Café Ohlone: A taste of the original, indigenous East Bay

You wouldn't know it from the outside, but tucked behind a bookstore on busy Bancroft Way in Berkeley is something very special.

Cafe Ohlone gives people a taste of the original East Bay, home of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe. Co-founder Vincent Medina says dishes are made only from ingredients that are native to the East Bay.

"Hazelnuts, acorn, venison, salmon," he says, when asked for examples. "Chia seed, many are surprised about that," he adds. "We say our food is inherently bougie because our traditional diet is so gourmet and delicious," says Medina.

The pop-up restaurant started back in 2017 as part of a larger effort to preserve the Ohlone culture. Diners call it a delicious learning experience.

"I'm originally from California and I don't know a lot about the indigenous groups," says customer Jessica Camacho. "So just to have an opportunity to learn from these groups and consume food that's different was really exciting for me." Customer Isaura Valentin says, "it reminded me of my ancestors too. What really touched me was the food. So delicious. Really good."

The experience and the food keeps the place packed, and for that, Medina is grateful. "10 years ago that would've been hard to think about people gathered over Ohlone food," he says.

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