.Better Than All the Rest

An expansive field guide to the East Bay

We all have our faves. Our go-to’s for takeout. The same special place we reserve for celebrations. The restaurant we return to when we’re sick of it all. Our usual spots to buy books or groceries or paint. Our preferred park to walk the dog. The venue where we’d see just about anything. The salon we trust most with our epidermis, or anything growing from it. The budtender who sells us our sleep aid. The bartender who knows our drink. Often these tried-and-trues are in our neighborhood. In my case, not so much.

I’ve lived in a few places throughout Oakland, and I have standbys in each area. A few years ago, I started taking “discovery” walks—to a different street or shopping district where I could explore the storefronts and expand my repertoire. I’ve always considered these annual “Best Of” issues to be a handier, more efficient version of my urban wandering. A chance to see what’s out there, in our abundantly beautiful, spectacularly complicated metropolis.

This issue covers a lot of ground, from Richmond to San Leandro, Alameda to Concord. In other words, we have options. So many choices. Multiple chances to learn and delight and improve our lives. May this issue guide your curiosities and encourage further explorations of your own. There’s no limit on favorites, especially in the East Bay.

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