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Best Latin Club: A devout vision of Havana in Oakland 

La Taza de Cafe

With the recent genesis of "Fuego Fridays" and "Salsa Saturdays" at Club Anton -- where you can find a bitchin' selection of local DJs and live salsa bands in the vein of Pepe y Su Orchestra -- added to an already burgeoning East Bay Latin scene, it seemed a lot of clubs were jockeying to be this year's top kahuna. After much hand-wringing, we're giving the award to La Taza de Cafe, which -- having relocated from a modest fifty-seater in Montclair to a more extravagant building on Grand Avenue -- has found that elusive middle ground between haute couture (ambient flamenco music, wrought-iron chandeliers, a forty-item wine list best described with adjectives like "creamy," "fruity," and "peppery") and worldish, self-conscious hipness (leggy bossa-nova divas, Export A cigarettes, classic gangster movies played every night with the sound off). Owner Daniel Brajkovich says he designed La Taza to look like an old Havana hotel, but it's also, unquestionably, an extension of his personality -- a mix of Cuban and Croatian roots, coupled with the inner-city grit garnered from years spent living in East Oakland and working in San Francisco's Mission District.
(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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