After ten hours of slow-cooking, the barbecue ribs at Joe’s American Bar & Grill land on tables tender and ready to fall of the bone. Served with fresh-made coleslaw, these ribs are the centerpiece of a menu overflowing with upscale comfort food. Chefs cut potatoes by hand to accompany bacon cheeseburgers topped with aged cheddar and bread-and-butter pickles made in-house rather than flown in by a talking stork. Grilled pizzas are made fresh to order and never frozen, and hefty sandwiches and hand-cut steaks stack plates with sustenance. On the weekends, brunch dishes come out of hibernation to sate guests with made-to-order omelets and specialties such as eggs benedict and prime-rib hash. Diners enjoy the fresh air on the outdoor patio or cluster around the bar to keep track of sports scores or find out who really got married on Days of Our Lives.
Touch of Soul’s chefs translate homestyle Southern recipes into platters of comforting standbys. Land-dwelling favorites such as fried chicken and poboys mingle with Gulf staples such as red snapper, sole, and oysters that arrive tableside decked in delicate grill marks or donning healthy coats of fresh-fried batter. From Tuesday through Sunday, the kitchen also preps nightly dinner specials such as marinated steak smothered in beef gravy, or turkey wings seasoned and slow cooked to perfection. These dinners come flanked by three authentic Dixie side dishes, including red beans and rice, fresh yams, or corn bread baked into the shape of Jimmy Carter’s silhouette.
Bottles of Belgian beer, including Duvel and Tripel Karmeliet, sit on a shelf above murals of steins and pink elephants inside Cafe Biere. Between sips of imported brews, patrons can dip into kettles of mussels or bite into the glistening patties of bistro-style burgers, which are made with lamb or beef from nearby Niman Ranch. On weekends, patrons can scarf down farm-fresh eggs or drink 20 flavors of bottomless mimosas freshly milked from champagne-producing cows. The bistro's golden walls mimic the hues of the poached eggs seen next to puddles of rosemary brown butter on plates carried aloft by waiters.
The son of a San Fernando Valley butcher, Jody Maroni grew up enchanted by the meat trade. He made his first solo foray into the business in 1979, selling unorthodox sausages made by hand and then smoked or grilled on the Venice Beach Boardwalk. More than 30 years later, Jody continues handcrafting gourmet sausages with all-natural meats, cheeses, fruits, veggies, wines, and beers. Created from personal recipes, his 24 nitrate- and preservative-free cased meats include garlic-infused pork sausages and tequila chicken sausages with brined jalapeños and corn. They exhibit the versatility of the seemingly simple meal, ranging from the hot links popular in Louisiana to the bratwurst that would make a Midwesterner feel at home and the traditional hot dogs robots eat to fit in on the Fourth of July.
California is too vast and diverse a state to capture through just one medium. That's why Oakland Museum of California combines art, history, and natural science collections—more than 1.8 million objects total—to tell the state’s story.
Organized around themes of land, people, and creativity, the art gallery showcases more than 70,000 works from the 19th century through present day, ranging from paintings and sculptures to new media. Encompassing more than 100,000 artifacts, including several thousand bird eggs, the natural sciences gallery spotlights seven particular landscapes, including Yosemite and Mount Shasta. The history gallery includes more than 2,200 objects that trace major periods in the state's history, tying together the lives of the indigenous people, incursions by Spanish settlers, and the giggling mad dash of the gold rush. In a nod to the history of Tinsel town, the interactive Creative Hollywood station lets visitors create an animation, add sound effects to movies, and forget a personal assistant’s birthday.
Forming the roof of each level, verdant gardens separate the galleries, while more greenery and sculptures beautify the museum's outdoor roof gardens and courtyards. The museum uses more outdoor space to hosts its Friday Nights @ OMCA, a family-friendly market full of live music, dance lessons, and local cuisine. Local and seasonal ingredients, meanwhile, flavor the dishes available in the museum's Blue Oak café. The café doubles as a residency for jazz bassist Ron Crotty, a founder of The Dave Brubeck Quartet, who grooves his way through jazz standards every Friday.
A single weathervane squeaks as it sways in the breeze atop a peaked roof. Below it, a building dating back to 1948 houses Montclair Bistro amid fieldstone and brick pathways created in french provincial style. At 7 years old, future chef and owner Henry Vortriede began his cooking career by thumbing through culinary magazines and preparing meals for his family of eight. After going on to earn diplomas in food and wine at Le Cordon Bleu and L'Académie du Vin in Paris, France, he honed his skills as a chef in several French restaurants and created chocolate art showpieces at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco.
Today, as owner and chef at Montclair Bistro, Vortriede draws on his culinary background to create a rotating menu that includes organic chicken scaloppini sourced from Petaluma Farms, duck-and-wild-mushroom quesadillas with brown-butter chestnuts, and thick, double-cut pork chops with sweet-potato-apple pancakes. Another menu of brunch fare combines traditional favorites such as scrambled eggs with black truffle and eggs benedict with lobster cake.
Vortriede's taste is on display not only on plates but also on the restaurant’s walls, where elegant painted canvases hang. Two hundred bottles of wine stand nearby on storage racks inside walk-in glass covered with the pressed noses of oenophiles. The decor, which includes dark carpeting and dark chairs, white-linen-covered tables, and flickering candles, helped earn the restaurant OpenTable's 2012 Diners' Choice award for romantic restaurant in East Bay.