Incredible Oakland Food Trails You Can't Miss

Sip your way through the Black Wine Tour, eat incredible plant-based dishes along the vegan trail, and hit up the cannabis trail for delicious elixirs.

Food Trails in Oakland, California, That Celebrate Black Food History

Jordan Park / Visit Oakland

This February marked the sixth annual Black Joy Parade in Oakland, California, and it rained the entire time. A few days before we knew this became our soggy reality, Elisha Greenwell, the founder of the parade, told me, “There is a resilience that happens when we [Black people] talk about maintaining our joy … Obviously it’s not ideal for it to rain, but I think it might add a little extra beauty to it all.”

Hundreds of people still showed up, dozens of vendors cooked until 7 p.m. when the parade closed down, and I danced in the rain with new friends. Nowhere in the United States practices active community quite like Oakland, and that can be seen in its food trails. In addition to promoting small local eateries, these captivating trails give newcomers and generational residents a chance to gather and support each other in delicious ways.

Black Vines Black Wine Tour

One of the most intriguing activations at the Black Joy Parade was Black Vines. Imagine a community of Black winemakers, vinters, artists, wine-adjacent entrepreneurs, and the people who want to support them gathering from all over the United States in Oakland. When Fern Stroud first conceived of Black Vines in 2010, she never imagined that its community would take on a life of its own.

From major local wineries, like Brown Estate and the McBride Sisters Collection, to smaller brands also making high-quality products, like Ayaba Wines, Town Vineyards, and ThatsMyJam (get the mango masala jam!), you can find all of them and more within the Black Vines family. There’s also an annual event that invites Black winemakers from across the country to come to Oakland and introduce themselves to new audiences. 

Best of all, they have year-round Black-owned wine tours. Not only do these tours feature Black winery tasting rooms in and around the Bay Area, Sonoma, and Napa, but they also include transportation from Black-owned transportation companies.

Food Trails in Oakland, California, That Celebrate Black Food History

Jordan Park / Visit Oakland

Vegan Trail

Immediately after landing in Oakland, I decided to start exploring the vegan trail (bags and all). My first stop was the Millenium, a pillar within the vegan restaurant scene. This establishment was founded in 1994, and chef Eric Tucker has been a part of the Millenium fancy since day one. What started off as an attempt to combat hyperglycemia eventually turned into a complete lifestyle change that led to him co-authoring The Millennium Cook Book and The Artful Vegan. When you visit, you can’t miss the Coriander and Arborio Crusted Oyster Mushroom. Picture really good calamari, minus the fishiness but with an extra satisfying crunch.

Another highlight on the trail is Raw and Roasted. Chef Imani Greer recently celebrated the one year anniversary of his plant-based, (mostly) raw restaurant. After years of traveling the world as a chef, Greer decided to move to Oakland during the pandemic to be near his cousin and start a vegan food business. Initially he wanted to test out the waters for a few weeks but, ultimately, he never left. When you visit, try the kelp noodle pad Thai, a cold, raw noodle bowl that is surprisingly filling. 

If you’re intrigued by vegan food and captivating stories of divine interventions, stop by Souley Vegan. Back in 2007, Tamerra Dyson was selling a few of her most popular items (greens, yams, black eyed peas, and cornbread) at the local farmers market, where weekly shoppers would encourage her to open a storefront. In the following years she experienced highs, lows, bouts of depression, and even a two-time customer lending her $11,000 the day before her deposit was due to acquire her current location. Solely Vegan officially opened in July 2009, and it has been steadily growing ever since.

Food Trails in Oakland, California, That Celebrate Black Food History

Jordan Park / Visit Oakland

Ale Trail

While this trail spans widely across Oakland, for the people who don’t want to drive but still want options, the locations by Jack London are hard to beat. There are four breweries, three craft beer destinations, and one cidery all within five blocks of each other. 

One of those breweries is Original Pattern Brewery Company, which was founded in 2018. Its head brewer, Andy Crocker, is dedicated to teaching all of his coworkers the process of brewing. In fact, Original Pattern’s staff beer series is an educational program, created by Andy, to teach every staff member how to make beer. That includes the brewing, labeling, naming – the works. I tried the gose-style sour from the staff beer series called the “Renegade Lemonade.” Think of a berry lemonade with a light hit of salt and almost 6% alcohol.

Less than two blocks away is Buck Wild Brewing, California’s original 100% dedicated gluten-free brewery. The entire facility is gluten free, including the food and its in-house canning station, so if you have any level of gluten allergy or intolerance, this is a safe space for you to let loose and treat yourself. Instead of rye or wheat, Buck Wild sticks to rice, millet, and buckwheat for their brews. This time I had the Scarlet Sour, another gose-eque beer but with a more tropical palate.

Cannabis Trail

While cannabis might not be for everyone, it is definitely for me, and Oakland’s curated cannabis trail has a little something for everyone. Many of Eco Cannabis’s products showcase the Oakland spirit of uplifting your neighbor. One is the Helmand Valley Growers Co (HVGC), a nonprofit organization that helps supply cannabis to veterans who are struggling with stress management, PTSD, sleep disorders, and countless other post-deployment ailments.

Down the street from Eco Cannabis is one of my favorite gems: Rose Mary Jane. This is a Black woman-owned, -operated, and -licensed canna-bar in Oakland. The store section of Rose Mary Jane showcases intersectionality within the cannabis community, including, but not exclusively, Black-owned, woman-owned, locally-owned, BIPOC-owned, legacy brands, brands that support social justice, and so much more. The bar menu is 100% alcohol-free and can be customized to fit whatever level of CBD/THC guests are looking for. All the drinks are made in house, from the Peach Wobbler (one of its staff’s grandma’s recipes, literally peach cobbler in a cup) to their Earl Grey Tea served with a floral terpene. 

A local secret on the Cannabis Trail is tucked away in the Limewood Bar and Restaurant within the statuesque Claremont Club and Spa. Spearheaded by chef Joseph Pair in 2021, the Enlightened Dinner Series is a quarterly dinner menu with designated terpene pairings. Initially, these dinners started as socially-distanced experiences where Pair and his food and beverage director, Paul Berg, teamed up with a local cannabis dispensary to send these dinners to people’s homes and talk them through dinner via Zoom. By May 2021, on-site cannabis dinners were in full swing and now they sell out almost instantly.

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