Cafe Ohlone by mak-'amham
@ University Press Books/Musical Offering
2430 Bancroft Way, xučyun (Berkeley)
Bringing Ohlone small bites, Native teas, smoked meats and Indigenous food sovereignty back to Berkeley.
horše ṭuuxi makkam!
Our upcoming hours: Thursday lunches are held weather permitting
Saturday February 9, 5-7 pm, MUR: Saturday Evenings at Café Ohlone, $100,
Tuesday February 12, 5:30-6:30: tawwa-sii Tuesdays, evening tea hour; $15. no reservation necessary
Thursday February 14, 1-3 pm: Thursday Tasting, lunch tasting, $25, no reservation necessary
Saturday February 16, 5-7 pm, MUR: Saturday Evenings at Café Ohlone, $100,
Tuesday February 19, 5:30-6:30: tawwa-sii Tuesdays, evening tea hour; $15. no reservation necessary
Thursday February 21, 1-3 pm: Thursday Tasting, lunch tasting, $25, no reservation necessary
Tuesday February 26, 5:30-6:30: tawwa-sii Tuesdays, evening tea hour; $15. no reservation necessary
Thursday February 28, 1-3 pm: Thursday Tasting, lunch tasting, $25, no reservation necessary
A pre-contact, contemporary Ohlone restaurant in the middle of xučyun (Berkeley)
We're dreaming big things with a small space.
Cafe Ohlone by mak-'amham is in the terraced back patio and kitchen space of University Press Books and Musical Offering Cafe at 2430 Bancroft Ave., xučyun (Berkeley).
Imagine walking through the rushed, urban cityscape of modern Berkeley and entering University Press Books, a charming, iconic bookstore. Enjoy its book-filled corridors as you reach the back garden, where Cafe Ohlone is located. We have built a space with intentionality, one that reflects who we come from.
Walking through the door to Cafe Ohlone, you experience a celebration of Ohlone culture; Chochenyo language — the inner East Bay's first language — proudly on the menu, the aromas of Native plants flowering in abundance, rfunctional and beautiful Ohlone baskets resting on the shelves, tule mats placed in baskets for people to have a seat on the back staircase, and a reclaimed communal redwood table in homage to the old villages many of our direct ancestors come from in the redwoods of the Oakland Hills and Carmel Valley. Photographs of our family and some of the heroes of the Ohlone community are on display, and a fire pit provides traditional warmth on chilly East Bay nights. We are excited to have deep involvement from the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, the sovereign tribe of the East Bay that co-founder Vince Medina belongs to, and for the collaboration of family members and elders from co-founder Louis Trevino's Rumsen Ohlone community, allowing us to have a dynamic Ohlone-run space that reflects our Indigenous identity.
Natural ingredients that we gather of salt, Indian teas, acorns and walnuts are shown in respectful ways as reminders that our food is always sourced from our land. Strings of lights move up the banisters for nighttime dining and contemporary Indigenous music commingles with the lively conversations that are carried out at Cafe Ohlone.
And of course, we eat. Cafe Ohlone prepares small bites that will change every week based on seasonality. For example, we might have mineral-rich tender Indian greens, bubble gum-flavored early-growth shoots and Indian onions during the wet times of early Spring; juicy huckleberry, oak woodland blackberry, wild strawberry, earthy hazelnut, rusty red California buckwheat and oily chia seed dishes in Summer; and baked rich black oak acorn bread and caffeinated bay nut truffles during Fall's acorn harvest; as Winter comes, our dishes will get heavier and utilize more preserved ingredients, such as bay salt cured meats, dried summertime berries and umami-rich locally gathered chanterelles. To get a better idea of some of our dishes, please visit our menu page.
Cafe Ohlone has a wood smoker to slowly roast our traditional meat, Native meats that we treat and obtain with respect and gratitude. Some of our traditional meats that we prepare are venison, quail, salmon, elk, duck, rabbit, clams and mussels. Traditionally, our meats would be cooked for hours at a low temperature in a subterranean earth oven; while earth ovens are still used in the Ohlone community, we use a contemporary wood smoker. Sometimes we offer meat smoked in oak, manzanita or bay laurel wood that cooks slowly and fills the space with the rooted aromatic smells and flavors of Ohlone cooking.
We offer a variety of local Native teas that we gather at the start of each week — rose hip, yerba buena, hummingbird sage, artemisia, elderberry, black sage, and manzanita berry, when these plants are available. As you enjoy the space, we describe the language and the cultural uses of the teas, and our living connections to the old places where they're gathered, as well as the benefits they offer. And although coffee isn't native to the Bay Area, it's something many of our people adopted soon after it was introduced — we sometimes we serve Ohlone-style coffee, locally roasted coffee that has been infused with roasted bay nuts and piñon nuts (when available) and hand pressed walnut and hazelnut milk that has been infused with sweet and spicy East Bay gathered bay laurel.
Cafe Ohlone is a space where Ohlone culture and cuisine are respected and celebrated regularly, a place where these powerful ways can thrive. Here Ohlone people can see our culture and cuisine reflected in the public and people outside the Ohlone community can experience the richness of our traditional food while seeing the vibrancy of contemporary Ohlone identity.
Cafe Ohlone is also a place for meaningful, boundary breaking dialogue, a meeting place for protecting our sacred sites, a launching pad for gathering trips with our family and tribe, a place of dialogue about decolonization, a place where we host open mic for poetry and song in California Indian languages and organize talks from leaders in the Ohlone community about our living story. Although this is a lot, for those who want to pop in and have a cup of hummingbird sage tea and an acorn flour brownie while sitting alone and simply experiencing our cuisine — Cafe Ohlone is that place too.
We want to express our gratitude to the team at University Press Books/Musical Offering Cafe, as well as the Christensen Fund, for helping us make our vision a reality.
It's been a long time coming; we wholeheartedly understand the importance of the revival of our Ohlone foodways as we enter this new stage and see Ohlone foods coming out of memories of elders and the kitchens of tribal members and back into the world around us. We are proud to be a part of bringing back something we have been lacking for too long — our food.
We always recognize and acknowledge that it is our ancestors and our elders who guide this work and teach us how to gather, prepare and eat our Indigenous foods. We respect and give gratitude to this fact, and to their strength, dignity and power.
'ammamak 'oyyo! Let's eat, again.