A bountiful burger with blue cheese, avocado and bacon at Chop Bar.
Chop Bar in Oakland is named for the West African term for a roadside bar-restaurant that’s a true gathering place for the community. And it fits that description to a “T.”
It’s like a hipper version of the Cheers bar, a warm space where regulars are recognized and newcomers made to feel welcome, as my husband and I were when we visited one recent Sunday, paying our own tab at the end.
Owners Chris Pastena and Lev Delany opened the convivial spot in 2009 in Jack London Square. It’s a compact space with a few tables and a good number of counter seats at the bar. Later this summer, Pastena and Delany will be moving Chop Bar across the street to a roomier location, a dream come true for the duo.
In the summer, the floor-to-ceiling garage-door windows are rolled up to bring the outdoors in.
On a lazy late-afternoon, we dropped into Chop Bar. We were too late for lunch but too early for dinner. Fortunately, it has an “in-between” menu, 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., that offered plenty of choices, and which many people were taking advantage of because the place was packed even at 4:30 p.m.
Fondue 2.0 at Bardo Lounge & Supper Club.
If you grew up watching “The Brady Bunch” (as I did) or lived in an Eichler-designed house (as I did), you know full well the timeless appeal of mid-century modernity.
That’s the aesthetic that Bardo Lounge & Supper Club in Oakland brings to life in a 21st century way.
Opened in October, this new restaurant looks to the past for inspiration, but interprets it in a cool new way going forward with global influences.
Owner Seth Bregman modeled it after the cocktail parties his parents threw in their Southern California home. In fact, the main floor lounge even features a vintage lamp and sofa that he hijacked from his parents’ living room.
You can enjoy a casual, a la carte menu in the lounge, while planted on that sofa or other ones. I always find it a little precarious to juggle drink and food while having to reach up and over to a coffee table.
The logo sign.
The main floor lounge with mid-century decor.
But you can always take the slightly more formal route upstairs, where a three-course, $59 per person prix fixe is served. It’s a quieter area, where you can still overlook the buzzy lounge area.
The Skyride tram at Riverfront Park in downtown Seattle.
SPOKANE, WA — Sure, Seattle may have the Mariners, Seahawks, Amazon headquarters, and James Beard Award-winning chefs and restaurants. But Spokane has a spectacular waterfall in the center of the city. Take that.
Seattle may get more attention, but Spokane definitely deserves its own fanfare for attractions and attributes all its own. That’s what I discovered when I was invited to visit the state’s second largest city recently by Visit Spokane.
It’s a most livable city — with home prices not surprisingly a fraction of those in Silicon Valley — a revitalized downtown that’s safe to walk around in at night, a renovated waterfront, a thriving convention scene, fabulous bakeries, and cool restaurants opening in repurposed old buildings.
What’s more, it gets less rain than Seattle.
And it’s the birth place of Father’s Day.
Get to know what else there is to love about Spokane.
It Takes Bread & Beer Seriously
Does it ever, especially at the newly opened The Grain Shed, a bakery and brewery all in one.
At The Grain Shed, they revere local, heirloom grains, but keep their sense of humor about it all.
Yes, come for a pint and a loaf. And for Pizza Mondays.
A fun little snack of Spanish sardines at Barnacle.
SEATTLE, WA — When you land in Seattle on a late-Thursday afternoon, what is — and should be — your first stop after checking into your hotel?
The Walrus and the Carpenter for Oyster Happy Hour.
Oh, yes, it is so worth it to make a beeline for this Monday through Thursday Happy Hour, if you are a fan of oysters on the half shell because these are some of the best around. From 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., the oysters are half off. From 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., they are 25 percent off.
Of course, everyone else has the same idea, so no doubt you will arrive to find the restaurant already packed, as my husband and I did. No matter, it just gives you a great excuse to enjoy a cocktail at adjacent Barnacle bar.
Actually, this one building houses THREE Renee Erickson establishments.
Both places are owned by James Beard Award-winning Chef Renee Erickson. In fact, she even has a third restaurant, Sea Creatures, in this one building. Plus a whole lot more.
Look for my new “East Bay Cooks” cookbook to join this group in summer 2019.
See that stack of beautiful cookbooks above? Soon to join them will be “East Bay Cooks” — by yours truly.
Yes, that’s what I’ve spent the better part of this year working on. In fact, I just finished the manuscript this month.
The cookbook, which will debut in September 2019, will feature 40 of the top restaurants, bars and bakeries in the East Bay, with their stories and recipes. The photography will be by the incredibly talented Bay Area-based Eva Kolenko.