February 20, 2019

Oakland: Benchmark Oakland


880 South

Benchmark Oakland  499 9th St./Washington St., Old Oakland, (510) 488-6677.  L M-F, D daily.  One of several vibrant dining establishments located in a quiet neighborhood where trees strung with tiny lights bring cheer to the night, this corner restaurant is situated inside a vintage 1876 building that features original mosaic-tile flooring and enormous windows.  Red walls are accented with a high black ceiling, which work together to provide a cozy feeling.  You can see some kitchen activity and the red-tile pizza oven behind a zinc-topped semi-circle bar.  The decor makes this spot is a feast for the eyes as well as the tummy.  This is the second location for this pizza-centric eatery, and it features the same wood-fired, naturally leavened pizza as at the first (Benchmark Pizzeria in Kensington) with the addition here of fresh house-made pastas and breads.  The restaurant is noted for its house-stretched cheese and sourdough starter made with their own wild yeast.  Menu highlights include a Caesar Salad, strozzapreti Bolognese pasta, meatballs with polenta, and a pizza topped with fried sage.  My choices included marinated olives (a mix of plump green and small black orbs, some of which retained their thin stems), a colorful and flavorful orange-beet salad, and a spinach and thick-pancetta pizza on a chewy blistered crust.  From two dessert choices, we opted for light, spongy Italian beignets made with ricotta, flavored with lemon, and presented with a dark chocolate dipping sauce.  Specialty cocktails are on the menu along with an international wine list and assorted beers. In good weather, outside sidewalk-side seating is available. 

exterior entrance of Benchmark Oakland in California
exterior entrance of Benchmark Oakland in California


interior at Benchmark Oakland in California
interior at Benchmark Oakland in California


bar at Benchmark Oakland in California
bar at Benchmark Oakland in California


red tile pizza oven at Benchmark Oakland in California
red tile pizza oven at Benchmark Oakland in California


colorful citrus-beet salad and olives at Benchmark Oakland in California
colorful citrus-beet salad and olives at Benchmark Oakland in California


spinach-pancetta pizza at Benchmark Oakland in California
spinach-pancetta pizza at Benchmark Oakland in California


beignets at Benchmark Oakland in California
beignets at Benchmark Oakland in California



More things to do in Oakland.

Way more things to do in Oakland. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California. 

images ©2019 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

February 13, 2019

San Francisco: Onsen


San Francisco

Onsen  466 Eddy St./Hyde St., The Tenderloin.  D W-Sun.  Featuring a simple but lovely interior that makes use of redwood and Douglas pine salvaged from rivers, this serene spot started as a tea house.  Long strands of origami peace cranes hanging from the ceiling throughout offset the natural brick walls nicely.  Plan it right and you can enjoy a soak in the social communal bath house pool in the back here, and then follow it with a seasonal dinner from the menu of Japanese-inspired cuisine.  Or do just one or the other.  Acupuncture is also available.

exterior of Onsen in San Francisco, California
exterior of Onsen in San Francisco, California

dining counter at Onsen in San Francisco, California
dining counter at Onsen in San Francisco, California

chains of origami peace cranes at Onsen in San Francisco, California
chains of origami peace cranes at Onsen in San Francisco, California