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Killer Cambodian noodles and delicious fried chicken are just the start of what Oakland’s restaurant scene has to offer. That’s why we created a list of Oakland‘s hottest food trends. Whether you need a fancy weekend dinner for two or business catering for 20, here are the places where you can try the top food trends in Oakland.

Food Trends in Oakland’s Restaurant Scene

Incubator Kitchens

Oakland’s restaurant scene has evolved with the support of commercial kitchens like La Cocina, which have become incubators of culinary talent. Those spaces help low-income entrepreneurs grow their small food businesses. The Beirut-style bakery Reem’s started at the Old Oakland Farmers’ Market with support from La Cocina. So did Nyum Bai, which dishes up Cambodian noodle soups and soul food.

Restaurants for a night out: Reem’sNyum Bai

Luxurious Lunches at a Discount

Rent is notoriously expensive in the Bay Area. So fine dining establishments are springing up with small lunch menus to pull in business. Those lunch menus star gorgeous, high-quality meals at lower prices. At Doña Tomás, chef Dona Savitsky recently launched a lunch business to draw in customers. Her lunch menu only offers burritos, taco bowls, and tacos, but it’s leagues cheaper than the dinner menu (think $4 gourmet tacos). You’ll also find a reasonably priced lunch at Mockingbird and The Wolf.

If you and your team can’t sneak out for lunch on a Wednesday, it’s easy to find cheap and flavorful catering options in Oakland. Treat the office to burrito box lunches from Rubio’s Coastal Grill, Hawaiian raw-fish poke bowls from Poke Parlor, or grilled skewers from Silk Road. All three options are delicious and affordable—great for those of you watching your company’s food spending.

Restaurants for a night outDoña TomásMockingbirdThe Wolf

Oakland catering for a work crowd: Rubio’s Coastal GrillPoke ParlorSilk Road

Pop-Ups in Oakland’s Restaurant Scene

In Oakland’s restaurant scene, pop-up restaurants keep popping up all over town. Local favorite Tacos Oscar took over the kitchen at the restaurant Boot & Shoe Service a few years ago, and announced it will open a permanent stand in the Temescal District soon. But the options don’t end there. You’ll find all sorts of cuisines in Oakland’s pop-up restaurant scene: Malaysian, Vietnamese, Italian, Filipino, and more. For more pop-ups in the Bay Area, check out this list.

Of course, if there’s a hiccup in your schedule—uh, work—and you can’t make it to a one-day-only pop-up event, keep your cool. Brick-and-mortar restaurants turn out exciting dishes, too, and plenty of them cater in OaklandMr. East Kitchen offers a delicious Vietnamese catering menu with customizable options to satisfy a range of appetites. We also recommend the vegetarian-friendly restaurant Thai Idea Vegetarian for groups who want to try something new. The restaurant’s fragrant Southeast Asian curries and stir-fries just might hit the spot.

Restaurants for a night outTacos Oscar and other Bay Area pop-ups

Oakland catering for a work crowd: Mr. East KitchenThai Idea Vegetarian

Claim to Fame: Dishes Unique to Oakland’s Restaurant Scene

Fried Chicken and Waffles

In Oakland you’ll find plenty of fried chicken perched atop waffles. The fried chicken creations from Bakesale Betty and Miss Ollie’s rank high with eaters looking for real Oakland eats. You can also get a big serving of fried chicken at Chicken and Waffles, conveniently located near the shopping district of Jack London Square. For fried chicken from another corner of the globe, try the Southeast Asian flavors of Hawking Bird.

Don’t worry if you need fried chicken catered for a company lunch. We have you covered. Blackberry Soul serves fried chicken alongside sweet-potato waffles and creamy shrimp and grits. Krispy Krunchy Chicken caters fried chicken galore.

Restaurants for a night out: Bakesale BettyMiss Ollie’sChicken and WafflesHawking Bird

Oakland catering for a work crowd: Blackberry SoulKrispy Krunchy Chicken

Start your afternoon off right with Hawaiian poke or other dishes trending in Oakland's restaurant and catering scene.
Photo: Miss Ollie’s / Instagram

Handmade Pizza

Pizzaiolo‘s pizza margherita “sums up everything about Oakland,” says Melissa Davis, author of This Is Oakland: A Guide to the City’s Most Interesting Places. She adds that the restaurant is “eclectic but warm and inviting, and has the very best quality food, locally sourced and sustainable.” Another local favorite for pizza is Boot & Shoe Service, which serves delicious wood-fired pies.

If you ever need pizza for teams burning the midnight oil (or pizza for a team lunch), we’ve got options for you. North Beach Pizza crafts pizza with a chewy-crisp crust and plenty of delicious toppings. For something different, try the Indian-inspired pies from Kinara Fusion Kitchen. Its “Curry for MVP Pizza” is topped with juicy chicken and a warming curry sauce.

Restaurants for a night out: PizzaioloBoot & Shoe Service

Oakland catering for a work crowd: Kinara Fusion KitchenNorth Beach Pizza

Whether you feel like eating out at a trendy restaurant—or need catering delivered at noon on the dot—Oakland’s food scene has delicious options.

Try some of Oakland’s best foods for your next office lunch.

Start your catering order now

Christina Mueller

Written by:

Christina Mueller

Christina Mueller has been writing about restaurants, chefs, and culinary trends for more than 10 years. She has published recipes and written a cookbook that is still in a stained manila folder close to the stove. She spends her free time sharing favorite restaurants around the world with anyone who asks.

Posted in: Trends in FoodNeed to Know

Tagged with: Asian, CA, Chicken, Oakland, Trends in food