For ten days, starting Jan. 18, the city's thriving culinary scene will be on display for the annual Oakland Restaurant Week.
Participating eating establishments will be offering special deals and prix fixe menus as part of the event, which is sponsored in part by the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, the Oakland Restaurant Association, and Visit Oakland (the Oakland Convention & Visitors Bureau).
Close to 50 restaurants are listed on the Visit Oakland website (www.visitoakland.org/restaurantweek). Looking at the offerings, I couldn't help but notice that many of them are housed in landmark buildings.
So, just for fun, I've listed my personal favorite eight restaurant buildings to spark interest and excitement in the upcoming celebration.
No. 8: The Fat Lady, 201 Washington St., (www.thefatladyrestaurant.com). Popular since 1970, The Fat Lady is located in a building built circa the 1880s in the West Waterfront Historic District. It is known for its rich Victorian-style decor -- Tiffany-style lamps, beveled glass signs and ornately carved wooden bar, all brought here on a journey "'round the horn." An unsubstantiated legend has it that a young Jack London may have visited there when a "ladies of the night" rooming house previously occupied the site.
No. 7: Disco Volante, 347 14th St., (www.discovolanteoakland.com). This restaurant, featuring drinks and music, is located in a pale green art deco-style single-story commercial building designed by prominent local architect C.W. McCall. Before it was a restaurant, the space was home for many decades to the Roselyn Dress and Lingerie Shop, where dainty unmentionables could be purchased.
No. 6: Flora, 1900 Telegraph Ave., (www.floraoakland.com). Flora is also housed in an art deco landmark, with cobalt blue-and-silver zigzag deco patterns on the facade that really make the building across from the Fox Theater stand out. The original business owner was a florist.
No. 5: Hopscotch, 1915 San Pablo Ave., (www.hopscotchoakland.com). This new restaurant serves seasonally inspired cocktails and American food with Japanese influences. The landmark building is an restored Italianate commercial-style structure from the 1870s, with patterned polychromed brick and cast-stone surfaces.
No. 4: Lake Chalet Restaurant, 1520 Lakeside Drive, (www.thelakechalet.com). Featuring views of Lake Merritt, the restaurant is housed in a former boat storage facility and water pump house, originally constructed in 1912 and designed by the architect John Galen Howard.
No. 3: Spice Monkey, 1628 Webster St. (www.spicemonkeycafe.com). The location for this restaurant is the landmark Howden & Sons Tile Showroom Building that features a fanciful patterned facade of tiles. There is no other building quite like it, in my opinion.
My No. 2 and No. 1 are restaurants in historic hotels. The Terrace Room, 1800 Madison St., (www.theterraceroom.com) is in the Lake Merritt Hotel, where diners can enjoy lakeside views, and The Paragon Restaurant, 41 Tunnel Road, (www.paragonrestaurant.com) is in the landmark Claremont Hotel and Spa in the Oakland/Berkeley hills.
For more on Oakland Restaurant Week, go to www.visitoakland.org or call 510-839-9000.