Hometown Tourist: San Leandro

San Leandro is the next stop on our trip in the Hometown Tourist series. We wanted to go on some hyper-local “vacations” this year. It helps us to see the beauty right where we are when we can see it through a different lens. Of course, if we were on a real vacation, we would probably pack it in and do some more exciting things, but after the last few months we’ve had lots of activity, we will be keeping things lowkey for these trips. (You can click on the place/restaurant name to check out their website.)

Fifth Wheel Food

We have heard good things about Fifth Wheel from those who have lived in San Leandro all their lives so we’ve had it on our list of places to try for awhile. It used to be a truck stop when the main freeway didn’t go through the city. It’s also next to the creek. I’m not sure if that has dried up in that area but the flowers are pretty. Fifth Wheel has changed owners, and new items have been added to the menu, but you can be guaranteed a hearty breakfast or lunch. (Read their story HERE.) Again, we wanted to start the day off light since food is a common theme of our trips. The girls shared a French Toast, six halves with two eggs, and sausages. Norm and I shared Korean B.B.Q Pork, two eggs, white rice, and toast. We breakfasted with my parents and brother (this was our pretend Airbnb/hotel for the day 😛). Tip for Fifth Wheel: I’m not sure how busy it can get but there was a steady stream of people going in when we went to pick up the food. I want to give heads up to allow time for parking because there’s no parking lot, just street parking. It sounds like you can sub any of the meat options for something more veggie-friendly. There are also some meat-less meal options.

San Leandro Farmers’ Market at Bayfair Center

We haven’t been to this farmers’ market in a long time as well so we didn’t even know that they moved the location to the other side of the parking lot around the corner from where it used to be. It is a lot bigger than I remember. Their website shows that there are 45 vendors. We walked through the whole thing to see what was there and kept an eye out for special treats to take home. Some of us knew immediately what we wanted and someone didn’t know what to get. 🙋🏻‍♀️ Norm got a small, garlic artichoke sourdough bread from Alonso Baking and Foods. If you’re not gluten-free (or have some other no-butter diet/limitation), we highly recommend getting this. Beckmann’s Bakery was also at this market and Melody chose Apple Strudels. We later saw that it has walnuts and that’s a no-go but we shared my treat. (We’ll have to go back for the Apple Turnover next time.) Emily knew from the beginning what she wanted when we walked by – honey sticks, which she misses from the CV Farmers’ Market! None of us remembered the name of the vendor so we will have to go back to get more and look one day. By the time I decided what I wanted, I didn’t want us to turn back around to get it, BUT we found a super yummy treat at Bay Area Bakehouse. I got a Pineapple Tart. If anyone is wondering, it doesn’t have nuts but has almond extract. (They replied immediately on Instagram when I DMed.) Tip for the Farmers’ Market: Bring cash! Not all the vendors take credit cards and other payments.

 

Bayfair Center part 1

We are NOT shoppers and we will wear out all our clothes before buying if it were up to me. It seems that lots of people like to go shopping on their vacations, so that’s what we had on our itinerary. I have brought so many relatives and friends from overseas and out-of-state to Costcos, malls, outlets, and downtowns because that’s what they wanted to do. Since we parked right in front of Kohl’s, that’s where we shopped. If you’re a normal person who normally shops, this is probably not exciting to you. I tried some stuff on (because in all transparency, this getting older thing is not doing great things to my body). BUT I still wanted to be frugal so I added it to my online shopping cart so I can use coupon codes and cashback sites. They have a new self-pickup and self-return now. It was mostly a bust but most of us found something. Eco-Tip for Bayfair: It will always be our tip to bring your own reusable bags to go shopping.

Tacos El Gordo

Tacos El Gordo is busy every single time we pass by it. We drive by it at least once a week on Sundays, and we’ve driven by on other days and at other various times, and there are always people there. It can be hot or cold, sunny or rainy, and there will be either a line or lots of people sitting and eating. So it ended up on our itinerary, of course! It is known for some more specialty ingredients that we don’t usually see on other Mexican restaurant menus (although we somehow ended up not ordering any of them). The girls shared a Super Quesadilla (12″ flour tortilla filled with your choice of meat, cheese, served with lettuce, tomato, guacamole and sour cream). Norm had a Huarache Asada con todo (oval fried corn tortilla filled with refried beans, topped with your choice of meat, onions, cilantro, cheese, and salsa). I shared some tacos with my brother. We had tacos with Asada/Beef Steak, Al Pastor/Marinated Pork, Carnitas/Fried Pork, and Cabeza/Beef Cheek. Tip for Tacos El Gordo: The parking lot is pretty small. If you don’t see spaces in the front, there might be a space or two in the back. If you’re planning to do takeout, park across the street where the laundromat is located. And the following tip is brought to you by our friend who is a vegetarian. He said if you’re a vegetarian, you probably don’t want to come here unless you want tortillas with beans. They actually do have a veggie burrito and veggie quesadilla, but they’re known for the meats.

Bayfair Center part 2

After lunch, we headed back to Bayfair Center to see if we get a few other items that have been on our list. Nothing fancy, just Old Navy and Target. We did find more things and got jeans 50% off. (I have feelings about myself shopping at these big stores but sometimes it’s a battle. Probably a conversation for another time.) We’re definitely not a scene out of the movies or TV shows where people go on a shopping spree and come out with bags and bags of stuff. Although, I suppose this is also real life, normal people things too. We got our reusable bag and we’re good to go. Tip for Bayfair: If you go on the weekend, be ready to stand in some kind of line. They’re not always long, but this is probably true of most stores on the weekend. If/when you use the self-checkout, make sure to entertain the security folks with a song you make up as you scan things with your family in the video. It will be the highlight of their day. I’m 110% sure of this. If you are teenagers in front of us, make sure to take your change. Eco-Tip for Bayfair: As always, bring your own reusable bags.

 

Poke Star Sushi + Marina Park

Surprise, surprise! We had sushi again for dinner. The girls had Gyoza (potstickers), Inari Nigiri (sweet fried tofu pocket), Philadelphia Roll (salmon, avocado, and cream cheese), and Cucumber Roll. Norm and I shared a Warrior Tray which has 24 pieces, and includes 8 pieces Dragon Roll (shrimp tempura, crabmeat, cucumber top with avocado, unagi, unagi sauce, and sesame), 8 pieces Lion King (crabmeat, avocado top with baked salmon, unagi sauce, masago, scallion, and sesame), and 8 pieces Bay Scallop Roll (crabmeat, avocado top with bake scallop, unagi sauce, masago, scallion, and sesame). Everything was delicious. Norm also got a brown sugar milk tea. Right now they only have pick-up and take-out options only, no dine-in, so there will be a line around mealtime. It wasn’t too bad. While we waited for the food to be made, we walked over to the Asian market. Tip for Poke Star Sushi: If you don’t know how to re-make sushi the next day or you don’t want to, I don’t suggest over-ordering sushi no matter how much you love it. It is hard to make it taste fresh, especially if you get something raw…if you are risky like that.

 

New Sang Chong Market

For our Asian market treats, we didn’t try anything new this time. We got some classic goodies: Fruit Gummy Candy Assortment, instant ramen noodles, Sheng Kee Bakery pineapple custard bread, Garden cream wafers (strawberry and chocolate), and Hawflakes. AND Norm found Agar Agar! In all the stores he’s checked out recently, they only have it in powder form. This is the first time he’s seen in like this in over a year. It’s an ingredient that goes in a recipe that his dad is known for making. We didn’t look at the produce, seafood, or meat section so I can’t say much about that except that Norm and my brother came here to pick up a bunch of stuff for hot pot one time. I think they have a bigger selection for those items than other local markets. Eco-Tip for New Sang Chong: As always, bring your own reusable bags. They have plastic reusable bags but no brown paper bags.

Oyster Bay Regional Shoreline

I am so surprised that I had no idea where Oyster Bay Regional Shoreline was. I have heard of the name though. From Marina Park, there’s no really good direct way to get there since they changed the entrance to the area decades ago. You can certainly make a “weird turn” into the neighborhoods though. If you’re coming from the freeway, that won’t be an issue. Anyhow, we had no idea what to expect. We wanted to find the Rising Wave sculpture. The map was a bit confusing. We just chose a path hoping it would get us there. We saw some bike trails. Then, we found some disc golf baskets. There are some picnicky spots. Eventually, we made our way to the sculpture. It was a nice view of the Bay, and the Oakland airport is not too far away. It was not as windy as Marina Park. Tip for Oyster Bay Regional Shoreline: Don’t go too late even though the hours are 5AM-10PM. It was not dark yet and we saw people almost the entire time, but it is fairly quiet there.

Clancy’s Ice Cream Parlour

Our last stop for the day was also the busiest and the smallest of places. We’ve been here plenty but we got a lovely gift card from family and finally used it. There was a long line out the door and the bar at the plaza next door had loud karaoke going on. I guess it’s also the place to get some big Funko Pop! figures because that’s what we saw one person go in to get. 😛 It looked like there were a number of people who walked over from Porky’s Pizza across the street too. When Norm finally got to the head of the line, it didn’t take too long. Melody got strawberry and Emily got raspberry marble. I guess it was delicious because it was eaten up before we got home. Emily said hers was similar to Trader Joe’s Wildberry Cheesecake Ice Cream. Tip for Clancy’s: Don’t go after dinner on the weekend during the summer if you don’t want to wait in line.

On to Our Next Adventure

We’d love to do another San Leandro day again because there is still lots to do there. They’ve had a lot of new restaurants open up in the last few years. Our next hometown-ish locale has lots of food options and we’re not sure how to schedule our itinerary so we might just have a list of places and see how the day unfolds. We’re not sure if we will keep these trips going beyond summer but it would be fun to visit more places.

Have you ever played tourists in your hometown and/or surrounding areas? What would your day look like if you were a tourist there? Where would you eat? Where would you go?

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