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Just the facts
Main strip: Fruitvale Avenue (at MacArthur)
Who dwells here: First and second-gen Mexican Americans
Architecture: 1920s bungalows, Mission Revivals
Neighborhood giant: Dimond Canyon and Sausal Creek
Best Salvadorian pupusa: Tamales Mi Lupita (featured by Anthony Bourdain) close to Fruitvale
Where to mingle with locals: Caffe Diem, Dimond Park, Farmer Joe’s
This quiet, residential stretch at the base of the Oakland Hills has a strong Latino culture and refreshingly unpretentious vibe, with almost zero craft cocktail bars or bicycle-powered coffee machines. Part of the 94-acre Dimond Canyon bookends this immigrant community, giving the area a pleasant urban-nature balance. Back in the early 1900s, Dimond was known as Little Germany, thanks to the number of, you guessed it, Germans and beer halls. Though that population has dwindled, an annual Oaktoberfest continues till this day. The Dimond District’s layered history includes timber groves and fruit orchards. But today you’ll find taquerias, mural art and natural grocer Farmer Joe’s. The commercial district is in Lower Dimond—home to local bakery favorite, La Farine.
The inside inside scoop
The Oakland Heritage Alliance hosts annual walking tours of the Dimond District—be sure to check for upcoming tours and dates.
If you only have three hours
The Sausal Creek runs from the Oakland Hills to the San Francisco Bay, with a portion running near Dimond’s Fruitvale Avenue. Hike along the creek bed in Dimond Canyon, where you’ll spot redwoods, oak, buckeye and other native plants. Ferns and wild blackberries grow here, too.
Take yourself on a self-guided mural tour in this vibrant neighborhood. Energetic street art dominates the district, including “Dimond’s Hidden Jewels” on Farmer Joe’s, “I Love Dimond” on the PG&E Boston substation, and “Oakland Treehouse” and “Bird on a Branch” at MacArthur & Rhoda streets.
Italian ice water straight from…Philadelphia? Yup. It might be considered Philly’s best, but The Town’s Flavor Brigade knows how to serve a mean horchata ice water. Custards are also a specialty. AND they’ll layer ice with custard. This just exemplifies what Dimond is about—a neighborhood of surprises.
How to get here:
Freeway exit: From 1-580 E, take the 35th Ave exit; from 1-580 W, exit at Coolige Ave/Fruitvale Ave
BART stop: Fruitvale
Bus lines: 11, 14, 20, 21, 39, NX1, NX2, NXC, 339, 851 (all-nighter)
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