Tag Archives: oakland

Tacos Los Amigos – Oakland

I finally get the taco obsession

Carne Asada Tacos

I’ve eaten tacos for years, decades really. Not too many tacos, though, because I never quite got the point of them. Often, I wasn’t fond of the toppings, or the taco sauce and the tortilla-to-meat ratio never seemed to make sense to me. Plus I’m not a huge fan of corn tortillas in the first place. So, for me, it’s been all about burritos. Until a few nights ago, that is, when my daughter had a taco hankering herself and decided to drive to Tacos Los Amigos in East Oakland to get some. I asked her to bring a single beef taco and boy!, it was love at first bite. I finally get tacos.

I can’t tell you what it actually is, but the combination of beef, diced onion, cilantro and whatever else was on those tiny tortillas just did it for me. I don’think it was the sauce because when I got them again, they had a white sauce (it was a more orange one that first night). But both sauces worked. The tacos just tasted fresh and authentic (though I think I don’t know that I’ve ever eaten tacos in Mexico, my travel adventures there are limited to the Yucatan, the land of salbutes and panuchos, which are delicious, but not really tacos). I actually appreciated, for once, the flavor of the corn tortilla. They were tiny, mind you, but they were gooood.

Al Pastor Tacos

I was just as happy with the two al pastor tacos I got during my second visit (or rather, the second time I sent my daughter to get them). The slightly sweet pork was tasty and went very well with the other standard toppings. I might have even liked them more than the carne asada ones.

There are several problems with Los Amigos, however. One is that as it’s located in East Oakland, I don’t feel very safe sending my teen daughter to get me some (though she does), plus the truck is not really close to my house. Second, they are not cheap – at around $3.50 for pretty small tacos (think 4 tacos for a normal dinner). Third, Los Amigos seems to have eclectic hours – they weren’t there last Sunday evening when I sent my daughter to get more tacos (but they were Monday night). But the biggest problem is that I’ve been left wanting more tacos now.

Los Amigos Taco Truck
5401 International Blvd
Oakland, CA
(510) 379-0846
Uncertain hours

Plank is a Fun & Relaxing Place for a Weekend Lunch

Review of the Jack London Sq restaurant in Oakland

For the third day of my Birthday Week Extravaganza (TM) I decided to go shopping at Cost Plus and then grab lunch somewhere in Jack London Sq. We came across Plank and it seemed like the perfect place for a relaxed and yet fun lunch. I’m happy to say it was. Indeed, I wish the place had been around (or I had known about it) when the kids were younger, as it seems like the perfect place for a family day. In addition to an outdoor bar with food and an indoor restaurant, Plank offers bowling, boche and an arcade. Alas, not my thing now that the kids are grown, so we didn’t check them out.

The outdoor patio/deck at Plank overlooks a little bit of the marina as well as Jack London Sq in general. There is a roofed area with a large bar, tables and chairs and then a larger patio with more tables/chairs/umbrellas and some sofa-height seats with coffee tables. They have music blasting – but not loud enough that you can’t talk to each other, at least from the further away tables -, there are birds visiting the nearby water fountain and it feels convivial but still relaxing. This is an informal space, as you’d expect.

You seat yourself in the patio and hope a server sees you – it happened pretty immediately for us. It doesn’t seem like they have paper menus – at least we didn’t see any – so you need to pull it out on your smart phone. You might as well do that as you wait for the server to come by. You then place your order with the server who brings you the food. Our server asked us for a credit card when we placed the order, but as my husband was taking it out he told her he would rather pay cash and she then brought the bill at the end of the meal without requiring pre-payment (it might have helped that the cash was visible in his wallet). I hope they haven’t had to implement this practice because they have too many eat-and-flee people, with an open space as that it certainly would be easy to do.

The menu is standard pub fare at pretty standard prices – what passes for low/affordable now that inflation has hit us so hard (I finally know what it means to be an old woman, shocked at the price of everything). They have burgers and sandwiches, pizzas and salads, some appetizers and a few others things. I decided on the baby back ribs ($21 half slab/$27 full slab), and given how little more a full slab is than half, I convinced Mike to share a full slab with me. They come with 3 sides, but they only have 4 to chose from (fries, sweet potato fries, tater tots and salad).

The ribs were perfectly fine, perfectly acceptable it not something to write home about. They were tender and meaty without being falling-off-the-bone (a good thing when you are eating in public), and they were pretty tasty. We enjoyed them both there and as left overs. The sides were also fine but unremarkable. I actually enjoyed the tater tots, I don’t think I’d had them in decades (I don’t remember them being something I served my kids) and as I’ve lost my taste for French fries, these were a good substitution. The sweet potato fries were on the thin side and therefore also on the dry side, but they were nicely spiced. The Caesar salad was also unremarkably good. All the sides were a really good size, plenty to share.

My daughter had the veggie burger ($17) which came with a beyond burger patty, pepperjack, baby arugula, tomatoes, grilled onions and pesto aioli in a whole wheat bun and French fries on the side.

Service was competent, but in such a loud environment it’s hard to ask for more.

In all, I’d return to Plank for lunch if I was in the area.

Plank
98 Broadway
Oakland, CA
510-817-0980
M-Th 11:30 AM - 10 PM, F-Sa 11:30 AM - 11 PM, Su 10 AM - 9 PM
Capacity limited, 21+ after 8 PM

Restaurant Review: Awazi Kitchen – Oakland

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
Oakland
(510) 817-4155
https://awazi-kitchen.business.site/

City Center Grill – Oakland – Review

We went to the City Center Grill for lunch a couple of weeks ago when we took place in an Occupy Oakland protest (as you can see, these protests do bring business to nearby eateries, we saw several cops eating around as well).  As it was in the weekend, our choices for lunch were limited.  Unfortunately, City Center Grill wasn’t a good one.

City Center Grill offers breakfast, burgers, sandwiches and salads.  We went for the cheeseburgers, $7.50 with French Fries and a small drink.  The fries were OK, but the burgers left much to be desired.  I don’t think we even finished them, even though they were pretty small for the price.  The fries were good, however.

Service (this is a place where you order at the counter) was very friendly.  Still, I wouldn’t go back.

City Center Grill

1221 Broadway, #105
Oakland, CA
510-452-3100
M – F 6:30 AM – 3:30 PM

Marga’s Restaurant Reviews

 

Zachary’s Pizza – Review

Zachary’s Pizza has, without doubt, the best pizza in the Bay Area. Indeed, probably the world. I’ve never really had pizza in Chicago (whose pizza Zachary’s tries to imitate), but I just can’t imagine how it could be any better.

Zachary’s offers two types of pizza: thin and stuffed. I have never had the thin pizza and I never will (that would seem to me to be a waste of a visit to Zachary’s), so I can’t comment about it. The stuffed pizza, however, is heavenly. What you get is more a cheese pie than a pizza. A bottom layer of dough is covered with tons of cheese (but I always order extra-cheese anyway) and toppings and then topped by another layer of dough. This whole thing is covered by stewed tomatoes. The description, however, doesn’t do justice to the result. You really need to try it to know why it rocks.

Zachary’s has two locations, one on Solano in North Berkeley and the other in Rockridge. They both have an eat-in section which are fairly nice. The walls tend to be decorated with children’s drawings of Zachary’s pizza. Getting a table is usually very hard, specially during peak eating hours. You have to be prepared to wait (or go, put your name down and stroll through the neighborhood). They don’t take reservations, but you can pre-order your pizza when you put your name down, so that it’s ready once you your table is ready.

What we usually do is get take-out (Zachary’s doesn’t deliver, it also doesn’t take credit cards, it’s a cash-only place). We live a 20-minute drive away from the closest Zachary’s (the one in Rockridge) but the pizza is still warm by the time we get it here. My favorite pizza is the plain cheese (with extra cheese), though last time we had one with Canadian bacon and pineapple that was also very yummy. Mike prefers the ones with toppings. His favorite is the Mexican chorizo, a spicy pizza with green chiles and Monterrey Jack cheese. We had both of these last Thursday night and we were all very pleased. A large pizza has 8 slices. We usually each eat two slices for dinner or one for lunch.

It usually takes 40 minutes for the pizza to be ready so order accordingly. I’ve found that the leftovers microwave well, but make sure not to overheat it. I use 2 minutes on high but I have an old microwave.

2011 Update It’s been 20 years since we started going to Zachary’s pizza (and 7 years since my review) and Zachary’s continues to make wonderful, delicious stuffed pizza. From time to time they add more varieties to their menu and prices, of course, go up.  Last night we had their Carne stuffed crust pizza ($28 for a large), which comes with Italian sausage, pepperoni, salami, chopped bacon and mozzarella. It wasn’t my favorite.  There were too many toppings, they were too salty altogether, and they didn’t let the flavor of the cheese shine through.  It was still a great pizza, but not as good as their plain cheese pizza (still my fave).  Zachary’s has added a new location in San Ramon now, which we haven’t been to. They take reservations there.

Zacchary’s Pizza
5801 College Ave.
Oakland, CA
510-655-6385
Sun-Thur: 11am-10pm
Fri-Sat : 11am-10:30
http://www.zacharys.com/

Marga’s Restaurant Reviews