I’ve made it known that I don’t really get excited by Mexican food, even though California has some of the best Mexican food in the country (probably after Texas). I’ve explained to friends that I just feel the ingredients in typical Mexican seems pretty much the same: beans, rice, tortilla, tomatoes.
So my friends often recommend I try nuevo type Mexican restaurants such as Nido Kitchen and Bar on the edge of Oakland’s Jack London Square. This quaint restaurant off I-880 is a real neighborhood gathering spot known for its farm-to-table approach to Mexican dishes.
When I visited recently with my friend Andrew for brunch, I fell in love with the funky décor even before eating any of the food. The bright colors and decorative aluminum sidings projected a vibe of an outdoor party for the young, hip crowd.
The brunch menu had some familiar huevo rancho feel to some dishes, but a few different items that also reflected seasonal ingredients, such as our special ceviche garnished with watermelon radishes. I enjoyed the fish chunks with avocado, but I did wonder why there was so much citrus juice, making the plate seem almost like a soup.
For our main dishes, Andrew tried the Entomatadas con Huevo Estrellado ($10) recommended by our friendly server, and this looked like your typical enchiladas type of dish, but the sauce had a brightness to it that I appreciated (compared to some Mexican mole that sometimes is too “earthy” in taste for me).
I had the Sopes de Chorizo y Huevo ($12), which are three tiny masa “boats” topped with the chorizo, scrambled eggs and potatoes. I thought I might like this because I do like tamales, and they’re made with the same masa. The masa boats, though, were slightly on the dry side, but I appreciated the creativity of the dish.
The Last Bite
While Nido didn’t change my mind about Mexican food, it did open my mind to how Mexican cuisine can be tasty when the chefs use fresh, quality ingredients. Co-owner Chef Silvia McCollow (who owns it with her husband, Cory) has created a welcoming spot that might redefine what you might think of Mexican food.
Rating: 2.5 out of 4 camera snaps
Nido Kitchen & Bar, 444 Oak St., Oakland. PH: 510.444.NIDO. Open lunch, Tue.–Fri., 11 a.m.–3 p.m.; dinner, Tue.–Sat., 5–9:30 p.m. (till 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday); and brunch, Sat., 11 a.m.–3 p.m., Sun., 10 a.m.–3 p.m. No reservations. Major credit cards accepted. www.nidooakland.com
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