Just across the water from the bright lights of San Francisco there is an all-too-often overlooked urban dwelling – one that has quietly been gaining momentum as one of California’s hot spots. After a few days in the vibrant buzz of SF, our film crew were ready to venture off the beaten path and find out what all the Oakland hype is about.
Driving over Bay Bridge, we could see Oakland marked by a gaggle of cranes along the waterfront, like giant urban creatures welcoming us to the industrial landscape behind them. Not traditional in its beauty, there was something exciting about the post-modern aesthetic of this place, and we knew there would be plenty to keep the cameras busy.
An unassuming entrance via a big, busy freeway lands you between Jack London square on the bay front and the rest of Oakland backing up inland, divided by lots of active railway lines. We quickly noticed that the ringing of the train bells and the honk of horns are the soundtrack to this hip destination; loud and bombastic at first, but soon becoming a distant chime and comforting background noise to streets bursting with shops, cafés, bars, and even from the tranquillity of Lake Merritt. The hustle, bustle and noise is all part of the colourful landscape that we loved so much here.
Perhaps Oakland is to San Francisco what Brooklyn was to NYC? A hidden gem that is deservedly gaining merit for its authenticity as a hub for arty and innovative types. We discovered a wonderfully diverse crowd and a place that wasn’t afraid to be itself, a place that embraces its roots. And more than anything, we found this in the creativity behind the food and drink – Oakland is not just a hot spot, it is probably the hot spot to find a new dimension of California’s already incredible culinary scene.