An Indigenous Supper Club Emerges

Café Ohlone in Berkeley puts traditional Ohlone food on the table for all to share.


Photo courtesy Cafe Ohlone

Several times a month, Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino decorate the back patio of University Press Books on Bancroft Way with native artwork, shells, baskets, and boughs of leaves from the bay laurel tree. They make and serve lunch or dinner with a variety of seasonal traditional dishes, all with ingredients that their Ohlone ancestors would have known.

A typical meal may include venison and mushroom stew, chia seed pudding, and wild greens dressed with berries, nuts, and edible flowers. Acorn is the traditional Ohlone staple and appears in dishes such as acorn bread, acorn soup and — if you are lucky — their killer acorn brownies. Several medicinal teas are also served, made from herbs and flowers that Medina, Trevino, and other tribe members collect from the East Bay hills. In fact, gathering the ingredients that go into their meals, down to salt from the shores of the bay, is an integral part of keeping Ohlone traditions alive.

“We come from powerful people. We opened Café Ohlone so people could learn about us from our stories and try our food, which is rooted in this area,” Medina said. “Our goal is to dispel stereotypes.”

Café Ohlone offers lunchtime tastings and evening dinners with programs, such as speakers on food sovereignty plus traditional games and songs. Consult the website or follow the cafe on @makamham on Twitter or Instagram to find out about the latest schedule.

Café Ohlone by mak-’amham, University Press Books / Musical Offering Cafe, 2430 Bancroft Way, Berkeley,

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