ON a recent warm afternoon in the Uptown neighborhood of Oakland the streets were alive with activity. Crowds participating in Art Murmur, a monthly art walk, spilled out of galleries like Johansson Projects (2300 Telegraph Avenue; johanssonprojects.com) and Hatch Gallery (492 23rd Street; hatchgallery.org). It’s hard to imagine that this area, just north of downtown Oakland, was abandoned and plagued with crime just a few years ago. Now it bustles with hip bars, places to hear music and interesting restaurants that have even lured San Franciscans across the bay.
The scene that afternoon at Bar Dogwood (1644 Telegraph Avenue; bardogwood.com), which opened in March, was casual and friendly as the after-work crowd sipped signature cocktails and sampled locally sourced meats from its charcuterie. Vintage Edison phonographs made into speakers hang from the ceiling, and photographs show Oakland in its heyday in the 1930s and ’40s.
Lexi Filipello, the owner of Dogwood, said she had tried to open a bar in Oakland in 2002, but the city wasn’t receptive to new businesses then. “It was like a ghost town here,” she said. “Then Cafe Van Kleef opened.” Often referred to as the godfather of Uptown, Peter Van Kleef took a chance on the neighborhood, and the success of his bar (1621 Telegraph Avenue; cafevankleef.com) encouraged other business owners to move in.
One of the newest kids on the block is Make Westing (1741 Telegraph Avenue; makewesting.com), where happy hour was in full swing that fall afternoon. The bar’s modern, industrial interior is striking, but most noticeable that day was the cast of characters — an interesting mix of ages, ethnicities and styles — lining the bar and playing at the indoor boccie court.
Glenn Kaplan, who opened Make Westing in August with a partner, Chris Foott, said he was shocked by how much Uptown had changed during the 10 years he lived in New York. (He returned two years ago.) “There’s such a sense of possibility now,” he said. “Creative types that don’t have much money have grouped down here and are doing amazing things.”
A few doors down at the Fox Theater (1807 Telegraph Avenue; thefoxoakland.com), one of Oakland’s architectural gems, there was a line around the building waiting to see the Smashing Pumpkins perform.
Next door is Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe (1805 Telegraph Avenue; iamrudy.com), a hot spot for post-show comfort food. With Mike Dirnt of Green Day an owner, Rudy’s puts a punk spin on the classic American diner, complete with kitschy music-themed décor, a tattooed servers and booze-filled milkshakes.
Full article at NY Times: HERE