A one-room schoolhouse feel, minus the 'marm but plus the mac? That seems right for a light-hearted, full-flavored spot that zaps you back — maybe not to Little House on the Prairie days (although the ingredients are Ingalls-fresh), but at least to second grade, when a grilled cheese and tomato soup were all the haute cuisine one needed. Oakland's cute Homeroom makes us want to check that we have both of our mittens clipped to our sleeves as we dive into updated youth classics: grilled cheese with Inna jalapeño jam, Blue Lake string beans, and Three Twins root beer floats. Best of all, oodles of mac 'n' cheese, made with everything from tangy chevre to hot chorizo, Gilroy garlic to vegan-version walnut. School's in for summer!
400 40th, Oakl. (510) 597-0400, www.homeroom510.com