Chef-Owner Paul Canales thinks of his new Occitania restaurant in Oakland as the light to his more moody-vibed Duende that’s a mere five blocks away.
Certainly, he — and the rest of us — were badly in need of a little more levity when work commenced on this restaurant in October 2020 during the throes of the pandemic.
Taking inspiration from the Occitania linguistic region of Southern France, Occitania opened its doors in June of this year on the property of the Kissel Uptown Oakland, a Hyatt brand.
At the end of August, the restaurant added a few sidewalk tables, which is where I dined recently when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant. The tables sport large umbrellas for shade, with heaters forthcoming.
Despite wrestling with a shortage of cooks, skyrocketing rents, rising business costs, and ever increasing competition, restaurants in the Bay Area and elsewhere did themselves proud this year, turning out food that was delightful, delicious, and unforgettable.
What dishes do I still dream about long after taking the last bite?
Here are my Top 10 eats of the year, in no particular order, of which I’d gladly have seconds, even thirds, if I could.