The Mixing Bowl

I’ve recently spent some time in my old old hood of Temescal, so my next few posts will focus on the short stretch of Telegraph between 51st and 40th…

First up – The Mixing Bowl. Located on the same block as Betty’s Bakesale, Doña Tomás, and Pizzaiolo, this little gourmet cafe seems more in line with its upscale neighbors than its predecessor the Temescal Café.

mixing bowl temescal, mixing bowl cafe, mixing bowl oakland

I remember when the Temescal Cafe first opened… I lived just around the corner on Clarke at 49th. The only restaurant on the block was the Ethiopian Asmara, which is still there and celebrating their 25 year anniversary in just a couple of weeks.  G&G Hardware was still selling anything and everything hardware and houseware related… it was one of those old school hardware stores that carried all kinds of stuff, like kitchen appliances, bakeware, country mailboxes, and more.  Next door was a small fresh produce market, which was actually a wonderful thing to have in a walkable neighborhood like Temescal.  I can’t remember what else, but what I do remember, is there was nowhere walkable to grab a quick cup o’ joe.  The Temescal Café was going to be our salvation.

Or not. I tried tried tried to love the new cafe. But there were just too many funky things about it.  Their prices were certainly good, but the food was just ok, the art and decor a bit haphazard, and their service extremely inconsistent.  But enough about the old…

The Mixing Bowl opened a couple of years ago and though I no longer lived in Temescal, a friend did.  She groaned about the opening, complaining about the lack of wi-fi and how it just wasn’t the type of cafe she and her community wanted.  I had to disagree… I told her if she and her friends wanted an internet cafe, then they should open one.  The owners of The Mixing Bowl had a different agenda in mind, which I fully supported… food.

The team behind The Mixing Bowl, Grace Lee and Armando Koghan, are foodies. They care about food… the quality, the deliciousness, and ultimately the actual experience of eating it, which is why they opted for a wi-fi free zone, wanting to discourage a room full of people with attention solely glued to laptops. My friend found this maddening… I found it refreshing.

Grace Lee, temescal cafes

What’s also refreshing is their menu… it’s yummy California cafe fare to be sure – organic, local, sustainable – but with a strong Asian influence and some really interesting combinations. I particularly love their salads (Watermelon with pickled rind, shaved feta, and shiso vinaigrette… YUM!) and a popular favorite seems to be the Soba Noodle Salad (see Yelp below).

The sandwiches are equally good and reasonably priced given the healthy portions. Next time the line for Bakesale Betty’s (which I also love dearly) extends down the block, you may just want to pop into The Mixing Bowl for their Pulled Pork Sandwich or Korean Tacos… You won’t be sorry.

More recently the cafe has added a line of homemade country goods like pickled vegetables and jams.  Though I haven’t tried any yet, I will say the presentation is beautiful, as it is with everything here (check out their light fixtures fashioned out of antique mason jars… lovely!)

I’m also quite fond of the current art installation, which may be permanent as it seems to have been up for awhile now.  It features a series of large scale B&W historical photographs of the Temescal region and community from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. It’s fascinating…

For example, we’re informed that the men above are garbage collectors setting off to ride throughout the town picking up their payments from individual property owners with whom they’ve contracted. And further, that the whole business of trash collection in the early part of the 20th century was dominated by men from the Italian American community, specifically of Genovese descent (I am assuming these Genovesians are also responsible for the wonderful Genova delicatessen, a fixture in Temescal for 80 years! – but that will have to be another post…)

shared ground, Oakland Baseball Club

The installation was made possible through the support and resources of the Oakland History Room (a program of the Oakland Public Library), Temescal historian Ray Raineri, and Shared Ground founder and Temescal community artist Jeff Norman. To learn more about Temescal history and Shared Ground’s local projects, visit SharedGround.org.

More reading…

The Mixing Bowl on Yelp

The Mixing Bowl on SFGate

The Mixing Bowl on Oakbook

One thought on “The Mixing Bowl

  1. Gene

    Thanks for the post — I’ll have to check it out next time I’m in the Temescal. I think I saw the sign before and assumed it was an herbal supplements store or a natural drug store or something.

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