The walls at Currylicious exude the same orange and yellow hues as saffron and turmeric, which flavor its traditional Indian dishes. Appetizers include hearty veggie samosas and the kachumar salad, an intermingling of fresh garden veggies, herbs, and lime juice. Entrees such as chicken shahi korma and lamb karahi cool down spice with infusions of yogurt sauce and side helpings of naan. During pleasant weather, diners can sit outside, where they take in Oakland’s scenic landscape, or season their meals with crushed sunshine.
The stout, mottled brick front and black and white striped awning of BFC Cajun Seafood's storefront conceal the carefully crafted and spicy Cajun fare waiting inside. Bone-in catfish fillets come on sandwiches or as part of fried-fish plates sporting rich batter with an extra crunch that frequently alarms local seismologists. Beneath the glittering shell of a glass counter, an array of fresh-baked homemade pies and cakes divest themselves of single slices or travel whole to patrons' homes packaged in carry-out orders.
A baby-blue "Bienvenidos" greets customers as they step into the warm yellows and oranges of El Sinaloense Mexican Restaurant. Vibrant portraits of south-of-the-border feasts and beaches embellish the sun-toned walls, between which the waitstaff frequently refills each table's bottomless bowl of housemade salsa. Diners chase chips with seafood specialties born on the shores of Sinaloa, such as the topolobampo, a fillet of grilled fish crowned with clams, prawns, and octopus. A more traditional Mexican plate, the Molcajete stars jalapeños, onions, and cheese next to chicken and shrimp simmered with nopales.
The epicurean alchemists at Medallion Steakhouse start with organic produce, and grass- and corn-fed beef and chicken raised on local farms and transform them into fine, innovative dishes. Specialists tend the raw oyster bar, where guests sidle up to string necklaces of pearls from varieties such as Fanny Bay, Marin Miyagi, and Kumamoto oysters. With their appetites roused, diners then settle down into oversize booths padded with plush pillows to dig into farm-fresh entrees. Smells of sizzling 14-ounce grass-fed steaks and roasted chicken breasts from Petaluma Farms swirl through the air between the restaurant’s exposed-brick wall hung with red-and-white-framed mirrors. A wall of white birch tree trunks and soft sounds of a waterfall's trickle keep diners comforted as they linger for a forkful of hazelnut dark-chocolate mousse and sips of spirits such as a 20-year-old tawny port and Godiva white-chocolate liqueur.
Johnny Cherry, the proven barbecue king, seasons the fare at Frank's BBQ and Seafood with his own special blend of herbs and spices, earning himself and the eatery a first-place finish in the Black Cuisine of San Francisco competition for 10 years running. He cooks up pork and beef ribs, sliced beef brisket, and chicken wings, all available in a variety of combos with sides such as potato salad and hush puppies. Not to be outdone, seafood dishes such as red snapper, catfish, and fish burgers sidle up beside the barbecue fare.
Margie—Frank's BBQ and Seafood's resident soul-fare specialist and fellow Black Cuisine of San Francisco first-prize winner—drops by every Thursday and Friday to whip up her down-home cuisine. Made from her grandmother's Alabama recipes, her entrees include smothered turkey wings, meatloaf, and oxtail, prepared with comfort-fare sides such as string beans and candied yams in the shape of a La-Z-Boy. On request, she can also craft homemade desserts such as cakes, peach cobbler, banana pudding, and pies. Frank's BBQ and Seafood and Margie's soul fare are also available for catering for any event.
From the lofted ceiling, an elegant, oversized chandelier illuminates understated cream-colored walls and aromatic Tuscan cuisine crafted from fresh local produce. A recently updated menu orbits around handcrafted pastas and vegetarian options such as cheese ravioli embellished with mushrooms, artichokes, and bell peppers ($13.95). Lighter-than-air gnocchi ($13.95) threaten to shake off pesto and a dainty drop of cream to float off and join cloud circuses. Grilled tomatoes and basmati rice rush at each other in a jousting match over the honor of a saffron-and-lemon-marinated leg of lamb ($19.95), and the chef delicately sautés a salmon fillet in cold-pressed virgin olive oil before leaving it balanced atop an amalgamation of veggies still clutching farewell gifts from scarecrows ($19.95).
At Sinbad’s Pier 2 Restaurant, guests can look out over the bay as they savor blackened swordfish and startlingly fresh seafood. Clean ocean breezes tickle through the windows as guests spoon up sips of clam chowder and load forks with pasta, shrimp, scallops, and mussels. Customized dishes of salmon-stuffed pastry shells and crab cake eggs benedict start hitting tables as early as 10 a.m. for breakfast-craving diners. An extensive wine list brings out the delicate flavors of the fish and seafood, as well as any napkins that fall into your mouth by accident.