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Oakland Restaurant Week Is an Invitation to Taste the Town

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Overhead view of a plate of garlic noodles and roast crab.
One of Chef Smelly's legendary seafood plates, piled high with garlic noodles, shrimp and, of course, Dungeness crab. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Whether you’ve lived in Oakland for decades or recently arrived, Oakland Restaurant Week is a great excuse to visit classic Town standbys and new eateries alike.

This year’s Restaurant Week gets underway March 14–24, when over 150 restaurants offer special lunch and dinner menus, often for a discounted rate. The participating establishments are as culturally diverse as Oakland itself, and include options with a range of price points and fanciness levels.

There are neighborhood restaurants like Wahpepah’s Kitchen in Fruitvale, the innovative cafe helmed by Kickapoo chef Crystal Wahpepah, who blends a variety of Native American influences in her dynamic, nutritious menu. The pop-up ASÚKAR Palestinian Cuban Fusion features an only-in-Oakland blend of flavors, like kufta tostone sliders and guava-infused baklava. Smelly’s Creole and Soul Food, now a permanent restaurant by pop-up veteran Chef Smelly, has a special menu of shrimp, crab, lobster tails, garlic noodles and “crack” n’ cheese. And Puerto Rican cafe La Perla is well worth the visit for its generous portions of perfectly seasoned chicken.

For many diners, Oakland Restaurant Week also provides a more affordable opportunity to visit one of the higher-end spots they’ve been saving up to check out. There’s Colombian restaurant Parche, an ideal special occasion restaurant, where ceviches, decadent dishes like braised short rib and top-tier cocktails are well worth the higher price point (it also has a party vibe, with reggaeton in steady rotation). Viridian, with its artful drinks, tasty California-Asian cuisine and neon-lit interior, is a fun date spot, as is cozy, Michelin-approved Filipino restaurant FOB Kitchen.

The annual promotion is organized by Visit Oakland, the city’s nonprofit tourism bureau. Peruse the full restaurant list for yourself, and happy eating.

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