Cafe Ohlone had to close its doors last summer during the pandemic, but it’s found a new location on the UC Berkeley campus.
If you’ve spent time in Berkeley, you might be familiar with Cafe Ohlone, a popular restaurant which previously served out of a location on Bancroft Way. This is the only Ohlone restaurant in the world, creating gorgeous dishes from ingredients indigenous to the Bay Area. Owners Vincent Medina (Chochenyo Ohlone) and Louis Trevino (Rumsen Ohlone) will officially reopen the beloved restaurant on the patio of UC Berkeley’s Hearst Museum of Anthropology in November 2021.
The menu items will likely be similar to those served at their Bancroft location, including tan oak acorn bisque; Ohlone salad with blackberries, huckleberry, hazelnuts, and edible flowers; venison and gathered mushroom stew; dandelion soup; crispy duck breast; and much more. Drinks include rose hip tea, elderberry cider, and housemade elderflower soda. Not only is the food delicious, but it’s colorful and beautiful to look at, celebrating ingredients native to California and especially the Bay Area.
For the time being, Cafe Ohlone is offering monthly subscription boxes and Sunday Suppers. Reserve one for yourself here.
Cafe Ohlone operates under Medina and Trevino’s mak-‘amham, a cultural institution which works to revive Ohlone culture through food, language, and more. In addition to Cafe Ohlone, they offer Rumsen and Chochenyo classes, two Ohlone languages coming from the Carmel Valley and East Bay Ohlone, respectively.
Opening this new location at the Hearst Museum of Anthropology was an emotional and difficult decision for Medina and Trevino, according an interview with KQED. The museum was responsible for looting Ohlone shellmounds, removing countless cultural objects and human remains, among other things.
In more recent years, the museum has been outspoken about repatriating the remains and increasing Ohlone visibility in the community, even collaborating with Cafe Ohlone for a public discussion last month. “If we can be there to encourage greater respect of Ohlone people, then we’re going to do that,” says Medina.
Most Bay Area residents know that this land originally belonged to the indigenous Ohlone people, of which there were over 50 tribes all around the Bay Area. After the Spanish occupation and mission system seized their land and decimated their populations, much of California was parceled out as a Mexican land grant in 1856, which was later divided up following the United States’ annexation of the state. To this day Ohlone descendants continue to fight for visibility and repatriation of artifacts. Learn more about mak-‘amham and Cafe Ohlone’s work at their website.
You’ll find their new location in the courtyard of the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology, which is in the Anthropology and Art Practice building in the southeast corner of UC Berkeley’s campus.
Featured image: Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Screenshot from Google Maps