Chef Russ Moore, Camino, Oakland, CA, California, New American, Where Chefs Eat, Oakland City Guide, Chefs Feed, Where to eat, Where to drink, Where to shop, Best Restaurants in Oakland, Restaurants, Bars, Shops, Eating, Drinking, Guide, Travel Guide


Camino - Oakland, CA



The Restaurant

I had been working at Chez Panisse for my whole life and was thinking about opening my own place. You only leave Chez Panisse once so I wanted to really go for it--to use what I had learned there, but focus it a little more. I hoped to distinguish it in some way from all the restaurants that have sprung from there.

We decided to build a giant fireplace to cook out of and we also only purchase ingredients for the restaurant that we would buy at our own home. These self-imposed limitations force me to be creative--to write menus that take into consideration the ingredients that we have and the way that we cook. We tend to be relentlessly idealistic so we stuck to that idea.

The Food

The food has evolved since we first opened. It’s still cooked in the fireplace, but we use a larger variety of herbs and spices--not just stuff you might find in most California/Mediterranean restaurants. We use lots of old world techniques (what’s older than cooking with fire?) mixed with new combinations of flavors.

We value subtlety and balance over fatty, salty, acidic and super umami flavored food. I think our food makes sense as a meal, but it isn’t going to hit you over the head right off the bat. It is rustic at first glance, but the flavors are really refined. Cooking in the fireplace adds a certain layer of depth that is not necessarily just smoke or char. 

More Than Food

We put equal importance on service, food, cocktails and wine. We spend a lot of time tasting cocktails, tasting the wine with the food and making our service friendly and professional, but not fussy. I think people appreciate the attention to detail. I think Camino appeals to people who work in restaurants because it is so crazy idealistic in a way that might not be smart financially, but is really fun.

People have a lot of expectations about restaurants and it can be a struggle to break that. We ask a lot of our customers--we have a small menu, we don’t make pizza or pasta, you have to sit at a really long table, the fish has bones in it, we don’t have any brands of spirits that anyone has ever heard of, we don’t have soda, and on and on. But we try to reward them with a refreshing experience that is delicious. Honestly, some people hate it, but I think restaurant people recognize that Camino is not a normal restaurant.

Chef’s East Bay Guide

Barware at Umami Mart

Photo Credit: Erin Gleeson

Find | Kitchenware + Barware

Umami Mart

The coolest thing in Oakland these days is Umami Mart. It is run by Kayoko Akabori (a former Camino bartender) and Yoko Kumano. They sell a cool combination of Japanese barware, kitchen equipment, beautiful teaware and you can pick up a Peko Peko bento box on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I bring one to my 86-year-old mom every week! [Read the F.E.D. interview with Umami Mart’s Kayoko Akabori]

815 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607

T: 510.575.9152 |

Find | Asian Grocery

Sam Yick Market

I shop here for things like sand pots that work great in the fire and ladles that can reach into the fireplace.

362 8th Street, Oakland, CA 94607

T: 510.832.0662

Eat | Bagels

Beauty’s Bagels

Photograph courtesy of Beauty’s Bagel Shop

Beauty’s Bagel Shop

I really like their salt and pepper bagels.

3838 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609

T: 510.788.6098 |

Eat | High End

Commis Restaurant

I don’t get to go very often, but I love it. Chef James Syhabout uses a lot of the same vegetables we use, but in a totally different way. Kale still tastes like kale, but in an unexpected, fun way. I have to admit after my first meal here, I really loosened up about what I thought worked and didn’t work on a plate. I wanted to break away from my Chez Panisse roots and Commis was one of the restaurants that helped me do that.

3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

T: 510.653.3902 |

Eat | Japanese

Yakitori at Ippuku

Photograph courtesy of Ippuku


My favorite thing lately is Ippuku for lunch. Dinner is great too, but I’m obsessed with Koichi and Ryoji’s soba and tempura. They can only make so many orders of noodles a day because they are cut by hand, so you might want to call ahead. The combination of perfect soba and a plate of perfectly fried vegetables with a cup of sencha is hard to beat.

2130 Center Street, Berkeley, CA 94704

T: 510.665.1969 |

Eat | Tacos

El Paisa Taqueria

It’s our favorite taqueria in East Oakland. They have a really big vat of bubbling fatty liquid that they pull homemade chorizo, tripe and suadero out of for perfect little tacos. The salsas can be over-the-top spicy in a crying and gasping kinda way, but they are really good.

4610 International Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94620

T: 510.534.2180

Drink | Tea

The tea bar at Far Leaves Tea

Photograph courtesy of Far Leaves Tea

Far Leaves Tea

A great place to drink tea in Berkeley. Donna is from Taiwan and she always has floral, creamy green oolongs to drink.

2626 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

T: 510.665.9409 |



Photograph courtesy of Camino

General Information


Grand Lake / Oakland

New American

3917 Grand Avenue

Oakland, CA 94610

T: 510.547.5035







More Oakland Recs

Download the F.E.D. iPhone app and get more Oakland restaurant, bar and shop recommendations from other chefs, sommeliers and bartenders.