If you're spending all of your time following an endless maze of Swedish jigsaw furniture, you need to step out of IKEA and experience everything else Emeryville has to offer. What was once a mass of factories, bordellos, and gambling houses has become a commuter town full of hidden culinary gems and sweeping vistas.
An odd mashup of Pixar employees, tattooed punk twentysomethings (it's co-owned by Green Day's Mike Dirnt), and hipsters who drink up the $1 cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon like irony is going out of style, Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe (4801 Hollis St., Emeryville, 510-594-1221, RudysCantFailCafe.com) is the late-night hotspot for home cooking. Open until 1 a.m., Rudy's features the usual diner fare — pancakes, burgers, and heaping piles of fries — but the real treats are the rotating specials. These comfort-food favorites such as chicken-fried steak, mac and cheese, and meat loaf lend credibility to the diner's name.
Jutting out into the bay, Marina Park (3300 Powell St., Emeryville, 510-596-4300, Ci.emeryville.ca.us) provides panoramic views of San Francisco, the Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the surrounding hills and beaches. A great spot for picnics, it also offers a few tucked-away barbecue pits on the beach — just in case you land the big one while fishing off the piers.
Most people refer to the city across the bay as San Francisco, but not Brendan Eliason, winemaker for Periscope Cellars (1410 62nd St., Emeryville, 510-655-7827, PeriscopeCellars.com). When visiting his tasting room/winery/art gallery, housed in an old WWII submarine factory, you'll hear Eliason refer to the City as "the West Bay" while he pours generous tastings of his boutique red wines. Eliason's heart, and his wine, is deeply rooted in Emeryville. Both have received a professional makeover in an attempt to cover a sordid past that, thankfully, keeps poking through.
With its rare mix of affordable drinks, an expanse of pool tables, and a discerning lack of sleazy clientele, the Broken Rack (6005 Shellmound St., #160, Emeryville, 510-652-9808, TheBrokenRack.com) is located in the last place you'd expect to find a billiard hall — tacked on to the Emerybay Public Market. There's nothing fancy here, and that's the appeal.
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