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City Scout: Oakland

City Scout is a blog series where we invite our savviest Brass Babes to share their favorite, lesser-known spots in their local city or town. Our City Scout this month is Xenia Shih Bion who is sharing her favorite spots in Oakland, CA.

My spot for early release on a Friday. 

One evening, a friend and I followed our noses from our yoga studio downstairs to a small, hip bar where people were drinking fancy cocktails and…eating grilled cheese?? Unlikely as it may seem, Dogwood makes the best grilled cheese I’ve ever had. Nothing rounds out the week like the comfort of a cocktail with a side of oozing cheese.

When I need to get my exercise on I head here. 

Hands down, my favorite part of Oakland is Lake Merritt, located in the center of the city. There’s a paved trail around the lake that is almost perfectly a 5k, and it takes you by the beautiful Alameda County Superior Court; past Children’s Fairyland, the first themed amusement park in the US; through a boating center; and past a bird refuge. At sunrise and sunset, the lake is magnificent.

The place you take your friend to lift her spirits/drown her sorrows.

Bay Grape is a wine shop owned by a stellar husband-and-wife team, Josiah and Stevie. They’ve managed to create a cozy community spot with a great selection of wine and an unpretentious attitude. Every day, they feature a different wine that you can taste by the glass, and you can buy a bottle of wine to open and enjoy in the store. My favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon is taking one of their themed Sunday School classes, in which they highlight a varietal or region and you get to learn the best way — by tasting.


My absolute favorite, but under appreciated, restaurant. 

Cholita Linda started off as a farmers market stand and quickly developed a cult following for its amazing tacos. It opened its storefront in the Temescal neighborhood of Oakland in 2014, and I love visiting it to grab a couple of baja fish tacos and fried plantains, while soaking in the colorful, homey decor. Also, try saying its name ten times fast!

If I’m looking to get pampered or an awesome blow-out, this is where I go. 

I love a good mani/pedi, and Rock & Polish pamper bar does it best. Rather than the traditional pedicure chairs, Rock & Polish has plush accent chairs which, paired with overhead string lights and the best soundtracks (I’ve heard everything from Prince to TLC to Adele), makes it feel like you’re getting a mani/pedi in your best friend’s apartment. I swear that my mani/pedis last so much longer when I get them here than at other beauty salons.

Love where you live and want to share your favorite spots? Email us to be considered for a City Scout post.

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