downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Category — shopping

The First Friday of 2012

January 6, 2012

It’s the First Friday of January, & the first First Friday of 2012. Shaking off the bad spirits of the past and embracing a hopeful vision of the future is an annual tradition, and the Art Murmur offers ways to enjoy the best of Oakland – our humble city which was just named a top five international travel destination by the New York Times. As long as few of the resulting hordes of tourists stay at America’s second-dirtiest hotel, new visitors will help invigorate the local economy and help Oakland turn the page on a year of disappointments.

January’s First Friday is usually the most mellow of the year, and with a few months to go before the crowds swell to kind of ridiculous levels, it’s a good time to check out some art! The official Art Murmur site has a comprehensive rundown of gallery exhibitions from their members (galleries in Greater Uptown) – check it out at Watercolors seem to be the medium of the moment.

Outside of the official Art Murmur, the bars, restaurants and pop-up shops giving the DTO so much buzz will be slinging specialty cocktails, serving creative fare, or selling exciting works by local artisans. Check out the Oaklandish store and Oakcollective at 14th and Broadway, each open late tonight, and Oakcollectiv hosts the launch of a style blog. Though the holiday shopping season is over, the Pop Up Hood continues, so don’t forget to stop by 9th and Washington to enjoy what is perhaps the most elegant shopping district in the East Bay – certainly so if there were more shopping!

New restaurants for the new year

Speaking of Old Oakland, the former Levende East has a new tenant set to open a restaurant this Spring, and the arrival of a winery tasting room in Swan’s Market is eagerly awaited. In the last week Faz opened in the former Verbena space, and while I will mis the old Verbena crew, I’m glad that the DTO’s powerlunchers again have a place to occupy. If you stop by to enjoy the Persian-inflected Meditteranean cuisine that downtown denizens and Diablo Magazine are praising highly, don’t forget to check out the new outdoor patio.

Enjoy this lovely January day with art and hope for the future! See you in Uptown!


Easing out the year

December 23, 2011

Well it’s almost Christmas Eve and downtown Oakland has had a year of extreme ups and downs. New initiatives and traditional celebrations greet us at the end of the year, while the DTO gears up to do what the DTO does best – party! After the news roundup, scroll down for last-minute holiday shopping ideas and a list of downtown Oakland New Year’s Eve parties.

America’s Children’s Holiday Parade, presented by the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, brought more people downtown than any other gathering this year. It’s aired nationally on PBS, but you can watch it here on YouTube.

The Nutcracker, a seasonal classical music tradition, is once again danced by the Oakland Ballet at the Paramount Theater of the Arts tonight and tomorrow. Check out a Chronicle article about how the Oakland Ballet brought its art to schoolchildren throughout the city.

Planning for the future: the City of Oakland has hired a consultant to being studying expansion of the Broadway Shuttle – which will run until 1am on New Year’s Eve – as a round-the-clock service extending perhaps as far as the MacArthur BART Station. The study will look at costs, ridership, economic development, and different modes from dedicated-lane bus to shared-lane streetcar to light rail. The study is expected to be completed next Fall, and funding for expanded transit on Broadway is likely to be included in the transportation sale tax measure currently being drafted by the Alameda County Transportation Commission. For more information, check out the (unofficial) Oakland Streetcar Plan website.

East Bay Express discusses the changing mixology culture downtown, which has grown from margaritas rocks and greyhounds to custom tipples served up. This author recently went on a Manhattan tour of some of downtown’s oldest and newest lounges, and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the cocktails.

Daniel Patterson’s Haven opened to much fanfare in Jack London Square a week ago. Check out this InsideScoop interview with its chefs.

Last-minute holiday shopping

If you haven’t finished your holiday shopping yet, downtown Oakland today and tomorrow could be a lifesaver! The Pop Up Hood in Old Oakland (9th and Broadway) is a great destination. Also stop by housewares store Entrez Open House (1645 Telegraph), which will close early next year after a five-year run in Uptown. And the Oakland Museum’s gift shop (1111 Oak St) is always a popular place to find unique, creative and classy gifts. For the very budget-conscious, a stroll in Chinatown (9th and Webster) can turn up some unusual and affordable gifts, particularly for friends living in less cosmopolitan climes. Finally, don’t forget about the Oakland Grown gift card!

New Year’s Eve Events

Hubba Hubba Revue at the Uptown with Lee Presson & The Nails: A burlesque show with big-band and swing music sounds like retro good times!

Top Ten Social, a regular series of high-concept dance parties and civic lectures (so Oakland!), holds its New Year’s Eve party at Michelen Guide-mentioned Hibiscus Restaurant, with soulful crooning in the dining room and soulful beats at the outdoor dance floor.

STAY East Bay presents a night of old-school hip-hop with the Oakland Faders DJ crew at the Oakland Metro.

The ever-popular People Party house music and culture celebration will be at the New Parish on New Year’s Eve.

Disco Volante hosts a women-friendly NYE Bash with DJ Lady Ryan.

Vitus’s signature eclecticism is on display at their New Year’s Eve concert, headlined by a contemporary big band based out of the Mission, Lord Loves A Working Man, and including appearances by Hot Tub’s DJ and other dance-music specialists.

The Lovelight Blues Band is playing Cafe Van Kleef (1621 Telegraph). $30 gets a couple in the door, including glasses of champagne at midnight.

The new New Commodity warehouse space in the Art Murmur area hosts a masquerade ball to benefit the Oakland School for the Arts, including music, New Orleans-style food, and champagne for $30.

Downtown bars like 355 (355 19th St), The Layover (1517 Franklin St), Radio (435 13th St) and the Ruby Room (142 14th St) will be providing no-cover evenings with their top DJs and champagne at midnight. Somar (1727 Telegraph) and Spice Monkey (1628 Webster) are charging only $5 to access their events – and Spice Monkey’s is all-ages.

Happy holidays!

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