Monday, February 18, 2013

Where to Travel: Brown Sugar Kitchen @ Oakland

The Destination: Brown Sugar Kitchen, Oakland, CA

The Vibes: A casual eatery with a welcoming ambiance

Good for: Those moments when you’re in the mood for food that’s flavorful, filling and made from local/seasonal/organic ingredients

When-To-Go: Breakfast and Lunch, everyday 

I’ll Be Back…: For the macaroni and cheese and the beignets

Before making my way up to Oakland, as a SoCal native, my knowledge about the city was pretty limited. I knew that E40 and Too Short claim it, and that it's been portrayed as a dangerous place in the media.

Luckily, I have a few friends who are from and/or have lived there, so they were able to give me an "insider's look" into the heart of Oakland when I visited for the first time. And what I discovered was a vibrantly burgeoning city with a disarmingly edgy yet attractive charm!

One place in particular that left a lasting impression on me was Brown Sugar Kitchen. Located in an industrial part of West Oakland, its exterior is unassuming: a one-story, wooden building; a rectangular sign indicating the restaurant's location; a handful of warehouses, factories and concrete buildings nearby...and its interior: a clean-cut design that's modestly welcoming and reminiscent of an updated retro diner, with hints of subdued yellows and muted greens that give it a throwback feel.

The setting serves as a great backdrop for the delicious soul food made by Executive Chef and Owner Tanya Holland and her team. The kitchen’s specialties include traditional soul food recipes that have a fresh, modernized twist to them.

For example, the Creole BBQ Shrimp pictured below has steamed basmati rice and garden-fresh baby spinach.

The dishes here also have a lot of unique character and originality. Each entrĂ©e (and I was up in everyone’s business, seeing what they ordered) has its own special appearance and most importantly, their own unique tastes. It was quite a pleasant surprise to have a dollop of "Spicy Cabbage Slaw" on my pulled BBQ Pork Sandwich, pictured below.

The beignets are seriously some of the best I’ve had in the nation. They're gigantic, moist, fluffy and sprinkled with just the right amount of confetti sugar.

The Smoked Chicken and Shrimp Gumbo is also delicious. I had some of my friend’s, and found it to be hearty and very tasty.

Also, no matter what you get – a sandwich, a bowl of gumbo or whatever else – definitely order a side of the macaroni and cheese. It’s creamy and just simply amazing.

So the next time you find yourself in the Bay area - whether that's Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley or somewhere else nearby - do yourself a favor and head to Brown Sugar Kitchen. I guarantee you'll leave immensely satisfied.

See you there soon!

For more information:

With Executive Chef and Owner Tanya Holland (2nd from the right)

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