Friday, July 2, 2010
A great neighborhood bar and grill
Today and tomorrow, the quarterfinals of World Cup 2010 are being played. On the West Coast, this means a game for breakfast and a game for lunch. It's a great time for football fans, but for real fans, you don't want to watch the games alone. In my neighborhood, there is no better choice than La Estrellita bar and restaurant on the corner of East 12th Street and 5th Avenue. I haven't been a "regular" at a bar or restaurant in quite a while, and I have to give mad props to the folks at La Estrellita. They have made me feel more welcome as a patron than any place I have ever visited. The restaurant is open for breakfast and the owner Jose Macias is a fan, so the TV is always on when there's a game. Being Oakland, folks of every color and from every corner of the world come in the door of any place of business that puts out the welcome mat and really means it. I had breakfast this morning with the Gosh Darned Pater Familias and my sister Karlacita!, who was on her way from her home in Monterey to a visit to Ukiah to publicize her book. We watched the Dutch beat the Brazilians, and though it breaks my heart to say it, the better team won. I had my favorite, the chorizo con huevos, Dad had the pozole and Karla the hamon con papas y huevos. The food is good, the portions are generous and the atmosphere is sweet.
I came back for the lunchtime game, still full from breakfast but willing to have some liquid nourishment, just to keep body and soul together. A bigger crowd gathered at 11:30, including my tablemates Edwin and Juliet from Kenya, who for the day would claim to be from Ghana. Ghana came tantalizingly close to winning the game at the end of overtime when a well-deserved penalty kick slammed off the upper crossbar, only to lose on penalty kicks 4-2 after the 120 minutes ended. So now it's Uruguay vs. Netherlands in a semifinal on Tuesday, a game I will miss because of work.
If you are a soccer fan in Oakland, I heartily recommend La Estrellita for the World Cup games, and if you would just like some Mexican food or a drink during a sporting event, it's also an excellent choice. For generous portions, good food and good service, it's my favorite neighborhood bar and grill in Oakland.