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View of SF and ferry from Alameda
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The Essential Guide to Eating and Drinking in Alameda

From breweries to old-school diners and tiki bars, this island has it all

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View of SF and ferry from Alameda
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Only a quick drive from the East Bay or a 22 minute ferry ride from SF (on which, mind you, there’s booze), this island community has long offered a slower pace of life than its rambunctious neighbors Oakland and San Francisco. However, the tiny town of Alameda has seen an explosion of activity in recent years that’s turned it into a Bay Area dining and drinking destination in its own right.

The sunny island offers a surprisingly diverse range of cuisine for a land mass measuring only six-by-one square miles, from Hong Kong-style dim sum to Japanese classics to some of the best German food in the Bay. Pair that with an ever-growing number of distilleries, breweries, and wineries, and it’s no wonder people have caught on to what was once known as the Bay Area’s best kept secret. Make it a day in the East Bay at one of these 38 essential restaurants.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Hangar 1 Vodka

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Vodka made from Karl the Fog? Yep, it’s a real thing here at Hangar One. This distillery, located in Spirits Alley, has received a lot of attention for Fog Point vodka, which is infused with water from real California fog. Tours of the facility are popular, as are tastings (walk-ins welcome) featuring samples of six vodkas like rose, buddha’s hand citron, and pink peppercorn. Sip your liquor outside with stunning views of the bay or inside the gorgeous tasting room that features large windows into the distillery and decor playing off of its roots as an airplane hangar.

Hangar 1 Vodka

St. George Spirits

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This independent craft distillery produces nearly every type of artisanal spirit you could imagine, from green chile vodka to raspberry brandy and even absinthe. Hands-down, the cult favorite is the Terroir gin. Around for more than 35 years, St. George moved from Emeryville to Alameda in the 90s, and into their current 65,000-square-foot facility in a former airplane hangar in 2004. Tours and tastings are both offered Wednesdays through Sundays — or, just walk in and hang out on the patio where you can enjoy epic views of the San Francisco skyline.

St. George’s Spirits

Faction Brewing

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If you want truly unparalleled views of San Francisco while sipping on a cold beer in the sunshine, Faction is your destination. This hugely popular brewery opened in 2013 in a repurposed 25,000-square-foot Marine Corps helicopter hangar. And on a nice day, the patio is packed with people enjoying food trucks, city views, and cornhole. As for the beer, choose from about 20 different styles ranging from IPAs to porters and stouts.

Faction Brewing

Rock Wall Wine Company

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Don’t go here expecting to be transported to a tasting room in wine country — this spot is the definition of an “urban winery,” located in a 40,000-square-foot former airplane hangar on the Naval Air Station. It sits just north of what used to be a defensive perimeter rock wall during World War II (hence the name) with beautiful architecture and incredible views of the city. Rock Wall sources its grapes from all over California to create a diverse winemaking process with different styles and flavor profiles. A concise menu of pizzas, cheese plates, and salads is available from the restaurant next door, Scolari’s at the Point.

Rock Wall Winery

Building 43 Winery

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There’s a lot going on along historic Alameda Point, with the massive tasting rooms getting most of the attention. Building 43 is more of a hidden gem: a smaller, more laidback taproom than others in the area. Grab a glass or bottle of their sustainably produced, small-batch varietals grown in the Sierra Nevada foothills, and head outside to the pet-friendly garden patio, featuring a fireplace, outdoor games, and San Francisco views. Or for a more intimate vibe, cozy up inside on the couches beneath twinkling string lights.

The Rake at Admiral Maltings

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Admiral Maltings became California’s first craft malt house when it opened in 2017, using grain sourced from California farmers. By offering an alternative that’s more sustainable and elevated than mass-produced malts, it’s quickly gained a large customer base of breweries and distilleries in the Bay Area including Standard Deviant, Harmonic, and Pacifica. At the onsite taproom, visitors can now try beer on tap from more than 20 breweries using its malt and snack on a menu that spans from sandwiches and entrees to salads, all while overlooking the malting floor.

Almanac Barrel House, Brewery, and Taproom

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This “farm-to-barrel” brewery, known for its sour beers, has been around in some form since 2010 but finally got its own space in 2018: a 30,000-square-foot production brewery and taproom that was formerly a naval hanger. The taproom includes an indoor beer hall and dog-friendly patio overlooking the bay. Get a flight and try the barrel aged sours, like the Nectarine Cobbler or the Blueberry Jack, or other styles like the the Coffee Barbary Coast imperial stout or the Isometric IPA. Food trucks come through daily and outside food is also allowed.

Neptune's

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Trendy digs, patio space, and Instagram-ready food that also tastes delicious are important ingredients of a perfect brunch spot, and Neptune’s has it all. This relaxing and modern cafe opened in 2017, bringing a legit brunch experience to the west end of Alameda, with its vibrant blue walls, tables lined with succulents, and beautifully plated dishes. Be prepared for a wait on the weekends as people line up to get a taste of the elevated new American menu, which includes everything from scrambles and Benedicts to loco moco and chilaquiles.

Neptune’s

Domenico's Italian Deli

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Step back in time through the doors of Domenico’s, a 50+ year-old institution passed down generations after two Italian immigrants founded the deli in 1966 on Park Street (today’s location opened in 1982). This Alameda stronghold has a loyal customer base where regulars line up daily for their sandwich fix. Order nearly any sandwich combination by either building your own or choosing one of the options on the extensive menu. Pick your fixins’, make sure to put it on their Dutch crunch bread, grab a bag of chips along the wall, and enjoy.

East Ocean Seafood Restaurant

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It says something that this huge, 360-seat Chinese restaurant often has hour-long waits. People flock to this family-run, longtime Alameda staple for its quality Cantonese dishes. Another huge draw: the Hong-Kong style dim sum served at lunch, where diners can choose from about 75 items pushed through the dining room on carts. At dinner, selections range from roasted peking duck to barbecue pork or a large seafood selection (rock cod, sturgeon, lobster, and Dungeness crab).

East Ocean Seafood Restaurant

Trabocco Kitchen and Cocktails

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Fresh, regional Italian cooking shines at this restaurant run by husband and wife duo Giuseppe and Christine Naccarelli. Its waterfront location paired with clean, airy design creates a picturesque place to feast on thin-crust pizzas, homemade pastas, and a variety of seafood dishes. Giuseppe, who grew up in the mountain village of Palombaro, Italy and cooked his way through restaurants in his home country before moving to California in the ‘90s, instills his roots into each dish. The substantial cocktail menu features many local Alameda distilleries.

Paul Dyer

Yojimbo

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This teeny-tiny restaurant embraces many aspects of Japan from its funky anime culture to its dishes and even its design. Inside, the low ceilings will make you feel like you’re in a Tokyo pub while the decor is comprised of custom murals and art from Studio Ghibli. Food portions are known to be both massive, and high quality. From the sushi to the gyoza to the bento boxes, you can feel confident in almost anything you order.

Jason M./Yelp

Julie's Coffee & Tea Garden

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This welcoming neighborhood cafe has been widely popular since it debuted in 2005. The owner was inspired to open the shop after growing aromatic and tonic herbs during her upbringing in Sonoma. Julie’s offers an extensive selection of hot and cold coffee, tea, kombucha, and vitality tonics, as well as simple, fresh breakfast and lunch options like quiche and almond-coconut granola.

Julie’s Coffee & Tea

Wild Ginger

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Xian-style food makes this tiny Chinese spot stand out, with hand-pulled noodles and meaty sandwiches sharing the menu with Sichuan street-style hotpot, malatang. It’s hard to go wrong with any of the noodle dishes or dumplings, and the hot sauce here is no joke.

Scolari's Good Eats

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Get your fast-food fix without the guilt at Scolari’s, which serves up classic American staples like hot dogs, burgers, and fried chicken using only organic and seasonal ingredients; the meatless Impossible Burger is available here, too. This original location on Park Street is itsy-bitsy, with only a couple of tables outside and bar stools inside, so if you can’t snag a seat, take the food over the bar next door, Lucky 13. A second Scolari’s is located at Rock Wall Wine Company.

Scolari’s

With dim lighting, intimate seating, and a lively ambiance, Pappo is an excellent choice for a romantic date night or special occasion meal in Alameda. The seasonally focused, new American menu offers fresh flavors in dishes like slow-braised Moroccan duck leg with couscous, gnocchi with gorgonzola cream sauce and maitake mushrooms, and pan-seared halibut. The restaurant is quite small and popular, so reservations are recommended.

Fried chicken sandwich
Pappo

Marley G's Pizzeria

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The same team behind Scolari’s opened this new restaurant dedicated to decidedly East Coast offerings like New York-style pizza, chicken parm sandwiches, and stromboli. You’re not going to find this menu anywhere else in the area.

Janelle Bitker

Tucker's Super Creamed Ice Cream

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Every town needs a nostalgic ice cream shop, and Tucker’s is that spot for Alameda. The downtown institution opened in 1941 and has served as a community outpost, hosting birthday parties, supporting local charities, and as a go-to spot for post-sports games treats. The shop changed hands after 30 years of ownership a few years back, but it maintains its original charm. That means extra-thick milkshakes and classic flavors are here to stay, complemented by new, less-classic flavors.

Tucker’s Ice Cream

Homeskillet Alameda

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Old-fashioned doughnuts are the star at this family-owned and operated breakfast spot. They’re made daily, with both classic flavors and more adventurous options like matcha-glazed and blueberry fritters. The small, traditional diner is a favorite local breakfast spot and also serves a classic American lunch with burgers, baked mac and cheese, and grilled sandwiches. The down-home cooking has earned Homeskillet a big fan base, so the restaurant is often packed. But don’t fret if there’s a wait — service is quick and tables turn quickly.

Hang Ten Boiler

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Skip the Hawaiian part of Hang Ten’s menu and go straight for the Viet-Cajun seafood. Crab legs, shrimp, mussels, clams, and crawfish are all available by the pound, boiled in plastic bags with zesty sauces, including one named after Steph Curry. Put on a bib, roll up your sleeves, and have fun — and don’t forget the side of garlic noodles.

American Oak

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This upscale, relaxed restaurant located in the downtown area has something to please everyone. From the steak to the burger to the truffle fries and mac-n-cheese — you can’t fail with the choices on the classic American menu, elevated by organic ingredients and sustainability raised meats. If you’re looking to splurge, go for the grilled ribeye with tarragon butter and a cocktail rom the extensive bar menu. It also has one of the most extensive inventories of whiskey in the area, stocking at least 150 distilleries.

Town Tavern

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Despite Alameda’s growing reputation as a booze destination, the main downtown strip has lacked a top-notch cocktail bar. That changed with the opening of Town Tavern, which offers an unusually ambitious cocktail list in addition to a lineup of internationally-influenced bites.

Janelle Bitker/Eater SF

Utzutzu

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Chikara Ono, the owner of Dela Curo and Sundo in Oakland, expanded his reach across the East Bay with this tiny, seven-seat, okimari (prix-fixe) sushi bar in Alameda. At Utzutzu, you get a mix of exquisite nigiri along with salads, hot dishes, and dessert — just the sort of meal you expect to find in San Francisco but you pay a bit less for here.

La Penca Azul Taco Bar

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This taco bar opened in 2018 as an offshoot of and connected to Penca Azul, a longtime Mexican restaurant in Alameda. Offering a trendier and fast-casual alternative to its sister restaurant next door, the taco bar offers some of the best street tacos on the island. And it’s much more than just tacos — burritos, bowls, tortas, and quesadillas are also all available. At the counter, choose from the huge selection of vegetarian and meat options (the brisket is a must order for carnivores) and toppings, and then pull up a seat in the trendy dining space or outdoor patio.

Ole's Waffle Shop

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Out of everything offered on the island, Alameda does old-school diners best. Slide into an orange booth or grab a counter seat at this neighborhood greasy spoon and soak in the midcentury nostalgia. Not a lot has changed since it first opened in 1927, when Ole Swanson immigrated to the states and brought his secret waffle recipe with him — the same one still used today. Classic breakfast items are served all day — the light and crispy waffles are a must order every time — while lunch and dinner offer hearty, old-fashioned dishes like steaks, chops, and fried chicken.

Ole’s Waffle Shop

Jim's Coffee Shop

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This isn’t really a coffee shop: It’s a full-fledged, bustling diner that’s been serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner for nearly 60 years. Its website reads boldly: “Dieting? Don’t know what to tell you.” The menu backs that statement up with a focus on good ol’ fashioned American diner fare including hash browns and home fries, biscuits and gravy, hot cakes, steaks, country ham, pork chops, chicken fried steak, meat loaf, and so on.

Jeff A./Yelp

Speisekammer

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This warm and festive restaurant is arguably one of the best spots serving German fare in the Bay Area. On a sunny day, the outdoor patio — lined with long wood tables — is usually packed with people enjoying a cold beer and traditional dishes like potato pancakes, brats, sausages, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, wiener schnitzel, and apple strudel. Prost!

Speisekammer

Angela’s Kitchen

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Chef Saboor Zafari blends his Afghan roots with French techniques and California ingredients to create a rotating menu sourced from local farmers served in a comfortable setting. Highlights include his handmade chutneys and duck strudel appetizer, which is served with crimini mushrooms and a cranberry wine sauce.

Cheryl M./Yelp

Asena Restaurant

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Asena has been community staple since it opened in 1996, featuring a cozy ambiance, exceptional hospitality, and fresh Mediterranean dishes with a California twist. The owners, Mustafa Yildirim and Muhittin Arpaci, originally hail from Turkey and aim to showcase the authentic cooking and friendly service of their home country. The menu puts seasonal, organic ingredients at its core — try a homemade pastas, bread baked fresh daily, and any of the grilled fish on the menu that day — with an extensive cocktail and wine list.

Asena Restaurant

Spinning Bones

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San Francisco restaurateurs Mike Yakura and Danny Sterling branched out to Alameda in 2019 with Spinning Bones, making a splash (and gaining the Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand designation). The Japanese touches at this self-proclaimed Californian rotisserie make it a standout, from meats marinated in shio koji and brushed with tare to sides like furikake rice and Japanese potato salad.

Hangar 1 Vodka

Hangar 1 Vodka

Vodka made from Karl the Fog? Yep, it’s a real thing here at Hangar One. This distillery, located in Spirits Alley, has received a lot of attention for Fog Point vodka, which is infused with water from real California fog. Tours of the facility are popular, as are tastings (walk-ins welcome) featuring samples of six vodkas like rose, buddha’s hand citron, and pink peppercorn. Sip your liquor outside with stunning views of the bay or inside the gorgeous tasting room that features large windows into the distillery and decor playing off of its roots as an airplane hangar.

Hangar 1 Vodka

St. George Spirits

St. George’s Spirits

This independent craft distillery produces nearly every type of artisanal spirit you could imagine, from green chile vodka to raspberry brandy and even absinthe. Hands-down, the cult favorite is the Terroir gin. Around for more than 35 years, St. George moved from Emeryville to Alameda in the 90s, and into their current 65,000-square-foot facility in a former airplane hangar in 2004. Tours and tastings are both offered Wednesdays through Sundays — or, just walk in and hang out on the patio where you can enjoy epic views of the San Francisco skyline.

St. George’s Spirits

Faction Brewing

Faction Brewing

If you want truly unparalleled views of San Francisco while sipping on a cold beer in the sunshine, Faction is your destination. This hugely popular brewery opened in 2013 in a repurposed 25,000-square-foot Marine Corps helicopter hangar. And on a nice day, the patio is packed with people enjoying food trucks, city views, and cornhole. As for the beer, choose from about 20 different styles ranging from IPAs to porters and stouts.

Faction Brewing

Rock Wall Wine Company

Rock Wall Winery

Don’t go here expecting to be transported to a tasting room in wine country — this spot is the definition of an “urban winery,” located in a 40,000-square-foot former airplane hangar on the Naval Air Station. It sits just north of what used to be a defensive perimeter rock wall during World War II (hence the name) with beautiful architecture and incredible views of the city. Rock Wall sources its grapes from all over California to create a diverse winemaking process with different styles and flavor profiles. A concise menu of pizzas, cheese plates, and salads is available from the restaurant next door, Scolari’s at the Point.

Rock Wall Winery

Building 43 Winery

There’s a lot going on along historic Alameda Point, with the massive tasting rooms getting most of the attention. Building 43 is more of a hidden gem: a smaller, more laidback taproom than others in the area. Grab a glass or bottle of their sustainably produced, small-batch varietals grown in the Sierra Nevada foothills, and head outside to the pet-friendly garden patio, featuring a fireplace, outdoor games, and San Francisco views. Or for a more intimate vibe, cozy up inside on the couches beneath twinkling string lights.

The Rake at Admiral Maltings

Admiral Maltings became California’s first craft malt house when it opened in 2017, using grain sourced from California farmers. By offering an alternative that’s more sustainable and elevated than mass-produced malts, it’s quickly gained a large customer base of breweries and distilleries in the Bay Area including Standard Deviant, Harmonic, and Pacifica. At the onsite taproom, visitors can now try beer on tap from more than 20 breweries using its malt and snack on a menu that spans from sandwiches and entrees to salads, all while overlooking the malting floor.

Almanac Barrel House, Brewery, and Taproom

This “farm-to-barrel” brewery, known for its sour beers, has been around in some form since 2010 but finally got its own space in 2018: a 30,000-square-foot production brewery and taproom that was formerly a naval hanger. The taproom includes an indoor beer hall and dog-friendly patio overlooking the bay. Get a flight and try the barrel aged sours, like the Nectarine Cobbler or the Blueberry Jack, or other styles like the the Coffee Barbary Coast imperial stout or the Isometric IPA. Food trucks come through daily and outside food is also allowed.