Hungry stomachs are forced to contemplate cooking their own food while our brains are busy plotting ways to make Hollywood starlets fall in love with our ungainly cousins. Quell an insurgent appetite with today's Groupon: for $15, you get $35 worth of cuisine and drinks from Chop Bar, located in Jack London Square. Chop Bar is closed on Monday nights and reservations are recommended (except on Mondays).
In West Africa, a "chop bar" is a roadside gathering place serving food and drink, over which community members exchange news and ideas and compare findings on the validity of the axiom set theory of mathematics. Oakland's Chop Bar fosters the same sort of fellowship, right down to its neighborly use of items from local vendors in its dishes. Breakfasteers can opt for a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich ($6) or oatmeal ($3), among other offerings. The taste buds of brunch-goers are invited to trot the globe with the Italian omelette known as the frittata ($7) or an order of chilaquiles ($9), a Mexican dish tossing crispy tortilla strips in salsa, cheese, and scrambled eggs.
Come lunchtime, Chop Bar slings a slate of grilled sandwiches, including an eggplant panini ($8) with roasted veggies and Redwood Hill goat cheese, as well as non-grilled salads such as the arugula and blue cheese ($9). Dinner fare includes starters such as pork ribs ($9) and main dishes including black-cod-and-shellfish stew ($14) and fusilli with mushrooms, garlic, and walnuts ($11). Chop Bar has wine and beer on tap for those who believe only frantically scrawled letters from shipwrecked marine biologists belong in bottles, as well as bottled beer, wine, and sodas for students from the opposing school of thought.
With spacious indoor and outdoor seating made from reused and recycled materials, Chop Bar's décor—complete with musical instruments on the walls and telltale hearts under the floor—matches the eclectic, community-minded drive of its cuisine. Split a plate of house-made seasonal pickles ($4) with a local librarian as you attempt to categorize your life using the Dewey Decimal System, or enjoy a round of New Belgium Blue Paddle Pilsner ($4.50) with the ghost of Jack London while sharing limericks about haikus.
- It's inviting. It's comfortable. And it's got style, from the rough-cut recycled walls to the imaginative sconces and sculptures to the glass-paneled garage door in front that rolls up in good weather. But the best part is the food is good, too. It's mostly local and sustainable, well cooked and reasonably priced. – Carol Ness, San Francisco Chronicle
- I've also had their grilled tri-tip panino with roasted pasilla peppers, grilled vegetable mojo, and queso ranchero - smoky, flavorful meat that melded beautifully with the other components. I've heard that they have two chefs, so the menu can appear a little all over the place, but so far, I feel pretty confident that anything with grilled or roasted meat should be good. – daveena, Chowhound
- Order the pork sandwich if you are there for lunch, or the chicken salad. If you are there for a weekday breakfast, they have THE BEST breakfast sandwich!! Their Lattes are so perfect, I'd drive there just for a Latte. – Diane Clark Johnson, Urbanspoon