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Restaurants & Bars

Anything better than jambalaya at the Oakland Arena?

David Sloo | Feb 20, 200612:53 AM    

Eating at the Oakland Arena should be just fine. Here we are, overlooking cities and towns with outlandishly good food, made from recipes -- with ingredients, by people -- from around the world. The audience at the Arena is captive and paying top dollar.

Let us disregard the prices. Needless to say, expect a 100% markup over what you will pay outside the gates.

At the last few Warriors games that I attended, my experience included: disappointing, overly sweet barbecue sauce on a chopped pork sandwich and on a dry chopped beef sandwich; an alleged catfish po-boy, where the three pieces of poorly fried fish had been lying on tasteless bread and some sad chopped lettuce for a while, under a lamp that doesn't even merit the adjective 'heat-'; a couple of edible hotdogs on relatively horrid buns; and a little tub of respectable jambalaya, with a fair bit of sausage and shrimp.

Quaffable beer, at $9 a bottled pint, is widely hawked. But as far as I can tell no one sells coffee, and the alewives insist on at least removing the beer caps, and usually pouring your beer into a flimsy cup, before you walk away. This makes it hard to get back to your seat, with beer in one hand and jambalaya in the other. I assume the intent is that you don't turn that 20 oz Sierra Nevada bottle into what Howard Cossell once called 'a dangerous instrumentality on the field of play'. But the actual effect is messy and more personal: you come home smelling like a collision between a shrimp boat and a brewery.

What gives? The Coliseum and Pacific Bell Park both have edible food -- at top dollar, of course. Even San Francisco International Airport is gradually giving in and can cough up an edible dish in most of the terminals.

I am certain I am missing a gem at the Arena. Maybe there is one stand with high quality garlic fries. Maybe somewhere in a corner there is a rou bao vendor. If not, I'll continue to settle for the jambalaya, which is approximately up to Popeye's quality, and only twice the price. But I'd be happy to learn that the Arena in Oakland can do better.

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