The new Howden Market anchors the corner of the historic Howden Building in Oakland’s Uptown. Photo: Benjamin Seto
The new Howden Market anchors the corner of the historic Howden Building in Oakland’s Uptown. Photo: Benjamin Seto

The corner market may be getting a second chance if the recent opening of Howden Market is any indication.

From the people behind Spice Monkey restaurant next door, the market opened on Jan. 6 at the corner of 17th and Webster Streets in Oakland’s booming Uptown neighborhood. The quaint, impeccably styled store offers a deli counter and coffee station (serving Bicycle Coffee) and a few aisles of gourmet foods and snacks.

It might be more modest than the recent high-profile gourmet store that opened across Lake Merritt in the Grand Lake neighborhood recently. And that might be a good thing, considering that the other market — Grand Fare — abruptly shuttered just weeks after launching.

Howden Market positions itself as a neighborhood store. On a recent Saturday, several curious locals walking in the area popped in to check out the space. The area will be busier during the weekdays with the various office buildings nearby, and Howden hopes to cater to busy office workers dropping in during their breaks, or after work to grab a quick bite to take home.

A colorful row of pickled vegetables. Photo: Benjamin Seto

The aisles are stocked with gourmet foods, many labeled organic, natural or gluten-free. Some of the brands are what you might find in stores like Whole Foods or Bi-Rite, but there are some less recognizable items as well, an indication that the owners are trying to be the spot for some hard-to-find specialty foods.

Along with a cheese section and a refrigerated aisle, the market plans to start selling bread from Berkeley’s Metropolis Baking. The deli, of course, is serving salads and other items from Spice Monkey.

By the way, I’m a big fan of the mural by local artist Jack Chappel above the refrigerated section.

The market is still ramping up in these early days, but hopefully they will find their stride in the coming weeks and become a regular fixture in Uptown.

A blackboard in the tiny deli section at displays featured items for sale, which come from the Spice Monkey kitchen next door. Photo: Benjamin Seto
Salads in the deli case. Photo: Benjamin Seto
Looking out the window at Howden Market with the iconic Tribune Tower at a distance. Photo: Benjamin Seto
Taking a break with a latte. Howden Market has a tiny marble counter that fits maybe three or four stools. Photo: Benjamin Seto
Just one section of the mural by local artist Jack Chappel. Photo: Benjamin Seto
There are maybe two or three short aisles of products and a refrigerated section against the wall. Photo: Benjamin Seto
Mandarin oranges and avocados for sale in the small produce section. Photo: Benjamin Seto
Gluten-free products for sale. Photo: Benjamin Seto
Howden Market’s design maintains the integrity of the historic building, retaining moldings and the signature mosaic tiles on the exterior. Photo: Benjamin Seto
Some of the healthy snacks for sale. Photo: Benjamin Seto
Little touches like retro produce crates add to the charm of Howden Market. Photo: Benjamin Seto
An interesting row of decorative tiles accent the top of one shelf. Photo: Benjamin Seto
Howden Market hopes to cater to nearby office workers. Photo: Benjamin Seto

Howden Market is at 1630 Webster St. (at 17th Street), Oakland. 510-922 8385. Open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday. (Closed Sundays.) Connect with the store on Facebook and Instagram.

Benjamin Seto is the voice behind Focus:Snap:Eat, a food blog in the San Francisco Bay Area, where this post first appeared.

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Freelancer Benjamin Seto has worked as a reporter and editor for various newspapers around the country, and is currently a communications professional and food writer based in Oakland. Ben is also the...