Our top picks for Oakland Restaurant Week 2020, Jan. 9-20

Prime rib, cooked in the fireplace at Homestead Restaurant on Piedmont Avenue.
Prime rib, cooked in the fireplace at Homestead Restaurant on Piedmont Avenue. Photo: Homestead Restaurant

This is a big year for Oakland Restaurant Week. The annual food event turns 10, and over the next 12 days (from Jan. 9-20), about 100 restaurants throughout the city are taking part. Participating eateries offer lunch and/or dinner at a variety of price points — from $10 to $80 — many as prix-fixe meals which allow diners to get a wider taste of the menu at a lower price.

We’ve pored over the ORW menus and chosen some of our favorites at various price points. (Not all participating restaurants have posted menus online as of press time and most of the restaurants offer multiple deals throughout the day. Check the Oakland Restaurant Week website for more details.). Remember that unless noted, tax and tip aren’t included in the price.

$10 lunch

THE COOK AND HER FARMER The Cook and Her Farmer at Swan’s Marketplace in Old Oakland calls its grilled cheese “the best ever.” I’ve had it, and yes, it’s really good! Try it yourself during ORW — The $10 lunch meal features half a “Best Ever” grilled cheese and a choice of soup or salad. The Cook and Her Farmer, 510 Ninth St. (at Washington), Oakland

BROTZEIT LOKAL As it has for previous Oakland Restaurant Weeks, Oakland’s Bavarian gastropub offers a $10 lunchbox deal. Diners choose between two options: Lokal Wurst (Bratwurst, Wurzige, Italian Herbed Chicken, Andouille or Field Roast Italian Vegan) and choice of fries or salad; or Lokal Salad, made with mixed greens, radishes, potato, croutons, bacon, sliced egg, avocado and vinaigrette dressing. It’s a great deal, but I also recommend Brotzeit for its chill waterfront atmosphere — it’s worth the outing, especially on a nice day. Brotzeit Lokal, 1000 Embarcadero (near 10th Street), Oakland


THE STAR ON GRAND Pizza lovers will delight in The Star’s $10 lunch deal, which features a choice of any small side salad and any personal signature thin-crust or deep-dish pizza. The Star on Grand, 3425 Grand Ave. (near Elwood Avenue), Oakland

ZACHARY’S CHICAGO PIZZA Not to be outdone by The Star, Zachary’s newest Grand Avenue location is also offering a $10 lunch deal, which includes choice of personal thin or stuffed Zachary’s favorite and a lunch Caesar salad. Zachary’s Chicago Pizza, 3917 Grand Ave. (between Sunny Slope and Wildwood avenues), Oakland 

Psst! Stay tuned tomorrow for our story on Zachary’s vs. Little Star! 

The $20 ORW lunch or dinner deal at Bird & Buffalo in Temescal.
The $20 ORW lunch or dinner deal at Bird & Buffalo in Temescal. Photo: Andria Lo

$20 lunch or dinner

BIRD & BUFFALO During ORW, the counter-service Thai eatery rolls out a $20 lunch or dinner deal, which gives guests a little taste of some of their best specialties. Diners choose between Thai or Lao-style somtum (papaya salad); gai yaang (grilled half chicken) or gra duk mu yaang (grilled pork spare ribs); and Singha, Beer Lao or wine. Bird & Buffalo, 4659 Telegraph Ave. (at 46th Street), Oakland

THE DAMEL Uptown’s Afro-Brazilian permanent pop-up The Damel has a tempting prix-fixe meal, served during lunch and dinner. Guests choose from five appetizers: veggie or shrimp acarajé (black eyed pea fritters), coxinha (Brazilian croquettes), dados de tapioca (a cheesy and chewy tapioca-based snack), or pao de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread); a main entree: either dibi (Senagalese grilled meat dish with onions and mustard) or moqueca (Brazilian seafood stew), both with a choice of two sides; and a dessert: beignet, pudim (Brazilian-style flan) or thiakry (Senagalese pudding). The Damel, inside 25th Street Taproom, 2507 Broadway (at 25th Street), Oakland

DOSA BY DOSA Choose this $20 meal for brunch, lunch or dinner during Restaurant Week. It includes the tandoori prawn salad, sweet potato dosa and spiced mini cookies for dessert. Dosa by Dosa, 2301 Broadway (at 23rd Street), Oakland

FARLEY’S EAST The $20 lunch special at Farley’s East in Uptown includes choice one of Farley’s hearty sandwiches or salads, plus a cup of housemade soup and a glass of local wine or beer. Just for reference, Farley’s sandwiches are about $12-$14, a la carte. Farley’s East, 33 Grand Ave. (between Broadway and Webster), Oakland

The Crispy Chicken Sandwich at Hopscotch.
The Crispy Chicken Sandwich at Hopscotch. Photo: Hopscotch

HOPSCOTCH Hopscotch allows guests to choose their lunch to-go or for dine-in. The deal includes choice of a sandwich (Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Tonkatsu Sandwich, First Base Burger or Veggie Wedgie), drink (ginger limeade, pink lemonade, coffee or iced/hot tea) and dessert (donut and butterscotch cream or sorbet & meringue). Hopscotch, 1915 San Pablo Ave. (at 19th Street), Oakland

MAGO New-ish to Piedmont Avenue restaurant Mago offers a tempting $20 lunch deal. Guests choose two courses from three options: starter (beet and ricotta salad or cauliflower soup), main (falafel bowl, pappardelle with chicken ragout or braised kale and cheddar melt) and dessert (winter citrus, olive oil cake with warm sabayon). Mago, 3762 Piedmont Ave. (near MacArthur Boulevard), Oakland 

$30 dinner

The Ensalada Talong, eggplant and jicama salad, at FOB Kitchen.
The ensalada talong, eggplant and jicama salad, at FOB Kitchen. Photo: Sarah Han

FOB KITCHEN Temescal Filipino spot FOB Kitchen has a whopper of a dinner deal. For $30 a person (minimum two diners required), FOB Kitchen offers a five-course meal, which would normally cost $83. Dinner includes choice of  lumpia, salad, entree with pancit sotanghon (stir-fried glass noodles), dessert and two drinks. I dream about FOB Kitchen’s ensalada talong (eggplant and jicama salad), so you know which salad I’ll be choosing… FOB Kitchen, 5179 Telegraph Ave. (at 52nd Street), Oakland

THE KEBABERY The Kebabery’s regular $20 ORW offering is a good one (kebab plate, fries and pudding), but I have my eyes on the luxe $30 special, available on the two Mondays (Jan. 13 and 20) during Oakland Restaurant Week, when The Kebabery serves a Dungeness crab plate with fries and chocolate pudding! The Kebabery, 4201 Market St. (at 42nd Street), Oakland

MAMA OAKLAND It’s true, Mama isn’t offering a specially priced deal for Restaurant Week, but its regular $29.95 three-course dinner is already priced so well that I’m still recommending it. The ORW menu includes choices for first course: butternut squash soup or winter citrus and celery root salad; second course: spaghetti with sugo, malfatti (ricotta dumplings) with roasted root vegetables and sage brown butter; and dessert: flourless chocolate cake with blood orange curd or spiced persimmon upside-down cake. Mama Oakland, 388 Grand Ave. (between Perkins and Staten), Oakland

REEM’S CALIFORNIA The saj wraps, mana’eesh and mezza at Reem Assil’s fast-casual Arab bakery in Fruitvale are good, if not great. But when I was hungry for something heartier and fancier, I loved that I could get a more substantial taste of her food at Dyafa. No longer, now that Assil has left the Jack London Square restaurant. Which makes the $30 ORW dinner deal at Reem’s worth noting — it sounds amazing in all the ways I crave: Mashawi plat, or slow-roasted leg of lamb served with smashed spicy garlic potatoes, flatbread with green shatta (hot sauce), yogurt cucumber salad, pomegranate harissa and pickles. Yes, please! Reem’s California, 3301 E 12th St. (between 33rd and 34th), Oakland

$40 dinner

ALMOND & OAK Chef-owner Rico Rivera has been working hard to put his stamp on Almond & Oak since taking over the restaurant that was formerly Penrose. I recently had an exceptional brunch there, and I’m enticed to come back for dinner after looking at the $40 ORW dinner menu, which offers a comforting three-course meal, which choices like crab cakes with celery root remoulade, pork chop with Anson Mills grits, braising greens and mushroom-shallot marmalade. Almond & Oak, 3311 Grand Ave. (between Elwood and Santa Clara), Oakland

Scallop, octopus “chorizo” with charred fennel purée and sea grapes is an example of Abtract Table's stunning dishes. Chefs Andrew Green and Duncan Kwitkor will be offering a special menu for Oakland Restaurant Week.
The dish of scallop abd octopus “chorizo” with charred fennel purée and sea grapes is an example of Abtract Table’s stunning dishes. Chefs Andrew Green and Duncan Kwitkor will be offering a special $40 three-course menu for Oakland Restaurant Week. Photo: Abstract Table

ABSTRACT TABLE Andrew Greene and Duncan Kwitkor’s conceptual fine-dining pop-up can be a bit pricey for an everyday meal, so I was pleased to see the chefs are offering a Restaurant Week special. For $40, guests can enjoy the following three courses, which will be beautifully plated and creatively executed: scallop crudo, pickled baby beet, bacon jam and sea urchin creme; braised short rib, smoked maitake, edamame puree, fish sauce caramel; and flourless chocolate torte, red bean fluid gel, chestnut chantilly cream. Abstract Table, at The Gastropig, 2123 Franklin St. (between 21st and 22nd streets), Oakland

DOPO The thing about eating at Dopo is you always want to try a little bit of everything. Knowing this, the Sicilian-focused restaurant on Piedmont Avenue has started offering tasting menus, featuring up to 14 different plates at varying price points. For ORW, Dopo is offering its nine plate menu, which features six different cold and hot appetizers, a family-style pasta, an entree, and a dessert, priced at $40 per person. Dopo, 4293 Piedmont Ave. (at John), Oakland   

KINGSTON 11 I like that Restaurant Week reminds me of not-so-new places I want to revisit. This is the case with chef Nigel Jones’ Kono neighborhood Jamaican restaurant, Kingston 11. For ORW, it offers a four-course $40 meal, which includes a choice of main entree (oxtails with jasmine rice and plaintains or jerk chicken with rice-and-peas and plantains), mixed green salad with roasted bell peppers, black cake and rum punch. Kingston 11, 2270 Telegraph Ave. (at 23rd Street), Oakland

PERLE WINE BAR The three-course $40 Restaurant Week dinner at Perle Wine Bar in Montclair Village tempts with starter choices like a puff-pastry topped shrimp bisque with black truffle duxelle and three main options, including a Snake River Farms Wagyu steak or Perle’s signature French onion dip angus burger. Perle Wine Bar, 2058 Mountain Blvd. (between La Salle Avenue and Antioch Street), Oakland

SHAKEWELL Jen Biesty’s Mediterranean-inspired Lakeshore Avenue restaurant offers a $40 three-course dinner, which includes a choice of main entree: pan-roasted local swordfish or steak with roasted mushrooms and truffled winter squash puree. A leafy green salad with dates and tangerines and almond cake with citrus curd round out the meal. Shakewell, 3407 Lakeshore Ave. (near Mandana Boulevard), Oakland

$60 ticketed events

CURIOUSLY VEGAN FOOD TOUR Oakland Restaurant Week hosts a few special one-off ticketed events, and this year, there’s one especially for vegan and vegan-curious eaters. Tamiko Garner, aka Plant-Based Vegan Sistah, leads a tour of three restaurants in downtown Oakland serving creative vegan fare. A portion of the proceeds go to the Alameda Food Bank. Tour takes place from 6-9:30 p.m., Jan. 17. Tickets are $59.

Labneh rolled in sumac and za’atar extra virgin olive oil at Dyafa.
Under chef Mona Leena Michael, Dyafa has taken a new direction and offered new platings of former dishes, including the labneh, or Middle Eastern cheese, served rolled in sumac and za’atar extra virgin olive oil. Photo: Dyafa

DYAFA Another special ticketed event, this edition of the “Just Call Me Chef” dinner series highlights Mona Leena Michael, who took over as consulting chef at Dyafa after Reem Assil left last year. While I miss Assil’s food at Dyafa, I’ve had a solid meal under Michael’s reign and look forward to getting to know the chef further. Diners will hear more about her vision of Cali-Palestinian fare over a multi-course meal. The dinner takes place from 7-10 p.m., Jan. 14. Tickets are $60. Dyafa, 44 Webster St., Oakland 

$80 dinner

HOMESTEAD Over the holidays, someone asked me for a recommendation of where to get prime rib in the East Bay. My mind drew a blank, but had I known about Homestead’s upcoming ORW special, it would’ve been my pick. Served family-style, the meal features prime rib cooked in the fireplace, along with a bounty of other goodies: kampachi crudo, little gems, grilled octopus and ricotta gnudi. The meal is $80 per person (service included), with a minimum of two people required. Homestead, 4029 Piedmont Ave. (near 40th Street), Oakland