Nice to eat you, Temescal

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There could have been no better place for Dishcrawl to return to the East Bay than Temescal, Oakland! 

With its hip shops and mix of trendy and ethnic eateries, this vibrant neighborhood has tons to see and taste. As "one of the city's oldest and most storied neighborhoods," according to the SF Chronicle, Temescal is seeing a new chapter in its history unfold and we got to be a part of that. 

There are nearly 50 restaurants, bars and food shops with this short set of bustling blocks, 4 of which dishcrawlers were lucky enough to sample on March 27, 2013 as part of our Temescrawl. 

Here's how the delicious evening transpired:
First stop: Red Sea Restaurant
Red Sea is a nondescript corner front that has been serving up some of the area's best Ethiopian and Eritrean specialties since the '80's. In a neighborhood with a large Ethiopian community, competition for the best food is fierce and Red Sea has been a front runner for years. 
Owner Iyasu Feseha has been in this family business for years now and is keeping on the authentic food he grew up with and learned to love. The family wants to share traditional dishes, served as they would be in homes in their country of Eritrea, with the community. And we are more than happy to receive these gifts from their kitchen. 

Bamiya: Okra and potatoes cooked in mildly
spiced red pepper sauce with onions, garlic and ginger


Hamli: Collard greens cooked in onion and
garlic sauce


Zigni: Delectable beef chunks simmered in red
pepper sauce and laced with an exotic homemade spice blend


Birsin: ground split red lentils cooked with
red pepper, garlic and ginger


Tumtumo: Puréed split peas in turmeric sauce
with garlic and ginger


Injera bread: A yeasted flatbread made out of Teff flour. Its unique,
slightly spongy texture perfectly soaks up the delicious sauces


Perfectly spiced and aromatic, all the flavors explode in your mouth. They complement each other perfect and the injera bread delivers them deliciously to your mouth.

Second stop: La Calaca Loca
The dècor is the first thing you notice when you walk into this little taqueria. The name means "crazy skeleton" which drives the dia de los muertos-esque theme inside. The menu is simple, with favorites like nachos and tacos, but the product is outstanding. 
General Manager, Kevin Chung, is committed to using the highest quality ingredients he can find. Their fish is line-caught and sustainable, they make their own addictive chips and use only Niman ranch meats and free-range chicken. Combine this with subtly authentic touches like queso fresco and homemade salsas and every menu item FAR exceeds your expectations. 

Ensalada: Romaine lettuce,
corn, black beans, cilantro, onions, tomatoes & cabbage tossed in a
tomatillo & rojo vinaigrette. Topped with guacamole and corn tortilla


(Mini) Tacos Especiales

corn taco shell inside soft corn tortilla with melted cheese, topped with
Nachos: Made with fresh,
homemade chips

fresco, pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole, Baja sauce, pinto beans &

These popular signature dishes delight every time. This is my local, go-to taqueria so I wanted to share it with fellow foodies. The freshness and flavors are familiar yet one step up from the usual which keeps locals coming back. 

Third stop: Lanesplitter Pizza
This local chain gets it oh so right every time. The vibe is super casual but that doesn't mean they can't crank out some amazingly delicious food. Their partnerships with local breweries make for a match made in carb heaven. They offer gluten-free crusts and vegan pies that are just as tasty as the originals, a commendable and tall order. Calzones are one of the unsung heroes of Italian food and are harder to find than one would think. Not here! They are as big and bubbly as everything else on the menu, from their lasagna to their "heartstopper" pizza pie. 
Ian Moll is the General Manager of the Temescal location and is the perfect fit for this laid-back, fun, friendly local pizza shop. His crew welcomes locals and tourists alike to offer some creative slices and pies, plus salads that would make you forget they were healthy! 

Generous slices of Heartstopper (bacon, roasted garlic, spinach and gorgonzola) and Herbivore (spinach, mushrooms, olives, onions) pizzas plus huge salads with Ranch and vinaigrette

Fourth (and, sadly, final) stop: Marc 49
This swanky wine bar is truly a hidden gem in the middle of a busy block. Well, not exactly hidden since it has a loyal following most nights ;) The extensive wine and cocktail menu is supported by an equally delightful menu of appetizers, paninis, desserts and more. The interior is romantic, all low seating and low lights, and makes you feel as relaxed and giddy as a good wine bar should. 
We were allowed the gorgeous back patio and welcomed by the GM, Meryem Lacy and her attentive team. 

Chocolate Brownie:

House made and warm with fresh strawberries, homemade whipped
cream, Ghirardelli chocolate
sauce, topped with Tara’s
organic vanilla ice cream



Chocolate Mousse: 

House made mousse infused with Espresso, topped with our
homemade whipped cream and drizzled with Ghirardelli chocolate and
strawberry sauce

This was the sweetest way to end our awesome foodie adventure. The desserts were sinful and made with care. They paired beautifully with wine and lulled everyone into a cozy state of bliss. This is the perfect spot for a late-night bite or treat so it was great to be there last! 

We hope Dishcrawlers had as much fun as we did exploring Temescal, and we can't wait to return! The people and restaurants were nothing but friendly and welcoming to us. This stretch of Telegraph feels like a little exotic oasis in Oakland, and its inventive charm will bring us back again soon. :)

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'Til we eat again!

More about Red Sea Restaurant: Website | Yelp
More about La Calaca Loca Taqueria: Website | Yelp
More about Lanesplitter Pizza: Website | Facebook | Twitter
More about Marc 49: Website | Facebook | Twitter

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