The East Bay’s most exciting dining districts in 2021

These neighborhoods in Berkeley, Oakland and beyond are packed with great dining finds.

Nosh’s 2021 in review
· The East Bay’s most reliable bar and restaurant destinations
· The East Bay’s best restaurant experiences
· The best outdoor dining in the East Bay
·
The East Bay’s saddest restaurant closures of 2021

At the end of every year, East Bay Nosh surveys staffers across Cityside’s newsrooms as well as its regular writers and columnists. The goal: to bring you an overview of the region’s food and restaurant scene from our diverse group of contributors. Please keep checking back every day until the end of the year for answers to 2021’s set of dining questions — and if you’d like, add your own answers in the comments at the bottom of this article.

Today, our respondents were asked: What East Bay neighborhood or district has your favorite drinking and dining scene right now? 

Colorful picnic tables and outdoor umbrellas are set up in the private parking lot connected to Vik's Chaat in Berkeley.
Vik’s Chaat in West Berkeley. Credit: Vik’s Chaat

We’re concentrating on our close-to-home area in West Berkeley: La Marcha, Middle East Market, Cali Alley, Vik’s, etc. Lance Knobel, CEO and co-founder, Cityside

Laurel is still underrated. They got some great spots. Azucena Rasilla, Reporter: Arts & Community, The Oaklandside

Lots of excellent choices all along College Avenue in both Oakland and Berkeley. Risa Nye, Nosh contributor and memoirist 

Ugh, it has to be Temescal, still. Flora Tsapovsky, Nosh contributor and culture writer 

Again, this is mostly a function of where I live, and not venturing far from home during these strange times, but the MacArthur side of Piedmont Avenue is pretty great right now. Temescal just keeps getting more and more exciting, even though it often feels way too hip for me. Alix Wall, Nosh contributor and Oakland-based freelance writer

The bar at Drexl, a watering hole in the Dimond. Credit: Drexl/Facebook

The Dimond District in East Oakland. My favorite bars this year have been Drexl, Victor’s, and Laurel Lounge. Ricky Rodas, Reporter: Immigrant Small Business, The Oaklandside

I am so lucky to be able to walk to the restaurants on Solano Avenue. Current favorites with outdoor seating include: (besides the aforementioned Zaytoon and 5 Tacos and Beers), Vanessa’s Bistro, Bua Luang, Cafe Raj and Fonda. Tried Flora and Ferment Cider House (indoor seating, but a fun place to taste a flight of local ciders and meads). Anna Mindess, Nosh contributor and Berkeley-based freelance writer

The Gaumenkitzel general area. — Zac Farber, Managing Editor, Berkeleyside

Call me biased (it’s my neighborhood), but I’m smitten with Albany/Solano Avenue. It offers a variety of options with high quality dishes and drinks, in settings that are inviting and easy. I feel so fortunate to have my favorite Indian, Mexican, Thai, Mediterranean and Japanese restaurants right down the street. Moriah VanVleet, Nosh contributor and founder of butter, sugar, flowers 

The back patio at Tacos Oscar. Credit: Alix Wall

North Oakland has so many cool options. Mujiri, Novel Brewing, Donut Farm, the Wolfhound. Travel east towards Longfellow and Temescal and you’re spoiled for choice (Joodooboo’s coming soon; Tacos Oscar, yes please.) Meanwhile, nearby Emeryville has lost some old-timers this year, sure, but it now has Wondrous Brewing and, soon, Good To Eat Dumplings in the old Yuzu space. The area is an interesting mix, in transition and eclectic. Joanna Della Penna, Nosh openings/closings columnist

That changes by the day. Also, I’m also most biased when I can find a parking space. Brandy Collins, Berkeleyside, Nosh and The Oaklandside contributor