Oakland ROAR - Mabel's Table
Oakland ROAR 2014
Mabel's Table

Seniors enjoy dining out, but where are the suitable eateries? A two-member team of ROAR will select the restaurants for assessment. Our preferred reference source is Oakland Magazine’s Best of the Year 2014 Food & Drink Guide. The ROAR team will personally savor menu items at each site selected. Criteria used to include restaurants in our Dining Out review include:

  • Menus suitable for seniors 60 – 85+

  • Noise level and wheelchair accessibility

  • Price ranges (ROAR’s)  $$, $$$, $$$$
    (under $19, $20-35, $40+, respectively)




1800 Madison Street
Oakland, CA  94612
(510) 903-3600


Located in The Lake Merritt, The Terrace Room restaurant is an all-time favorite of seniors who recall dancing and dining here.  The Hotel,  originally designed in the Mediterranean Art Deco style as an apartment-hotel, was meticulously restored in the 90’s and now serves as an Independent Senior Living home.

The Terrace Room Restaurant is open to the public for food and happy hour until 10pm. Complimentary Mimosa beverage with lunch entrées. Live entertain-ment and special events are part of the dinner scene. A good venue for parties and weddings, a breathtaking  view of Lake Merritt.

ROAR  recommends:    

Weekend Brunches

Saturday    10:00am – 1:30pm     
Sunday      10:00am – 2:45pm

  • Live entertainment by local musicians
  • Prices $$ - $$$
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Noise level:  comfortable for conversation


1900 Telegraph Avenue
Oakland, CA   94612
(510) 286-0100

Flora is an upscale restaurant & bar that caters to the young business lunch crowd on week days. Arrival before noon, the ROAR team was quickly escorted to a table for two, next to the Telegraph Avenue window scene. Before our food arrived, the restaurant quickly filled up, lines outside.

 A simple one-page menu, with   each menu item and  ingredients allotted a single line. No surprises for anyone with dietary constraints!

The ROAR twosome selected a starter salad suitable for omnivores, ingredients:

  • mixed gourmet greens with fruit-flavored  dressing,
  • topped with strips of prosciutto, parmesan cheese,
  • nuts, and a ring of  soft, sweet, fresh figs. Yummy!

Another split-order for two would have satisfied our appetite for more of this delightful salad. Instead, we opted to relinquish our table for the waiting crowd. We will definitely come back for a more substantial meal.

ROAR  commends FLORA for its partnership with West Oakland Woods Farm (www.wowfarm.biz) to supply fresh herbs, vegetables and flowers for its restaurant. WOW provides paid internships for East Bay teenagers to learn firsthand how to till the land, run a business.

ROAR  highly recommends FLORA’s:

  • Menus change daily to reflect fresh ingredients

  • Practices Water Conservation by serving on request in smaller glasses,  refills

  • Lunch & dinners daily, brunch on weekends

  • prices:   $$ - $$$
  • noise level:  tolerable, comfortable for table talk
  • menu:  senior-friendly, healthy choices for everyone


 evolution of its unique
Historically, there’s a lot more to the city than its food.
NEW ORLEANSImmigration & Cuisine


Cajuns are descendants of Arcadians who emigrated from southern France to Nova Scotia, then migrated to New Orleans in the 1700’s.
  • Produce and meat were harvested from earth and sea, fresh from source to table.
  • Staples were lard, rice, cornmeal; seasonings of filé, bay leaves, cayenne pepper. Sweet potato pecan pie followed savory gumbo or jambalaya meals.
  • Cuisine is derived from persons of mixed European  and negro ancestry who spoke a creole dialect;  culturally related to Portuguese & Spanish who colonized the gulf states.
  • Tomatoes, onions, peppers and spicy hot sauces dominate the cuisine.
  • Not all southern food is soul food. It evolved when Afro-Americans reclaimed their cultural legacy in the 1960’s.
  • Soul Food is basic, down-home cooking, with roots in the rural south.
  • Staples are greens, beans, cornmeal.
*Best in Southern Cooking/Soul Food
*Best in Spirits Collection
2295  Broadway at  23rd Street
Oakland, CA  94612
(510) 834-1000

    The great regional cuisine of New Orleans, Louisiana, awaits the first-time and repeat diner. The menu also caters to those with dietary constraints. Extensive selections to suit every taste at PICAN.

      Treatment of raw materials is unique. Mary’s Free Range Chicken is delivered fresh and immediately refrigerated at flowing air temperatures set just above freezing. After a period of brining – to extract excess moisture from the skin – it appears as an entrée, Gospel Bird Fried Chicken, with a thin, crisp skin. All manner of dips, salad dressings and spices also challenge taste buds.

     R O A R  reporters  enjoyed a salad lunch at their first visit. Bobbie’s selection was Heirloom Tomato Salad with quinoa (high protein grain), plums, gorgonzola, pecans with a smoked lemon dressing.  Mabel’s choice was a Tex Mex Chopped Salad with crisp tortilla strips, pulled chicken, black eye peas, charred summer corn and BBQ aioli.  Seasonings were not overpowering and portions generous.

    The Yam Crisps & Buttermilk-Chipotle Dip appetizer was sprinkled with a not-too-spicy mix, buttermilk tamed the chipotle dip. A very generous basket for $5.
R O A R  highly recommends:  lunch, dinner or brunch
  • Authentic southern New Orleans food,
  • Very fresh ingredients, quality presentation
prices: $$$ -$$$$   
noise level:  comfortable for table talk, high ceilings
senior-friendly:  wheel chair accessible 
hours:  M – F  11:30am – 9:00pm
Sat/Sun brunch  10:30am; dinner until 9:00pm

9/14 - mabel




Bobbie and Mabel with owner Michael LeBlanc
For the post-holiday season, it’s time to consider
restaurants that are 
easy on your pocket book and
still provide a healthy and palate-pleasing meal.

#1  choice is The TERRACE ROOM at the Lake Merritt;
#2  is FLORA, an upscale restaurant recently cited as a 
      source of comfort food  in KQED’s Check, Please;
#3  is LUKA’S TAP ROOM for lunch only - great salads, sandwich                 plates and other lunch-size fare.


at The Lake Merritt
1800 Madison Street
Oakland, CA  94612
(510) 903-3600

      Meticulously restored in the 1990’s, The Lake Merritt now serves as an Independent Senior Living Home.

     The Terrace Room has always been a public facility with dining, music and dancing. However, this past year the focus is on fine dining, with a new chef and quality creations from the staff. The majority of menu items are
     made in-house using the freshest   ingredients. We
     make our own sausage, focaccia, flatbread & pastas.
     Our salad dressings are homemade, as well as our  
     sauces and spreads. It is Important to us for you to
     have  a meal you can feel good about!
     And for your dining pleasure, a breathtaking view of LAKE MERRITT through the Terrace Room’s expansive windows!  An invitation to linger a while.

ROAR highly recommends:  
      Weekend Brunch:
            Saturday  10:00am – 1:30pm
            Sunday     10:00am – 2:45pm
      Lunch: bottomless mimosa with entrées
      Dinner & Happy Hour from 5:00pm – 10:00pm
      LIVE MUSIC during dinner & brunch
Prices: $$ - $$$
Noise level: comfortable
Wheel chair accessible

1/12/15  mabel
1900 Telegraph Avenue
Oakland, CA  94612
(510)  286-0100

FLORA’s is an upscale eatery that caters to the young working crowd on weekdays.  For seniors, a leisurely dinner or late lunch might be less hectic.  The menu is not extensive, portion sizes are adequate. Wine or cocktails.

     A guest on KQED’s Check, Please recently described her dinner as good comfort food, healthy, tasty and nicely presented. ROAR’s luncheon salad was small. Bread was served on demand. We left still hungry. This is the place to lose those extra pounds.

ROAR  highly recommends:
Prices: $$ - $$$
Menus: change daily, weight watcher, senior friendly
Noise level: tolerable


2221 Broadway at Grand
Oakland, CA  94612
(510) 451-4677

     You get the biggest BANG for your BUCK here! Never mind the well-worn furniture and tight quarters. It’s a taproom so there are at least 16 beers on tap and brasserie food to accompany.

    Try the superb salad of apple/beets/candied walnuts, Pt. Reyes goat’s cheese, tiny leaves of arugula. Split a burger and this salad with your dining partner. The bill comes to $24 (tax, tip & beverages extra).

     The dinner fare is quite impressive (check on-line). The backroom lounge is open for billiards, pinball, dancing and dinner. It is extra crowded and noisy when there are performances at the Paramount Theatre.

ROAR highly recommends:
      Hours:  11:30am – 12 midnight
Prices: $$ - $$$
Noise level: pretty high
Not wheel chair accessible


      Beef was up 24% in 2014 but a good ‘burger’ is still reasonably priced in the bay area. Prior to our journey through Oakland’s burger scene, we realized that our experience was defined by the type of restaurant we selected. Here’s the vocabulary to go with the ‘burger’.
  • FAST-FOOD industry. The fast-food concept was established by McDonald’s more than 50 years ago.  Now in South Africa, the M burger ranks second to chicken with pizza a distant third.
  • FAST-CASUAL restaurants. You start with the basic ingredients and build your own meal as you move along a counter.
  • TAPROOM & LOUNGE.  A BIG burger and huge mound of fries accompany a mug(s) of beer on- tap. Too many calories to count!
  • FIRST CLASS restaurant. The burger is an item along with pricier entrées. Premium grade beef, ordered medium-well, still allows you to savor the meat juice.
  • DESIGNER BURGERS restaurant. Newcomer to the Uptown/Downtown Districts, UMAMI best illustrates unique savories for your order.
  • TRENDSETTING BURGER JOINT.  Complete with wide selection of beer & wine, etcetera - New York City’s SHAKE SHACK. CEO uses Wall Street IPO to finance more Burger Joints in city.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
     Diners in the Uptown/Downtown CBD have many choices. The ROAR team sampled and judged burgers at several of the locals. At each we split a hamburger and salad (our favorite is Beet Salad with goat cheese, baby arugula & nuts, served at Luka’s Taproom and Umami).
-  PICÁN  for a premium American Burger
-  UMAMI  for unique blending of Japanese savories with the American burger
-  LUKA’S TAPROOM  for the traditional burger with fries

-  McDonald’s  250 calorie $1.00 burger

March 2015  mabel
2295  Broadway at 23rd
Oakland, CA  94612
(510)  834 – 1000
     The premium beef burger we enjoyed in October 2014 was listed as Nonna’s Skinny Burger. It was the best version of the American Hamburger, very lean. It has been replaced with the Bourbon Street Burger, with calories from Worcestershire-bacon jam, Cajun cheddar and fried green tomatoes.
  • price of Bourbon Street Burger:  $16.
  • ambience:  elegant dining room & service,
  • full bar;  wheel chair friendly
  • hours:  M – F  11:30am – 9:00pm;  Sat & Sun
2190  Franklin Street at 22nd                         
Oakland, CA  94612                         
(510)  899 – 8626                         
     This is the place to challenge your taste buds with a burger made with a coarse blend of beef seasoned with Umami Dust. The meat additive imparts a unique 5th taste sensation, the Umami. For the faint-of-heart, order the Throwback – two seared beef patties, white cheddar cheese. Try the Umami Caesar Salad or fries.
  • prices: Throwback $8, Umami Original $11.5, ‘Truffle’ $12, Sunny Side ‘Truffle’ Especiale $13
  • ambience:  beautiful wall murals, full bar, noise level subdued; wheel chair limitations
  • hours:  Sun - Thurs: 11:30am – 10pm; Fri - Sat: 11:30am - 11pm
2221 – Broadway at Grand
Oakland, CA  94612
(510) 451 – 4677
Enjoy a traditional BIG BURGER with lots of fries, 16 varieties of beer on-tap (see earlier review).
  • price:  Burger with fries  $14
  • hours:  11:30am – 12 midnight

The 1st meal of the day can be the best!
A cup of coffee & Donut!
An Egg McMuffin & cup of Java, yes, yes!
      What you eat for breakfast depends on the stage of the human life cycle you find yourself:
a millennial, baby boomer, active 70+ living alone or at a complete service Senior Residence.  What you eat and where you eat is a life-style experience that fluctuates with time and place.
     The old traditional American breakfast used to start with farm-fresh eggs, thick cut bacon, sour dough toast with seasonal preserves, fresh shredded hash potatoes and juice. This is a time-consuming meal, hardly for an eat & run work schedule.
      As we age our food intake diminishes. Three light meals, or, breakfast and early dinner may be adequate. 
      Your ROAR Dining Out team has sampled several breakfast venues over the past six months:

·         Buttercup Grill @ 229 Broadway & 3rd Street
          Open until past 1:00am  (510) 444 – 2976
·         Terrace Room @ 1800 Madison Street
          weekend brunch 10:00am (510) 903 -3600
·         More about brunch in next issue:
          Michael LeBlanc’s PICÁN – New Orleans style
1805 – Telegraph Avenue at 19th
Oakland, CA  94612
(510)  251 – 9400
Located next to the FOX THEATER, Rudy’s is open daily from 7:00am to 1:00am.  The Early Bird breakfast special for  $5.95 is available all day (2 farm-fresh eggs, great hash potatoes, toast).
     The OAKLAND MAGAZINE has rated Rudy’s as the Best of Oakland Diner, for 2011 - 2015. It is closed only on Christmas day. The facility is a reminder of diners in the 40’s and 50’s with counter seating and wooden bench/table booths for four or more. Beyond the Early Bird are more substantial breakfast combos. Breakfast here can be habit-forming!
ROAR highly recommends RUDY’s:
Ambiance:   authentic ‘40s diner booth on display;
                very clean facility; cheerful wait staff
                Negative = pretty high noise level
Senior friendly:  not suitable for wheel chairs
Prices:  $$ biggest bang for your $ = Early Bird Special
One location @ 14th & Jackson Street
Oakland, CA 94612
     When the family traveled cross country in 1961, the Golden Arches logo of McDonald’s always meant a pit stop for Burgers, Fries and a  Shake for 52 cents. Today, there are 100+ items on the menu – too many for fast  food service! The wait time can be dreadfully long.
      However, McDonald’s Egg McMuffin is well worth the wait.  Several variations are available:  with egg white/whole egg, sausage/ham, w/wo cheese, white bun/8 grams whole grains. Orders stop at 10:30am. However, due to its popularity, the McMuffin will be available all day only in high volume stores, starting October 6. This is truly breakfast in a bun.
ROAR recommends McDonald’s Egg McMuffin:
Low Calories: between 250 – 450
Price:  $

September 2015 mabel

Rudy's Early Bird Breakfast
(An introduction to West Africa and Senegal will enhance your first meal at BISSAP BAOBAB.)
       Senegal is a tiny sovereign state located in the westernmost point of Africa. A wide river runs inland from the Atlantic, enabling early French, British and Portuguese traders to make this a Port-of-Call.   
      The French have been in Senegal since the late 1600’s. By 1895, France had established the Overseas Territory of French West Africa. Independence was granted in 1960. The official language is French.
        Senegal continues to maintain close political, economic and cultural ties with France. Today, it is considered the most stable democracy in Africa with one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

     Senegal had only two exportable items, black eye peas and
okra, for early French traders to take to New World countries
located above the equator.
   Chili peppers and tomatoes were the first agricultural imports from South America. The bite and fire of hot chili pepper, widely used in Senegalese cuisine, may traumatize your throat! Yucca potatoes are native to the Peruvian Andes. The high fiber content makes it a healthy alternative to starchy potatoes. Of New World origin, peanuts  are now the major export.
    Widely used ingredients in West Africa cuisine include leaves from the native Baobab tree and tops from the sweet potato and pumpkin.
     Fish is the main source of protein - fresh, dried or smoked. Goat meat is widely used inland. Pork is not a menu item due to the large Muslim population (90%).

381 – 15th Street
between Franklin & Webster
Oakland, CA  94612
(510) 817-4722
     Downtown Oakland is fortunate to have an authentic Senegalese restaurant in the city’s thriving food scene. It is new and cozy during lunch, and very affordable!
     A small buffet table provides an all-you-can eat lunch for $12.  But it was the more formal lunch menu that caught the attention of three first time senior diners and a much younger Peruvian retiree.  
     The manner in which ingredients are combined is unique. Take time to study the menu. Bon appetit!
  • mixture of French, English, Senegalese words
  • choice of chicken, lamb, grilled tilapia with entrées; includes rice or couscous
  • choice of sauces – peanut, coconut curry,  lemon mustard, spicy Senegalese
  • appetizers – a hidden bargain, large servings
‚ÄčAvocat Créole: ½ avocado with spicy tuna, 
jasmine rice salad, yucca fries    $8
Tropical Salad:  Mixed green salad, feta
cheese, orange/grapefruit slices    $6
  • Afro Wraps with choice of meat and sauces
  • Yucca Fries – a healthy and tasty substitute
  • Smoothies – unique combo of fruits & veggies
R O A R  highly recommends:
Ambience: noise level subdued; unusual wall art;

Senior Friendly:  walkers during lunch okay; avoid
Friday & Saturday dinners, larger crowds
arrive for drinks and entertainment

Food:  natural, grass-fed, free-range Halal meat; a few
           organic items; sauces add unique flavors
Prices:   $$  (very reasonable for quality ingredients)

Hours:     Lunch    Mon – Fri   11:30 – 2:30pm
               Dinner  Wed – Sat   5:30 -10:00pm
               Closed Sundays


May 2015   mabel

     Uptown Oakland is blessed with another unusual restaurant, CALAVERA (Kala’bera), housed in the only warehouse structure designed by legendary architect Julia Morgan. The cuisine most likely originated from OAXACA (Wa hah’ca), the cultural and culinary capital of Mexico. This city/state is located 300 miles southwest of Mexico City.
     A rich cultural history prior to its founding in 1529, Oaxaca saw many different cultures converging into its Central Valley. Early migrants were the Zapotecs
(500BC-800AD), followed by Mixtecs, and by 1810, the
the Mestisos (mixed indigenous Europeans). Today, Oaxaca is 50% indigenous. Deeply rooted customs are reflected in kitchens where recipes from both Spain and indigenous dishes are prepared daily.
       The cuisine of Oaxaca merits listing on Unesco’s Cultural Heritage List. Important to Mexican traditional cooking is Mole Negro, a dark, rich sauce which may contain up to 30 ingredients: roasted nuts, chiles, garlic, unsweetened chocolate and sacred herbs. For Norte Americanos and Europeans there is Mole Colorado, an enchilada-like sauce!
       Another distinction for Oaxaca is the origin and major production of Mezcal, a distilled liquor from the fleshy leaf tropical Agave (Aga’vé) plant. And there is Tequila, made from  the blue Agave species. Oakland’s CALAVERA has an extensive list of cocktails, margaritas and family specials of Mezcales.
     Global travelers are also attracted to Oaxaca for its colorful festivals, best known is Día de los Muertos
(Day of the Dead) in early November. Children enjoy sweets of marzipan mini coffins and skulls of chocolate,  paper maché skeletons and clay skulls. Mild November weather is ideal for travelers to come south and enjoy food and festivities honoring the dead.
     Oakland’s new Calavera Mexican Kitchen takes its name from  kala’ßera, defined as representation of a human skull made of sugar or clay. Be sure to scan the dining room for these unique icons, on a wall, the check- in stand and elsewhere.  Buen Provencho!
Mexican Kitchen & Agave Bar
2337 Broadway
Oakland, CA  94612
(510) 338- 3273
     The tri-fold menu is a challenge to read, with or without prior Spanish language exposure. The wait staff will approach to take orders for drinks. Order one, if this is your first visit. It will calm your nerves as you decipher the menu. Be sure to inquire if your selection is chili pepper HOT (salsa mucho chiles) or mild. Mild may still be too hot!
     Good choices for the first time diner:
  • Tortillas ($3): four warm handmade nixtamal tortillas, great for dividing small tacos with oversized fillings or with a hearty bowl of Caldo Tlalpeño smoky chicken soup ($10)
  • Guacamole Verde ($9): served with the best ever purple tortilla chips; serves 3-4 adults
  • El Tacos ($4 each or three $11): order sampler of three (baby pig, organic chicken, forest mushrooms); oversized fillings
  • Tortas ($13-$14): Large sandwiches, generous portions of fillings; watch out for salsa muchos chiles – it’s HOT! … ask for salsa on-the-side
  • Ceviche de Atún ($14): line caught yellow fin tuna, lime marinade, amaranth, pecans
  • Beverages for lunch:  Single origin Vera Cruz coffee ($3); Mexican Coke ($4); diet cola comes in a miniature-sized Coca Cola style bottle
  • Lunch at Calavera ideal for sharing most items ($140+ for all above listed items for 6 adults on December 28, 2015)
  • Could not challenge anyone to try Chapulines, grasshoppers from Oaxaca ($3)
R O A R highly recommends lunch
Prices:  $$$, $$$$  (well worth culinary experience)
Food and ambiance:  outstanding
Wheel chair accessibility:  limited
Hours:  M – Th    11:00am -10:00pm
             Fri         11:00am – 11:00pm
             Sat        10:00am – 11:00pm
             Sun        10:00am – 10:00pm
December 2015 mabel