The San Francisco East Bay is home to some of the most vibrant small businesses in the local community, and it’s also a quick BART ride away from our office in downtown San Francisco. From fusion restaurants to martial arts supply stores and everything in between, here are some of our favorites.
Cafes and Restaurants
A visit to the East Bay has to start with a taste of the unique cuisines it has to offer.
Located in Swan’s Market in the historic Old Oakland district, Sincere Seafood specializes in fresh fish, seafood, and seasoning blends. Not only do they have high-quality, sashimi-grade delicacies, but they also offer cleaning and cutting for your seafood of choice all while providing excellent customer service.
“Amazing fish shop. Very friendly service, great quality fish, and perfect prices. Got a pound of salmon, best I've had in quite some time. I make it a point to walk over here to buy my fish now. Wouldn't change a thing!”
Looking for a trendy Asian fusion spot for lunch or dinner? Uptown Oakland is the place to go for a delicious taco, burrito, or burger at Belly! From kimchi aioli to pico de gallo, the menu is a perfect mix of cultural flavors.
“A big 'ole belly. That's what you'll get, because you're going to want to eat everything on the menu. The burgers here are drool-worthy. Crisp bun and veggies with a perfectly cooked patty. Asian-inspired tacos that feels like a party in your mouth. And the grilled corn! I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.”
Lois the Pie Queen
For some good old-fashioned comfort food and Southern hospitality, head to Lois the Pie Queen. Named after Lois Davis, a talented Louisiana cook, the founder’s son continues her legacy at the charming location. Stop by for flapjacks, grits, or lemon icebox pie. Best of all, the family atmosphere keeps regulars coming back.
“Quintessential Oakland. Heart, soul, one love and good cookin pours out of this place. There's real history here and also some amazing pies. Oh the pie. This ain't no ordinary pie. Come early on Sundays and you'll have access to their dinner menu that's only offered one day a week. Try everything. You won't go home hungry.”
Arizmendi is a local favorite for artisan breads, pastries, and pizza all day long. The bakery is a cooperative named after Jose Maria Arizmendiarrieta, a priest who helped found the Mondragon Cooperatives in the Basque Country of Spain, and has 5 counterparts throughout the Bay Area.
Stop by for pizza of the day, cinnamon rolls, brioche knots, and more and support local workers!
“I love institutions like this that have long-standing reputations, and are proud to live up to them. What's not to like?? A gigantic bakery with fresh bread and pastry all around. I also really love the open kitchen exposing the ovens and work areas for all to see. I had the slice of pizza of the day and of course it was delicious.”
Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine
If you’re hanging out in the popular Jack London Square, you can’t miss Farmhouse Kitchen. From the décor to the music to the flavorful dishes, the local restaurant serves up a taste of Thailand in the Bay. For owner Kasem “Pop” Saengsawang, the key is in the spice.
“Absolutely my favorite dinner on Jack London Square! I wish there were more stars. I found this on a new restaurants to check out list and it was soooo much better than I even thought it would be!”
With over 30 years of restaurant experience under their belt, owners June and Andy opened Sconehenge in 1998 in South Berkeley. Since then, the small diner has become a local favorite for breakfast in the East Bay. Stop by for a homemade scone, as the name implies, and for a large selection of breakfast and lunch items.
“Scrumptious food, impeccable service and reasonable price makes Sconehenge the place to be for breakfast, lunch and snacks. June and Andy have created this gem in Berkeley with something for everyone. I had June's Omelet for my first visit and amazed at the perfect combination of mushrooms, sausage, spinach and Monterey Jack cheese. Delicious! Try the tea scones! On my second visit I had the morning pancake special wit fresh blueberry pancakes, two eggs and bacon. Loved it! Had the fruit plate and was amazed at how fresh it was! This place richly deserves FIVE STARS!!!”
Barrelista Coffee House
Coffee house by day, trendy bar by night—Barrelista is the place to be for a quality beverage with friends or co-workers. With live music, happy hours, and a creative menu, there’s something for everyone at this neighborhood spot.
“I love this place. I have never had a bad drink or food item. I walk in and they're making my drink already. Amazing local coffee shop. Stop in for breakfast, and if your work day went bad, come back for drinks after. Out of this world cocktails. Try the bloody Mary on Sundays....watch out for the blowtorch!”
As Kneaded Bakery
A woman-founded artisan bread bakery, As Kneaded is a Bay Area favorite at farmers’ markets, independent grocery stores, restaurants, and at their very own location in San Leandro. Stop by for a delicious loaf of sourdough or challah, or check out the selection of unique pastries and noshes!
“They use healthy ingredients, the staff is great, and the local owner is wonderful... but the bread... the bread is fantastic. A baguette that is what a baguette should be. Try them all!”
Art, Fashion, Books, and More
The East Bay is home to some of the most interesting, diverse, and unique small businesses in Northern California. Here are just a few of our go-to spots to visit on the weekends or after a long day of work at the office across the Bay Bridge.
FLAX Art & Design
Owned by third-generation family members, FLAX art & design is one of the Bay Area’s most well-known and well-loved retail art supply stores. Located in San Francisco and Oakland, FLAX has an impressive history of supporting the local art community since the Great Depression.
“My favorite Bay Area art store! FLAX had a wide assortment of artists supplies. As a mixed media professional artist, I appreciate the selection of brushes and acrylics. Very good quality. I especially love their large selection of sketch books! All styles, sizes and paper weights. I find that the prices are for the most part comparable to other local art stores. Staff are always ready to help with any questions, too. Simply a great shop for art supplies.”
Young’s Martial Arts
Young’s is one of the few martial arts supply stores in the East Bay, and it’s definitely a unique shopping experience. Whether you’re looking for a gi, kick targets, punching bags, spears, mouth guards, or anything in between, Mr. Young can find the best fit for you from the moment you walk into his Oakland store.
“Wonderful store - Mr. Young is super-helpful, and he's also very supportive of the local martial arts community. When I need to buy a new gi, this is my go-to place.”
With two storefronts in (you guessed it) Oakland, Oaklandish celebrates “local love” and pride for the unique city. When you purchase their high-quality clothing and apparel items, you’re supporting grassroots organizations in the area through the community work that drives the Oaklandish mission.
“Oakland staple. Hires folks from the community and supports the community. Angela is great and super supportive.”
SAGRADA Sacred Arts
Since 1994, SAGRADA has been specializing in one-of-a-kind spiritual items, meditation supplies, books, and much more. Whether you’re looking for a specific piece or are just browsing, you’re sure to learn something new every time you step inside this welcoming shop on the historic Telegraph Avenue.
“Such a beautiful, well organized store with great energy and items of spiritual support. The staff were all very kind. Next time I'm in Oakland I'll be sure to stop in.”
Over in Martinez, Citrus Salon is making waves. A visit to the Bay Area favorite doesn’t have to be just a cut or color—they also specialize in wellness treatments, makeup services, and more. Check it out for yourself and see why we’re regulars at the one-stop shop.
“I'm so thankful I found Daniel! He is wonderful, my hair has never looked better. I have long hair and I go too long between cuts so it can get heavy. After I saw Daniel my hair was shiny, bouncy and light! He knew just what I was trying to describe. He made my hair look amazing and kept it long at the same time. He has beautiful energy and such a great spirit. I'm so thankful I found him! Thank you!”
Rasputin Music has a long-standing history in the Bay, and it’s grown to become the largest independent chain of record stores in the area. Once a Berkeley outpost, the record store now has seven locations across the Bay Area and the Central Valley. Stop in and you’ll find aisles of interesting CDs, DVDs, and vinyl records.
“I could spend hours here looking at records. It's one of the last record stores where you could browse for hours, stumbling upon records and albums you forgot about. If you want to relive or understand what it used to be like when having to buy music, this is the go to spot. A wide selection of music and entertainment where you most likely will find what you are looking for--if not, definitely find an album you will like. This is definitely a store to drop by whenever you are in the area.”
Check out our other shopping recommendations across the U.S. before Small Business Saturday! Head to the SmartBiz Resource Center to discover new gems in your area.