What I’d like to bring from DC to Oakland

25 Nov

Whenever I travel, I can’t help but think about how the cities I’m visiting are similar or different to Oakland. I’m usually part nostalgic for Oakland (I can’t help myself from telling everyone I meet how great Oakland is), but I also reflect on how Oakland can improve.

On my trip last week to Washington, DC and College Park, MD, I ran into several things that I wish I could have brought back with me to Oakland:

  • Taxi Service!: You already know how much taxi service sucks in Oakland. I’m not suggesting that we could ever support as robust a service as is available in DC proper, but even the suburbs beat us. I took cabs several times while in College Park. At the Metro station, there was always a cab (or several) waiting. I didn’t run into any other taxi stands, but whenever I called for a cab, one arrived within 5-15 minutes, no matter the time of day.
  • Bar Pilar: There’s a lot of excellent food in DC, but Bar Pilar is my new favorite place to grab a drink and something to eat. Whether you’re looking for a can of Tecate or a shot of Patron, this is the place to go. The food menu consists almost exclusively of small plates, which showcase seasonal produce and mostly organic, local ingredients. Everything we ate was excellent – butternut squash soup, roasted potatoes with garlic aoli, a mix of mushrooms with leeks, honey glazed carrots, and cauliflower in a creamy sauce (and my companions said the steak and fish were yummy too). But the atmosphere is what had me going on and on about how I wanted to clone this restaurant, add a bit of Oakland style, and bring it across country with me. Take a look for yourself:




  • The Dupont Current: I picked up this local paper and was thoroughly impressed by it. Apparently, it’s one member of a family of four local DC papers that together cover the western half of the city. The paper covered local political and community issues in depth, including several detailed articles on commercial and residential development projects, a front page piece about a bicycle safety bill, and several brief commentaries on local schools. Though we have several print publications in Oakland, I don’t feel like any of them do this good a job covering local political issues. Oh well – at least we have lots of great blogs to keep us updated.
  • Bus Frequency: I’m by no means an expert on DC bus schedules, but my overall experience has been that they arrive frequently and often on time. The 42 is the line I take most often, from my boss’s apartment in Mt. Pleasant to my office on M Street. I’ve never waited longer than 2 minutes (it comes every 5 minutes!), and it drops me off less than a block from my destination. I don’t think we’ll ever attain this kind of bus frequency in Oakland until Bus Rapid Transit is implemented.

I’m guessing most people will be traveling this week for Thanksgiving so while you’re out and about around the country, take a moment to think about what you’d like to bring back to Oakland (or what you hope will never, ever come to Oakland) and feel free to share those thoughts here in the comment section.

2 Responses to “What I’d like to bring from DC to Oakland”

  1. inadvertentgardener November 25, 2008 at 11:56 pm #

    I made my way across the country from DC via Iowa, and I’ll applaud all of what you said above (except for the part about Bar Pilar, which I’m applauding in theory ’cause it sounds awesome, but I haven’t been there yet, so I don’t know about it for sure) — all of those things are worthy things to bring to Oakland.

    I’m Thanksgiving-ing here, so I’m going to have to defer to others on what they think needs to be brought in. And I still have Oakland-infatuation going on, so I have a hard time seeing the bad through everything I love about it.


  2. Marc November 28, 2008 at 8:36 am #

    What I’d like to bring from DC to Oakland: the Smithsonian Associates program. While living in a nearby Maryland suburb of DC, I often participates in the program, which consists of a huge variety of lectures, tours, and extended classes. I took an extended class on Greek food, spent 8 evenings learning about the wines of the world, spent a day listening to great bakers like Nick Maglieri and Jacques Torres talk about dessert (and later got to sample some of their work), and did a few more that I can’t remember. The program was also quite strong in art and history. To be sure, the Oakland Bay Area has plenty of lectures and events, but Smithsonian Associates was unmatchable.

    It would also be great to bring the no cost museum admission policy from D.C. to Oakland, but that is probably out of the question because of the taxpayer support of the National Gallery and Smithsonian Institution.

    Two other things from the DC Metro that would be nice to have here: 1) I remember that when you put $20 into a Metro ticket machine, the machine gave you a $22 ticket on the spot. 2) After 10 AM on weekdays and all day on weekends, you could buy a day pass for the Metro from any ticket machine for $5 (in 1998) that was good for as many trips as you could take.

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