It’s a historic neighborhood with a fascinating past and unparalleled waterfront access—so why isn’t it more in-demand? The truth is, Jack London Square had gotten little bit stale over the last few decades, but that’s changed in a big way. An influx of new restaurants, bars, and housing in recent years has helped reinvigorate the area into one of Oakland’s most lively destinations.
Combine that with two big announcements—the Oakland A’s releasing a preliminary proposal to build a new waterfront ballpark just north at Howard Terminal and the rekindling of plans for a Ferry Building–style food hall to fill the long-vacant Water Street Market—and this is a neighborhood that appears poised to take off.
“With its lovely waterfront stroll, incredible restaurants and concert venues, sweet Sunday farmers market, convenient ferry to SF, and fun festivals and events, living in Jack London Square is both convenient and fun,” said Compass agent Farrah Wilder. “Some of my favorite shopping, meeting and dining venues are in Jack London Square but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the legendary concert-venue, Yoshi’s, as one of this great neighborhood’s many attractions.”
But you don’t have to wait for the new ballpark and marketplace to enjoy Jack London Square.
Three new dining destinations opened in the last years have rocketed Jack London up the list of culinary hotspots in Oakland. Belcampo, which sources über-sustainable meat from animals raised on its own ranches, serves up melt-in-your-mouth burgers made from ground-daily chuck, duck fat–fried French fries, and other hearty meat-centric eats in its gorgeous 7,000-square-foot flagship restaurant with unparalleled waterfront patio. They have a butcher counter, too. Next door, Farmhouse Kitchen, the latest addition to Kasem Saengsawang’s burgeoning restaurant empire, offers dazzling and innovative Thai fare with a Tiki flair. And in the ground floor of the Water Street Market building, Dyafa’s celebrated chef Reem Assil crafts elevated versions of the kind of Palestinian street food she first introduced to Oaklanders at East Bay farmers markets.
Farmhouse Kitchen: farmhousethai.com/oakland/
Sidle up to the tilted bar at Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon, the 136-year-old ramshackle dive bar where author Jack London himself was said to have jotted down book notes over a pint as a young aspiring author. Just make sure to hold on to your beer—the bar has been angled on a downward slant ever since the pilings were knocked out of alignment during the big 1906 earthquake. Come for the full Irish breakfast (served all day!), stay for the extensive selection of Irish whiskey at two-year-old Irish pub Sláinte. Feel like something made on-site? Jack London is home to one of the densest collections of urban wineries and breweries in the Bay Area, to go along with several tasting rooms and beer-centric bars.
Heinhold’s: 48 Webster St #3721
Oakland Urban Wine Trail: visitoakland.com/restaurants/oakland-urban-wine-trail/
Oakland Ale Trail: visitoakland.com/restaurants/oakland-ale-trail/
Dynamo entrepreneur Ayesha Curry (wife of Warriors’ star Steph) recently launched her first pop-up retail store, Homemade, featuring home goods and products that includes her own signature line of bedding, cookware, and bakeware, as well as a new jewelry collection. Next door, Oakland Supply Co. specializes in unique, quality goods made in the U.S. and often right in Oakland. In the shadow of Bed, Bath, & Beyond, Narrative provides a chic boutique shopping experience for affordable vintage home décor.
Oakland Supply Co:oaksupplyco.tumblr.com
Don’t just admire the calm, sun-dappled waters of the estuary snaking between Oakland and Alameda: Get out there. California Canoe & Kayaks rents out canoes and stand-up paddle boards, as well as offering classes, to allow you to do just that. With a myriad of entertainment options—bowling, bocce, skee-ball, arcade games—to go along with its hopping bar and food scene, Plank is like an adult version of Chuck E. Cheese. America’s one true original art form is alive and well at Yoshi’s, a combination sushi restaurant and nightclub that hosts live music with an emphasis on world-class jazz nearly every evening.
California Canoe & Kayaks: calkayak.com