On Grand Ave., West of 580
Hello, Neighbors! Watch this space for monthly news and notes about tasty gems, handy services, art, and changes on Grand Ave., west of 580. — LZ.
Five years ago, the Adams Point neighborhood watched eagerly as Amir Asli, the new owner, and his family, transformed a shabby, closed liquor store on the corner of Grand Ave. and Park View Ter. into Bacheesos — a beautiful, yet casual restaurant with indoor and patio seating, serving healthy (mostly organic) Mediterranean dishes. On opening night, I arrived with a neighbor at 8:10 PM to find the new enterprise sold out of everything but rice. “We’re so sorry!” the servers told us latecomers. “We had no idea the response would be so great! Please come back!” And we did, many times.
The neighborhood’s anticipation had grown while Bacheesos’ opening day was delayed for several months. Amir had to negotiate with the City of Oakland for permission to provide covered patio seating surrounded by only a low wall with no gate. Amir finally won grudging consent when he told the City, “If there is a problem with homeless people here, it will be my problem. I will take care of it.” (It has never become a problem.) These days, the patio is a favorite seating area for people-watching and chatting with friends passing by, whether you are dining or just sipping Turkish coffee, Persian saffron tea, soy chai latte, or wine. (I recommend the Petite Syrah from Israel.) Both inside and outside, Amir enjoys making friends with the wide range of people enjoying Bacheesos. “Judges, police, bicyclists, healers . . . they are all in my house.” Customers respond to his friendly encouragement, “Here you talk to people and become friends.”
Bacheesos features daily luncheon buffets serving a variety of Mediterranean recipes, some standard and some invented in the kitchen, including many vegetarian dishes. Everyone may make two trips through the buffet for only $8.90 on weekdays or $10.90 on weekends. Enjoy standard Mediterranean favorites or sample unfamiliar ones. Or for lunch or dinner you may order from a menu of 35 Mediterranean dishes — as well as some American sandwiches (BLT, hamburger, ham & cheese) if someone in your party has a non-adventurous palate. The lamb is always slow-cooked, so it is never gamey. Amir’s father, a chemist, is creating flavor combinations for an all-organic juice bar with take-out service to begin next summer. “Life Juice”, a combination of beets, apples and grapes, is available now.
On Friday and Saturday evenings, there is often live entertainment. For example, on 3rd Saturdays (Feb. 15, Mar. 15) enjoy traditional belly dancers performing the candle dance and sword dance, accompanied by drummers playing Egyptian classics.
One Friday each month (Feb. 7, Mar. 7), jazz vocalist and songwriter Branice McKenzie performs from 7pm to 9 pm accompanied by a piano and base. Ms. McKenzie has performed with Harry Belafonte, Greg Hines, Roberta Flack, Hugh Masekela, Carly Simon, Peggy Lee and others. She is a vocal music educator at Oakland School for the Arts, contributing to local talent development like Vocal Rush, the a cappella ensemble whose music we have enjoyed at our Splashpad Farmers’ Market and who placed third on NBC’s Sing-Off in December.
TIP: Oakland School for the Arts will perform “Fame – The Musical” at the Scottish Rite Auditorium (1547 Lakeside Dr.) on Fri., Feb. 17, 2 pm; Sat., Feb. 15, 2 & 7 pm; and Sun. Feb. 16, 2 pm. Tickets are on sale now at www.oakarts.org
246 Grand Ave. (at Park View Ter., across from Fairyland Park) Oakland, CA 94610