A Cote isn't necessarily a secret: It's been known as one of the best restaurants in the Bay Area for years,collecting accolades from Bon Appentit, Esquire, and The New York Times for its exquisite small plates. If the danger of visiting tapas restaurants is that your bill fills up long before your stomach, the secret is to visit A Cote for late drinks and order a couple of iteams a la carte, like the famous mussels or the pommes frites.
Live music every night starting around 8 p.m. (Sunday starting at 4 p.m.). Mostly local musicians, from blues to surf to acoustic to bluegrass to eighteen-piece bands. Open-mic night every Monday. No cover. Beer and wine with twelve drafts; local beers and imported; extensive Belgium bottled beer selection. An upscale kitchen serves California lunch and appetizers.
Berkeley's Cafe Rouge is a classic Californian restaurant, complete with organic vegetables and sustainably raised meats, a wood-fired oven, and smooth and efficient service. Chef-owner Marsha McBride and executive chef Rick DeBeaord create deceptively simple food, but imbue even their hamburgers with juicy, meaty love.
Located along a quiet stretch of Washington Street in downtown Oakland, Caffe 817 — under the ownership of Scott and Emily Goldenberg — offers a European cafe experience with meals worth the relatively high prices. Loyal customers come back for the delicious Italian flourishes in breakfast and lunch offerings, with daily specials that appeal to the palette, the eye, and, when read aloud, to the ear — “Roasted pork shoulder sandwich with arugula and aioli.” The service, though sometimes slow, is solicitous, and the baristas make impressive coffee art, as worthy of display as the latest art show on the walls. On a sunny day, sidewalk seating under umbrellas perfects the experience. Bottled beer and wine selections vary with the season.