Tag: closed restaurants (Page 1 of 4)

Christmas Eve Dinner 2021: Moussaka Mediterranean Kitchen + Luke’s Grill

A wonderful Christmas Eve Dinner with some help from Luke’s Grill

This year, probably for the third time in two decades, I didn’t cook Christmas Eve dinner. I’m going through one of my anti-cooking spells, and the thought of making course after course of food I’d barely have time to eat before getting up to prepare the next one just wasn’t appealing. Plus, after the fiasco that was Thanksgiving Dinner, I wasn’t eager for a repeat. Moreover, with another COVID wave hitting us, we had decided that once again it would only be us having dinner.

So, I decided on take out – but what? This shouldn’t have been that hard a question, but I wanted something “special”. That meant something that we didn’t usually get for take out, something that I wouldn’t be able to make easily, something that could be eaten family style and something that would satisfy all our individual food issues. Deciding on a specific cuisine, much less a restaurant, was hard.

Ultimately, I decided upon Greek because it’s homey, it’s somewhat Christmasy and it can be served family style. We actually have two pretty good Greek restaurants in town, and rather than decide between them, we tried them both.

Items from the Zeus Platter from Luke’s Grill.

We ordered the Zeus Platter ($20) from Luke’s Grill. This appetizer combo came with Greek sausage, meatballs, tiropita, spanakopita, dolmades, tzaziki and abundant pieces of pita. Though it was a bit cold by the time we started eating it, I was quite pleased with both the sausages and the meatballs. The tiropita, phyllo dough cooked with herbed cheese, was also quite delicious, and I enjoyed the pita with the tzaziki. Unfortunately, my vegetarian daughter wasn’t in the mood for dolmades or spanakopita, so those went uneaten. NOTE: since this blog post, Luke’s Grill has closed. Nick the Greek, a chain, has opened in its place.

We got all our mains from Moussaka. I particularly enjoyed the Hunkar Beyendi or Sultan’s Favorite ($28), apparently an Ottoman specialty. The dish consists of a smoked eggplant and mozzarella puree topped with braised lamb and tomato sauce. It’s served with a rice/orzo combination. By the time I transferred it to a serving dish, the whole thing was mixed together but that’s how you are supposed to eat it anyway. It was delicious. I’m not a particular fan of eggplant, but it provided an amazing smokiness to the dish. The lamb was tender and flavorful and the whole dish just came together with homey umami. And it was just perfect for Christmas: it has too many elements for me to easily replicate and it’s too expensive for a regular take out meal, and thus provided the “specialness” I wanted from a Christmas Eve meal.


I was far more disappointed in the manti ($18), pasta filled with spiced beef and supposedly served with a garlic yogurt sauce, brown butter and fresh mint. The little dumplings were tasty, but they were very lightly sauced, and therefore way too dry to really enjoy. They quickly became monotonous. I wouldn’t order them from here again.

Two portions of the combo kebap (one kofta already eaten)

In order to get a good sampling of their offerings, we ordered the combo kebap ($29), which came with a meat skewer, a chicken skewer, a single kofte, a mixture of beef/lamb gyro meat, rice and a salad. The meat skewer was listed as a lamb skewer, but it was actually beef. It was very tender, very nicely spiced and just delicious – often times kebabs are dry, but this was not the case even when the leftovers were reheated.

The same cannot be said for the chicken kebaps. They were very tasty, but dry. Fortunately, the kofta was delicious.

Beef/lamb gyro meat

I’m totally in love with the beef/lamb gyro meat. I couldn’t tell a difference between each slice of meat, so I’m going to guess it was all lamb, but whatever it was was delicious. Also very tender and not dry, and perfectly seasoned.

Chicken shawarma

A dish of chicken shawarma ($20), also served with rice and salad, was equally delicious. Again, they seasoned it perfectly and managed to not make it dry.

Finally, I ordered a felafel wrap ($13) for my vegetarian daughter, and she was happy enough, though wouldn’t elaborate about it.

In all, it was a great meal and I’d order from here again for a special occasion meal.

Gateau Basque, perspective from above

We had two desserts, though we were too full to eat more than one that night, and then well after the meal. Early in my meal planning, when I still thought I’d actually cook Christmas Eve dinner, I had proposed making Gâteau Basque for dessert. My first trip with Mike after we got married was to Spain, where we spent several days in the Basque country. We had enjoyed an amazing gâteau basque at a restaurant in Aoiz, my great-grandparents’ hometown and the memory has lingered with Mike ever since. However, in the decades since, we’ve been unable to find a cake that matched those memories, either at a restaurant or at home. It’d been many years since our last try, so I was game to do it again.

This time I decided on a well reviewed recipe that I found on the internet. I was quite pleased with the flavor, both of the cake and the pastry filling, but I felt that the dough needed more flour – my daughter preferred the soft texture, however. In all, it was good but not as sublime as our memories of that cake in Aoiz.

I also bought a Tres Leches cake from Safeway, a favorite of all of us. I was lucky to get to eat a slice the next day.

Moussaka Mediterranean Kitchen
599 Dutton Ave, San Leandro
‭(510) 850-5020
Closed Mondays

Luke’s Grill
1509 East 14th St, San Leandro
Closed Sundays

Foodie Oakland: Awazi Kitchen

**This restaurant has closed**

Gored Gored

My daughter was home for the weekend from college and she wanted Ethiopian for dinner. I decided to give Awazi Kitchen a try because it was rather new and got great reviews on Yelp. It was fine, though not special enough to make me eager to come back.

The restaurant is located in downtown Oakland, next to what used to be Le Cheval. It has a large square room, with socially distanced tables. It was completely empty at 5 PM on a Saturday. This would be a good place to go with a crowd, as it has the space and at least at that time, you wouldn’t have to worry about sharing air with customers outside your group (I’m writing this review during the pandemic).

Their menu is pretty straightforward and serves the usual Ethiopian dishes you can get at most Ethiopian restaurants. You can order online and you can specify how you want your dishes made – I asked for two to be made mild and they complied.

Kik Alicha

We ordered the Kik Alicha (yellow split peas in a mild sauce, $13.3), the Gored Gored (beef cubes in sauce – $16.6) and the Meat Combo ($18), which included Doro Wot, Yebeg Alicha & Beef Wot. All the meals came with cooked vegetable sides and plenty of injera. I’d bought another portion of injera just in case, but it was completely unnecessary.

Both my husband and daughter were happy enough with their dishes – which tasted pretty much like you would expect. The wots were far less spicy than at other Ethiopian restaurants, however. The portions were generous and they both had leftovers.

I was less happy with my gored gored. Now, this is usually a raw meat dish, but in the menu description at Awazi Kitchen it said you could have it rare or medium-rare. I chose medium-rare but what I got was raw meat. I don’t necessarily have a problem with raw meat, but the beef cubes were too tough and chewy to be able to be eaten raw. If you are going to do a raw dish, you really need to use very tender meat – this wasn’t it. Fortunately, I was able to solve this problem by transferring the meat to a pot, adding some water and simmering it for about 10 minutes. It was pretty good then, but I would not order this dish again at Awazi Kitchen.

Awazi Kitchen
1009 Clay St
(510) 817-4155

Joan’s Bakery Cafe


Joan’s Bakery Cafe has been opened for just a few months and is already in its last legs.  It’s clear from the offerings that its owners don’t have the capital to keep it running. My bet is that it will close soon, very soon.

The space that Joan’s occupies has been having troubles for years.  It seemed fairly successful when it operated as Planet Coffee under its original owners, but a series of new owners and new names were unable to make it succeed.  I’m not exactly sure as to why, as before this latest incarnation as Joan’s Bakery, the offerings were both good and well priced.

Joan’s Bakery Cafe, however, is a mess.  First of all, it’s not a bakery.  I don’t know if it ever was, but right now all they sell are pre-packaged, dried Chinese baked items from a bakery in Oakland and old and stale bagels and doughnuts, I recognized as sold at Grocery Outlet.  They do have cafe offerings, though I cannot comment as I didn’t try any.  Though I did order a large glass of orange juice, thinking it’d be freshly squeezed (it should have been, for the $4.50 price), but it was not.

The place was empty, both of customer and of stock, and it seemed to me like the owners had run out of money and couldn’t keep with the expenses of daily operations.  Indeed, it turns out that the space is up for lease.

The food itself wasn’t bad, though grossly overpriced.  I had the lamb shawerma ($8).  The tiny sandwich came with lamb, thick slices of cucumber, tomato and sauce.  The lamb was nicely spiced, it definitely had some curry powder, but not an overwhelming amount.  However, there were no sides (not even chips) and I was nowhere close to full after eating it (the doughnut I bought for dessert must have been a week old).

Mike had the rib-eye blue cheese sandwich ($8) and it was also minute but very tasty.

The whole cafe is in charge of a young girl with limited command of English. She has to attend to customers, answer the phone and prepare and serve the food.  That means limited service even if you’re the only ones eating there.

In all, I’m sad this cafe was such a bust – but I look forward to the space being occupied by a good restaurant one day.

San Leandro Restaurant Reviews

Li Do Vietnamese Sandwiches – San Leandro – Review


You get what you pay for.  At Li Do, that’s a lot of bread and very little meat in your Vietnamese sandwiches.

It’s been a while since we got there, so I don’t quite recall what we got.  I think one of us had the grilled pork and the other the BBQ pork sandwiches ($3.50). Whatever filling was there was good, but I rather pay twice as much and have a sandwich with a filling I can taste.

They also have noodle or rice plates for about $5

We haven’t return and won’t bother to.

Li Do Vietnamese Sandwiches
1338 Fairmont Dr
San Leandro, CA
M-Sa 8 am – 6:30 pm

San Leandro Restaurant Reviews

Looney’s Southern BBQ – San Leandro – Restaurant Review

UPDATE May 2014: Looney’s has been sold.  The new owner will open a Mexican/American restaurant.

We had returned to Looney’s back in February and had a pretty good dinner. I liked my tri-tip quite a bit, Mike was enthused about his ribs, but they were good enough, and Camila was happy with her French bread pizza. We all loved being able to try all the sauces.


We love BBQ.  More to the point, we love Everett & Jones BBQ.  We want our ribs slowly smoked for hours and presented with a complex and exciting BBQ sauce.  We don’t want uniformity and we want a good value.

Looney’s can’t offer any of it.  To be fair, I think new environmental regulations do not allow for the type of commercial smokers that make E&J’s BBQ as amazing as it is.  But, well, that just means we have to drive a bit further.  We got the spare ribs at Looney’s and were pretty disappointed.  They were tough, uniform in texture – which suggests they had been boiled – and pretty tasteless.  The BBQ sauce was pretty generic, somewhat vinegary but also just blah.  For $20 for a half-rack we expected more.

In addition to BBQ and BBQ sandwiches, Looney’s offers burgers (~$10), stuffed potatoes ($6 + $2-$3.50 for toppings), steaks ($18-24), jambalaya ($15), catfish ($20)  soups and salads and pizzas.

Looney’s Southern BBQ
14680 Washington Ave
San Leandro CA
M-Th 11am-10pm
F-Sa 11am-1am
Su 8am-10pm

San Leandro Restaurant Reviews

Closed restaurants

A’s Cafe – San Leandro – Breakfast Review


A’s Cafe opened where Blossom and several other Chinese restaurants used to be.  It’s still a Chinese restaurant for lunch (I think it’s closed for dinner), but they now serve American breakfast.  That’s what we went for a few weeks ago.  My family left satisfied, I was less than impressed.

Let’s be honest here, if what you want is plain breakfast food – plain pancakes, omelets or eggs, and hashbrowns, A’s Cafe won’t disappoint.  They do the basics well but that’s all they do, the basics.

If you want something more in your pancakes – some blueberries? chocolate chips? bananas? -, a crepe or some other fancy breakfast concoction, then A’s Cafe is not for you.

So it’s not the place for me.

We all had some combination of pancakes, eggs and breakfast meats. They were fine, not exciting. I had a hot chocolate, same thing.  I wouldn’t go back because if I go out for breakfast, I want something special, but I’m sure the rest of my family would.

A’s Cafe
14807 E 14th St
San Leandro, CA
(510) 816-1187

M-Su 6:30 AM – 3 PM

San Leandro Restaurant Reviews

Padi Restaurant Review – San Leandro


Jan 2014 Update

We returned to Padi tonight with a group of San Leandro friends, including a couple who’d spent months traveling around Indonesia after college (and who actually remembered how to speak some Indonesian!).  While the menu is still limited, this gave us an opportunity to try some dishes we’d missed the time before.  I’m glad we did, for a couple of them ere real winners.

My favorite has to be the Mie Tek Tek Ayam (Fried Noodle w/ Chicken – $9).  The thick soft noodles resembled those in chow mein, but were coated with a sauce that had a lovely, slightly sweet flavor.  The dish was very well balanced and it was a generous portion.  I’d definitely order it again.

I only had a bite of what I believe was the Ayam Balado (Spicy Chili Chicken – $10), bone-in chicken in a heavy dark sauce, but it was delicious. It was, again, slightly sweet but with a deep flavor. I’d like to have more.  The chicken satay was once again a winner, though once again I disliked the peanut sauce, though my daughter liked it.

While it’s not on the menu, the Nasi Goreng (Chicken & shrimp fried rice – $9) was also tasty, though not more than the Chinese version.  My friends all seemed to like the eggplant dish, but I didn’t try it.  The one dish nobody thought much of was the Gado Gado (Indonesian Warm Salad w/ Peanut Sauce – $8).  I’m not surprised, as it was the same sauce that came with the satay.

Service was amazing, with two very attentive waiters who catered our every need.  The owner chef came to our table a few times, and he gave us a complimentary dessert.  My daughter loved the Ketan Hitam (Black glutinous rice pudding with coconut milk – $5) but I wasn’t as fond of it.  It wasn’t too sweet and it just didn’t do it for me. She was happy she could eat my portion.

Padi also sells some Indonesian goodies you can take with you (as well as Indonesian food items to do your own cooking), and Mike bought a container of something that looked like donut holes.  They weren’t quite that, but they were very tasty as well.

In all, it was a great dinner and I’d love to go back soon for more of those noodles!

Original Review – September 2013

I love Indonesian food so I was glad to find that Padi opened a restaurant in unincorporated San Leandro.  This restaurant is by no means perfect, and anywhere but in San Leandro it might not merit much enthusiasm, but there is such a dearth of food variety here that it is more than welcomed.

The restaurant’s main problem is its lack of ambiance.  Now,  I traveled throughout many developing countries on a $15 a day budget and I can find some nostalgia on undecorated dining rooms with formica tables and metal chairs, but only if they come together with dirt cheap food.  Padi’s prices are too high, and they should make more of an effort to spruce the place up.

Having to order at the front, rather than on the table, is also annoying.  You are crowded by the entrance, trying to quickly decide between the limited selections, which makes it less than a relaxing experience.  Given how small the place is, I don’t quite understand why they can’t take orders at the table.

The menu includes a small selection of meat and vegetarian items.  If you want to try them all, you can go for a “mini” rijstaffel for two which includes 12 items for $44.  Unfortunately, they do not serve any breads/pancakes, my favorite Indonesian items.

On the plus side, the food is pretty tasty.  The chicken satay ($10 for 6 skewers) was delicious, with a strong, sweet flavor and a nice peanut sauce.  The ayam madu, or honey grilled chicken ($12), was similar, though it didn’t come in skewers. It was somewhat sweeter and perhaps less balanced.  Both were grilled and had some blackened parts which added to the flavor.

The beef rendang ($11) was also good, though too spicy for the kids (just spicy enough for me). I felt it needed a bit more intensity, however, and this is a dish that would prove boring if it’s all you ordered.

Service was very good and pleasant.  I definitely want to return.

Padi Restaurant & Catering
16695 E 14th St
San Leandro, CA
(510) 244-7667
M, W-F 11:30 AM – 3 PM, 4 PM – 8 PM
Sa – Su 10 AM – 8 PM
Closed Tuesdays

San Leandro Restaurant Reviews

Shami Restaurant Review – San Leandro


We came upon Shami last July, 2013, while trying to have dinner at the not-yet-open Padi.  It was a positive experience, though the only one who would want to rush back is my 11-yo daughter Mika, she positively LOVED the salad there.

Shami’s menu is pretty limited, all they had when we visited were kebabs and sandwiches, in addition to a few salad and appetizers.  It calls itself a Middle Eastern restaurant, but the owners are Yemeni, as indicated by the posters on the wall and the specific seasonings in the food.  Indeed, we found most dishes to be more spicy than you’d usually find in other Arab cuisines.

I tried both the grilled chicken and the beef kebabs, both were nicely spiced and very tasty.  The chicken was a bit dry, however, and too charred in parts.  The flavors were very homey, there was little sophistication on these dishes.   The yellow rice was perfumed with cinnamon and other spices and was addictive – though a bit too spicy for my youngest daughter.  The meals came with salads, and Mika just adored it.  I can’t say what it was about it – surely the dressing – but she ate every last bit, and has been asking us to take her back since.

The only thing that didn’t prove popular was the felafel. The kids found it too spicy, and since a falafel food poisoning incident 24 years ago, I haven’t been able to eat it.

Platters are about $10, sandwiches I think were $8.

I’d recommend it for when you need a kabab fix.

Shami Restaurant
16490 E 14 St
San Leandro, CA 94578
(510) 258-0000
M-Su 11 am – 10:30 pm

San Leandro Restaurant Reviews

CreAsian – Taste of the Himalayas Restaurant Review – San Leandro


I haven’t been to dinner to the new Taste of the Himalayas restaurant, which replaces CreAsian, but I did go to its Grand Opening which included a limited free buffet.  From it, I can say that I’m glad to welcome them to San Leandro.

Taste of the Himalayas is a popular Nepali restaurant in Berkeley.  They’ve taken over the old CreAsian space, a much welcome change as far as I’m concerned.  While I liked CreAsian, it was too expensive and the menu never changed.  Alas, they seem to be wary of their new venture in San Leandro, so they are keeping some old CreAsian dishes in the menu and they are mostly concentrating in serving Indian rather than Nepali food.  I imagine that will change as they get more comfortable in San Leandro.

At the Grand Opening they had three meat curries to taste, their chicken curry (normally $14), lamb curry ($14) and the chicken nauni (not yet in the online menu).  The regular curries were OK, the flavors were good and solid, but not compelling.  However the meats themselves were spectacular, the chicken was velvety and the lamb was beyond moist and tender, without being fatty.  These taste like high quality meats.  The chicken nauni, on the other hand, was very, very good (though actually, the sauces mixed together tasted even better).  It was similar to a tikka masala, only the chicken wasn’t smokey (and was moist) and the sauce was less sweet.  Still, it was very balanced.  Taste of the Himalayas does offer a chicken tikka masala ($15), and I look forward to tasting it.

Both the plain ($3) and garlic ($4) nan were nice, though the fact that they were hot and not burned helped.

I didn’t try the vegetarian offerings, so I can’t opine, but I heard the vegetable pakora (also not in the menu) was also very good.

According to their website, they deliver with a $25 minimum order.

CreAsian – Taste of the Himalayas
1269 MacArthur Blvd.
San Leandro, CA
(510) 895-8028
M-Su 11:30am to 3:00pm, 5:00pm to 10:00pm

Four Seasons Cafe & Deli – San Leandro – Review


Four Seasons Cafe & Deli is the latest incarnation of the cafe and sandwich bar that was once Mr. Bagel and, before that, Planet Coffee.  The cafe has been remodeled a little bit and the menu has been updated.  The Middle Eastern owners, for example, have replaced the Vietnamese sandwiches with me Middle Eastern equivalents.  You can order chicken, lamb, falafel or hummus plates for $8, lamb or chicken shawarmas, falafel, chicken or turkey wraps and traditional sandwiches for about $6.  Vegetarians will have plenty to chose from, including a Mediterranean veggie sandwich that comes with fresh mozarella, Kalamata olives, spinach, tomatoes, red pepper pesto and balsamic vinaigrette on toasted focaccia.  I haven’t had it, but it sure sounds good 🙂

What I did have was the lamb shawarma.  It was good without being extraordinary.  Pretty much what you would expect a lamb shawarma to be.  The portion was pretty large, in particular considering the $6 price.  I’d have it again.

Four Seasons also offers breakfast bagel and croissant sandwiches, fresh orange and carrot juice and your basic coffeeshop drinks.  I had their coffee once and it was pretty good, but I’m not demanding coffee wise.

The new menu seems to have quite a few fans, in my last visit, the place was busier than it used to be.  The service was good and the cafe still a great place to meet up with friends – as well as have a cheap lunch in San Leandro.

Four Seasons Cafe & Deli
1423 E. 14th St.
San Leandro, CA
Free local delivery with $20 order
M-Sa 6 am – 6 pm
Su 7 am – 5 pm


« Older posts

© 2024 Marga's Food Blog

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Follow by Email