Series: Planning for 36 Hours in Oakland, CA


Planner’s Travel Series 

About the series: Welcome to our ongoing travel series. These are all posts written by planning students and professionals about what to do in a given city when looking for Brunch, a Brew, or a good idea on a Budget. To cap it all off, we include a fun planning fact!   

About the visit: I lived in Oakland for a few years prior to graduate school and returned last summer for a research project. Here are some of my favorite haunts and top recommendations:



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Photo from Reem’s Instagram account — I am not about to waste my time taking food selfies when I could be eating 🙂

Head to Reem’s for brunch, named for founder and chef Reem Assil. This Arab street corner bakery serves up an amazing brunch with a healthy side of social responsibility — from fair wages to sustainably grown products. Don’t forget to pay your respects to the mural painted by the  Trust Your Struggle artist collective of Rasmea Odeh wearing a button commemorating Oscar Grant. If you want something a bit fancier, check out Reem’s full-service restaurant, Dyafa that earned her San Francisco Magazine’s chef of the year award.



old kan
Photo Credit: Yelp

Oakland is called the sunny side of the bay for a reason, and drinking on an outdoor patio is mandatory when you visit. While the beer list is good, head to Old Kan Beer’s brewery and beer garden for the relaxed vibe and sense of Oakland community. Plus, there are seriously delicious snack options.


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Photo Credit: Yelp

It’s a $3 dollar sandwich that will blow your mind. Go to Banh Mi Ba Le in Fruitvale. I’m partial to grilled pork with lemongrass, but others swear by the meatball and egg sandwich. Make sure to check hours ahead of time because they are sometimes (randomly?) closed in my experience.

Fun Planning Fact 

Mountain View Cemetery. Photo Credit: Flickr

Interesting that another 36 hour contributor also recommended a cemetery. Unlike what happens sometimes in New Orleans, this one is definitely not below water — it rests on a pretty large hill overlooking downtown Oakland. I like visiting for a quiet, mini-hike and to visit the graves of a few inspiring Oakland residents. I recommend:

Featured Image: Graffiti from downtown Oakland. Photo Credit: Sophie Kelmenson

About the Author: Sophie Kelmenson Ph.D. candidate at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in the Department of City and Regional Planning. Her research focuses on economic development, food systems planning, and rural-urban connections.