For a bay-hugging city with beautiful weather, Oakland’s selection of waterfront restaurants is surprisingly few and far between. 
Brotzeit Lokal, a German restaurant on the Oakland Estuary, is one of those few. And considering it’s also a beer garden, it’s quite possibly the best shoreline eatery in town to pass a lazy afternoon.  
On warm summer days, locals gather at red picnic tables on the patio to wash down sausages and freshly baked pretzels with pilsners, all the while drinking in the view of boats bobbing languidly by the dock. Some even pull up to the restaurant’s guest dock in their boats or kayaks for a beer-fueled pit stop on the water.
The patio at Brotzeit Lokal at Oakland, Calif. on September 1, 2022.
Jagerschnitzel with a Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock on the patio at Brotzeit Lokal at Oakland, Calif. on September 1, 2022.
A selection of cocktails and beer at the bar at Brotzeit Lokal at Oakland, Calif. on September 1, 2022.
Waterside seating at Brotzeit Lokal at Oakland, Calif. on September 1, 2022.
In Bavaria, “brotzeit” refers to a snack between meals, generally around 10 a.m. — a sort of second breakfast. 
“It’s a part of the day in Germany to kind of relax and have a beer,” said co-owner Krista Bailey. 
Bailey opened Brotzeit Lokal in 2013 with her now ex-husband Tony Granieri, who still co-owns the restaurant. Bailey was a college professor and Granieri was an architectural designer, and they shared a love of beer and good food. 
“We opened at a time when there weren’t really any other beer gardens [in Oakland],” Bailey said. “… As we were looking around for a space, we were like, ‘Why aren’t there more outdoor restaurants in Oakland? It’s so beautiful here.’ So we were really adamant that we wanted a space that had an outdoor area.”
Above the entrance to the patio at Brotzeit Lokal in Oakland, Calif. on September 1, 2022.
Being married at the time with a young son, they visualized Brotzeit Lokal as a family-friendly gathering space for their friends to hang out, have a beer and relax on the patio with their kids and dogs. While the demographic has evolved a little over the years, that spirit has remained. 
“Our demographic is all over the place,” Bailey said. “I mean, it really blows my mind. Sometimes we have 25-year-olds, you know, in sparkles and glitter and rainbows, and then we’ve got 80-year-olds having their birthday party. It’s pretty amazing to me. I love it.”
Locals have caught on to Brotzeit Lokal at this point, but in the beginning, the location was a bit of a tough sell. Formerly a restaurant called Oyster Reef Seafood, the old building was quite rundown when they first took over (and made headlines for a bizarre incident in 2001 when an XFL-branded blimp crashed into the restaurant). 
Inside the main dining room at Brotzeit Lokal in Oakland, Calif. on September 1, 2022.
Plus, it was next to a working port building with semi-trucks driving in and out all day long. 
“There were empty warehouses and debris … and we were pretty on the fence about whether it would work, that location,” Bailey recalled. “Nobody even knew where that was. We would describe it to people and they were like, ‘Where?’”
View of Brotzeit Lokal with Brooklyn Basin in Oakland, Calif. on September 1, 2022.
And then, there was the endless construction. About a year after they opened, construction began on the Brooklyn Basin project, causing all sorts of disruptions for Brotzeit Lokal for years. But when the project’s sprawling new waterfront park Township Commons debuted in late 2020, it all seemed to pay off. 
“Since Brooklyn Basin has opened up and become kind of an area where people are flocking to at times, we’ve been busier,” Bailey said. “It doesn’t seem like people are having a hard time finding us anymore.”
Now, Oaklanders know where to go for the best house-made sausage and German beer selection in town. Brotzeit Lokal also serves brunch on the weekends, with eggs Benedict, mimosas and wiener schnitzel. They host celebrations with live music and other festivities for all the German holidays, too, including Oktoberfest, which kicks off Sept. 17 this year and goes through October. 
Wurst Family Platter with a Weihenstephaner Weissbier on the patio at Brotzeit Lokal in Oakland, Calif. on September 1, 2022.
While the food is “better than it needs to be” for a restaurant with such a breathtaking location, said Bailey, it’s the sense of community they’ve cultivated here that makes her swell with pride. 
Before the pandemic, all of Brotzeit Lokal’s outdoor tables were communal. Now, they ask groups first if they’re comfortable with being seated next to strangers, but most still say yes. People chatting with adjacent tables is still a common occurrence. 
Entrance of Brotzeit Lokal in Oakland, Calif. on September 1, 2022.
“We’re proud of the quality of the food and the beer that we’re serving to people, but it’s so much more than that,” Bailey said. “It’s the spirit of the Bavarian beer garden. In Germany, they call it gemutlichkeit — just that feeling of community and togetherness. … I think we need that, you know, people are just starving for that, especially after COVID.”
Brotzeit Lokal, 1000 Embarcadero, Oakland. Open Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m.- 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m-9 p.m.
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Madeline Wells is a reporter for SFGATE covering food and drink in the Bay Area. She grew up in the Seattle area and received her B.A. in English and Media Studies from UC Berkeley. Prior to SFGATE, she was an associate editor at East Bay Express and freelance writer covering the Bay Area music scene. Email: madeline.wells@sfgate.com

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