When we were chatting with Aaron Porter, co-owner of the Trappist, he said we should check out a relative newcomer to Oakland’s beer scene called Commonwealth Cafe & Public House. We immediately wished this neo-British pub was in our respective ’hoods. It’s clean, it’s bright, and the staff is really friendly. READ MORE
Oakland’s Bakesale Betty is known for its iconic blue-haired owner, Alison Barakat; funky sidewalk tables made out of ironing boards; and the long lines for its mighty large fried chicken sandwich. READ MORE
Pizzaiolo’s Charlie Hallowell is a markedly philosophical pizza-maker. His casual, wood-fired pizza restaurant in the Temescal neighborhood serves pies topped with seasonal ingredients like wild nettles or Monterey Bay squid, crisp well-made salads, and great drinks. He chatted with us about how an ideal restaurant vibe transcends commerce and just feels like a party, how pizza-making is a metaphor for life, and how young’uns who want to open a restaurant better sit down and have a clear vision for every aspect of it if they want to be successful. READ MORE
We went looking for pastries in Oakland, and after a stop by the old-school-to-the-core Taste of Denmark, we went over to Katrina Rozelle in Rockridge for a look at the fancier side of Oakland bakeries. Walking in, it seemed like more of a place to pick up a birthday cake or special-order a fancy dessert for a party, but they did have a few grab-and-eat items. Notably: a lemon tart with creamy homemade lemon curd and a precisely formed crust that was rolled out just thin enough to hold the curd without falling apart.
5931 College Avenue, Oakland
Before we went wandering around Oakland, California, we called longtime Oakland resident and San Francisco magazine food and wine editor Jan Newberry. She gave us an overview of the vibe and talked about some of her favorite spots. READ MORE
We went to Austin right before the mania of SXSW, and despite working superlong days and freezing half the time, we were reluctant to hop a plane back to the Bay Area. The biggest reason: the people. Everywhere we went, Austinites were friendly, helpful, and fun to work with. Marisela from El Mesón actually offered to loan us warm jackets when she overheard us commiserating about not having packed for the cold snap. We even had a random run-in with Chowhound stellawine at a picnic table in front of the Odd Duck trailer, and had a friendly chat while we were filming that perfect soft-boiled duck egg.
We stopped into Olivia for lunch, having read all sorts of accolades about it, from Eater Austin calling it restaurant of the year to Bon Appétit putting it on the 2009 list of the 10 best new restaurants. Chef James Holmes’s menu has all the hallmarks of neo-American cuisine: an assortment of animal parts prepared in tasty ways—familiar enough to not seem intimidating to unaccustomed diners—locally sourced ingredients from produce to cheeses, and the blending of classic preparations (fries, terrines, sabayon) with a touch of modern technique (powders, gelées). READ MORE
While we were filming at Salt & Time, bearded butcher Bryan Butler mentioned that Austin had the only cooperatively owned brewpub in the world, making small batches of craft brew and Austinized pub grub. While other folks who shall remain nameless warned us that it “looked like an IKEA in there,” we still wanted to see what Black Star was doing. READ MORE
A visit to Austin would not be complete without checking out the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. This legendary theater chain (there are nine locations across Texas and one in Virginia) is known for serving beer and food alongside its fantastic curated film screenings—like the Lord of the Rings marathon and hobbit feast or a boy cartoon versus girl cartoon smackdown with all-you-can-eat sugar cereal buffet.
After scoping out Barley Swine while interviewing Chef Bryce Gilmore about his trailer Odd Duck, we wanted to go back and actually eat dinner at the month-old restaurant.
Barley Swine is in South Austin, in a low-key brown brick building—we missed it the first time we drove by. The interior is also simple, with high wooden tables and a little bit of a pub feel. Definitely seemed like a natural extension of Gilmore’s trailer ethos of cooking locally sourced stuff with a few fancier presentations, but serving it in a nonfussy environment and keeping it affordable.