Oakland Airport restaurants finally get food, drink overhaul – SFGATE

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Nearly five years ago, the Oakland International Airport announced plans to open a smorgasbord of exciting new restaurants for Bay Area travelers. But then, the pandemic hit, air travel took a nosedive and those plans were put on hold. 

Now, with air travel finally rebounding — in June, the Oakland airport surpassed 1 million monthly passengers for the first time since 2019 — that updated food and beverage program plan is back underway. 

If you’ve flown out of Oakland recently, you may have noticed a few new offerings have already landed. For one, popular San Francisco and Oakland cafe Farley’s opened a Terminal 2 location in February, serving up fresh coffee and egg sandwiches. Another new coffee option also arrived earlier this year in the form of Oaklandish Coffee Collective, featuring a rotating list of local coffee roasters as well as clothing from the Oaklandish brand.

The Farley's Coffee location inside Oakland International Airport.

The Farley’s Coffee location inside Oakland International Airport.

Image via Yelp user Rachel M.

A new Subway and a Peet’s Coffee are also already open, but the most recent arrival is the Oakland Draft House, which opened on July 13 in Terminal 2. The full-service restaurant and bar with views of the bay offers beers on tap from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, burgers, mahi mahi tacos and breakfast burritos. 

“The food and beverage program really was a big push that began with our board of commissioners to elevate the sense of place at the airport and to strive to have greater visibility for local establishments,” said Bryant Francis, the Port of Oakland’s director of aviation. “We really had expected to begin to see that transformation unfold in 2020 … but literally as the momentum was building, the pandemic hit. And at that point, it was a hard stop.”

An artist rendering of a new Peet's Coffee set to open in the Oakland International Airport. 

An artist rendering of a new Peet’s Coffee set to open in the Oakland International Airport. 

Courtesy of Oakland International Airport

Fortunately, the transformation was able to resume recently, though the list of proposed restaurants has changed a little from the original. Brown Sugar Kitchen and Luka’s Taproom & Lounge both shuttered their Uptown Oakland locations earlier this year and will no longer be opening at the airport. 

However, many well-known local businesses originally slated to open are still a go: Vietnamese restaurant Tay Ho, Mexican spot Calavera, Rockridge sandwich shop Southie, pizzeria A16, Old Oakland wine and whiskey bar District and multiple Peet’s Coffee outposts. A new sports bar concept called the Oakland A’s Clubhouse is also planned, and Berkeley’s Cancun Sabor Mexicano is a recent addition to the list.

In the near future, Oakland travelers can look forward to the arrival of Vietnamese restaurant Tay Ho. The beloved Oakland Chinatown eatery is expected to open the first week of September.

Vietnamese fare from Tay Ho Oakland Restaurant & Bar, soon to have a location in the Oakland International Airport. 

Vietnamese fare from Tay Ho Oakland Restaurant & Bar, soon to have a location in the Oakland International Airport. 

Image via Yelp user Michael L.

Owner Denise Huynh said they will serve an abbreviated version of the Tay Ho menu with pho, vermicelli bowls, banh mi and coffee, wine and beer. It’ll be the best of both worlds: Those with extra time to kill before their flight can relax with a big bowl of pho, and those on a mad dash to their gate can still stop by to grab a quick banh mi. 


Huynh said she wanted to bring Tay Ho’s food to the airport based on her own experiences eating while traveling. 

“I don’t eat any processed food … but I find myself doing that when I travel. And so, with the concept of the Oakland airport, I just want to bring in something that’s healthy and fresh. … Why does it have to be bad food when you travel? Why does it have to be fast food when you travel?”

Opening at the airport has been a long time coming for Tay Ho, and Huynh is starting to feel the anticipation.

“I have people saying, ‘Oh my god, I’m going to start flying out of Oakland so I can go to your restaurant,’” Huynh said. “I’m like, my god, you guys are so nice … I’m getting excited. Nervous-excited.”

An artist rendering of the new Oakland A’s Clubhouse sports bar slated to open in Oakland International Airport. 

An artist rendering of the new Oakland A’s Clubhouse sports bar slated to open in Oakland International Airport. 

Courtesy of Oakland International Airport

The Oakland A’s Clubhouse and Calavera are up next on the docket, having already begun construction. The Clubhouse is slated to be a full restaurant and bar in the former Chili’s space honoring the town’s baseball team. Diners can snack on classic ballpark fare such as burgers, sausages, chicken wings and beer. 

Calavera is an upscale Mexican restaurant in Uptown Oakland that recently settled a class action wage theft lawsuit. It will open in the former Andalé airport space, serving tortas, guacamole, tacos, grab-and-go salads and margaritas. Both spots are expected to open by early 2023. 

District, Southie and Cancun Sabor Mexicano are scheduled for construction later this year. Both existing locations of wine bar Vino Volo are expected to undergo renovations, and a new “Concourse Cafe” concept as well as the transformation of the former food court into the fancier-sounding “Food Hall” are also to come. 

Eats from Cancun Sabor Mexicano in Berkeley.

Eats from Cancun Sabor Mexicano in Berkeley.

Image via Yelp

More vegetarian and vegan options will be available throughout the airport, in addition to kids’ menus, “value meals” (no more than $10 for an entree and a drink) and “deals of the week” (no more than $15 for an entree and a drink). 

“That really is just an attempt to better meet the needs of the widest and deepest portion of our travelers in the airport,” Francis explained.

All of these shiny new offerings are expected to open by next spring or summer.

By the end of this, almost nothing at the Oakland airport will be the same. That means, no more Fenton’s, no more California Pizza Kitchen and no more Pyramid Ale Taproom. The only spots remaining intact from the olden days are Vino Volo and Subway, both of which are still getting spiffed up. 

With all the trendy new incoming restaurants, combined with an ambitious five-year plan to build a new terminal and other upgrades, the smaller Oakland airport seems poised to rival its flashier sibling across the bay. 

The Oaklandish Coffee Collective at the Oakland International Airport. 

The Oaklandish Coffee Collective at the Oakland International Airport. 

Image courtesy of High Flying Food

“I wouldn’t say the goal is to have customers choose us over another airport because of the food and beverage program,” Francis said. “But I think it’s a component. … We think we have a lot going for us in terms of the geographic location. But if we also offer a higher level of service and amenities, that just becomes part of that thought process that people will go through when they’re deciding what airport they want to fly into or out of.”


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