You often don't really notice a bar view until you're a bit tipsy. Until then, it's a nice vista while you have a glass of Merlot. The vista at the Oyster Reef, tucked away behind the Homewood Suites hotel off I-580, turns into a view after the first sip. As a seafood restaurant, Oyster Reef's delectable menu of oyster appetizers, fried calamari, and shrimp cocktails encourage slow intake as the sun drops around the enclosed patio. The dusk takes on a rosy glow, just like you, as the bottle dwindles slowly like the tide. Hip old-school patrons fill in around the small, well-stocked bar in fedoras, bowlers, and baseball caps for familiar conversations with the statuesque bartender. As the dinner crowd disperses, those sated to immobility chat while evening comes and lights dance over the darkened bay. John Coltrane's Blue Train insinuates from some hidden speaker, when you suddenly realize: This is the grotto prophesized by the late Jazzbeaux Collins in the heady days of bop gone by, and one of the most seductively cool moments you've ever had.
While the region's influence on mainstream hip-hop has gone overlooked for decades, a new generation of break-out artists are reclaiming their musical heritage and drawing national attention back to the area.