All Oaklanders know, and perhaps have heard quite enough about, the region we’ll casually refer to as upper Temescal, centered on the intersection of Telegraph Avenue and 51st Street. Stalwarts like Doña Tomás, Pizzaiolo, and Bakesale Betty have converted the neighborhood into one of the East Bay’s most popular and widely recognized dining meccas. But what about the rest of Temescal? Head south on Telegraph, toward downtown Oakland, and the pomp and panache all but drops off after 45th Street; here, a mix of empty storefronts, offices, galleries, small businesses, Korean restaurants, and sundry other sights await. That seems to be just the way many neighbors want it; while upper Temescal serves visitors, lower Temescal serves residents. But in the last couple years, things have begun to change: The foodie swarm has advanced into this lower-profile stretch, helping to revitalize well-worn blocks while serving a younger, more urban clientele.
The hottest spot in the lower 40s is easily Remedy Coffee (4316 Telegraph Ave., 510-922-8455, RemedyOakland.com), which opened last May after drumming up considerable buzz while serving brews from a portable coffee cart outside the under-construction storefront. Once the doors finally flung open, Remedy went from hot new joint to neighborhood institution in a matter of weeks; visit at any time of day to find hip, young urbanites pecking away at MacBooks, sipping $3 single-serve Ritual roasts, and discussing the latest bands and world affairs.
Immediately next door is Temescal’s only yoga studio, Flying Yoga Shala (4308 Telegraph Ave., 510-200-4612, FlyingYogaShala.com), which opened shortly after Remedy. It offers classes for kids and adults of all experience levels, and in a wide range of styles. Among them are Hatha and Vinyasa yoga; Ashtanga, Bhatki, and deep flow; and gentle yoga — as well as Zumba dance, pilates, and meditation. A few of the classes are “hot,” heated to a steamy 90 degrees.
Temescal has its share of art galleries, but only one is located in this emerging district. While it’s been around a bit longer than its neighbors across the street, Royal NoneSuch Gallery (4231 Telegraph Ave., RoyalNoneSuchGallery.com), open since September 2009, likewise speaks of new beginnings. The gallery, which is an official part of Oakland’s first Friday Art Murmur, offers monthly exhibits that strive to serve community growth rather than commercial interests.
Beyond Baby World Oakland (4400 Telegraph Ave., 510-547-7040, BabyWorldOnline.net), an independent retail business in operation since 1983, the neighborhood also features family-favorite SadieDey’s Cafe (4210 Telegraph Ave., 510-601-7378, SadieDeysCafe.com), home to an all-ages cafe with an extensive kids’ menu, multiple indoor play spaces, and full-service birthday parties.
Finally, Aunt Mary’s Cafe (4307 Telegraph Ave., 510-601-9227, AuntMarysCafe.com) offers one of the best Southern-style brunches in Oakland – no small feat, to be sure. Try the Southern Bubble and Squeak (potato-and-southern-greens cakes, eggs, a biscuit, and rich gravy), Hangtown Fry-ttata (frittata with bacon and spinach, topped with fried oysters), or Po’ Boyster Sandwich. Like its friends in the lower 40s, it’s favored by the young and the hip. But even if those are naughty words in your lexicon, the food’s so good a little thing like that shouldn’t stop you from traveling down Telegraph to this emerging Oakland micro-‘hood.