Some of you might have been on a pub crawl. That is, if you can remember the night. But how about dropping in on four restaurants in one night?
That’s the concept behind Dishcrawl, a social dining experiment that gathers a bunch of food lovers together to roam a neighborhood and visit four (undisclosed) dining spots in three hours. The first few dishcrawls started in the South Bay and the Peninsula, and have now expanded to more than 20 cities across the country.
This week Dishcrawl finally arrived in my hood of Oakland, which made it easy for me to check out the event especially when I found out the featured restaurants were in the Piedmont Avenue neighborhood just 10 minutes from my apartment. After buying my $39 ticket online, I waited to receive the email the week of the event to find out where we would begin our gastronomical journey.
One thing I learned about Dishcrawl is that it sells between 50 to 100 tickets for the night’s event, so that’s a lot of people that have to squeeze into a restaurant. This means it’s probably unlikely that the four mystery restaurants would be the latest hotspots since those popular restaurants can’t afford to give up prime seats for diners who are just dropping in for a few bites and then moving on.
The Oakland Dishcrawl was about 40 people, and we started at Lotus Thai on Piedmont Avenue, one of the oldest restaurant on the strip. We started out with some popular Thai dishes like golden beggar’s pouch, pad thai, chicken curry and spicy eggplant.
The idea with the crawl is that the restaurants are close enough for everyone to walk between dining destinations. When we left Lotus Thai after a hefty start to our crawl, we walked about 10 minutes to Ohgane Korean BBQ restaurant, which is actually outside of the Piedmont Avenue hood since it’s on Broadway.
There was a parade of Korean dishes at this popular Korean spot in Oakland, with a bowl of cold noodles and assortment of panchan (side dishes). We also ate barbeque chicken and beef, along with tofu soup.
With each spot, we meet the owners, who are generally appreciative to host such a large group of diners. On some dishcrawls, chefs might come out to talk about the dishes.
After two relatively large meals (it’s easy to fill up at ethnic restaurants), I wasn’t sure how much more I could eat. (Pacing is key, and the Dishcrawl organizers were pretty good about keeping us on schedule.) On our third spot, the Park Avenue Bar and Grill, I barely ate the pasta dish and skipped the mashed potatoes and Italian chicken and instead just unwind with a lovely cucumber gimlet. (Drinks at any of the stops are extra in cost.)
The evening ended with a scoop of gelato from Lush Gelato next door.
Since I do live in the area, I’ve been to all the restaurants (except Park Avenue Grill) so the Oakland Dishcrawl wasn’t a night of dining revelations for me. But it was a lovely night to be walking around (not really cold and definitely no rain) and I enjoyed chatting with strangers who loved trying new food. There were people from other parts of the Bay Area, so Dishcrawl is an opportunity for them to learn more about a city’s dining options.
Because of the price, you shouldn’t expect really fancy meals (in fact, sometimes the dishcrawl might hit up a food truck). But you can surely count on a lot of friendly diners and a lot of eating.
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