Oakland – Ok. Want steak in Oakland, California? Where do you go? What restaurants specialize in steak? Well, my personal favorite restaurant place has been The Alley Cat at 3325 Grand Avenue. I love The Alley Steak. I also love the fact that I can order a 20-ounce steak that’s off the menu, and get broccoli and garlic bread to go with it.
But, I have to admit, I’ve not ordered such a meal in some time, and for good reason: The Alley Cat’s Kitchen was closed for a long while, and has only been back in action the past 14 months, while I’ve been here in Georgia.
Still, with all of its steak goodness and bend-over-backwards service, the fact is, The Alley is designed to be a piano bar, and not, well, a steak house. See…
And, if you go a do a Google search for “Oakland steak”, you’re going to realize that there’s no real steak house restaurant in Oakland, and from that, not a great line of restaurants that specialize in steak.
A “real steak house” has “steak” in its name or is so good it’s name spelled sideways reads “steak”. You know what I mean. There are national restaurant chains like Longhorn Steakhouse, Ruth’s Chris, STK, Outback Steakhouse, Morton’s, Shula’s Steak House, and BOA Steakhouse. And then there are one-off places like the legendary Peter Lugar’s, that was just flame-roasted in the New York Times. But, you get what I mean.
Oakland doesn’t have one restaurant that specializes in steak. Oakland needs that place. “Galeto Brazilian Steakhouse” is that place, you say? I say, no, because, it’s name offers a differentiation: it’s Brazilian, not American. Nothing against Galeto Brazilian Steakhouse, but for the purpose of my search, I want an American steak – with potatoes, vegetables, water, steak sauce, and the appropriate burbon. You know what I mean.
And then you say “Well, we had Izzy’s”, and yes, but the place itself didn’t have that special steakhouse feel. And then you say “What about Kincaid’s?”, and I say, well that place was known more for seafood than steak, and sadly, it too is closed.
And then you say “What about Crogan’s Montclair?”, and I say, I love Crogan’s (at 6101 La Salle Ave), it’s a great Cal bar and place to meet Skyline High School alumni friends, but even Crogan’s managers will tell you they don’t specialize in steak; the description reads “Irish-themed watering hole with TVs to watch the game, plus a menu of pub grub & homestyle food.”
There you go.
Eateries that have that something are those where you pick out special places to eat: the table next to the bar, or the place off to the side just in the corner. Places that feel like you can’t find that spot anywhere else in the World. Kind of like my table at The 21 Club in New York City:
Sorry to say, but Izzy’s didn’t have that.
I like Izzy’s in San Francisco, but the Oakland version left something to be desired.
So, why don’t we have a true steak place in Oakland? Is it the high cost of doing business? The rents? The labor costs? Do we need a special “steak restaurant development plan”? (Come to think of it, that might not be a bad idea.)
I don’t want to go over to San Francisco for my steak. I want my steak in Oakland. I want an Oakland steakhouse. Maybe we can just help The Alley ‘s owner and my friend Jackie Simpkins expand it into a steak joint with a piano bar?
I’d be down for that.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media