does brunch. 
  • Shawarma anybody? Check out Shawarmaji for some delicious and quick eats.
Bar Vibes
Book wall at North Light
  • Snail Bar is a great place for a cocktail
  • If you like greyhounds and a ton of quirk you must go to Cafe Van Kleef where they squeeze grapefruit juice freshly for each cocktail.
  • Bocce ball with your drink? Check out Make Westing, which is down the block from Crybaby.
  • One of my favorite sports bars ever is Athletic Club Oakland!
  • North Light is a bar with yummy cocktails, an outdoor patio, and a wall of books, need I say more?
  • If you’re looking for a Caribbean beach club in the heart of Oakland, look no further than Sand Bar!
Lunch, Brunch, Coffee, and Sweets
Sugar Sweet Bakery
  • For all my sweet tooth having friends, you must get goodies from Sugar Sweet bakery. If you like down home baking with tons of flavor, you’ll love it here!
  • Colonial Donuts has two locations and is truly the most important donut purveyor of my life.
  • Red Bay Coffee is Black owned coffee spot in the uptown neighborhood.
  • Ice cream lovers you gotta go to Fenton’s, they serve food, which is fine, but the ice cream sundaes are massive and delish. I personally love Black and white but I sub for their swiss milk chocolate ice cream!
  • Grand Lake Kitchen is giving you the morning after brunch you need!
  • Kitchen Story is giving you a Korean inspired breakfast and brunch situation, you do not want to miss.
Other Food Spots
Taco from Tacos Sinaloa
  • Lena’s Soul Food is the spot. The portions are huge and so damn good. I’m partial to the fried chicken, but I’ve never had a bad bite at Lena’s
  • Arthur Mac’s is my go to outdoor pizza spot, greasy yummy, and a great vibe.
  • Zachary’s Pizza is a deep dish pizza institution, with multiple locations in the Bay. I’ve had Chicago deep dish, and to me, this is better. Also highly suggest the caesar salad if you like a lot of garlicky goodness.
  • Tacos Sinaloa is my favorite taco truck in Oakland. I live for their carnitas.
  • Fried chicken sandwich game is on point at OK’s Deli.
  • If you want a Mediterranean vibe, check out Shakewell, they offer brunch on the weekends.
  • For the vegan homies, Vegan Mob is your spot for vegan BBQ and Soul Food.


Did you think I would have a city guide without bookstores?

Marcus Books
  • Marcus Books is a literary institution in the Bay Area. It is black owned and was founded in 1960. The curation is A+ and the vibes match. 
  • A Great Good Place for Books is the indie that I frequented a lot in my youth. Located in Montclair Village (a cute commercial area with shops and restaurants) and just doors down from the aforementioned, Colonial Donuts
  • Spectator Books is a queer woman owned bookstore with new and used books and a variety of movies, puzzles, and more!
  • The Bookmark Bookstore is the Friends of the Oakland Public Library’s bookstore. They stock gently used books and media and the proceeds go to the Oakland Public Library. The store is run by volunteers. I love it.
  • Walden Pond Books this is one of those chaotic bookstores with so much charm. They’ve got new, used, and rare books. They have a bookstore cat and a wonderful staff.
  • Book/Shop is all about vibes and aesthetics. If you’re seriously looking for a book, maybe skip, but if you want an art scene with your bookstore, then this is your place.
Spectator Books
  • Pegasus Books has a few locations, and my favorite is the one in Rockridge. The store is bright and open with huge shelves. They have new and used books, and are located College Avenue, another street with cute shops and food.
  • Owl & Company is books on top of books! This woman owned bookstore is the place to go for secondhand books. 

Recommendations from The Stacks’ Community

These picks were sourced from The Stacks listeners, as their favorite spots in Oakland!

  • Bombera is a Mexican restaurant opened by James Beard Award winning chef, Dominica Rice
  • Brenda’s is billed as a new New Orleans Kitchen and serves soul food and southern cooking.
  • Gregory’s Undergound Bakery, just in case you need more sweets.
  • Bardo’s is a lounge and supper club in the Grand Lake district of Oakalnd.
  • Arizmendi is a beloved Bay Area bakery that has delicious pizzas, treats, and salads.
  • If you’re in the mood for sushi check out Mujiri.
  • Shandong is a no frills Chinese restaurant.

If you still want more, or have specific interests, I highly recommend the Visit Oakland website. Here is their list of 100 Things to do in Oakland.