So it was pretty damn cold in Oakland this weekend. On Friday night, it got down to 37 degrees at one point, and I of course was caught walking down College and eating dinner outside at Filippo’s wearing a sweater, while everyone else around me was wearing heavy coats, boots, hats, and scarves.
The heating lamps kept me pretty warm for the first half of the meal (which me and my girlfriend thought was excellent, especially the polenta with maitake mushrooms – I’ve never eaten maitakes, except when I prepared them), but the temperature dropped quickly. So we took most of our pasta to go and started walking back to the car.
As we shivered down the block, I remembered that we had passed Bittersweet Cafe on our way up, and thought we should check if they were still open to get a drink to warm us up. Lucky for us, they’re open until 9pm on the weekends so we walked in and were quickly overwhelmed by the chocolate options before us.
Somehow, though I walk down College often, I’ve never been inside Bittersweet Cafe. Maybe it was because I always knew that I couldn’t help myself and would want to buy everything in sight. Well, I was right. I did want to sample pretty much everything, though I’ll pass on the chocolate bar with bacon in it (no joke).
We settled on the peanut butter hot chocolate, and the “Cuppa Cuppa,” which was basically a really yummy mocha tiramisu in an edible chocolate coffee mug. The hot chocolate easily warmed me up. Though it was sweet and a bit heavy, it also surprised me with its nuanced and somewhat smoky flavor. A customer at the table next to ours remarked that she thought it just tasted like melted peanut butter, but I couldn’t disagree more.
The Cuppa Cuppa was rich, and the differing textures of each layer were very satisfying. The smooth cream, moist chocolate cake, and crunchy dark chocolate cup kept me coming back for bite after bite.
By the end of our half hour drinking and eating in the small, crowded cafe, I felt thoroughly warmed and happy that I had not worn a heavier coat that night.
On Saturday, I indulged in another warm treat, this time after having a drink with some friends at the Missouri Lounge. This treat is one I’ve indulged in on many nights, especially when nothing else is opened at midnight or 1 a.m.
Though it’s not in Oakland (just a block shy of the border), Smokehouse has always been a part of life in Oakland for me. I’m a vegetarian, but their warm fries on a cold night or their creamy milkshakes on a warm night are hard to resist.
So depending on what time it is, whether you’re looking for something sweet or savory, and how much money you have to burn (we spent $11 at Bittersweet and $3 at Smokehouse), there’s always a place to warm up in North Oakland.