After catering for two years, Blackberry Soul Bakery and Cafe finally settled in a brick-and-mortar building, where owner-baker Rene prepares her Southern-influenced cakes, cookies, and savory snacks for visitors. The 2004 winner of the Taste of the Bay award and a requested favorite of the 100 Chefs Can Cook United Negro College fundraiser, Rene applies plaudit-earning skills when mixing fresh butter, real vanilla beans, just-harvested wooden spoons, and a few of her grandmother's recipes to whip up delectable, tooth-ready treats. She specializes in sweet-potato pie, pound cake, oatmeal cookies, and cobblers, though the piping-hot menu also includes cakes, cupcakes, and puddings. Red velvet cake supplies means of satiation for sweet teeth, and two types of cornbread furnish the means of satiation for teeth made out of bread. The café takes custom orders for pickup or delivery, and Rene accommodates customers out and about by supplying treats at many local jazz festivals and community events.
The chefs at American Natural Food & Cafe strive to expand American palates with a menu of dishes influenced by foods from all over the Mediterranean basin. A perennial list of French-inspired Moroccan cuisine anchors an ever-changing lineup of specials drawn from many countries, allowing a menu of Mediterranean-Moroccan fusion food. For example, salads and burritos are made with fresh, organic ingredients, and couscous is prepared in the Doukkala Province method, paying homage to the chef's roots.
For those inspired to whip up their own Mediterranean dishes at home, the eatery's grocery-store section provides aspiring chefs with spices and hand-selected, naturally raised foods from around the world. The packed shelves provide a backdrop to intimate tables lit by strings of lights and candlesticks.
At Organic Soul Live in Oakland's Chinatown, conventional restaurant elements are upstaged by Elijah Joy and his flavorful, ever-changing menu of vegan food. Currently, Organic Soul Live's menu features shiitake bacon, dairy-free mac 'n' cheese, and a tofu-of-the-day, which changes daily and is made from tofu.
Cafe Madrid excites palates with a traditional lineup of Spanish deli selections alongside creative coffees and cold beverages. Embark on transatlantic flavor treks atop the menu’s roasted eggplant sandwich ($8), just the way Columbus did, or bundle a bocadillo with a choice of gourmet meats, cheeses, and zesty condiments ($7.50). Early risers can stop by on morning commutes to employ teeth in the disassembling of tomato-topped andalusian toast ($3) and pair it with a choice of coffee concoctions such as café con leche ($3) or find a tempting treat for after-work outings by sipping sangria by the glass ($6), pitcher ($13), or hollowed-out gold brick.
The bewitching bakers at James and the Giant Cupcake whip up their signature cupped cakes with impeccable ingredients, using unrefined sugars, organic ingredients, and fresh fruits from local farmers’ markets whenever possible. Choose one from a selection of rotating daily flavors; past hits have included delectable classics such as red velvet, sea-salt caramel, chocolate, and vegan carrot. Pushing the frosting-smudged envelope are heavy-hitting neophytes such as chocolate chili, french toast and maple bacon, and Guinness and Bailey's—chocolate cupcakes made with Guinness stout and topped with Bailey's Irish Cream frosting to whisk eaters back to that term they spent abroad in Dublin, reading Joyce at Trinity College and subsisting on corned-beef shamrock shakes.
Dimond Café's sandwich artists pile toppings on fresh bread, assemble salads, and enclose veggies in wraps daily, as well as jolting bodies awake by pouring them gourmet coffee. Mornings start with a selection of omelets, including the Greek omelet ($7.25) with kalamata olives, feta cheese, and peppers. Signature sandwiches such as the veggie delight ($5.50), which arrives piled high with avocado, tomatoes, cucumber, and shredded veggies, provide hearty bites that keep mouths busier than their daily recitation of all known factorials. Albacore tuna, avocado and tomatoes roll together inside the spinach shell of the tuna wrap ($7.50), and bacon, avocado, and grilled chicken rest atop a bed of romaine in the cobb salad ($7.75).