08 August 2008

Uncharted Territory

So I'm back (a day late and more than a dollar short) but here's my report on the "Places in the Bay that have kept me from slitting my wrists during my first summer away from NY". That's a wordy title, how about My Best of the Bay:

Let's start in San Francisco. SF for me is all about food, drinks and shopping. One of my favorite places to eat (because it was right across the street from my job) is Circa in the Marina. They have a wonderful happy hour that includes $5 appetizers. My favorite is the calamari. And their chef, Erik King was on the latest season of Top Chef. There's also Silver Cloud for kareoke and the Bus Stop up on Union for old-fashioned bar feel.

SF has no shortage of shopping districts but I particularly like making the hike up Fillmore. You never know what bargains you might find at the Marc Jacobs store. There's smaller boutiques like Heidi Says and it's sister Heidi Say Shoes and frankly it's just a nice walk. Hayes Valley has a similar feel and some of my favorite shops like Flight 001 and Isotope, the comic book lounge. The people there are always helpful and they have a great comic selection.

Finally, there's The Mission. I enjoy eating in the Mission because there are a million and one tacquerias. But more important than that are some of the bars and restaurants like Cha Cha Cha, which has great tapas (and another Haight Street location if the first is crowded). The Mission to me is like the Village. You have to wander a bit and find the gems.

Now on to the East Bay: There's the conventional Emeryville which has everything you need in one convenient place; IKEA, H&M, Sephora, Borders, etc. But there are also some nice surprises like Teacake (try the pink velvet cupcakes!) and EQ3 which is one of my favorite furniture shops.

Then there's Lakeshore the best place to walk around on a Sunday. There's the new Trader Joe's, Arizmendi Bakery and my favorite consignment shop, Maribel. The Grand Lake Theater is a good place to catch a movie with free popcorn Monday-Thursday and the cheapest matinee around at $6.50. But if you're over 21 and want to catch a movie the best place is the Parkway theater. Giant couches, an impressive menu and food delivered to you while you watch your favorite films.

Finally, Downtown Oakland is filled with hot spots. Luka's is the best place to get a burger and fries, listen to music and have a great cocktail especially every Friday night. Oasis (135 12th street) is hot on Saturday nights. Don't let the entrance fool you. Head out back where there's a huge dance floor and outdoor patio. During the day check out Mignonne and Drift for a range of housewares and casual chic clothes, respectively. Probably the best restaurant if you want to splurge a bit on a fabulous meal is B. I love the lemon tart dessert. And my absolute favorite is Air Lounge. Every Wednesday night head out early (around 8 pm) to their spoken word-open mic where you'll hear a range of voices. Stay after for a great hip-hop dance party and head over to the bar and have a jolly rancher. But not too many.

These are the places I've come to enjoy out here in the Bay. And I'm glad. Each one makes me miss home a little bit less.

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