4. FRUITVALE IS THE TRUE HEART AND SOUL OF THE FOOD SCENE
As recently as a decade ago, Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto was seen as the East Bay’s most important food neighborhood. But in 2018, that title belongs to Oakland’s Fruitvale district—the city’s long-standing Latino-immigrant-centered business district that has, in many ways, emerged as the food scene’s creative epicenter.
Consider the area around the central Fruitvale Public Market, where a day of grazing might begin with a caramel-filled churro from the old-school Churros Mexicanos cart, washed down, perhaps, with pour-over coffee from Red Bay Coffee’s East 10th Street headquarters. From there, grab a fresh-baked man’oushe from Reem’s, the California-inflected Arab bakery, or a bowl of peppery rice-noodle soup from Nyum Bai, the hip Cambodian joint located next to the churro cart. Or stroll a couple of blocks to La Casita for the tastiest Jalisco-style menudo in town. For dessert, a scoop of hand-churned elote (sweet corn) ice cream from Nieves Cinco de Mayo, the Mexican ice cream shop, can’t help but hit the spot.
One reason Fruitvale speaks so eloquently to the way people in the East Bay eat right now is that many of its businesses—even the new, splashy ones—are run by first- and second-generation immigrants who have cultural ties to the neighborhood.
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