Oakland restaurant week is back for its traditional run in January, livening up what is normally a quiet time of the year for restaurants. If you feel a touch of deja vu, why yes, we did just do this four months ago — Oakland decided to double up on restaurant weeks last year, with the main event in January, and a surprise special edition in September. But why not? Restaurants needed all the support they could get in 2020, and now that the region’s lockdown has been extended indefinitely, it’s safe to say that they will still need a hand into 2021.
The event is definitely a little toned down this year, given the stay-at-home order, but there are still a few sweet deals to be had. Per usual, restaurant “week” is a misnomer, it’s more like a week and a half, running across two weekends from January 7 to 18. Visit Oakland has a running list of more than 300 restaurants that are currently open for takeout and delivery, which is a great resource in general. And specifically for restaurant week, about 20 to 30 of those will be featuring special menus or items.
Unlike past years, there isn’t a prix fixe format, and restaurants are free to offer whatever deals they like. And it’s also not just restaurants — Oakland is expanding the week to include other types of food businesses, including pop-ups, caterers, and wineries. (Hey, you know who really lost a lot of business this year? Caterers. And you know who really knows how to prep food that reheats beautifully? Also caterers.) Here are just a few highlights:
Alamar, the seafood spot in Uptown, has got a shrimp boil that looks serious. That’s two pounds of “peel ‘n’ eat” shrimp, sausage, potatoes, and corn, all drowned in romesco butter, with sourdough for dunking ($48, feeds 2 to 3 people). There’s also an oxtail taco kit for only twenty bucks ($20, feeds 2 to 3 people), and you can throw in a quart of spicy mango margarita ($40).
The Damel, the Afro-Brazilian counter from up-and-coming chef Oumar Diuf, is new this year. A menu sampler comes with one starter, one dibi (grilled meat), two sides (like rice and plantains), and a beignet for dessert ($20). But fans are going to go straight for those Argentinian empanadas ($20 for 6 empanadas, $40 for 12 empanadas).
Daughter’s Diner, the new breakfast spot from a husband-and-wife team, will be participating. Specials still TBD, but here’s hoping there’s a hot take on a breakfast sandwich, and maybe some of those princess pancakes with marzipan and jam.
Home of Chicken & Waffles can’t wait to party for the inauguration, so they have a special dedicated to our former California senator and future vice president. Kamala’s collard greens and chicken lasagna comes with salad, dessert, and a drink ($19.99). And it’s been immortalized as a lasagna mural.
Popoca, the popular El Salvadoran pop-up, has got two options: a pan rellenos, a stuffed and smothered sandwich, filled with woodfire roasted chicken; or pupusas filled with chayote and cheese. Either comes with sides and dessert ($20).
Check the specials list closer to the dates, as more restaurants are still getting in on the action. And check out the running list anytime to browse restaurants open for takeout and delivery in Oakland.