8.5 out of 10

San Pablo Gateway

37.8092807718284 -122.273227907538
Great for
  • Eating Out
  • Gym & Fitness
  • Internet Access
  • Medical Facilities
  • Nightlife
Not great for
  • Peace & Quiet
  • Lack of Traffic
  • Parking
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Singles
  • Retirees
  • Tourists


5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5

"Greyhounds, Fat Cat's, Fox's, and Bears on Ice!"

Bordering Downtown, San Pablo Gateway is both a center for entertainment and food. There are five theaters that call this neighborhood home. One of the centers of the activity in this Oakland neighborhood is the Paramount Theater. This is, first of all, the home of Oakland Symphony and the Oakland Ballet. The multicultural Oakland/East Bay Symphony is an accomplished group of performers who once a month give a concert featuring a particular classical standard. Tonight, for example, they will be performing a Brahms Requiem; in February they will do Holst’s Planets. Oakland Ballet performs at the Paramount also, although due to the financial crisis, they have cut back their performances. Besides these two Oakland fixtures, the Paramount Theater also hosts other musical and comedy acts. For example, this year Sarah Maclachlan and other similar music acts will play.

San Pablo Gateway, also called Uptown, is also home to the Fox Theater where popular rock bands like Ween and Yo La Tengo play. The theater itself is one of those giants with towering coffered ceilings, balcony seating and the Fox’s trademark gilded Buddhas bookending the stage and the dance area just in front where fans get down when they go see their favorite bands. If laughs are more your boat, then you might head over to the Pan Theater instead. The Pan Theater is host to a comedy troupe in the vein of Chicago’s Second City—often it makes for a very fun night out. Similarly, the New Parrish (not a religious location) hosts comedians and a slew of musical performers from East Coast rappers to acts from yesteryear, like Camper Van Beethoven.

The area is also home to Oakland School for the Arts, an alternative high school devoted to providing strong academics mixed with theater training. Focusing on underprivileged urban students, OSA is a testament to the power of arts in helping create a sense of meaning and direction for kids who might otherwise fall by the wayside. Where as only about half the students in the greater Oakland Unified School system graduate from high school and even fewer go on to a college education, OSA graduates almost 19 out of 20 of its students, and, with the special pre-professional training that OSA offers, many of these students end up at top arts colleges as well as other prestigious academically oriented colleges where they tend to continue doing well.

There are also a number of bars in the area, like Café Van Kleef, a bar/lounge that has the kind of aesthetic of a cool college coffeehouse, with busy flea-market chic décor highlighted by the large tapestry hanging on the wall by the entrance. The scene is a bunch of figures sitting at a table, similar to a famous Rodin dining scene, however, instead of the figures from the famous painting you get a series of famous popular figures like Keith Richards. The location is also a live music venue featuring soul, jazz and blues types singers and the crowds tend to be on the older side. Café Van Kleef is also known for the Greyhound—a citrus martini kind of a drink—very, very popular.

If you’re looking for a gay bar, try Banker and Bar though be careful there’s always a $10 cover, a very busy, sweaty scene, and expensive drinks. Easy to quickly run up a $100 tab without even noticing. If you prefer your dancing straight, go to Para Diso—two bars, two dance floors, so its like going to four places for the price of one. Very classy atmosphere.

If you’re into trying to achieve transcendence through movement/dance, you should try Ecstatic Dance on Broadway. You will have to have an open mind however, its that kind of a touchy feely scene that really creeps some people (me) out.

The Uptown, kind of a classier Mama’s Buzz Café, is another great nightspot where you can catch live bands and get strong liquor. The venue, known for occasional secret Green Day concerts (they got their start in the Bay Area and like to give back apparently), also has a Monday night burlesque show and a live Wednesday’s locals night. A great mix—always happening.

If you’re looking for a great late night burger place or a place to take a date, Luka’s Taproom is a great bet with their French style hamburgers, occasional live music, excellent choice of tap beers and a joint named after a stray dog. There is also Hambrick’s Giant Burgers, but I have a soft spot for Luka’s. Or you can really go all out, and check out Uncle Willie’s BBQ—Uncle Willie really knows his stuff. For sandwiches try Fat Cat’s.

For something a little classier, try Floras, a really cool 1930’s style restaurant with that classically sleek art deco style and art—minimalist but with perfect pitch. The Rock Cod sandwich, the burger and the polenta are all great. (Another great date spot.) For a really high end version of a similar experience you might try dimmer, more romantic (and expensive) Plum by the corner of Broadway and Grand, perhaps the most happening corner in Oakland. It is an open kitchen restaurant so you can see the Chefs and Sou-Chefs preparing your meals, which really are works of art the way they arrange your meals on the plates to look like floral patterns. The décor is also amazing with photos of plums artfully displayed along a polished wood-tiled wall and high hanging lamps—very chic!

I could go on like this about what there is to do in this neighborhood, but I think you get the point—it’s a food and entertainment destination.

Oh yeah, and if you just want to catch a Cal Ice Hockey game or to take in some skating yourself, the Oakland Ice Center is the place to go. The very nice ice rink is fantastic for skating—makes for a great date spot—but be sure to check the schedule first as they often book the rink for events—such as Cal Bears Ice Hockey games. Go BEARS!
  • Outstanding Nightlife
  • Great Restaurants
  • Great Arts School and Scene
  • Residential Area is Poor
  • A Little Dangerous
  • Parking Costs
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • LGBT+
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish

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