Tag Archives: Oakland restaurant

NIDO Is Pretty Neato

You can't miss finding this place.

You can’t miss finding this place.

 

Its name means “nest” in Spanish, and NIDO is very much a comforting place in every sense.

This Mexican restaurant was opened in Oakland in 2012 by husband and wife, Cory and Silvia McCollow.

It’s colorful and energetic, with a homespun air, as if a bunch of friends got together in a modern-day barn-raising to build a restaurant. Candles in mismatched glass containers give off a warm glow inside, along with a mini disco ball at the front that creates a party-like verve. The bar is built from repurposed wood pallets, giving it a “Gilligan’s Island” can-do look.

On Sunday nights, the restaurant offers a more truncated menu, dubbed “Sunday Night Tacos & Margaritas.” It’s super popular, too, as I found out, when I went a week ago, paying my own tab at the end. Even before the doors opened at 5 p.m., there were already more than half a dozen people lined up to get in.

Chips, salsa and guacamole.

Chips, salsa and guacamole.

A cocktail made with black vermouth.

A cocktail made with black vermouth.

The short and sweet menu encompasses two starters, two large plates, two taco choices, and chips with salsa and guacamole.

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Innovative Vegan Fare at Millennium

Tempeh and spaetzel at Millennium that taste like beef stroganoff.

Tempeh and spaetzel at Millennium that taste like beef stroganoff.

 

Recently, I dined with a companion at a vegan restaurant.

No, it was not with my husband, aka Meat Boy.

But even he enjoyed the leftovers I brought home afterward.

That tells you just how satisfying the cuisine is at Millennium in Oakland.

In fact, the majority of diners there are not strictly vegan. But they are lured by the creativity of Chef Eric Tucker’s dishes.

Millennium first opened in 1994 in San Francisco before moving to the Rockridge neighborhood across the Bay in 2015.

Even on a Monday night, typically a slow time for most restaurants, the dining room was packed.

Fried oyster mushrooms.

Fried oyster mushrooms.

My friend Sheila (also not a vegan) and I started with a big pile of Coriander and Arborio Crusted Oyster Mushrooms ($13.95). The Italian risotto rice used in the coating gives the mushrooms a heavier and toastier tasting crust. Pick one up and dip into the sweet-spicy habanero jam. It’s perfect finger-food.

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A Grand Time At Grand Lake Kitchen

Comfort in a bowl -- matzo ball soup at Grand Lake Kitchen.

Comfort in a bowl — matzo ball soup at Grand Lake Kitchen.

 

If you’re walking up to Grand Lake Kitchen in Oakland for the first time, it’s easy to spot yards before you get there. Just look for the line.

Especially for brunch on weekends, there is always one.

But just put your name in, give your cell phone number, and you can mosey around nearby Lake Merritt until you get a text that your table is ready. That’s what my husband and I did one recent Sunday, paying our tab for the meal at the end.

Because our wait was about 20 minutes for a table in the early afternoon, we just missed enjoying the brunch menu by about 5 minutes. Drat, because there are some especially intriguing items on it that I was hoping to try, including the Savory French Toast ($14) made with rye bread that’s dipped in porcini batter. How good does that sound, right?

A line almost always means that a place has got to be good.

A line almost always means that a place has got to be good.

Instead, we contented ourselves with the afternoon menu, that’s served from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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Artsy Flair and Regional Specialties at Tamarindo Antojeria

Executive Chef-Owner Gloria Dominguez making tortillas at her Tamarindo Antojeria Mexicana.

Executive Chef-Owner Gloria Dominguez making tortillas at her Tamarindo Antojeria Mexicana.

 

When Chef-Owner Gloria Dominguez opened her Tamarindo Antojeria Mexicana 13 years ago in the Old Oakland neighborhood that had more storefronts that were empty than filled, people thought she was crazy.

She more than proved them wrong, patiently waiting out the revitalization of the area, and in the process creating a stylish restaurant showcasing regional specialties. It’s such a draw that the likes of the Warriors coaching staff and its mega-star Kevin Durant dine there regularly.

“It was a struggle at first,” Dominguez recounts. “I was doing small plates. People were asking where are the chips like at Chevy’s. One person even thought we were doing Indian food. But I didn’t give up. I wanted to transport people to other regions of Mexico. Now, people come here to eat and say only their grandmother used to make food like this.”

The restaurant has two dining rooms, including this one right near the bar.

The restaurant has two dining rooms, including this one right near the bar.

Bold art on the walls.

Bold art on the walls.

Recently, I had a chance to take a taste for myself when my friend Ben, who blogs at FocusSnapEat, and I enjoyed dinner here. I paid our tab at the end.

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Juhu Beach Club’s Desi Jacks

Sweet, savory, and spicy -- these aren't your childhood Cracker Jacks by any stretch.

Sweet, savory, and spicy — these aren’t your childhood Cracker Jacks by any stretch.

 

Juhu Beach Club in Oakland may be shuttered now, but its spirit lives on in “The Juhu Beach Club Cookbook”
(Running Press) by Preeti Mistry with East Bay food writer Sarah Henry, of which I received a review copy.

Mistry has vowed that Juhu Beach Club, which she ran with her business partner and wife Ann Nadeau, will rise again in some form, though details are scarce at the moment.

In any event, you can still enjoy her cooking at her very fun Navi in Emeryville with its unique pizzas, toasts and cocktails.

Born in London and raised in suburban Ohio, Mistry, a former “Top Chef” contestant, is an inventive, inspired cook who is adept at remastering comfort food with bold Indian flavors and flair. On her trips to her ancestral country of India, she fell in love with street food. There’s a playfulness in her food that reflects that.

JuhuBeachClubbook

That’s evident in recipes such as “Shrimp Po’Bhai,” “JBC Fried Chicken & Doswaffle,” “Chai-Spiced Bacon,” and “Bloody Meera.”

Take her “Desi Jacks.” This revved up version of caramel corn is featured at Navi. It’s even free during the daily Happy Hour, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

This is a snack that’s sure to get the party started.

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