Temescal is one of Oakland’s best-known food destinations, and there are so many cafés, bars and restaurants there that even those who live in the neighborhood can have a hard time keeping up with all the spots to eat and drink. Which is one reason why the annual Taste of Temescal event attracts both area residents and people from other neighborhoods and nearby cities. It’s a fun way to sample what’s new, while supporting longtime favorites, all in the span of one evening.
Another reason folks like the event is it raises money for local schools and non-profits. Taste of Temescal diners can even choose which organization they’d like their ticket purchase to support. This year, proceeds benefit Claremont Middle School, Emerson Elementary School, Oakland Technical High School and La Clínica de la Raza.
For 2019, the 10th annual Taste of Temescal, almost 30 restaurants, bars and cafés are participating in the crawl. There are a few things to keep in mind if you’re planning to attend the crawl:
- The 2019 Taste of Temescal takes place 6-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 19.
- Tickets are $40 each and are limited to 500. Tickets have sold out in the past, so if you know you want to go to the event, buy your admission in advance online or purchase a ticket in person at any of the four locations mentioned above benefiting from the event, at La Clínica de La Raza’s Children’s Dental Clinic (4881 Telegraph Ave.) or Ruby’s Garden (5026 Telegraph Ave.). If you buy admission online, you will pick up your ticket at the will-call booth located in front of the old Kasper’s (4521 Telegraph Ave.) on the night of the event.
- Although restaurants will be giving out small bites, these all add up to a lot of food. In my years of attending the event, I’ve never been able to hit up every single restaurant before having to call it a night from being too full. Keep this in mind. If you’re the kind who likes to plan ahead, map out the spots you definitely want to try. But keep your schedule loose, knowing that some places will be mobbed with people. You may have to visit an alternate spot until the crowds die down.
- A few participating eateries are a bit farther outside the main Telegraph Avenue drag, so these spots will set up outposts within other restaurants. Bierhaus and Barcote will be at Julie’s; Café Colucci at Aunt Mary’s Café and The Well will be at The Red Sea. (Addresses are listed below.)
- There will be walking and a lot of time spent outdoors. The event takes place along Telegraph Avenue, on 40th Street, as well as in Temescal Alley (on 49th Street) and on Claremont Avenue, so wear comfortable shoes. Fortunately, the rain has subsided, but it’s cold out there, so bundle up or bring layers before heading out.
Here are the spots participating in Taste of Temescal 2019, and what they’ll be offering to eat or drink:
Burma Superstar on Telegraph Avenue is the Oakland outpost for the uber-popular Bay Area mini-chain renowned for its Burmese salads, soups, curries and noodle dishes. Two interesting facts about Burma Superstar: The restaurant, which opened its first outpost in the Richmond District of San Francisco in 1992, was the first to get FDA approval to import ingredients from Myanmar; Burma Superstar also claims that it invented the Rainbow Salad. The restaurant will be serving its most popular dishes: the tea leaf salad and samusa soup for Taste of Temescal. Burma Superstar, 4721 Telegraph Ave. (at 48th), Oakland
Married chef-owners Janice and Brandi Dulce’s flavorful Filipino restaurant is becoming one of Temescal’s newest destination restaurants. Diners love its tropical-themed interior, craft cocktails, and dinner and weekend brunch offerings like oxtail kare kare, singkamas ensalada and lumpia. For Taste of Temescal, FOB Kitchen will be offering arroz caldo, a ginger chicken and rice porridge topped with crispy shallots, fried garlic and cilantro. FOB Kitchen, 5179 Telegraph Ave. (at 51st), Oakland
Dona Savitsky’s casual, contemporary restaurant known for its fresh, seasonal Mexican fare. Doña Tomás opened in Temescal in 1999; its sister restaurant is Tacubaya on Fourth Street in Berkeley. Doña Tomás will be serving queso with tortilla chips and pickled jalapeño at Taste of Temescal. Doña Tomás, 5004 Telegraph Ave. (at 49th), Oakland
This no frills counter-service taqueria serves burritos, tacos, nachos and enchiladas. EZ Taqueria’s Taste of Temescal offering has yet to be announced. EZ Taqueria, 4013 Telegraph Ave. (at 40th), Oakland
La Calaca Loca
This taqueria is tucked in the mini strip mall next door to FOB Kitchen. Here you’ll find tacos, burritos, quesadillas and more made with sustainable meats, line-caught fish and local market-sourced produce. For Taste of Temescal, La Calaca Loca will be offering tacos with steak, chicken, pork or a veggie version. La Calaca Loca, 5199 Telegraph Ave. (at 51st), Oakland
Co Nam is a Vietnamese restaurant opened by husband-and-wife duo Trung Nguyen and executive chef Vy Lieou. The couple were inspired by quán nhậu (Vietnamese bar food spots), but offer more contemporary and refined takes on Vietnamese fare. The menu changes frequently, but serves a selection of grilled meat and vegetable skewers and heartier entrees, along with beer and wine. For Taste of Temescal, Co Nam plans to serve a choice of mini fried “wicked” buns stuffed with grilled five-spice chicken, pickled daikon and carrots, cucumber and cilantro, or garlic herb noodles. Co Nam, 3936 Telegraph Ave. (at 40th), Oakland
As with its other two locations, the Temescal location of Bowl’d specializes in build-your-own rice bowls, tabletop BBQ, Korean fried chicken and more. The restaurant will offer beef and vegetable potstickers at Taste of Temescal. Bowl’d BBQ, 4869 Telegraph Ave. (between 48th and 49th), Oakland
Hancook is a Korean restaurant that serves BBQ, soups, stews, bibimbap and other traditional and contemporary takes on Korean dishes and desserts. Hancook will be serving its special Korean wrap, BBQ chicken and Hancook hotpot at Taste of Temescal. Hancook, 4315 Telegraph Ave. (at 43rd), Oakland
Pyeong Chang Tofu House
This family-run Korean restaurant has been on Telegraph Avenue since 1999, and until recently, Pyeong Chang was mostly a spot for a mostly Korean-American audience. These days, it’s become a favorite for the whole neighborhood and you’ll often find a line out the door (Fortunately, it just opened a second location on University Avenue in Berkeley). Pyeong Chang is best known for its bibimbap and soon dubu jigae (soft tofu soup). For Taste of Temescal, it will offer a vegetarian version of its tofu soup. Pyeong Chang Tofu House, 4701 Telegraph Ave. (at 47th), Oakland
Aunt Mary’s Café
Aunt Mary’s is a well-loved Temescal go-to for its Southern-inflected American comfort food, especially its breakfast dishes. Aunt Mary’s has always been in the neighborhood, but it moved a couple of blocks north on Telegraph Avenue to its current location in 2014. For Taste of Temescal, Aunt Mary’s will offer samples of its Country Captain Chicken, a curried tomato braised chicken, served on rice pilaf and bread pudding with whiskey sauce. Aunt Mary’s Café, 4640 Telegraph Ave. (between 45th and 48th), Oakland
Hawk and Pony
Hawk and Pony calls itself “a place for community to meet.” The café serves coffee, small bites, beer and wine. For Taste of Temescal, it will serve a vegan dish TBA. Hawk and Pony, 4210 Telegraph Ave. (at 42nd), Oakland
Oakland’s oldest Eritrean/Ethiopian restaurant, Asmara is a family-owned business that serves traditional dishes like kitfo, tibs, doro wat and gored gored. Asmara serves 100% teff injera by request (for an extra $2). Diners participating in Taste of Temescal will try Asmara’s vegetarian combination, featuring red lentils with berbere sauce, yellow split peas, mustard greens simmered in Asmara spices and brown lentils. Asmara Restaurant and Lounge, 5020 Telegraph Ave. (at 51st), Oakland
Barcote Ethiopian Restaurant
Barcote comes from owner Mulu Reda, who moved to the Bay Area from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The restaurant is known for its large portions and hearty, flavorful traditional Ethiopian dishes. For Taste of Temescal, the restaurant will be offering samples of its vegetarian combo, featuring misir wat (spiced red lentils), ater kik alicha (yellow split pea stew), gomen (collard greens), atakilt (spiced cabbage, potato and carrot), azifa (green lentil salad) and buticha (chickpea porridge). Barcote Ethiopian Restaurant will be represented at Julie’s (4316 Telegraph Ave.) for Taste of Temescal
Café Colucci was founded in 1991 and is a favorite Ethiopian restaurant to many for its spice-laden stewed meat dishes and hearty vegan stews, including the gomen and atakilt. The restaurant will offer three kinds of appetizers to sample at Taste of Temescal: azifa (whole organic lentils), shouro (organic chickpea powder, onion, tomato, jalapeño), and telba (roasted flax seed powder, tomato, red onions, jalapeño). Café Colucci will be represented at Aunt Mary’s Café (4640 Telegraph Ave.) for Taste for Temescal.
Red Sea is one of Temescal’s older restaurants, founded in the mid-’80s. This small family-owned Eritrean and Ethiopian restaurant has a following for its stewed meat and vegetable entrees, as well as its affordable weekday lunch buffet — a great way to try many of its dishes in one go. Red Sea’s Taste of Temescal offering is still TBA. Red Sea, 5200 Claremont Ave. (at Clarke), Oakland
Bird & Buffalo
Bird & Buffalo is a modern Thai street food spot specializing in flavorful grilled meats, a variety of larb (spicy Thai salads), somtum (papaya salad), bowls and noodles. It will be serving chicken curry roti and vegetable curry roti at Taste of Temescal. Bird & Buffalo, 4659 Telegraph Ave. (at 45th), Oakland
James Syhabout’s spin-off of Hawker Fare focuses on Southeast Asian chicken dishes, most notably the Thai chicken-and-rice dish khao mun gai. Hawking Bird offers its K.M.G. with poached or fried poultry, or tofu, for vegetarians, served with rice, as a sandwich or on a salad. Hawking Bird is offering some new menu items, including a roasted pork belly, loco moco, and a chicken curry over chicken fat rice, made with a homemade red curry made with tamarind and coconut milk. Hawking Bird will be serving up samples of its chicken curry (oven roasted chicken thighs braised in a red coconut tamarind curry) served over chicken fat rice at Taste of Temescal. Hawking Bird, 4901 Telegraph Ave. (at 49th), Oakland
The Temescal offshoot of Alameda’s Julie’s Coffee & Tea Garden offers coffee and other drinks, pastries and a small menu of wholesome foods for breakfast and lunch. Julie’s will be serving mushroom confit with braised leeks, soft polenta, gremolata and Granda Padano “chip” and hot herbal tea for Taste of Temescal. Julie’s, 4316 Telegraph Ave. (at 43rd), Oakland
Smokin’ Woods BBQ Café
James Woodard’s barbecue joint started as a pop-up, but Smokin’ Woods now has a permanent home inside 2nd Half sports bar. Woodard cooks his meats over cherry and oak wood, which infuse his ribs, tri-tip, brisket, chicken and links with deep flavor. Last year, Smokin’ Woods was named one of the country’s best barbecue spots by Food & Wine magazine. Taste of Temescal diners will get a taste of Smokin’ Woods’ meatballs and BBQ baked beans. Smokin Woods BBQ Café, 4307 Telegraph Ave. (at 43rd), Oakland
During the day, this new restaurant, bar, café, book and record store is a cozy hangout for readers and those who like to write or work in public. Owner Dan Stone says North Light purposefully only plays music with non-English lyrics in the daytime so that people can easily concentrate on their work. As for food, North Light offers coffee and breakfast in the morning, meatball sandwiches and salads for lunch, and a few items available all day. To drink, there’s beer, wine and cocktails. Chef Ronnie New will be changing the menu with some new spring offerings (say goodbye to the avocado toast). Diners at Taste of Temescal will get a sample of the new menu, with a toast with smashed peas, Bellwether Farms ricotta, pea tendrils, guanciale and crispy garlic. North Light, 4915 Telegraph Ave. (near 49th), Oakland
The CRO Café
This small coffee shop opened in Temescal Alley in 2012. It serves espresso drinks, chai, matcha, hot chocolate and pastries from Starter Bakery. CRO Café will be giving out samples of single-origin Sightglass coffee for at Taste of Temescal. The CRO Café, 470 49th St. (in Temescal Alley), Oakland
The Well offers health-oriented food and drinks, including organic Chinese teas, elixirs, kava, bone broths, rice bowls and other nourishing menu items. For Taste of Temescal, The Well will offer samples of Lavender Love Coffee or Immune-Tea and golden milk chia seed pudding and black sesame mochi muffin. The Well will be represented at Red Sea (5200 Claremont Ave.) for Taste of Temescal
Charlie Hallowell’s Cal-Italian restaurant (now run by Donna Insalaco), serving wood-fired pizzas and other seasonal fare. Pizzaiolo will be serving Meatballs al Pizzaiolo, cookies and a house-made non-alcoholic beverage for Taste of Temescal. Pizzaiolo, 5008 Telegraph Ave. (at 51st), Oakland
This small counter-service spot serves Mediterranean wraps, plates, salads and most notably, some Egyptian specials. During Taste of Temescal, Pita Pocket will serve falafel with tahini sauce. Pita Pocket, 3932 Telegraph Ave. (at 40th), Oakland
Roses’ is a bright, cheery, family-friendly neighborhood beer spot opened by couple Hillary Huffard and Luke Janson. With a tiny brewery on site, it offers a variety of its own beers on tap, as well as some bottled and canned brews, and bar snacks like charcuterie to nosh. Roses’ Taproom will be offering samples of its Peach Bee Humble, an American cream ale fermented on organic orange blossom honey. Roses’ Taproom, 4930 Telegraph Ave. (between 49th and 51st), Oakland
This German gastropub recently moved from Mountain View to Oakland. Bierhaus serves several German beers on tap, along with foods like pretzels, schnitzel, flatbreads, wurst and other Teutonic culinary delights. For Taste of Temescal, Bierhaus will be serving potato pancakes topped with apple sauce and sour cream. Bierhaus will be represented at Julie’s (4316 Telegraph Ave.) for Taste of Temescal
Prima Materia Wine
This wine shop and tasting room in Temescal Alley comes from Pietro Buttita, and chef and winemaker who will host classes, wine-paired dinners and other offerings in his tiny 10-seat space. Prima Materia will be offering spring cassoulet and a couple of wines to try for Taste of Temescal. Prima Materia Wine, 482 #B 49th St. (in Temescal Alley), Oakland
Curbside Creamery opened in Temescal Alley in 2014. The neighborhood scoop shop is best known for its selection of both dairy and vegan ice creams, soft serve (one vegan and one dairy flavor; you can get both swirled!), ice cream sandwiches and pie. Curbside Creamery will be offering four different mini ice cream sandwiches: chocolate on peanut butter cookies, lemon cream on sugar cookies, Earl Grey on tea cookies or a vegan vanilla bean on gingersnap cookie. Curbside Creamery, 481 49th St. (in Temescal Alley), Oakland