Paradise Park Cafe: Welcome to the Neighborhood

There is an up and coming neighborhood in North Oakland called Paradise Park that sits on the borders of Oakland, Emeryville, and Berkeley. I am familiar with the area because I drive through it twice a week when I take my nephews to school at Oakland Military Institute. A new cafe that shares its name with the urban Paradise Park neighborhood opened up last month and I was invited to a media event to check it out.

Paradise Park Cafe serves coffee from local Equator Coffee & Teas from San Rafael. Two thumbs up for the espressos that I have been making with their coffee beans. With opening hours of 7am on weekdays, I am likely to stop by for a morning latte before work. The cafe also specializes in juices. I sampled a few options and using purely fruits and vegetables, they’ve made something vibrant and delicious.
Vegetarians and vegans have quite a few choices at Paradise Park Cafe. They offer a quinoa burger and plenty of salads. I was impressed with their homemade chickpea tofu which is the protein in their vegan wrap and an option to add to their salads. This works really well for the health conscious.
On the other hand, their grass fed burger is served on a brioche bun and topped with Vermont cheddar cheese, fried onions, and a garlic and pepper aioli. It was juicy and packed full of flavor. The French fries held its own.
My favorite item on the menu is the fried chicken sandwich. The chicken breast is marinated, grilled, and then fried in a light tapioca batter. This photogenic sandwich includes fresh carrots, radish, and kale, pickled onions, and a sriracha aioli. It also includes a side of crispy tasty French fries.  
Having a kids menu really speaks to the neighborhood. I would recommend the creamy homemade mac and cheese. For those that care, it’s also gluten free. 
For dessert you can order an ice cream burrito. Ice cream is wrapped in a flour tortilla and flash fried. I would recommend sharing this one and eating it pretty fast, otherwise you might make a hot mess.
I’m sure those in the Paradise Park neighborhood are happy and excited to find a new cafe in town. I would definitely keep an eye on Paradise Park Cafe as they plan to utilize part of their space for pop-ups.  


Popping up in Oakland: Pop Sandwich

Pop Sandwich is a one man shop creating sandwiches in the back of a convenience store in the Uptown district of Oakland. The man, Ian opened up this little business a few months ago and he’s getting rave reviews for his sandwiches especially the pork adobo sandwich. My colleague mentioned how she stumbled upon this place a couple of blocks from our workplace.
We went to pay a visit to Pop Sandwich last week and ordered a few sandwiches to examine more closely. I asked Ian how he got to making sandwiches. He worked at restaurants around the Bay Area including Range and Ame and even traveled around Asia before he decided on giving this a try.
I first tried the pork adobo sandwich which is soy and vinegar braised pork shoulder, lettuce, sambal, aioli, carrot, and crispy onion. The delicious French bread first got my attention which Ian gets fresh from a local Vietnamese bakery. On first bite I felt like I was missing some vinegar and pepper flavor that is so present in adobo. As I continued on, I got more of the adobo flavor. By the last bite, the juices appeared like the au jus in a roast beef sandwich and was so good. Here is a quote from one of my colleagues “the Adobo Pork was the best Adobo Pork Sandwich I’ve had. So good. I would go for that over most things at Stags.” (Stag’s Lunchette is an amazing sandwich shop a few doors over.)
Another sandwich we got was the curry squash which was one of the vegetarian options. It’s made of squash, tofu, coconut milk, sambal, aioli, lettuce, basil, cilantro, lime, carrot, and crispy onion. I really liked the flavor profile of the curry sandwich but felt there was something missing – maybe it was meat or fat. Vegetarians would love it.
The mahi mahi sandwich was another sandwich we tried. Filled with confit mahi loin, lettuce, tomato, brown mustard, aioli, carrots, red onion, and cornichon, this was a really hearty sandwich. I enjoyed this one a lot for its uniqueness. Every ingredient appeared important to this sandwich and was really fresh tasting.
It was fun trying the different sandwiches from Pop Sandwich. I would definitely go back to Pop Sandwich when I need to get my adobo fix. It’s great to support small business and someone’s dream.