What no one tells about moving to a cheap central European country is that it absolutely ruins your ability to enjoy restaurants in more expensive places. Coming back to Oakland for the first time since I left for Poland last August, I continually had to pick my jaw off the ground when I saw menu prices. One place was charging $7.50 for avocado toast. Yes, that’s bread with some mashed avocado. That being said, there’s still one place that I still have to cross off my list, even if my złoty-based bank account cries a bit.
Despite all my complaining about gentrification and hipsterification in Oakland (don’t worry, I’m devoting a whole entry to it), there’s one restaurant that I absolutely adore: Sacred Wheel in Temescal Telegraph. Every time I come back to visit the Bay Area, I always have to eat here. (Although if I stay with my friends who live across the street, I come by multiple times. Last time I visited, I came four days in a row and by day three the staff remembered my name.)
A cute cheese and fancy artisanal food product shop nestled between old houses and an Ethiopian restaurant, they have a great selection of drool-worthy fancy cheese (duh), cooking sauces, spices, condiments, and chocolates, plus a delicious cafe serving sandwiches, soup, and mac’n’cheese. Their mac’n’cheese is especially legendary, as you can have it topped with everything from a fried egg to their specialty sloppy joe meat or sweet tea pulled pork. They also have a daily lunch special with a cup of house-made soup and their grilled cheese of the day (each day is a new combo of 3 cheeses).
One thing I appreciate about this shop is even though it is expensive (not too expensive as far as trendy Oakland eateries go, but still) which effectively prices out many of Oakland’s residents, they openly and vocally support the community by featuring local products and political causes like Black Lives Matter. Personally, I struggle with the balance between fighting gentrification in principle and the fact that my presence in Oakland is a result AND sign of said gentrification. I try to support the newer businesses that recognize the issues of the community they have adopted. It’s complicated, and I’m still working through a whole entry on it, but I want to hope that Oakland can find a way to invest in its residents and its development, without pushing out the people who made it a cool place to begin with.
Address: 4935 Shattuck Ave, Oakland, CA 94609
Directions: You can take the AC Transit 6 bus (get off on Telegraph and 51st) or walk 10-15 minutes from the MacArthur BART station