There's a little theater company doing some pretty big plays on 9th Street in downtown Oakland AND offering dining discounts at neighboring restaurants for ticket holders.

Part philosophical exploration, part 11th-Century Middle Eastern comedy-of-manners, TheatreFIRST's Nathan the Wise illuminates the struggles between people of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faiths living side-by-side in Jerusalem.

We saw the play Saturday night and we concur with the raving critics; we only wish we'd known about the 10%-off dinner special beforehand (not that we weren't happy with the beef braised with onions that we'd cooked at home. Note: quatre épices is much nicer than allspice in this recipe.)

These are the participating restaurants:

B Restaurant — at 9th and Washington
Tamarindo — on 8th St. between Broadway and Washington
Twist — at 10th and Washington
Grand Oaks Grill — at 8th and Washington

Only four performances of Nathan the Wise left at TheatreFIRST's Oakland storefront location: Thursday–Sunday, March 1–4. (Commuter tip: Free parking is available after 6 p.m. at the lot on 8th and Washington.)

After that, the show runs one more week on the west side of the Bay: Friday–Sunday, March 7–9 at Traveling Jewish Theater in San Francisco; no food discounts apply.

Call 510-436-5085 for information and tickets at either venue.

By Julie, contributing