The idea behind Wood Tavern has always been simple: Open a place where everyone wants to be, because anyone is welcome. Wood Tavern may be in Miami, but we think wea€™d be letting down Wynwooda€™s free spirit by getting caught up in all that a€?table service.a€? So our tables are just that a€“ the wooden variety that seat 6 to 8 on a first come, first served basis. An already established brand of upscale Chinese cuisine in Miami, Philippe made the bold move of relocating from the Gansevoort to Ocean Drive at the end of 2011.
Dinner Key Dining Room opened in January and joins the earthy Coconut Groove Peacock Garden Café.
Following a multimillion-dollar renovation and reopening, Shelborne Miami Beach has added a number of new venues to the South Beach resort staple. Planted by the noted pool scene at the newly made-over Kimpton’s Surfcomber South Beach, Lantao Kitchen + Cocktails, which opened in December, is a Southeast Asian restaurant with a beachside ambiance.
Located on the penthouse level of 11 11 Lincoln Road, Juvia, which opened in February, is a breezy indoor-outdoor eatery with its own vertical rooftop garden and a 360-degree view of South Beach. Highbar at Dream is a '70s-inspired rooftop hot spot, complete with infinity pool and views of the Atlantic Ocean. A raw space suitable for a variety of events, the new Grand Central Park (opened in January) is a fresh outdoor venue in downtown Miami. The newest addition to the artsy neighborhood of Wynwood, Wood Tavern is a new dive bar situated across from the popular Wynwood Walls exhibit.
The Mexican beer brand hosted a series of auction-theme events to celebrate the end of the popular ad campaign. Using dragons, props, and more, HBO’s premiere party created environments and activities inspired by the show. Reasonably priced drinks, a laid-back, old-school vibe and no attitude characterize this relatively new bar in Wynwood. Locals such as Thomas Tsukiyama, an Oakland real estate broker, love to lunch at the counter at Wood Tavern. Oakland is enjoying a moment in the sun right now, as evidenced by a recent spate of media hits and amorous outpourings on social networks. She pointed across the street, to the stretch of College Avenue between 63rd Street and Alcatraz Avenue. When Rich and Rebekah Wood left a popular San Francisco restaurant to open Wood Tavern in 2007, they kick-started a food frenzy in Oakland. Many chefs are following the Woods’s lead, moving in from San Francisco and Berkeley to make their mark on Oakland. And you simply can’t talk about the Oakland food scene without mentioning chef Charlie Hallowell, who honed his skills at Berkeley’s legendary Chez Panisse before opening Pizzaiolo. Locals flock to Pizzaiolo for the many different varieties of Neapolitan-style pizza, authentic in its puffy crust and charred in spots. Camino, with its giant, open room and communal tables, is the labor of love of yet another Chez Panisse alum, chef Russell Moore, who shares ownership and creative vision with his wife, Allison Hopelain. Upscale Camino restaurant, whose chef and co-owner Russell Moore cooked at Chez Panisse for more than 20 years, is known for its rustic, ingredient-focused dishes, such as the smoked duck breast and fig salad with carrots, greens, and pounded shiso. The urban wine landscape has been growing steadily in the Bay area for the past decade, and there are now ten wineries in Oakland, represented by the East Bay Vintners Alliance (EBVA). It is refreshing and increasingly unremarkable to explore a city without being assaulted by mass-market retail brands.
Walrus, which started as an Etsy outlet before opening up shop here, up-cycles or refurbishes home goods to fabulous effect.
At Lake Merritt, Robyn Kick relaxes after a day of volunteering at an organic farm that donates produce to Oakland residents in need. Across town, the area around Lake Merritt—where white lights twinkle at night and beautiful, historical buildings are being renovated into upmarket apartments—is emerging as a favorite outdoor space in the city.
The neighborhood still has a long way to go before it becomes a tourist destination, but for locals, the improvements—including major upgrades to Children’s Fairyland, a storybook themed park that first opened its doors back in 1950—are gratifying. Annie Fitzsimmons is National Geographic Travel’s Urban Insider, exploring the cities of the world with style.
Catherine Karnow is a contributing photographer at Traveler magazine known for her vibrant, emotional, and sensitive style of photographing people and places. This is the type of error that makes one somewhat circumspect about your on-point praise of Oakland. I hope you might address this or at least consider the perspective in your future reporting on Oakland. The topography, the climate, the neighborhoods and the character of the city is what really should define Oakland.
I moved to Oakland from San Francisco in 1991 and what I see of Oakland today makes me sad. I love this city and adopted it many years ago but I am not fooled about it being a paradise and I do not trust Mayor Quann or the OPD for one minute. Dear national geographic – why was this lady hired and how can I get a shot at her job? I don’t think the people of Oakland would ever allow the city to be unrecognizable from what it was and is today! I would love to visit the Fruitvale area and eat good food and find great street art as well as West Oakland and the Ethiopian area. Loved this article, can’t wait for my next trip to the Bay area and actually get out and see more than just what SF has to offer.
After living, working and going to school here in Oakland for 10 years, I can tell you that the existing bones of this city are part of what make it a great place–not just the influx of new people and businesses.
Come down to the Fruitvale area where you can find numerous mom n pop shops, HELLA GOOD Mexican and Central American food for ridiculously cheap prices, and some of the most incredible street art in the Bay Area. The (cultural) history of this place has value, but you have to look beyond the obvious, the new, the trendy, to find it.
But please don’t fooled by Mayor Jean Quan’s claims of having anything to do with this metamorphosis! To further put this multi-dimensional city in perspective, it is interesting to note that over 100 languages are spoken here, Oakland is the only city in California with a professional baseball, football and basketball team, and has more listings on Air B&B than San Francisco. For your next visit come to Fruitvale, Laurel, Dimond and Jingletown neighborhoods for a side of Oakland missing in this article. I knew from the moment I arrived in Oakland that writing about it would bring passionate discussion, both positive and negative.

For many, Oakland is still undiscovered – even the places that are mentioned in many media outlets. My point in writing is to let you know there is SO much more to Oakland than the lovely yet often-covered neighborhoods of Rockridge, Temescal, Uptown, and Lake Merritt. My second point is to say that I wholeheartedly applaud you for covering Oakland and covering it positively.
Despite the article’s missed opportunities, as I said, I was ecstatic to see a neighbor had posted a positive article about Oakland on our Positively Prescott Facebook page. Annie, come back to do a follow-up article on THE REST OF OAKLAND that almost all national journalists miss whenever they cover Oakland. Welcome to Wood Tavern, a contemporary, rustic neighborhood restaurant serving an American brasserie experience. The new atmosphere, paired with its open-air backyard beer garden, lends itself to that downtown San Fran or NYC spot you look forward to cozying up to at the end of a dragging work week. Where you can meet up with friends, grab a craft brew or a cocktail, and wait to see which character you bump into this time. Ita€™s their great service, relaxed energy and kick-ass personalities that turn these four walls into a home-away-from-home for so many loyal neighbors. Its new home includes a luxury dining room addition with the option to dine under the stars. An ideal spot for bridal showers, luncheons or company parties, the space seats up to 200 guests and sits just steps from the bay. Ocho is an oceanfront taqueria and tequila bar on the eighth floor of the property, featuring bar seating, low-top tables, and cabanas. For summer events, the new ocean-view Mezzanine Terrace, which opened in December, welcomes events including private performances, sunset weddings, happy hours, or outdoor speaking engagements. Patio dining with communal tables are available for company parties or summer celebrations at the Collins Avenue refuge. Available for al fresco parties and weddings, Juvia features a retractable roof over its terrace, so weather conditions won’t spoil any occasion.
It can accommodate up to 10,000 people for large-scale events or private gatherings—think food-truck roundups, outdoor movies, open-air fashion shows, or music festivals.
Opened in late March, the venue expands into an outdoor oasis with views of the hotel’s two-acre pool area and the sparkling Biscayne Bay. Past its quaint indoor bar lies a 2,100-square-foot beer garden, surrounded by dozens of hand-painted murals by local street artists.
With drinks starting at $6 (a bargain by Miami standards), Wood Tavern is a good option to grab a cocktail or beer. But after Nat Geo photographer Catherine Karnow and I spent time there on assignment, we both left convinced that the city’s ascent isn’t fleeting, but one that will have a long tail, bolstered by a steady stream of colorful shop and restaurant openings and an influx of equally colorful characters seeking lower rents and a less stressful lifestyle. The classy, warm joint was soon brimming with neighborhood locals and visitors from across the Bay Bridge—commanding attention from the San Francisco fooderati and exploding old stereotypes. He has since followed up his success there with Penrose and Boot and Shoe Service, but Pizzaiolo remains the star. Another early favorite in Oakland, the still-beloved restaurant is known for its emphasis on open-hearth cooking and rustic yet refined dishes.
Located in the old Swan’s Market building and accented by natural light and wood tables, this foodie favorite is co-owned by Romney Nani Steele, whose family owns Big Sur darling Nepenthe, and former public school teacher Steven Day.
Formerly home to a horse-drawn streetcar line, the narrow street now houses an eclectic mix of jewel-box-size boutiques and eateries along with the popular walk-in-only Temescal Alley Barber Shop. At Owl N Wood, you’ll find a curated hodgepodge of pieces reflecting the Afro-Scandinavian style of Denmark-born owner Rachel Konte, who worked with Levi Strauss for years as a designer before opening up her own shop. The first Friday of each month brings Art Murmur, a grassroots initiative that has grown to include live music and more than 40 galleries that keep their doors open late for the occasion. Jack London Square may be experiencing rapid change, but time seems to stand still at 19th-century mainstay Heinold’s First and Last Chance saloon, whose name harkens back to a time when sailors enjoyed a final drink before heading out to sea.
It seems as if Oakland is happening only in those places that have some connection to San Francisco, which has a number of unfortunate racial connotations as well. Otherwise, I, for one, enjoyed your article and found it a very positive step in the right direction. Oakland is a great city which many times gets defined in selective and negative terms by the powerful SF media across the Bay.
There is no better atmosphere to watch a baseball game in the United States than watching the Oakland A’s and their amazing fans at the Oakland Coliseum. Sure, I like the First Fridays and other nice additions, but gone are some of the things that made Oakland unique and had been staples of it’s diverse and blue collar past. A true journey into real Oakland, not the gentrified landscapes of Rockridge and the Temescal. I can’t wait for the first real experience a Google person has with the reality of East Oakland. Just remember how brutal the reaction to Occupy Oakland was and you get a sense of the reality of Oakland.
As a result of the restoration, new species have been spotted in the lake, including river otters, leopard sharks, and bat rays. What about the taco trucks (those families that actually started this whole mobile food truck craze)?? We get entirely too much coverage for crime and not nearly enough for what makes Oakland the best town in the universe. There is also the Montclair Village as well as West Oakland which the other commenter mentioned. I also knew that, especially in a story of less than 1,000 words, it would be impossible to cover everything that Oakland was, is, and will be.
If you go to Yelp and leave the category blank and just type “West Oakland” in the location, you’ll be amazed what pops up that would interest travelers.
So nice to see a positive article about a truly vibrant and diverse (art, culture, food, etc.) city.
There’s SO much more to Oakland than Rockridge, Temescal, Jack London Square and Lake Merritt. Miami musician man Cleaveland Jones strummed to the heartstrings of guests while they sipped Wood’s signature beverages.
If youa€™re into beer, youa€™ll know what we mean and really dig our selection.Our libation library is always growing and changing, so stop in often to see what wea€™re serving up this time.

Ita€™s all family-style in here, and our people will get to know you and what you drink after a few visits.
A retractable moonroof sits overhead a 3,500-square-foot room that can be rented out for private events and corporate dinners. Movable wall partitions adjust to the size of any gathering, and event producers and party planners are welcome to create specialty menus with chef Oscar del Rivero.
Boasting 3,535 square feet of space, the special sun deck can accommodate seating for up to 300 guests. The Asian-Latin-French fusion restaurant seats an intimate group of 20 on the terrace at its communal table, with an additional 13 seats by the bar, and a capacity of 168 indoors.
The five-acre community park is a sustainable green space, with a backdrop of the skyline and 250 trees providing fresh air and shade.
The upscale patio will act as a candlelit lounge, illuminated further with fire pits and dressed in lush landscaping. With capacity for 80, the beer garden is an enclosed space available for private events—think laid-back happy hours. Indeed, independent local-owned shops—a bakery, a beer cafe, a pizzeria, and, a major draw for foodies, the spirited Wood Tavern, among them—make the block a poster child for the Oakland of today. The Italian hotspot is packed for dinner but also offers up one of Oakland’s best bets for breakfast, with daily pastries like a spicy cheese croissant and cornmeal-raisin scone. Their unique culinary offerings reflect both of their personalities, blending Steele’s coastal sensibilities with Day’s Memphis-born southern soul.
The cozy throwback, famous for its heavily slanted floor caused by the 1906 earthquake, fits ten people, at most. Explore this rising city and the nearby areas while you stay in a comfortable vacation home complete with amenities. Come on down to my neighborhood and learn to read the gang tags and count the underage hookers on International Blvd. Step out of the safety zone designated by the gentrification and you will see an Oakland your handlers did not show you.
For an urban insider you seemingly avoided most of the areas that have restaurants that would fit this article. I believe it did in a way, especially in regards to national media attention, but definitely see your point.
That’s not to say the existing bones are not worth visiting – they absolutely are! We also highlighted places like The Cook and Her Farmer that have been open for less than two months. For this reason, it’s important to go beyond the already-been-done and the low-lying fruit story of Oakland.
West Oakland (my neighborhood), International Boulevard, San Pablo Avenue, East Oakland collectively have tons of great eateries, clothing stores and more!
The culinary vision is provided by Executive Chef Yang Peng, in partnership with Rich & Rebekah Wood. The floral garden serves as a cozy outdoor sanctuary for cocktails or activities before, during, or after any event. Features include projection walls, surround-sound speakers, and added grill or paella stations. Hosting up to 275 people, patrons of Highbar can indulge in modern cuisine under the direction of co-partner and chef Geoffrey Zakarian, who offers a menu of modern eats to go swimmingly poolside.
The menu also features classics such as Manhattans, Mint Juleps and Old Fashions and standard drinks like margaritas and mojitos.
Have an interaction with an Oakland Cop, most of whom do not live in the city so they don’t care about the inhabitants. I thought it represented an exciting new chapter for the city of Oakland, with truly great people making things happen. This article was more to reflect and answer WHY there has been so much buzz around Oakland lately – and part of the answer is because of the fast-moving openings with incredibly talented people at the helm.
They represent the parts of Oakland yuppy white people feel comfortable in, now that they are here in large numbers. That said, I hope that the next time I’m in Oakland, I have several of you as my tour guide to show me even more of why Oakland is such an incredibly fascinating and singular city. With their combined experience, Wood Tavern boasts a welcoming yet sophisticated dining environment for a truly delectable experience. They come to Wood to get comfortable.Best of all, the rent in Wynwood is still decent, so we wona€™t break your wallet. Ocho welcomes weddings, fashion events, corporate events, and movie premieres to its 3,761-square-foot space with special catering-menu options.
See the economic disparity between the (mostly white affluent) neighborhoods you wrote about and the places where the real people live. Oakland is not undisciverable, and rock ridge is where affluent white transplants feel most comfortable living. I moved here from Noe Valley in San Francisco (which is supposed to be the hottest neighborhood) but liked the houses Crocker Highlands off Lakeshore Ave (where the shops etc are) better than Rockridge. I also notice how everyone else questions and comments were addressed but mine weren’t. The part that really grinds my gears is the fact that I know the person who wrote this has a degree.
I find it fascinating (from my reporting all over the world) when people leave cities, no matter what they are, and start trends or restaurants in other places. Oakland is a lot more diverse than what was shown, and if you cannot show the diversity, and the history – why highlight Oakland at all?
But my research and interviews indicated to me that it was, if not THE kick-starter, than ONE OF the ones that did.

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