Operated by Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the NHL's San Jose Sharks, Sharks Ice skating centers professionally maintain solid-water rinks and facilities to accommodate a full range of activities. Each Friday night (7:30–9:30 p.m. in San Jose; 7:15–9:15 p.m. in Oakland) customers have full run of the centers' Olympic-sized rinks for public skating and fashionable displays of warm, Cosby-inspired outerwear. In addition to skating amenities, each Sharks Ice center features a full-service pro shop that sells NHL athletic apparel and other skate supplies and accessories. The centers also feature public snack bars and spacious public areas for socializing and frigid recitations of 18th-century Russian poetry. Sharks Ice San Jose also houses Stanley's Sports Bar, a full bar and restaurant overlooking the three rinks. Skate rental is included, but if you prefer to bring your own foot-blades, the general admission price without today's Groupon is $8, which still makes the Groupon the better deal. Hours are subject to change, so please call ahead to confirm.
Marc 49 serves up a fresh menu starring a savory cast of Italian-influenced appetizers, bruschetta, salads, and panini to accompany the lengthy list of libations. Pass a plate of the house-marinated mixed olives ($4) or share the meat and cheese platter ($9) among a gaggle of good friends. The fresh-shucked Buckley or Chesapeake oysters ($2 each/$20 per dozen) offer a sensational taste of sea for first dates, second dates, or "does this count as a date?" dates, while the menu's seven salads ($6) promise to fill any mouth with an elegant mélange of greens. Put Marc 49’s wine bar to the test by pairing any of the simple yet flavorful bites with a glass of grown-up grape juice, available by the glass ($7+), bottle ($24+), or flight ($11 for three 2-ounce tastes)
Alameda Natural Grocery specializes in providing affordable natural and organic foods in a neighborhood-market environment. The store features a produce department that's 99% organic 100% of the time and 25% sentient 1% of the time, fresh dairy products, bountiful bulk buys, and a helpful staff that radiates healthy, edible vibes to nibble on while shopping. Pick a peck of non-pickled pleasantries such as stone fruits from Blossom Bluff Farms for $2.99 or an open pint of strawberries from Yerena Farms for $2.29. All-natural Brown Cow yogurts ($0.99 per cup) are on hand for later spoon feeding narrated by airplane sound effects, while Renew Life fish oils ($15.99–$23.99) are available in the supplements and personal-care departments for diving into the fast track toward improved health.
European, Southeast Asian, and American culinary traditions all influence the unique fusion recipes at Vo's Restaurant. Vegetables and rice get simmered in traditional clay pots and prawns and lemongrass are seared in woks; there's even a deep-fried catfish filet with ginger-infused nouc mam, a dip made from fish sauce. The dining room is as colorful as the dishes, featuring warm red walls, bamboo sprouting from tall vases, romantic lighting overhead.
In West Africa, a "chop bar" is a roadside gathering place serving food and drink, over which community members exchange news and ideas and compare findings on the validity of the axiom set theory of mathematics. Oakland's Chop Bar fosters the same sort of fellowship, right down to its neighborly use of items from local vendors in its dishes. Breakfasteers can opt for a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich ($6) or oatmeal ($3), among other offerings. The taste buds of brunch-goers are invited to trot the globe with the Italian omelette known as the frittata ($7) or an order of chilaquiles ($9), a Mexican dish tossing crispy tortilla strips in salsa, cheese, and scrambled eggs.