Oakland’s best dining is in a food court
Website:Swan's Market Old Oakland
BART Station:12th St. Oakland City Center
Walk Time:7 minutes
Swan’s Market is a grown-up version of your local mall’s food court. Instead of a slice of pizza or a hot dog on a stick, it offers fried oyster po boys, pork belly tacos and tuna sashimi.
Swan’s Market is located two blocks from 12th St/Oakland City Center station, in the heart of the Old Oakland neighborhood. The building (which dates back to 1917) used to be a shopping marketplace, before it was transformed into one of Oakland’s best eateries.
You can find any of your favorite foods – grilled cheese sandwiches, fish tacos, fried chicken, sausages and oysters, plus a wine bar and specialty food shops – all under one roof. Ready to take a culinary tour?
The Cook and Her Farmer
When a few of your menu items are grilled cheese, you have a lot to live up too. Fortunately, The Cook and Her Farmer’s take on this childhood favorite does, thanks to the winning combination of gruyere, dry jack and soft Pecorino (you can even order a version with gulf shrimp and green onions). You can’t go wrong ordering half-dozen ice-cold oysters or the steamed mussels, bathed in a beer both that you’ll want to drink straight from the bowl (we won’t judge).
Don’t be deterred by the long line and busy crowd surrounding Cosecha – this is a line well worth enduring. Everything at the Mexican eatery is prepared from scratch – including the tortillas and pastries. Favorites include the mole (only served on Mondays), wild shrimp tacos and the chicken pozole soup.
This casual Japanese eatery AS B-Dama offers a variety of comfort food dishes. Must have’s include the Tori Karaage (Japanese-style fried chicken); a hot pot of Hare Hari Nabe soup (with pork belly, noodles and vegetables); and charcoal-grilled meats. The restaurant also offers sashimi and rolls, but we prefer the hot plates in this rain-soaked season.
Located around the corner from the main food court area of Swan’s Market, Miss Ollie’s offers Caribbean-style soul food that has attracted the likes of Anthony Bourdain (he filmed an episode of “Parts Unknown” there last summer). The skillet-fried chicken is a favorite (comes with potato salad and greens), but we’re partial to the salt fish and ackee with sweet plantains.
Bonus: Old Oakland Farmers Market
While Swan’s Market is usually bustling during happy hour and beyond, it is especially busy for the lunch-time rush on Fridays. That’s because the Old Oakland Farmers Market is in full swing. The farmers market is open year-round, from 8am to 2pm on 9th Street, between Broadway and Clay. Shop for local produce alongside booths offering fresh-cut flowers, pastries, honey and oils.