It is the nature of our work as an interior design firm that many of our clients are new to the Bay Area — having just purchased a home here, and then hiring us to help them make it their own. And for some, they are simply moving across a bridge (due to having discovered the benefit of the East Bay’s better weather and wide array of magnificent restaurants).
In the course of our conversations, clients usually ask me for a list of my personal lifestyle favorites, especially if they have just moved to Oakland or Piedmont. This town has been my home for most of my life, and since they already trust my taste, they want to know my top spots: Where do I grocery shop? Exercise? Buy clothes? Flowers?
Also, because I’m one of those maven/connector types (see Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point) this makes me a natural at sharing what I love.
So here it is, my favorite, personal go-to locations for life maintenance and play in the East Bay! And I must give a shout out to one client in particular who encouraged me to write this post. Thank you, William!
Where should I get my hair done?
Tiffany Faircloth at Edo salon is the priestess of hair. She lets me process my life with her and shares her spiritual wisdom, all while wielding her razor like a ninja and painting in my balayage in just the right amount which is letting me grow in my gray and stay looking natural at the same time. Plus the salon environment is extra nice, a bonus for a beauty maker who adores being in a gorgeous space while doing her beauty rituals. Tiffany is available to style hair for men and women.
Where to buy groceries?
It takes a few visits to the Berkeley Bowl for your brain to wire the new neural pathways you’ll need to really understand the layout here. But it’s worth it! The quality and quantity of organic produce cannot be matched anywhere else. Of the two stores, my favorite location is the one on Oregon street, between Shattuck and Adeline. (Which, for those who remember, is a huge improvement over Berkeley Bowl’s original location, in an old bowling alley on Shattuck — hence the name.)
Today, many people prefer the newer, larger Berkeley Bowl West (on Heinz), but I’d rather jockey for parking at the smaller location than deal with how big and overwhelming BB West is. And I must say rest in peace to the innovative, thoughtful man who created Berkeley Bowl, Glenn Yasuda. When I say this place is near and dear to my heart, I mean it.
Which farmer’s market?
All the Berkeley Bowl love noted, I have a family of five to feed and I’m an avid cook, and with all of the incredible local vendors in the Bay Area, how could I not shop a farmer’s market? My two favorites are Temescal and Montclair, both on Sundays.
Wandering through either market on a warm spring day is just about the most soulful experience I can conjure. For me connection to the Divine happens in nature, and around rituals, both of which is what selecting the perfect produce feels like to me. In addition to produce, I’ll pick up Roli Roti’s roast chicken (sold hot from their rotisserie truck parked at the Farmer’s Market) to serve for lunch to my family and any of our friends who tend to drop by on the weekends.
Insider tip: Happy Boy Farms has a lettuce greens mix that runs out by 10am at both markets, so get there early. I stock up on two bags for the week and that makes the foundation for my famous salads, which my husband and I eat all week long.
If you’re like me you want the food you consume to be whole, healthy, organic and raised consciously. After all you are what you eat and if I’m eating meat I want it to be grassfed and handled with kindness and care. In my heart I’m a vegetarian, but I am living with meat eaters, and I feel best when I have meat occasionally.
So, it is extremely important to me that I purchase meat from a company that is committed to good stewardship of the land and of the animals. Marin Sun Farms at Market Hall in Rockridge is my go-to. I make it a point to stop there on the weekends to get ingredients for my steady supply of bone broth. (Hello Instant Pot for cutting down on the time it takes to make!)
Where to buy fresh fish?
Rockridge Market Hall has an amazing fish market, so if you are already there for your animal proteins, that’s a great add on. Hapuku Fish Shop: (There’s an expensive but will-do-in-a-pinch produce market at the Hall as well.)
But the place everyone knows to go — and go early in the day — is Monterey Fish Market. When I’m having a dinner party, this is where I want to go, but truth be told, since I live in Oakland, sometimes Hopkins Street in Berkeley is too far for me to drive, so I am happy to have the option of Monterey Fish Market, or Hapuku!
Favorite wine shop?
Paul Marcus Wines (also located in Rockridge Market Hall) is great, and certainly convenient to my other faves in the Hall.
Do you eat bread? Not me! Bread turns to glue in the gut. But… yes, it is delicious. And… yes, I do eat it once in awhile. So twist my arm and I’ll tell you – when I get bread, I get it from Acme because if that’s what Alice Waters serves at Chez Panisse (my third-favorite East-Bay fine dining establishment), then it’s good enough for me!
Best coffee shop?
If you really know me you would know that I am extremely loyal, so if I am going to hang out in a coffee shop, I’m heading to Cole Coffee in Rockridge. Why? Because Michael and Desiree have owned it since I lived in that neighborhood after I graduated from Cal; and I used to hang out there with my beloved husband while we were dating. Plus there’s the kind staff and customers, and the great corner location (although the view is now somewhat besmirched by the overbuilt mall that houses Safeway across the street).
Best coffee beans for home brewing?
I’m married to a researcher-type who doesn’t stop until he’s exhausted all potential outcomes so when he says Sweet Maria’s has the best beans, I believe him.
Sweet Maria’s does not over-roast their beans. Something my husband Scott and I can both agree on is that we hate the bitter aftertaste of an over-roasted bean, which we think is a deliberate cover up for the fact that the quality of the bean is low. Our palettes used to be ruined by the roasting standards of the large coffee companies, until we found our way to this simple, local bean importer and purveyor (through our friend Joe who stores wine for a living).
Speaking of storing wine… Where do you store your wine collection?
Go talk to Joe at Subterraneum Wine Storage in West Oakland. Highly rated, highly secure, and very undercover. Everyone thinks it’s a grow house.
Does a health nut like me let her kids eat crap?
Yes, I’m over fighting the battle. I roll into Trader Joe’s on College once a month and pick up snacks that I can tolerate the thought of them eating: plantain chips with chili, frozen blueberries, and cheese sticks are our regular picks.
Specialty spice shop?
The selection at Oaktown Spice Shop on Grand Ave., at Lake Merritt is a 100% for-sure must-experience! If you have never stepped into a shop that is devoted exclusively to spices, be prepared to fall in love. My go-to is their truffle salt for finishing, and the turmeric tea is crazy good.
My side hustle is being a spiritual mentor and inspirer to women. When I am in that role I am the Divine Hustler, recording podcasts, transmitting wisdom on my blog and social media, and leading retreats. When I need a gift for my retreatants, or for a magic-minded friend, I often head straight to The Raven’s Wing Magical Co. on Grand Ave. for a luminous crystal or a thoughtful token to put on an altar. Here, you can also pick up my favorite deck of inspirational cards: Animal Spirit by Kim Krans. Any budding hippie or spirit junkie would love this deck to add to their connection-to-self ritual tools.
Holistic skin care?
For getting your skin done, if you know me, you know I love Bloom, an organic, healing botanical spa, located in the historic Bellevue Club, next to Lake Merritt.
Bloom is a place to go experience truly deep soulful connection to yourself through deep self care. I especially recommend this to my “Type A” friends, both women and men who really desire to feel nurtured. And Rebecca Mattice has a red light therapy sauna there, which is an amazing treatment for promoting deep sleep, healing the mitochondria, and improving collagen production.
Shamanic space clearing?
If you’ve recently moved in to a new place, that is the perfect time to get your home blessed by Shaman KK! (Or if your longtime home would like a little spiritual and energetic uplift, any time is a good time for a blessing and space clearing.)
Need a life coach?
Who doesn’t? Anna Scott has been the wind beneath my wings for forever and continues to support and uplift me with her mad skills for seeing new perspectives and offering insights on life issues of any kind. If you are weary of discussing your problems and want to experience an upgrade on your life, call her.
Holistic health care?
Why am I so bright and shiny all the time? Because I have a network care chiropractor located directly across the hall from LMB Interiors and I go there regularly to invest in myself, and for tune ups when my energy is low. I gained access to parts of myself I never knew existed until I started in care with Dr. Liz Dobbins at the Shine Wellness Center.
Also located in the Shine Wellness Center is an amazing acupuncturist who takes care of the LMBI ladies when we need needling. We’ve also sent many of our friends and clients to see Wanda Dabkoska at Kokoro Clinic for Acupuncture and they all agree, she’s amazing.
My most-beloved not-guilty-pleasure is shopping for high quality vintage and resale clothing at: Radbird on Domingo, Mercy Vintage on Piedmont Ave., and for designer consignment, Urbanity on Piedmont Ave.
My favorite guilty pleasure… The statement-making items that are the centerpieces of my wardrobe come from McMullen. Owner Sherri’s taste and selection are impeccable. She heads to New York and France regularly and brings back the most lovely pieces to enhance any beauty-appreciator’s wardrobe. Her website offers an online shopping option, but for the full experience, we in Oakland are lucky that we get to shop at her flagship store, on Broadway in Uptown. (Read about Sherri McMullen in Vogue.)
I’m not just saying this because my sister and her husband are the owners… The Wolf, Wood Tavern, and Southie are truly three of the best spots in town for date night, family night out, pre/post CAL football bites.
And I’m not just saying this because LMBI did the design for the interior and Tanya Holland is a dear friend: Brown Sugar Kitchen in Uptown for brunch, lunch, dinner, or drinks at the new, full bar.
Quirky places to go with the kids?
At The New Parkway Theater everyone can eat pizza (or burgers, sandwiches, salads, desserts, and popcorn — of course) and the adults can drink local beer, wine, or cider, while everyone lounges on comfy chairs and couches to watch the unique, curated selection of second-run and classic movies, documentaries, and the occasional broadcast sporting event, political debate, etc.
World’s Smallest Post Service: Come on your own or bring a bunch of kiddos to send notes to friends or grandparents for a unique birthday activity, this is a mini post office with a wide array of tiny card and package options, and postal-themed paraphernalia. It’s located on the ground floor of the historic White Building on 15th and Webster which is home to LMBI headquarters, so pop up to the third floor and say “hi” if you come for a visit!
Cupcakes (for kids or for eating like one)?
If you are going in for sugar then why not make it fancy? Regular or gluten-free vegan options with a wide range of fun and festive flavors: James and the Giant Cupcake.
Best movie theater?
The Grand Lake Theater is large, lavish, and the best place to get your politics with your movie. Just check the marquee when you want to know what the liberal left is thinking and try to go on a Friday or Saturday night where you will be treated to a live performance on the “Mighty Wurlitzer” pipe organ, pre-showtime.
Best places for gifts, art, housewares, furnishing, decor?
Maison d’Etre offers all things French-inspired and they’ve been around and flourishing in their spacious Rockridge location for decades. Very thoughtfully curated, very beautiful.
SLATE gallery: an art consultancy and resource for buying art for your home. Tell Danielle I sent you!
Recently Diablo Magazine asked where do I shop in the East Bay for home related items and I was happy to share: Sobu for home furnishings. I adore the shop’s handmade, sculptural, nature-inspired, organic and Modern aesthetic.
Dailey Method may not cut it for those men or women who want a heavy weight-lifting workout. (That said, my muscle-bound weight-training husband was regularly seen there back when I was an instructor, many years ago.) If you’re into CrossFit and/or climbing, do like we do with our whole family and do both at Great Western Power Company.
Best trail hike?
Get out in nature! It’s the best thing I do for myself on a regular basis. The Bay Area is FULL of great locations for hikes. My current local favorite for meditative morning walks is The Dunn Trail in Joaquin Miller Park.
How many places do I go to, to buy flowers? — FOUR!
For a boho-fresh bouquet, see Freya at Brother and Sisters on Grand; for old-world dramatic arrangements, Arjan on Piedmont Ave.; an elegant English garden vibe can be had at Wisteria Rockridge; and when I just want good stock at a good price to make my own arrangements, I turn to the cheerful and helpful staff at Flowers by Myrna in Montclair.
It may seem excessive to offer four places for flowers, but it isn’t. I truly go to each of these for their unique genius. To read more about flower design, with thoughts from two of my fave collaborators for installs, click here.
After a walk, or a day at the SF Design Center, a night out dancing, or for a chill date-night activity, Kume Spa is just what you need; sit and let somebody rub your feet for an hour? Yes! I may shoot myself (in the…) for telling you this, but Casey is my guy.
Best place to freeze for your health?
Reboot Float Spa in Rockridge offers “Cryo.” Cryotherapy is one of my health and wellness practices. No, I don’t do the “float” part. Personally, I’m not a fan of the tanks. Though I have a friend who swears by floating. For me, I’m waaaay into freezing. It feels so good after!
A version of this article originally appeared in the Piedmont Post