Metric have lived and spent a lot of time in some of the hippest cities in the world. In fact, they're one of the most city-shifting, transient bands we've ever met. Each day this week they're going to share their favourite things about each city they've lived in or visited. For the final instalment of this series we have Joules', guide to Oakland, California.
City Guide: Oakland by Joules Scott-Key
The place I call home is Oakland, California. Located across the from the West Bay (known to outsiders as San Francisco), Oakland is not as posh, which is fine with me. Oakland feels like a bit of the south placed on the West Coast: sprawling industrial spaces, urban farms, pimped out cars and bike lanes connect the many ethnic neighbourhoods in this city. After five years I am still discovering Oakland, but when I am home, a good day might involve the following...
Have some coffee:
COLE COFFEE - 307 63rd St
Strong coffee made to order. The customers that frequent this joint aren't your average Starbucks crowd. I've seen all types mingle at this first stop in everyone's day. Eavesdrop on conversations between Berkeley professors and members of the East Bay Rats (Oakland motorcycle gang). They spill onto the sidewalk and migrate across the street to the unofficial smoking section. If you like good coffee and want to discuss Foucault while admiring someone's ride, this is the perfect way to start your day.
Have some breakfast:
THE KOFFEE POT - 2532 Telegraph Avenue
An Oakland classic since 1928. Family owned since its humble beginnings, the current Korean owner boasts the title of world Galaga champion. This place is tiny with 6 bar stools and 2 tables. Greasy spoon without the grease. Get your coffee, eggs, bacon, grits, and toast within lightning speed and under 5 bucks. Sadly the Koffee Pot closes at 2:30pm so if you sleep in late you might want to head to Jack London Square and enjoy another Oakland classic - House of Chicken and Waffles.
HOUSE OF CHICKEN AND WAFFLES - 444 Embarcadero West
What can I say... chicken, waffles, hip hop. (gospel on Sunday mornings)
Spend some money:
GROOVEYARD - 5555 Claremont Ave
BOOK ZOO - 6395 Telegraph Avenue
Grooveyard and Book Zoo are the types of places that could only exist in Oakland. Grooveyard is a jazz-lovers all-vinyl record store and Book Zoo is a reader's paradise. Both are run by quirky owners who seem to have little business sense but make up for it in passion for their products. Amazing collections that are so affordable you'll want to pay extra just to make sure they stay in business.
LANEY FLEA MARKET - 7th St at Fallon St
If you don't know what to spend money on, look no further. Set on the edge of Chinatown, this flea market is the cheapest way to travel to Latin America. I've bought things here just because I couldn't believe it was for sale. "I don't know what the hell this thing is but it's only 2 dollars" kind of experience. They sell everything. Literally. Instruments, electronics, clothes, surfboards, pets, stuffed pets, plants, records, furniture, fresh produce, not-so-fresh produce, books, and people-watching can be found here. If you are hungry you can even pick up Mexican-style corn on the cob or thirst-quenching coco-frio.
Dinner, dessert and drinks:
WATER - 5634 College Ave
Now you’ve got your shopping needs taken care of, head to Water 5634 College Ave. Jason will make you an amazing cocktail to go with those fresh local oysters. The music will be good and you can watch some obscure art film and relax before getting dinner.
PYUNG CHANG TOFU HOUSE - 4701 Telegraph Ave
For simple affordable fare, this is my favorite of the many Korean places on telegraph. They specialize in soon. Their bi bim bop rules. Whatever you order will come with more kimchees and delicious pickled veggies than you can count.
MWA - 2442 Webster St
If you dont mind spending a bit more money, Mwa has great asianized california cuisine. The space sits on Auto Row and is a great example of what a garage can be turned into.
ICI - 2948 College Ave
Walk over to Ici after dinner. Insanely good home-made ice cream. Fresh flavor combos every day. Who knew that saffron-orange blossom could be so good? Brought to you by a former member of the Chez Pannisse team, this place is no secret but its worth the wait.
VINTAGE BERKELEY-ELMWOOD - 2949 College Ave
After ice cream, cross the street and take advantage of being in California by picking up a bottle of unique wine at Vintage. The owners pride themselves on discovering amazing wines from small vineyards that should cost alot more (every bottle here is under 25 bucks).
CHABOT SCIENCE CENTER - 10000 Skyline Blvd
Take your wine (dont forget a bottle opener) and head up the hill for some star gazing or just to enjoy the view. Free telescope viewing on weekends from 7:30-10:30.
Drinks Straight up:
GEORGE KAYES - 4044 Broadway
My favorite bar. Why is it my favorite bar? Sometimes you just want a drink. Straight, strong, and simple, nothing fancy but everything you need. Great jukebox, dog friendly, interesting regulars. Dave the bartender is a walking encyclopedia with a heavy pour. He also pilots a boat and plane and if he likes you, you may get an invite.
RADIO - 435 13th St
If old-timers playing dice and drinking whiskey are not what you are looking for, head downtown to Radio. Its a tiny spot but you will find room to dance when local DJ's are spinning. The place is very dimly lit, and time flies once you enter this establishment, so proceed with caution.