Plan one of the best day ever in Oakland’s uptown neighborhood with these meals and restaurant suggestions
Fortify lunch with Shawarmaji’s Arabi-style chicken shawarma, and don’t forget to dip it in the restaurant’s refreshing garlic toum sauce. Nina Riggio / The Chronicle
On a sunny day, there is nothing like a picnic on Lake Merritt. For an ideally transportable lunch, check out Shawarmaji, the Jordanian kebab pop-up that opened a full-blown restaurant last fall, one of the best spots in the Middle East in the Bay Area. (The restaurant’s industrial dining room is very comfortable when the weather is not ideal.) Here, Chef Mohammad Abutaha shaves the juicy yogurt-marinated chicken from a vertical skewer into slim wraps. Order it Arabic-style, cut into bite-sized pieces to simply dip in the restaurant’s refreshing garlic toum sauce. (Use the mints the restaurant offers if you plan on kissing someone afterward.) Brunch specials come out on the weekend and are well worth checking out, especially bowls of creamy foul, a fava bean stew glistening with olive oil, and hummus with dry, spicy sausage known as sujuk. Then, stroll the entire lake – an easy 5.2-mile loop – and don’t miss the Japanese bonsai garden. Entry is free, the volunteers love to chat, and the miniature trees are masterpieces.