Lunch At Wood Tavern

Kradel: Butternut Squash Soup At The Wood Tavern
Butternut Squash Soup At The Wood Tavern

It was a day for comfort food.

While the weather report called for cloudy skies/no rain, there had been spurts of torrential rain throughout the morning. My home on wheels was still missing and my emotions were running the gamut of despondent to hopeful that things were going to work out. A friend and I were meeting up at a cafe on the corner and going on to lunch from there.

Wood Tavern sits on a lively block on the border between Berkeley and Oakland. It’s a block on College Avenue where you could easily not know where you are, or not even know that you walked from one city to the other. Surrounded by cafes, the bakery, the flower shop, a great wine shop, and a produce store, it’s both a neighborhood hangout and a destination.

With no reservation we got there early and were able to grab a table for two. Wood Tavern is spendy and meaty, and as a sometimes vegetarian sometimes vegan who doesn’t eat wheat it’s never been on my radar. I walk by it a few times a week and everyone seems to be enjoying the food, but the one thing I see through the window that makes me drool are the French Fries. My friend L. assured me there would be something else on the menu that a vegetarian might enjoy.

I was very distracted with my own whirling vortex in my brain, so L. ordered for us.

First up was a bowl of Butternut Squash Soup. It was exactly what my brain needed to be distracted from my life. I focused on the quality, texture, and flavors. Super thick and creamy, with a sprinkle of toasted almonds it was a soup meditation.

Next up, was a small cheeseboard. I’m not a fan of bleu, sheep or goat cheese, and the only one left was an aged, white, Wisconsin Cheddar. It came with roasted almonds drizzled with what looked like honey and slices of Honey Crisp apple. The combination of all three elements was an explosion of flavors in my mouth, perfectly paired, perfectly creamy, sweet and spicy.

And then of course the fries!

For just a little while the food and friendship gave me comfort and took me away from my own crazy day and put me in a food coma.

Basket of French Fries at The Wood Tavern
Basket of French Fries at The Wood Tavern

If you are visiting Oakland, this one is on my top ten list for local destination food and cocktails – it has been for a long time just on looks alone. Vegetarians will have limited choices and vegans will feel left out, but it’s a great place for getting together with friends, a lunch meeting, or an evening celebration.

The Wood Tavern
6317 College Ave
Oakland, CA 94618

Note: Usually I will not recommend a restaurant that has a television in the dining room. I walked by Wood Tavern the other evening and notice they had a tv facing the bar – special occasion? A one time thing? I do not know. But if you are like me and tvs aren’t your thing while you are out for a beautiful meal, then maybe call ahead and ask.

Tacos At Glena’s

Tofu Taco at Glena's
Tofu Taco at Glena’s

Every time I am in San Francisco my friend N. and I get together for lunch. N. was my Project Manager when I was a Quality Assurance Engineer working on a home office router project. That’s how we met. Those were the days. Busy, busy. Anyway, neither one of us is working these days, we’re still busy though, just doing other things, and both of us have pretty much given up the job search. Every couple of month’s we get together to catch up.

Today we headed off to Glena’s for tacos. Neither one of us had been here before, but I saw this place recommended by a friend on facebook a while back. I’m always up for a good taco – cheap, midlin, or even expensive, I don’t care! When we arrived the place was full of lunchers and our two choices for seats were two at the bar or two outside – and being August in San Francisco and heavy sweater weather cold, we opted for the two bar stools inside.

Cut to the chase. We had a great waitress at the bar whose name I did not get. I had one of the vegetarian options – the Tofu Taco, pictured above – and a glass of yummy fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. The grapefruit juice was made more yummy because it was served at room temperature. N. had both a Tofu Taco and a Pescado. We shared an order of chips, that came with three types of delightful salsas, and guacamole. The Tofu Tacos were made with Hodo Soy tofu – a locally made organic brand of tofu – and despite it being tofu, the taco was quite tasty. That also probably had something to do with the flavor of the hand-pressed corn tortilla that it was served on. I love it when corn tortillas by themselves are actually filled with flavor! N. said that the Pescado (fish) Taco was a bit bland. Next time I’m sure she will slather it with one of the salsas from the side of chips.

Glena’s menu offers a wide variety of cocktails, beer, and wine along with the compact menu of tacos, plates and sides. Despite me being a vegetarian, their meaty plates looked like they are delicious. The space is small and seems like a great place for a one-on-one casual meeting.

Glena’s
632 20th St,
San Francisco, CA 94107

Parking at lunchtime was difficult but not impossible.

The Golden Warrior And The Scarlet Sage

The Golden Warrior Salad at Mixt
The Golden Warrior Salad at Mixt

It’s my annual week of staying in The Mission District of San Francisco, California.

My brain wanted to head over to Mission Chinese for lunch but I wanted to make a stop at The Scarlet Sage first. It’s a nice little herb and crystal shop that sells things like incense, tarot cards, and herbal medicines, on Valencia Street where I like to pick up a souvenir or two of my annual stay in The Mission every August. Sometimes a crystal, sometimes a bar of soap.

As I was walking down the street, I passed this new place – MIXT – that took over the storefront, at 901 Valencia, that used to house the infamous La Rondalla. The last time I had been in this place, I was sitting at the bar with my friend B. and a couple of the guys from Stumbleupon having beers in the middle of the afternoon. Today, I almost didn’t want to go in, but I did.

The inside is now white and sterile and clean and well lit, and everything it never was before, and my brain was still yelling Mission Chinese, which is also situated in an old funky hole in the wall.

But my tummy was asking, rather politely, for salad.

I stepped in the door and grabbed a menu, standing off to the side while I read it. It sounded yummy. Nothing excites me more these days than a bowl full of greens and veg. Looking around, I also noticed that the salads were pretty big.

My mind was fighting me, so I decided to go over to Paxton Gate to look at their rock collection while I waited to get hungry enough to eat. When I finally did, the salad won out.

Which I’m glad for. The Golden Warrior Salad was big and delicious: baby spinach, mixt greens, cabbage, avocado, coconut chips, cucumbers, chickpeas, carrots, celery, fresh herbs, mixt seeds and topped with a raw tumeric ginger vinaigrette.

I really don’t like chains, really really don’t like them, and MIXT is a chain. I don’t know how far and wide it goes, as it looks like there are a couple in LA, but there are a number of locations around San Francisco, mostly in the Financial District. Chains these days are starting to wise up and are serving fresh delicious food that people like me will actually feel good about eating. I say if you are in the neighborhood and looking for some good clean food – this might be a really good choice.

The Scarlet Sage on Valencia Street.
The Scarlet Sage on Valencia Street.

Compost

Red Bell Pepper Compost
Red Bell Pepper Compost

I used to go to the Monday kitchen every week to volunteer my time to make lunch for the folks of Berkeley who needed it. We didn’t/don’t discriminate as to whom we serve in People’s Park in Berkeley. Anyone who is hungry can come on over at 3pm for some rice and beans and whatever veggies were donated to the kitchen.

I hadn’t been to the kitchen in a very long time, over a year maybe, but I had time on my hands this week and decided to stop by. My task was to prep the organic red bell peppers, which I did. I washed and discarded the innards in the same container so the seeds wouldn’t go down the drain. I went to dump the water when I realized that I was a tad mesmerized by the composition floating there. If you didn’t know they were red bell pepper innards, it would take a while to figure it out. Abstract almost.

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Dynamo!

Gluten/Wheat Free Chocolate Raspberry Donut!
Gluten/Wheat Free Chocolate with Raspberry Black Pepper Glaze Donut!

Every summer I spend a week in The Mission of San Francisco, housesitting. I make sure that I spend a few days of that time wandering the neighborhood, discovering who has closed their doors and who has opened them. I’ve often walked by Dynamo Donuts on 24th Street but have never had the pleasure of sampling them, for the most part, because at $3.75 a pop for the wheat-free delights they were just outside of my daily food budget.

This year though, one donut from Dynamo was my big food splurge. It was totally worth it! Very lovely cakelike chocolate donut with raspberry black pepper glaze. Their other wheat-free options (currently) are Lemon Buttermilk and Carrot Cake. They do fry the donuts in the same oil at the wheat donuts. But that didn’t bother me in any way that I could see.

Dynamo Donuts & Coffee
2760 24th Street between York Street & Hampshire
San Francisco, CA 94110
T: 415.920.1978
HOURS: Tuesday – Saturday 7am – 5pm; Sunday 9am – 4pm; CLOSED MONDAYS

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