Along the waterfront of Oakland lies Jack London Square, affectionately named after the great American literary figure who spent many an hour drinking here. There are a riot of bars and restaurants, you won’t find it hard to get a slice of that much talked about Oakland foodie scene. Once an industrial port, it is now the essence of new, revived Oakland, brimming with secrets to surprise and delight. It is also the location to the Urban Wine Trail – yes that’s right, not only does Oakland wow with food and beer, it also has a few winery tricks up its sleeve.
Down Fourth Street you’ll find a warehouse with JC Cellars and Dashe Cellars, offering highly lauded Syrahs and Zinfandels to start you off. Move across the freeway and head to 25th Street to Two Mile Wines and you’ll find a great place to sample some boutique Sangiovese and Viognier wines. Periscope Cellars at Old Oakland’s Swan’s Market is a food and wine heaven; it has an expert sommelier to ensure you find the tipple of your choice, but should you be stuck for choice get the wine ‘to go’ in a 500ml refillable flip top bottle. Sounds odd but we can assure you it’ll keep you entertained until the early hours. We also recommend visiting Stage Left Cellars on Dennison Street – on the first of every month you can taste some of Rich William’s handcrafted, ‘microlot’ Rhône style wines. How about that for a plethora of choice?
LAST CHANCE SALOON
If you’ve still got a thirst for more, don’t leave Oakland without visiting Jack London Square’s most well-loved bar, Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon. First opened in 1883, not much has changed since then except for the seriously sloping floor from the great earthquake of 1906. This is where Jack London whiled away the hours, seeking inspiration for his iconic novels, it’s a step back in time unlike anywhere else. The ceiling and walls are adorned with yellowed business cards and money left by the sailors, who vowed to return after going out to sea. The bar still has original lamps, tables and furnishings built from an old whaling ship, so expect a lot of character. Lovingly coined Jack London’s Rendezvous, it is also the perfect start or end to the Urban Wine Trail, for all you vino enthusiasts.
All that’s left to do is pick up the trail and indulge in the stronger side of Oakland.