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“Good, strange reservation policy.”
Review of Duende

Duende
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Ranked #42 of 1,304 Restaurants in Oakland
Price range: $25 - $80
Cuisines: Spanish
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Restaurant details
Good for: Bar scene
Dining options: Late Night, Reservations
Description: Duende is a Spanish-inspired, neighborhood restaurant located in Oakland's Uptown district, featuring a modern and casual dining experience, a cutting-edge cocktail program, and an inviting Spanish-based wine program including more than 20 sherries by the glass!
Reviewed May 27, 2014

I would go here more if not for their strange policy of not allowing any online reservations between 5:45-7:45pm. I completely understand the need to serve walk-ins, but it has caused me to go to Flora (around the corner and equally good, with flexible reservation policies) twice now. Having said that, the food is good, the drinks are great, and the wine list is great. Be prepared to spend about $30-50 per person if you are drinking wine!

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1  Thank K H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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77 - 81 of 98 reviews

Reviewed April 22, 2014

Here's the problem with my title: Its the FIRST paella I've ever had. How you say could I get to age 55 as a foody and never had paella before? Because AS a foody, I didn't want to be let down! Everyone always says, "Oh, the paella is good here BUT its not like REAL paella from Spain". I heard that so many times that I have been holding out till I found a restaurant or menu that SOOO peaked my interest that I had to try it

Duende was it -- and it didn't disappoint the foody in me!

Rabbit, chorizo and kale in rice that was crunchy on the bottom. Amazing flavors, thoroughly modern, local ingredients presented in traditional paella pan for two or four people. The variety of paellas was really nice, about four different ones that evening and all sounded incredible and looked and smelled better (we are careful observers of the food passing by us!).

They have an array of haute-cuisine pintxos and tapas but unfortunately we had to get to a show (Bryan Ferry at the Fox theatre right across the street) and couldn't stay long enough to indulge.

Suffice it to say we will be back when we can have a more relaxed evening and enjoy more of the culinary delights of Duende!

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1  Thank William F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 4, 2014

Located at the heart of the bustling Uptown nightlife area (and a block from 19th Street BART), Duende (loosely translated as "inspired madness") is certainly an inspired, creative, and delicious take on Spanish cuisine, and one of my favorite restaurants in Oakland.

The food revolves around modern, seasonal versions of familiar Spanish dishes, including small plates (tapas), entrées (raciones), and large, shared dishes such as paellas.

I've had many of the small plates. Probably their most traditional tapas is their patatas bravas ($6), which is done very well. My favorite tapas here is their piquillos rellenos ($15), a medium-sized, mild red pepper stuffed with ever-changing seasonal ingredients - Dungeness crab and pea shoots; bacalao-style cod; cheese. Recently I tried their swordfish escabeche ($13) with saffron, allioli, and what looked like pea shoots - very tasty. And there are also creative dishes for vegetarians, including verduras de invierno ($10) which includes several vegetables - often the archaic and delicious romanesco - dressed in a slightly spicy, green pistachio salsa.

I have not had many of their larger plates but their arroz negro ($38) is fantastic - this includes an amazingly flavorful bomba rice, black with squid ink, and when I tried it, petrale sole, scallops, and allioli. It is plenty for two people.

I usually skip desert, but similarly, they are creative and delicious.

Duende also has a very good, creative bar menu, with a regularly changing list of specialty cocktails ($10), which as of this writing (Fat Tuesday) are inspired by Carnival. They also have an extensive Spanish wine list (including sherry flights), as well as several local wines on tap, served by the glass, half-liter, and liter.

The space is attractive, bustling - with people stopping in before or after shows at the Fox Theater or before they hit the town - and includes bar seating, communal tables, and private tables. Service is attentive and friendly.

Upstairs there is often live music - last weekend, an impressive flamenco performance - which requires an additional cover charge.

In short, a fabulous place. My only regret is that, while it's not "expensive" per se, you can quickly rack up a bill because it's hard to stop ordering those small plates and nice drinks! So if you are on a budget I would suggest coming in for a cocktail and to share a small plate, soak in the atmosphere before moving on to your next stop, or keeping it simple with a large dish and half-liter of wine.

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1  Thank SantoGabacho
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 4, 2014

The food is very creative and has outstanding melded flavors. The venues is very current but a little noisy

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Thank Carolyn91
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 6, 2014

The menu changes nightly but don't miss the paella, there are four choices, we had the rabbit but the table next to us had seafood that looked fabulous! We had the rare salmon, pork meatballs and a salad. All were wonderful and went well with the red wine on tap (yes, on tap). The server was very helpful with her suggestions. It is right next to a BART station so very convenient. Not cheap but well worth the money. 4 of us filled up, plus 1.5 liters of wine and a shared dessert was $250.

Thank Tamara T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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