This friendly downtown stopover features an array of local delights: Blue Bottle coffee, pastries from SF/Oakland/Emeryville bakery Arizmendi, vegan doughnuts from West Oakland's People's Bakery, and dairy products from Sonoma-based Clover Stornetta. Gabriela's lunch options vary, but a beloved menu item is the popular pulled-pork adobo sandwich, which puts a tasty spin on a traditional Filipino dish. Space is limited, but the counter seats face the window and are great for people-watching.
If you’re into quirky, this is the place for you. It’s a slim, high-ceilinged bar with a wide assortment of kitschy knickknacks and furniture. It’ll take you a while to take in all the objects d’art scattered around this hipster hangout, and that’s what you’ll do while sipping your drink and watching indie, jazz, blues, or funk bands. Cafe Van Kleef is known for its strong drinks made with fresh-squeezed juice, especially its greyhound. There’s live music most nights and always room to dance.
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.
The outdoor entrance to this small cafe is like the entrance to a knock-knock club, hard to find and not inviting. Keep faith as you enter and proceed into the dimness, rounding a corner to emerge in a small, lamp-lit space with the cafe counter to your left. Now take two steps forward and look to the right. The view astonishes. Mammoth columns reach to the sky inside the Oakland Rotunda building. As if in counterpoint to the sublimity, the cafe serves simple, reasonably priced fare — toasted bagel with an egg option, pastries, and a standard selection of espresso drinks, four types of pre-made salads, daily soup, and sandwiches such as turkey and roast beef. Free wi-fi and a comfortable couch, with several issues of Oprah and House Beautiful neatly arrayed on the coffee table.