Tag Archives: Rico’s Diner

Rediscovering Downtown Oakland: Sweet Treats

20 May

With California and Oakland facing daunting budget crises, sometimes it’s necessary to step back and just enjoy life. And sometimes that’s as easy as heading downtown to grab a sweet treat.

Ice Cream at the Sweet Booth – 9th between Franklin and Webster

Last month, during the crazy heat wave, I complained on Facebook that there was nowhere to get ice cream in downtown Oakland. Within minutes, several people corrected me, telling me I had to check out the Sweet Booth in Chinatown. So the next afternoon, V Smoothe and I went down there. It’s kind of a whole in the wall, but they have a a varied selection of flavors and apparently make incredible smoothies with real fruit. I got a coconut scoop and V and I sat on a bench, enjoying our ice cream and talking about the budget (yes, we are dorks in real life too). Once the heat starts to kick in again, check this place out.

Vegan Donuts at Awaken Cafe – 14th between Broadway and Franklin

Sometimes in the afternoon, I’m dragging so I walk over to Awaken and grab a chai, and if I’m in the mood for something sweet, a vegan donut. If you’re skeptical, get over it – they’re delicious! And they’re made here in Oakland by People’s Donuts. Every flavor I’ve tasted has been great so grab whatever they have when you stop by. They are a little pricey, but they’re well worth it every once in a while.

Shakes at Rico’s Diner – 15th at Franklin

So I know I’ve covered Rico’s twice already, but there was no way I could leave Rico’s out of this category. They have the most incredible shakes, and in so many different flavors. They have all the usual flavors – chocolate, vanilla, strawberry. But my absolute favorite is the peach shake. It’s so refreshing on a warm afternoon.

Asian Pastries at Wonder Food Bakery – Webster between 9th and 10th

I’m not sure when it happened, but one day I was attempting to walk into Cam Huong and accidentally walked into the bakery next door. And I’m so glad I did because it’s become one of my favorite spots to grab a pastry. From the sesame balls, to the egg custard tarts, to their delicious cakes, everything I’ve had there has been tasty and very reasonably priced. So next time you stop into Cam Huong for a sandwich, head next door for something sweet.

Rediscovering Downtown Oakland: Sandwiches

3 Mar

cam-huongI never used to be a big sandwich fan, until I started in working in downtown Oakland. There are so many places in the DTO to get a great sandwich, and so many varieties. From Vietnamese to vegan, exotic wraps to traditional deli, there’s bound to be a sandwich in downtown Oakland that you’ll love. Here are the places I head to when I’m looking for a quick and filling lunch.

Cam Huong – Webster Street between 9th and 10th

I wrote about Cam Huong’s delicious sandwiches last year and I don’t have much to add:

If you haven’t been to Cam Huong, well, stop what you’re doing right now and go! Really, when we hire new staff at my office, this is one of the first places I take people – it’s basically part of our office orientation. The crunch and flavor of their sandwiches are incredible. And you cannot find a cheaper lunch in Oakland – $2.50 – $3.00 for a HUGE sandwich… Head on down to Chinatown and look for the line coming out the door. Don’t be too intimidated though – the line moves quickly, and it’s well worth the wait.

Big Apple Cafe – 14th Street at Franklin (main entrance on Franklin)

I’ve been going to Big Apple Cafe for years, and I’m not going to lie – the sandwiches aren’t the main reason I go there. Sure, the deli style sandwiches are yummy, filling, cheap, and made quickly, but they’re nothing amazing. The reason I keep going back is because of the great service and enjoyable staff who work there. Amazingly, after four years of going there, most of the original staff still work there. They quickly recognize regular customers and might force some free samples on you at the end of the day. So head over to Big Apple for a sandwich, and return for the excellent service.

Red Door Cafe – 14th Street between Webster and Harrison

About a year ago, the smoothie place that used to occupy this spot closed down, which made me and my coworkers very sad. But then something incredible happened. Within a few weeks of it closing, the Red Door Cafe had moved in and opened for business – I think it was the quickest restaurant opening I’ve ever witnessed in downtown Oakland. And the sweet owner/operator kept a few of the best smoothies on the menu, in honor of the previous business. But the smoothies aren’t the reason to go to the Red Door. The reason to go is for the wraps, which are all delicious, especially the falafel wrap.

The Red Door has comfortable chairs and a nice atmosphere, but the service is very slow so be ready to have a long, relaxing lunch. If you’re in a hurry, I recommend calling in and picking up your lunch. The only other downside to this place is their limited hours. They close around 2pm on weekdays and aren’t open at all on weekends.

The Breakroom Cafe – 13th at Harrison & Rico’s Diner – 15th at Franklin

Read the full reviews for The Breakroom and Rico’s at my post covering vegetarian restaurants in the DTO. Both of these places have excellent sandwiches.

Rediscovering Downtown Oakland: Vegetarian Restaurants

28 Jan

This is the second in a series about downtown Oakland. Last week, I covered Thai food in the DTO, and this week, by request, I’ll be covering vegetarian restaurants.

Being a vegetarian in Oakland is just about the easiest thing to do. Nearly every restaurant has extensive vegetarian options (except Flora, which makes me crazy), and even if they don’t, chances are that they can alter menu items to make them vegetarian. But there are only a few completely vegetarian restaurants in Oakland, and many of them happen to be downtown. Unfortunately, we just lost one – Souley Vegan – but dto510 says they’ll be back soon in a new downtown location.

Golden Lotus – Franklin at 13th

Golden Lotus is a vegetarian’s dream. They have an extensive Vietnamese menu with options including vege meat, tofu, an just about every vegetable. Though I’ve tried nearly everything on the menu over the years, the main reason I go back again and again is the chicken curry vermicelli soup. It’s perfectly spicy, filled with noodles, vege chicken, and potatoes, and is incredibly warming and filling. It is the perfect antidote to a cold. My only complaint about Golden Lotus is the slow service if you eat there, which I almost never do anymore. If you’re in a rush, order take out, as they’re extremely quick with to go orders. And if you’re looking for the best deal, show up between noon and 1:30 on a weekday to take advantage of their lunch line – you can fill up for $5-6. Another plus for Golden Lotus is that they’re one of the few places downtown that is open at night and on weekends so you can check them out anytime.

The Breakroom Cafe – 13th at Harrison

Though it’s only been open for a year and a half, the Breakroom Cafe feels like it should have always been in the DTO. It’s a very small space that’s focused primarily on serving sandwiches – they also have soup, salad, pastries, and espresso. If you can find a free table, eat there and enjoy the sun shining in through the large windows. My favorites there are the club sandwich on rye and the turkey bacon. And sometimes when I’m in the mood for something sweet, I stop in just to grab a vegan donut (made in Oakland). If you don’t work in the DTO though, you might never get to check this place out because they close at 5pm on weekdays and I’m pretty sure they’re also open for limited hours on Sundays.

New World Vegetarian – 8th between Broadway & Washington

Somehow, I haven’t been to New World Vegetarian for over a year, but that’s mostly because it’s a bit of a far walk from my office. The main thing I remember about New World though is that their menu has an incredible amount of variety – Asian, Mexican, Italian – you can find just about anything there. And somehow they pull this off, serving hight quality vegetarian food. The ambiance is also very nice, and the restaurant is big by downtown standards so you’ll always find a table. Another bonus – they’re open at night and during the weekend.

Rico’s Diner – 15th at Franklin

I know, I know – Rico’s is NOT a vegetarian restaurant by any means. But they do have an extensive, separate vegetarian menu so I’m including them here. What’s not to love about Rico’s? The service is quick and friendly, and the ambiance is exactly what it should be – the license plates covering the wall are a great touch. But there are two real reasons I go there – the vegetarian pulled pork sandwich and the milkshakes. The pulled pork sandwich is so tasty that even my omnivorous friends order it. And the milkshakes, well, where can you get a milkshake (or ice cream of any kind for that matter) in the DTO? And they have more than a dozen flavors, though the peach is by far my favorite. If you haven’t been to Rico’s, go, today. But get there before 3pm because they close and don’t reopen for dinner.

Enjoying Breakfast in the East Bay

20 Aug

I’ve been meaning for a while to write a comprehensive post about breakfast spots in the East Bay, but now I’m wondering if I still need to since I stumbled onto Breafast in the Bay. Though it covers spots around the Bay Area, it seems to be pretty heavily Oakland focused.

I really love breakfast so I’m hoping to see more posts over at Breakfast in the Bay. Specifically, I hope to see reviews of some of my favorite places to grab breakfast:

  • Venus Restaurant – it’s in Berkeley but it’s hands down my favorite breakfast spot. The food’s mostly organic and local and I love all of the staff there.
  • Rico’s Diner – my favorite place to stop before work in downtown Oakland. Simple food at great prices.
  • Somerset – I don’t go there that often for breakfast, but I always enjoy it when I go. It’s especially nice to sit outside on their large vine-shaded patio on a sunny day. It’s also just a short walk from my North Oakland home.
  • Rolling Dunes – another place I don’t frequent often enough, mostly because I’m not often near Lake Merritt in the morning.
  • Horseshoe – just opened in Temescal. I haven’t gotten a chance to try it yet but I’m hoping it’s good.

Anything else missing at Breakfast in the Bay?