Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A First Taste of Cosecha Cafe in Old Oakland

By John Birdsall
Wed, Jul 13, 2011 at 12:20 PM

When the lunchtime sandwich crowd recedes from Ratto’s, Old Oakland can feel semi-deserted, especially on days when the summer fog makes the corner of Washington and Ninth feel as dreary as the Outer Richmond. But things are looking brighter at Swan’s Markeplace, the historic food hall beset by closures. Friday saw the launch of Cosecha Café, the sprawling food stall by Dominica Salomon Rice, and the first tenant in a planned revival of Swan’s. Cosecha (Spanish for “harvest”) serves up a farm-centric taste of Mexico from a glassed-in counter that runs nearly the length of the market’s concrete-floored central hallway.

The back wall of the former J & S Deli counter has a broad swath of shiny white subway tiles, next to a patch of wall painted the pale turquoise of Yucatan sea. There are rustic communal tables, stools, and a trio of Nelson bubble lamps.

Taco de pollo asado (right), grilled chicken taco with achiote.
  • John Birdsall
  • Taco de pollo asado (right), grilled chicken taco with achiote.

On Tuesday, Salomon Rice was turning out a couple of fantastic tacos ($3.50 each). In one, the house-made tortilla (with masa sourced from La Palma) cradled moist hunks of chicken smeared with a Yucatan-style recado glowing with achiote. In the other, thick shreds of Becker Lane pork braised carnitas-style, and with a chile-fortified sauce. Chile- and cotija cheese-sprinkled grilled corn ($4) took a street snack and gave it the Northern Cali treatment, thanks to sweet, tender, pale-yellow kernels.

Other offerings: a Capay Farm tomato and cucumber salad, pozole, a pair of tortas ahogadas (smothered sandwiches), a quesadilla, and corn tamale. Offical hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mon.-Sat.

Get in touch at, and follow me on Twitter @John_Birdsall.

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