Top picks for Oakland Restaurant Week 2019

Shakewell on Lakeshore Avenue. Photo: Shakewell/Facebook

It’s January, the month of Restaurant Week, and what better way to break all those new dietary resolutions you just made than by feasting like royalty at local eateries. As always, Restaurant Week is a fun way to try some new spots around town, and often, participating places will offer special deals to make it worth your visit.

Oakland Restaurant Week 2019 takes place Jan. 11-20. Many restaurants offer prix fixe meals with several choices, to allow diners to taste a few items at cheaper prices than their regular a la carte menus.

This year, more than 80 restaurants spread out around Oakland are taking part. We’ve studied the menus and chosen to highlight some of the best deals for each price point ($10-splurge). (Not all participating restaurants have posted menus online as of press time. Also note, many of the restaurants featured offer other deals at other price points, so check the Oakland Restaurant Week website for more details). Remember that unless noted, tax and tip aren’t included in the price.

$10 lunch

BROTZEIT LOKAL Bavarian waterfront gastropub Brotzeit Lokal in Jack London Square is serving a $10 Lunchbox deal, where diners choose between two options for an afternoon meal: Lokal Wurst (choose one from five types, including a vegan sausage) and choice of fries or salad; or the hearty Lokal Salad, made with mixed greens, radishes, potato, croutons, bacon, sliced egg, avocado. Brotzeit Lokal, 1000 Embarcadero (near 10th), Oakland


DOÑA TOMÁS We’re partial to the batter-fried rock shrimp and the achiote-marinated grilled chicken thighs to fill our burritos from Doña Tomás, but we wouldn’t be mad at any of the other filling choices, like beef barbacoa, carnitas or wild king trumpet mushrooms sauteed with garlic. Choose any burrito and get an agua fresca or soda, all for $10. Over the two OWR weekends, between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., Doña Tomás offers a $10 brunch deal, featuring two versions of chilaquiles: verde, made with tomatillo salsa or rojo, with guajillo salsa. Doña Tomás, 5004 Telegraph Ave. (between 49th and 51st), Oakland

A deep dish pizza from The Star on Grand. During Oakland Restaurant Week, diners can get a personal-sized version with small side salad for $10.  Photo: The Star

THE STAR ON GRAND While some pizza purists may argue that Chicago-style isn’t “real pizza,” does it really matter when the resulting pie is delicious? It’s still cheesy, bready goodness. Fortunately, The Star’s $10 OWR lunch deal gives a choice of any small personal signature thin-crust or deep-dish pizza, plus any small side salad. So, go ahead, invite your smug deep-dish-hating friend to lunch — they can get their own pie! The Star on Grand, 3425 Grand Ave. (near Elwood), Oakland

$20 lunch, brunch and dinner

BENCHMARK OAKLAND Even if you live closer to the original Kensington location, Benchmark’s new Old Oakland restaurant is worth a visit, especially during Restaurant Week, where the Cal-Italian spot has a $20 deal, available for lunch or dinner, featuring a bowl of soup and the Benchmark Pizza (tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, Sicilian oregano and extra virgin olive oil). To keep you refreshed, Benchmark is extending its happy hour pricing for house beer ($5) and house wine ($7) throughout OWR.  Benchmark Oakland, 499 9th St. (at Washington), Oakland

A classic bowl of beef noodle soup from Dragon Gate Bar & Grille in Oakland. Photo: Justine Wang

DRAGON GATE BAR AND GRILLE Over on the border of Jack London Square, Chinatown and Old Oakland sits Dragon Gate. It’s dark and loungey inside, and reminds us of a bar you might see in a movie like “Big Trouble in Little China.” It also serves a solid menu of Taiwanese and Hong Kong Street street food. Dragon Gate has several offers for OWR, but we chose the $20 prix-fixe option, which is available for lunch or dinner, because it offers some of our favorite Taiwanese dishes. The first course is the soup of the day; second course is includes street-style grilled handmade Taiwanese pork sausage and popcorn chicken, and the third course is the beef noodle soup. Nosh writer Justine Wang wrote of Dragon Gate’s version: “One sip of this dish — made with big chunks of beef, ginger root and daikon radish — brings me back to sick days under my grandmother’s care, who’d feed me a humble bowl of soup made with the utmost love and good wishes for my health.” End your meal with a round of karaoke in one of Dragon Gate’s private rooms for the true Taiwanese bar experience. Dragon Gate Bar and Grille, 300 Broadway (near Third), Oakland

JULIE’S  In Temescal, we’re enticed by Julie’s $20 brunch deal, available Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Diners get a cup of coffee or tea, shakshuka made with two poached eggs (or tofu) and a cheddar biscuit or vegan coffee cake. Another reason to go? Julie’s is one of several participating businesses that is donating a portion of their ORW proceeds to the Alameda County Community Food Bank. Julie’s, 4316 Telegraph (at 43rd), Oakland 

The kebab plate with king trumpet mushroom kebab at The Kebabery in Longfellow. Photo: Sarah Han

THE KEBABERY In December, we said goodbye to Camino, but thank goodness its sister restaurant, The Kebabery is still around. This fast-casual Cal-Med spot in Longfellow is definitely not Camino, but the quality of food served — and the friendly people who work there — are right on par. For Oakland Restaurant Week, The Kebabery is repeating its special from last year: $20 gets you one kebab plate, shoestring fries and a dainty cup of chocolate pudding. The Kebabery, 4201 Market St. (at 42nd), Oakland

PARLOUR For Cal-Italian in Uptown, head to Parlour, where you’ll find a $20 three-course lunch special. The meal starts with a choice of the soup of the day or arugula salad with Asian pear and manchego; the second course choices are ricotta gnudi (dumplings) with mushrooms and brown butter sauce or rock cod with cauliflower and sweet-sour agrodolce. Diners choose between two sweet endings: vanilla panna cotta or persimmon sorbet. Parlour, 357 19th St. (at Webster), Oakland  

PLUM BAR For Oakland Restaurant Week, Plum Bar offers its adult version of the “Happy Meal” at a $5 discount. For $21, the deal includes a cheeseburger (or veggie burger) and fries, draft beer from Fort Point or Anchor Brewing and a shot of Fernet, Evan Williams bourbon or Altos tequila. Plum Bar opens at 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 5 p.m. on Saturdays and is closed on Sundays. Plum Bar, 2216 Broadway (at Broadway), Oakland

$30 lunch and dinner

ALAMAR KITCHEN & BAR Seafood-heavy Dominican and Mediterranean-inflected eats are what you’ll find at alaMar Kitchen & Bar. Although alaMar is offering a $10 lunch and $20 brunch deal, we’re most interested in the $30 meal, which features a choice of entrees, including two of its signature dishes: braised oxtails with black beans, rice and plantains and peel-and-eat Gulf shrimp boil with chorizo sausage and Yukon gold potatoes (The third option is a crisp chicken with mango salsa verde, served with rice, beans and plantains ). The meal also comes with a choice of starter: honey garlic shrimp sopes or “Fall-Off-the-Bone” wings. alaMar, 100 Grand Ave. (between Webster and Valdez), Oakland 

Bomboloni, or Florentine donuts, are served with sage custard and bittersweet chocolate sauces at Bellanico in Glenview. Photo: Bellanico/Facebook

BELLANICO RESTAURANT AND WINE BAR On Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays for lunch and on Saturday and Sunday for brunch, diners can enjoy a three-course meal at this well-loved Park Boulevard neighborhood Italian spot. Each course offers two choices, including options like a Tombo tuna crudo with blood orange and pickled golden beets, sweet potato gnocchi with gorgonzola crema and bomboloni, Florentine donuts with sage custard and bittersweet chocolate sauces. Bellanico Restaurant and Wine Bar, 4238 Park Blvd. (at Wellington), Oakland

CHOP BAR Jack London Square comfort food joint Chop Bar will serve a $30 three-course dinner that comes with a glass of tap wine from neighboring winery, Urban Legend Wine Company. For the first course, choose from an arugula salad with candied walnuts, fruit and blue cheese or soup of the day; second course, the options are meatloaf with garlic mashed potatoes or smoked pork shoulder and red flint polenta, or a vegetarian pasta with goat cheese and seasonal vegetables. For dessert, choose between banana rum chocolate chip bread pudding or a fruit crisp. Chop Bar247 Fourth St. (at Alice), Oakland

Degrees Plato in Oakland’s Laurel district. Photo: Alix Wall

DEGREES PLATO The Laurel District’s Degrees Plato is a favorite neighborhood gathering place for beer lovers, but its Mexican fare has also garnered many fans who visit just for the eats. For Oakland Restaurant Week, it’ll be offering a four-course dinner, featuring housemade chips with guacamole and a duo of salsas, arugula and orange salad, blue corn quesadillas with Oaxacan cheese and poblano rajas, and coconut flan with blueberry sauce. Degrees Plato, 4251 MacArthur Blvd. (at High), Oakland

DOPO Dependably good Sicilian-Italian spot Dopo on Piedmont Avenue is participating in Oakland Restaurant Week with a three-course dinner menu featuring cold antipasti misti, hot antipasti misti, a choice of pizza and a half-portion of dessert. The catch: it requires you to bring a dining partner — two or more people must be in a party to get the deal and all guests at the table must participate. Dopo, 4293 Piedmont Ave. (at John), Oakland   

SEAWOLF PUBLIC HOUSE Jack London pub Seawolf is a neighborhood favorite for its wide drinks selection, satisfying comfort foods and friendly service. During Oakland Restaurant Week, it’s offering an especially welcoming deal for beer lovers, a $30 three-course menu with beer pairings. The first course is a blood orange and arugula salad with a kettle sour from Sudwerk Brewing Co.; the second course is a choice of beer-braised beef with root vegetables or roasted root vegetable tagliatelle with spicy arrabbiata sauce, both go down well with Drake’s amber ale. Finally, a salted caramel blondie with vanilla ice cream is served with BarrelHouse Brewing Co.’s Cold Brew blonde ale. Seawolf Public House, 402 Webster St. (at Fourth), Oakland

$40 lunch and dinner

A paella at Duende in Uptown Oakland. Diners can choose from a selection for the Oakland Restaurant Week dinner. Photo: Duende/Facebook

DUENDE You’ll need to find at least one dining partner to take advantage of the Oakland Restaurant Week $40 dinner offering at Paul Canales’ modern Uptown Spanish restaurant, Duende. The meal starts with an amuse bouche and a glass of cava, followed by a cabbage salad with mahon (a white cow’s milk cheese from Manorca), green olives and pistachio and crispy patatas bravas with spicy, creamy allioli. Diners make the hard choices on which paella and dessert to order. The price is per person, but two or more diners must be at the table and all guests must participate. Duende, 468 19th St. (at Telegraph), Oakland

MOCKINGBIRD If you still haven’t made it to Mockingbird’s new Downtown Oakland digs, Oakland Restaurant Week is a good chance to check it out for comforting and well-executed California bistro fare. The three-course dinner offers some of the restaurant’s most well-loved dishes. Starter choices include its famous fried Brussels sprouts, duck liver mousse or kale and chicory salad. Entree choices are Moroccan-spiced chicken, lamb and pork meatballs or a vegetable tagine. There’s only one choice for dessert — the Mockingbird bread pudding, topped with a decadent salted caramel sauce and whipped cream. Mockingbird, 416 13th St. (between Broadway and Franklin), Oakland

Za’atar manoushe flatbread served at Reem’s California. Photo: Luke Beard

REEM’S Both of Reem Assil’s restaurants are participating in Oakland Restaurant Week, but we’ve decided to highlight her Fruitvale fast-casual Arab food bakery, Reem’s, where a table of three (or four lighter eaters) can enjoy brunch for $40. The meal includes two warm flatbreads fresh out of the hearth — the earthy za’atar manoushe and a version made with Akkawi, a salty, white brined cheese; ful medames, a fava bean and chickpea stew; six pieces of falafel, a veggie plate and a basket of fresh pita. The deal is available Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. only. Reem’s California, 3301 E. 12th St. (between Fruitvale and 35th), Oakland

SHAKEWELL On Lakeshore Avenue, chef Jen Biesty’s Cal-Mediterranean Shakewell is participating in Oakland Restaurant Week with a three-course dinner offering. A little gem salad starts the meal, followed by a choice of local petrale sole or grilled pork rib cap for the main entree. End the meal with mini buttermilk vanilla panna cotta with mango-passion gelée. Shakewell, 3407 Lakeshore Ave. (near Mandana), Oakland

Splurge ($50+)

HOMESTEAD Fred and Liz Sassen’s restaurant on Piedmont Avenue is offering a family-style progressive dinner for $70 a person (service included, but note, at least two people must be dining and the entire table must participate). True, it’s a pretty penny, but consider the quality and variety of dishes offered at this decadent feast: kampachi crudo with citrus, radish and fennel; a little gem salad with Fiscalini cheddar, toasted sunflower seeds and dried cherries; grilled octopus prepared with smoked paprika, marcona almonds and aioli; ricotta gnudi with roasted mushrooms and thyme; prime rib, cooked in the fireplace with butterball potatoes, charred broccolini, roasted squash and spiced pecans; and finally for dessert, blood orange creamsicle bar with vanilla cake and toasted meringue and a warm brownie sundae with vanilla ice cream, salted caramel and cashew brittle. Homestead, 4029 Piedmont Ave. (near 40th), Oakland

Nido in Jack London Square. Photo: Nido/Instagram

NIDO Mezcal lovers will want to head to Jack London Square for the three-course dinner with mezcal pairing offered at Nido for $50 a person. The meal starts with totopos enmolados, tortilla chips with Oaxacan red mole sauce and a salad with arugula, citrus, avocado and pepitas paired with fruity, smoky Bozal Ensamble mezcal, served with popcorn and sal de gusano (sea salt, chile and ground agave worm). Next, enchiladas (choice of steak, chicken or mushroom) are paired with tropical fruit forward Bozal Cuixe mezcal, served with fruit and the sweet, salty and sour Mexican condiment chamoy. Last, cinnamon-dusted chocolate donuts and guava ice cream are paired with the balanced Bozal Pechuga mezcal. The meal is also offered without mezcal pairings for $35. Nido, 444 Oak St. (between Fourth and Fifth), Oakland

OLD OAKLAND PROGRESSIVE DINNER On Tuesday, Jan. 15, Lauren Herpich of Oakland food tour company Local Food Adventures will lead a group of 12 diners on a progressive dinner at three restaurants in Old Oakland. Guests will hear directly from the purveyors at each stop, and learn a little history about the neighborhood as well. The meal starts at Tamarindo, where chef Gloria Dominguez will offer a selection of tacos. Next stop is Benchmark Oakland, where chef Peter Swanson will serve wood-fired pizza, pasta and an entree. Last up is Cookiebar Creamery, where owner Rob Pheng will serve guests a special off-menu dessert. Tickets are $95, with a $30 wine/cocktail pairing option.