Category Archives: Cafes, Bakeries, Ice Cream…

Mr. Bagel Cafe – San Leandro – Review

Update Oct. 2013

Mr. Bagel is no more.  Four Seasons Cafe & Deli has taken over the space.


Mr. Bagel is the cafe that replaced Planet Coffee on East 14th in downtown San Leandro.  The small cafe offers all sorts of coffee drinks, as well as lots of bagels and bagel sandwiches, some pastries and cookies and a full menu of hot and cold sandwiches ($5 to $7).  Best of all they have Vietnamese sandwiches as well.  My friend got one a while back and it was very yummy.

In the last few weeks Mr. Bagel has become my “to go” cafe in San Leandro when I want to have a private talk with someone.  I love Zocalo, of course, but it’s impossible to go there and not run into a friend or acquaintance and have an uninterrupted conversation with any one person.  Mr. Bagel, fortunately or unfortunately, it’s pretty much empty all the time so it’s a great place to meet.  It’s also quite comfy, their coffee drinks are great (I liked their caramel latte more than Zocalo’s zahlua) and the people who run it could not be nicer.  It’s really a gem of a cafe, and I really wish more people would stop by.

I still have to try their sandwiches – and bagels! -, I’ll make a point of it next time I visit.

Mr. Bagel Café
1423 East 14th St.
San Leandro, CA
M-F 7am – 5 pm
Sa 8 am – 5 pm
Su 8 am – 3 pm

Marga’s San Leandro Restaurant Reviews


Swiss Delices bakery – Castro Valley – Review

A few weeks ago I got a $20 voucher for $10 for Swiss Delices fine bakery & pastry through  I hadn’t tried the bakery before, but it got fairly good reviews on Yelp.  After having tried a couple of their offerings, my conclusion is that it is fairly good, but overpriced.

Once I got to the bakery I realized that the voucher was only good for “morning pastries” (e.g. danishes and scones), bread and full cakes.  Neither the beautiful looking individual dessert cakes (~$4) or the cookies (75-cents) were included.  That was a pity because that’s what I was most interested in getting.  We ended up getting a dozen cookies to take with us to an event, and a small chocolate mousse cake to enjoy yourselves.  Cakes start at $28, so even with a voucher you end up paying $18 + tax for what is a relatively small cake.

I enjoyed both the cookies and the cake but I wasn’t awed by either.  The cookies (peanut butter and chocolate chip) were a bit dry, though they had a good flavor.  The same can be said about the cake, though the mousse did provide needed moisture.  It was very chocolaty, my oldest daughter enjoyed it but my youngest didn’t like it.  As good as it was, I much prefer the triple chocolate mousse cake from Safeway.

Swiss Delices uses organic flours, real sugar and free range eggs, which of course ads to the cost.  In all, I’ll go again because I have another voucher, and if I lived in Castro Valley I’d buy one of the individual desserts to try them out, but I wouldn’t otherwise go out of my way to get something there.


I returned to Swiss Delices in December just before my voucher expired (though it turns out that vouchers don’t expire in California).  I was planning to get a cake to serve with Christmas Eve dinner, but the ones they had were all around $38 and I knew they wouldn’t be worth it.  Instead, I got a bunch of morning pastries.  My favorite were the cream cheese (or was it custard?) danishes, they were very flavorful.  The cinnamon rolls were good, but a bit dry, while their bread pudding was too heavy for my taste.

If you are interested in giving them a try, you can get a $10 voucher for $5 on Valpak.  This voucher seems to cover all types of pastries.

Swiss Delices
20669 Santa Maria Ave.
Castro Valley, CA

Marga’s Restaurant Reviews

Safeway Peanut Butter Chewy cookies – Review

The Safeway in downtown San Leandro offers children a free cookie from their bakery.  This is a great strategy by Safeway, not only does it create good feeling on parents but it means that kids rae eager to actually go grocery shopping with the parents. Parents shopping with kids are more likely to buy stuff they wouldn’t otherwise.

Yesterday, my kids (and I!) got a Safeway Chewy Peanut Butter cookie and I have to say it may very well have been the most delicious cookie I’ve ever had.  As promised, it was very chewy, it almost felt like it had caramel inside (but I don’t think it did). The flavor was out of this world, not too sweet, not too peanut butterish, with a chocolate chip here and there to balance the flavor.   Even though it was so chewy it did feel a bit dry (a common problem with peanut butter cookies), so I think it’d be best eaten with a cup of milk or coffee.

These cookies retail at Safeway for $4.50 for a dozen (I think) – almost twice as much as their “regular” cookies cost (on sale). But as they’re twice as good as their regular cookies, I can’t complain. I just wish they sold them by the unit, as good as they are I can’t expect to buy a box and not eat them all (so I won’t).

I found a recipe for chewy peanut butter chocolate chip cookies at the Safeway site, I’ll try it and hope it’s the same one they are using.


Erick Schat’s Bakkerÿ – Bishop – Review

We chanced upon the Erick Schat’s Bakkerÿ after we missed the turn for our hotel in Bishop.  The building, full of knick knacks and coin-operated vibrating rides outside, intrigued us and we decided to check the bakery for breakfast the next day.  We got there around 7:30 AM and the place was already swinging, mostly with locals.  The large, but crowded, bakery offers a whole array of products: from breads, to pastries, to doughnuts, to beautifully decorated cookies to candies and even gelatto.  They have coffee drinks, sandwiches (for lunch), homemade jerky and a few tables.  In addition to their local business they also do mail order.  It’s a busy place.

We all got to chose a pastry for our breakfast.  I had a cream cheese croissant and while it wasn’t extraordinary, it was pretty good – better than the ones I get at Safeway, at least :-).  I thought Mika’s cinnamon roll was a bit dry, but it did taste like cinnamon.  Camila’s maple doughnut bar was extra-large but otherwise tasted just like your average doughnut.  Finally, Mike did enjoy his ham-egg-and-cheese croissant, the ingredients were good as was the croissant.  I had a very good mocha ($4) and the rest of them had milk.  In all, it was a good place to stop for a pastry but I wouldn’t get out of my way to come here.

On a different note, while the staff was very friendly and helpful, not all of them speak English well.  Our server couldn’t understand my husband’s request to warm up our pastries until I asked her to do so in Spanish.  Not a big deal, of course, but I thought I’d mention it.

Erick Schat’s Bakkerÿ
763 N. Main St.
Bishop, CA
(866) 323-5854


Marga’s Restaurant Reviews – Outside the Bay Area

Sabino’s Coffee – San Leandro

I have lived in San Leandro for over a decade, and yet I’d never gone to Sabino’s Cofee – even though it’s a San Leandro institution.  This is not terribly  surprising, it’s not within walking distance of my house and I do spend too much time at Zocalo as it is.  I love Zocalo, but it’s not always the best place to go when you want to have a private conversation as you are bound to run into someone you know.  So, when Aamani and I got together this morning for some girl talk, I suggested we give Sabino’s a try instead.  It was a great choice.

Sabino’s is a super small cafe on MacArthur Ave. It has a tiny sitting room around the bar area, and a simple small patio on back.  That’s where we headed on this beautiful spring morning.  We sipped our very good caramel lattes ($3.50 for a double) and relaxed and talked for a couple of hours with no disturbances at all.  It was heaven.

I will definitely be coming here again.

Sabino’s Coffee
1273 MacArthur Blvd.
San Leandro, CA
(510) 357-5282

M-F 6 AM – 7 PM

Sa-Su 6:30 AM – 6 PM

Angelina’s Pastries – San Leandro

Update: The bakery is closed, a hair salon has opened in its place.

Angelina’s Pastries opened a few weeks ago in the space previously occupied by Marita’s Sweet Potato Pie. I’m sad to see Marita’s go, but red velvet cake lovers need notdespair, Angelina’s has it too. Alas, the cakes are more expensive and smaller than those sold by Marita’s, and I haven’t yet tried them.

I did stop by Angelina’s the other day to take a look at their goodies. They mostly serve European-style pastries, the owner specializes in cakes and chocolate work. The do have some Mexican pastries and they also do cakes-to-order.

Camila and I shared a dessert that consisted of a white cake with vanilla pudding and chocolate fondant. The portion was large enough, and appropriately priced at $2.50. I thought it lacked umph, but Camila liked it. I am looking forward to trying more of their pastries, however.

Angelina’s Pastries
600 Dutton Ave, Ste C
San Leandro, CA
(510) 636-9470
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San Leandro Restaurant Reviews

Bakery Street – San Leandro – Review

I’ve lived in San Leandro for over ten years, but I first heard about Bakery Street today, when Mike mentioned he’d seen it mentioned online and had ridden by a sign saying “bakery sale”. He wanted to give it a try and I wasn’t going to say “no”. I might have as well, I’m not in the least impressed by any of the baked goods we sampled.
Bakery Street seems to be mainly a wholesaler of baked goods (cookies, bars, cakes, scones) and a maker of speciality/wedding cakes. The pictures of some of their whimsical cakes in their websites look very cute. They have a tiny store attached to their factory, apparently open only Fridays and Saturdays, where they sell packaged baked goods to the public. Some prices seem good, some not so good. For example, their Red Velvet cakes get very good reviews in and were available at Costco, but at either $8 or $12 for a very small cake, I wasn’t that eager to get one. Instead, we got a 9oz package of madelines and a 14oz package of chocolate chip cookies, for $2 each. We also got a couple of plain croissants and 2 custard croissants, each individually packaged in plastic, for $1 each.
The croissants were OK. The custard ones reminded me of cheese danishes, but with a very generous amount of custard. The croissant part wasn’t particularly flaky or tasty, but it wasn’t too bad. Not bad for $1, but not great either.
I’m used to getting Donsuemor madelines at Zocalo for 75-cents each, so I relished the prospect of getting almost a dozen for just $2 – but I guess you get what you pay for, as Bakery Street madelines just aren’t that great. They seem a bit lighter than the Donsuemor ones, perhaps less sweet, but whatever it is, there is no boom of flavor in your mouth as you get from a really great madeline. I wouldn’t bother buying them again (well, for $2, perhaps I would, but still….)
The chocolate chip cookies were worse still. They were dense and flavorless, the chocolate chips were clearly low quality (you could barely taste any chocolate) and the various hydrogenated vegetable oils in the cookies did not help the crumbly texture. But the problem was the flavor, it was just not there. I would not buy them again.
In all, I’m not impressed.
Bakery Street Inc
1465 Factor Avenue
San Leandro, CA
(510) 357-8880
San Leandro Restaurant Reviews
Bay Area Restaurant Reviews

No more Red Velvet Cake for San Leandro

I am sad to inform that Marita’s Sweet Potato Pie Co. has closed its San Leandro location @ Bancroft and Dutton. According to their website, they still have a location in Richmond’s Hilltop Mall. This happened just months after they expanded into the old Cornerstone Cafe location in the corner. While I wasn’t a regular customer @ Marita’s, I really did enjoy their cakes and I had the red velvet cake for my birthday often. I hope The Golden Tea Garden in Hayward will still serve their red velvet cake, I’ll report next time I visit.
A new bakery, Angelina’s Pastries will be opening in the original Marita’s space on Bancroft. I’m told that it’s a venture by the people who own the building, but I know nothing else about it. Stay tuned.
I am also told that Mae’s Southern Comfort will move from its Victoria circle location to the Cornerstone location in the corner. I haven’t seen anything to indicate that, and I have my doubts as to whether Mae’s is actually a functioning restaurant as it never seems to be open (I think they open at 1 PM and close at 7 PM, I guess they cater to afternoon eaters exclusively), but they have a bunch of reviews in Yelp, so apparently some people do manage to get food here. If they do open, I will give them a try.

Samovar Tea Lounge – San Francisco – Review

My friends Charlotte and Vienna and I try to go out to tea once a month or so. We’ve been doing this for years, so by now we’ve visited most of the tea houses in San Francisco and the western part of the East Bay. However, Vienna had not been able to come with us when we visited Samovar a few years ago, so it was time for a re-visit. We chose the Yerba Buena location as it’s the most convenient to BART and headed there last Sunday.
The Yerba Buena Samovar location is quite nice. It features a small tea room, stylish and modern and a terrace overlooking the main grounds. It was a bit chilly on Sunday so we had tea inside.
Samovar offers a relatively small, but varied, assortment of teas, and a variety of food items. It’s expensive – plan to spend $20 (plus tax & tip) for a pot of tea and some goodies. Probably the best deals are the set teas (English, Moroccan, Russian & Indian, I think) which include a pot of tea and sweet & savory offerings for about $19. Both Vienna and I had the English Breakfast tea while Lotty went for the Moroccan.
The tea comes in a smallish (2-mug size) wide glass pitcher – it looks relatively nice but it lets the tea cool very quickly, not really what you want for your tea. The cups are little mugs with no handles, cute enough but a bit too small for me. Milk and brown sugar are available. I found the English Breakfast tea to be perfectly fine, no complaints (other than the temperature).
The service came with a huge quiche (mushroom or salmon), a smallish cherry oat scone with Devonshire cream & jam, a few greens with a vinaigrette and a few slices of fruit. I always thought I wouldn’t like quiche given that I don’t really like eggs (though I love flan), but this time I thought I’d give it a try. I’m glad I did because it was delicious – smooth and flavorful and not eggy at all 🙂 The scone was pretty good as well. I cannot complain about the quantity of the food 🙂
Service was very friendly – we stayed late as the place was filling up and at no point we were made to feel we should leave.
In all it was a very nice, if expensive, experience:
Samovar Tea Lounge
730 Howard Street
(above the waterfall in Yerba Buena Gardens)
San Francisco, CA
(415) 227-9400
Su – W 10am – 8 pm
Th – Sa 10am – 9 pm
Marga’s Tea Room Reviews
samovar yerba buena gardens tea room

A nice deed @ Starbucks

starbucks.jpgYesterday we drove back to San Leandro from Vancouver, WA – a trip that took us 11 1/2 hours, including a couple of stops. One of such stops was at the Starbucks in Red Bluff (it must be the one on Main Street, by I-5). I was very sleepy, having woken up at 3 AM the previous night (for no good reason) and was in need of some caffeine. It was 3 hours after lunch and the kids wanted a treat. I figured that we would stop for dinner in an hour or so. Mika was pretty insistent that I buy her something to eat, but I really didn’t want to spend the money (those pastries at Starbucks are not cheap) and I told her so several times. Well, it seems that the barista overheard me and she told me, after I placed my order, that they were sampling their marble cake and offered me slices for the whole family! I didn’t quite understand her when she made the offer, I thought she was offering a sample of a new drink, so I accepted happily. I could not believe when she gave me the cake slices!
I’m taken aback by her kindness. I imagine she assumed that we didn’t have the money for the treats (not a bad assumption in this hard economic times) and she felt compassion. What a wonderful thing! I hope she didn’t have to pay for the pastries (it was already 5, I assume that they discard the pastries they don’t sell each day) and that she’s allowed to do that by Starbucks. In any case, I’m going to write to Starbucks and thank them.