Oakland Restaurant Week offers cheap trials of fast and fresh eats

When talking about Pitt’s nearby campus eateries, two words come up again and again: fast and fresh. Oakland is no place for a sit-down restaurant. Profit here comes from midnight snacks and hurried, between-class lunches. But that doesn’t mean students have lowered their standards for the food.

As local, organic and vegan offerings continue to transcend fad status, local restaurants are stepping up their games by proving to the community that students can get the highest-quality ingredients without draining their bank accounts or waiting in line for hours.

Now, due to popular demand, the Oakland Business Improvement District is holding an encore of its January Oakland Restaurant Week from June 2-6. The fastest and freshest are participating to offer daily $5 meals.

“It’s a great opportunity to get out and experience all the great restaurants that Oakland has to offer,” Mary Davidson Williams, OBID’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator, said. 

One such restaurant is Sushi Fuku, which offers customizable sushi and rice bowls, prepared assembly-line style to be ready in a matter of minutes.

But there’s more to this restaurant than speed — Sushi Fuku is also known for its dedication to customer satisfaction. After receiving complaints that the restaurant’s sushi trays looked like french fry trays and that its take-out bowls were non-biodegradable, Sushi Fuku took the initiative to purchase entirely new containers.

Sushi Fuku will be offering a new $5 roll or bowl each day of Restaurant Week.

In spite of the restaurant’s prime real estate in the center of campus, Sushi Fuku still roots for the little guys.

“Restaurant Week is important because it gets people to try out restaurants that aren’t just on Forbes or Fifth,” Ron Oliver, Sushi Fuku’s store manager said. “For $5, people can try things they may not have tried before.”

And those lamenting the lack of adventurous food on Forbes may have skipped over one of the thoroughfare’s few independently owned restaurants, Red Oak Café.

“We take care of a lot of different kinds of people from vegetarian to vegan to gluten-free. We try to do our best with dietary restrictions,” Dave Gancy, Red Oak Café’s manager, said. 

Red Oak Café is the master of cruelty-free cuisine with offerings like pickled seitan Reubens and oatmeal breakfast smoothies on the menu.

But the restaurant is not all kale and quinoa. Just take the Red Oak Club, which takes the already hearty and decadent club sandwich, and stacks it onto a warm, buttery croissant.

Red Oak Café’s $5 offering is their blue plate special, which varies from day to day, according to whatever ingredients are fresh and in season.

But if you’re craving greasy food, the Original Hot Dog Shop has you covered. This week, you can get a hot dog, a drink and a small serving of their famous French fries for just $5.

Other participating restaurants include Joe Mama’s, Hello Bistro, Pamela’s Diner and the Pittsburgh Pretzel Sandwich Shop.