Book a table at least a week in advance at Commis, a minimalist, 31-stool eatery where former El Bulli apprentice James Syhabout earned Oakland's first ever Michelin star in the 2010 guide. All seats offer views of the open kitchen, where you can watch Syhabout’s team create Northern California favorites like roasted Sonoma County duck and Mendocino porcinis matched with foraged produce like wild elderberries and pears.
Fill up on Southern-style cuisine at Picán, where local produce like green tomatoes and sweet corn is served at its seasonal peak. Call a few hours ahead to reserve a portion of the signature buttermilk fried chicken, which undergoes a three-day brining process and tends to sell out before close.
Sample Pebble Beach oysters and Pacific mahimahi at Lake Chalet, a 100-year-old boathouse transformed into a seafood destination in August 2009. The no-reservations outdoor deck fills up quickly; admire the same view without the wait by reserving a Lake Merritt–facing table in the second-floor dining room.
Gorge on California-tinged Latin dishes at Bocanova, where chef Rick Hackett—also of the San Francisco Ferry Building's MarketBar—embellishes shareable seasonal specialties like Yucatán seafood stew with local grapefruits and tomatoes.