“It’s the best-kept secret,” says Suzanne Van Houten of Swans Studios about Old Oakland and Swan’s Market. “Everyone wants to be in on the best-kept secret.” She adds, “It’s European and modern and it has some history.”

Here are three reasons you just won’t be able to stay away:

  1. Travel on your stomach: If you stop by on Friday before 2 p.m., you can get everything you need for a fabulous Friday night dinner. Old Oakland Farmers Market fills 9th Street and spills a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables onto Washington. “It’s a really good market,” says master chef Rice. “It’s the only market I’ve seen where you can buy two types of sugar cane.” She also cites at least 16 kinds of chilis, including some she has never seen before. After the farm, step inside the Housewives Market for the expert butchery and no-additives goodness of Taylor’s Sausage or scoop up some fresh catch from the Sincere Seafood Company. For those who prefer to stay out of the kitchen, take your pick of Rosamunde Sausage Grill, Cosecha, Miss Ollie’s, Breads of India, Coobi Yogurt & Wraps or one of many other lovely Old Oakland eateries, and eat a fantastic meal at a communal table or sitting in the sun. Then enjoy an evening brew at the venerable Pacific Coast Brewing Co.
  2. Time to play: Perhaps you just want to sip a glass of wine from Periscope Cellars while your kids burn off some energy in the courtyard. That’s fine — you don’t have to participate. But if you want to spend some time in the world of Dungeons and Dragons or Magic the Gathering, or spin the pointer and throw the dice of a board game, Endgame is the place to be. With game nights for kids and adults, it’s the happening place for multi-player action, old school.
  3. Mingle in one of Oakland’s most diverse neighborhoods: Swan’s Market may be the only place where you could get your hair cut or styled at Swan’s Studio or chew the fat while getting a trim at Lucky’s Barbershop. Nestled between West Oakland and Chinatown, the downtown business district and the Port of Oakland, the neighborhood is proud of its cultural mix. Walk the streets of Old Oakland, and you enter the swim of a truly diverse neighborhood, the promise of what Oakland can be.

Coming in 2014: New eateries, including The Cook and Her Farmer and a café next to Endgame.

Read the full story:  An ugly duckling turns back into Swan’s in Old Oakland (Love letter to Oakland part 3)

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About The Author

Laura McCamy, is a freelance writer, editor and researcher, and a contributing production editor at Oakland Local. Her work also appears in Momentum Magazine and the Intuit Small Business Blog. Follow Laura on twitter @lmcwords

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