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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Salsipuedes Brings Baja California to Oakland

Posted By on Thu, Aug 13, 2015 at 10:30 AM

click to enlarge Savory corn ice cream is topped with roasted corn, trout roe and sea grass at Salsipuedes. - ALIX WALL
  • Alix Wall
  • Savory corn ice cream is topped with roasted corn, trout roe and sea grass at Salsipuedes.

No, it’s not a Mexican restaurant. Salsipuedes, which is in soft opening mode in Oakland’s Longfellow district, features casual yet upscale food inspired by Baja California’s Ensenada by way of Japan, done with a distinctly Bay Area vibe.

Jay Porter, who with his wife Katie Mayfield, was the force behind San Diego’s now-shuttered restaurants The Linkery and El Take it Easy, moved to the Bay Area at the end of 2013, and found this space in a neighborhood Porter considered “underserved.”

The name comes from a bay in Ensenada, meaning “get out if you can,” in terms of its opportunities to swim, surf and camp. And, don’t forget to eat.

While it has taken quite some time to get the permits in order and build out the space — which used to be a salon — in the meantime, he opened Fruitvale’s The Half Orange, a beer, sausage, and burger joint that has made people take notice.

Joining him as a partner is executive chef Marcus Krauss, who left his job working at the Restaurant at Meadowood — which has three Michelin stars, by the way — to come to this as yet undiscovered part of Oakland. Another partner is Luis Abundis, of Nieves Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican artisanal ice cream shop.

The interior gives off a casual, beach-y vibe with white tiles and aqua walls. There’s one large communal table in the middle, with bar seating around the open kitchen, and more facing the street. Another counter-height table is in back. 

The menu consists of small plates, all meant to be shared. A roasted corn dish with savory corn ice cream (called nixtamal nieves), trout roe, and sea grass ($12) was not only gorgeously plated but was a complete surprise to the palate; neither of us had ever tasted anything like it before. Naturally salted tempura sea beans with kewpie mayo ($8) are so crisp that French fries should look out. An heirloom bean cioppino with Rancho Gordo cranberry beans, clams, fish, and Mendocino seaweeds ($18) didn’t have us missing the tomato for a second. And a drowned chicken torta ($13), a Japanese fried chicken sandwich garnished with kimchi and wakame and covered with katsu sauce is deliciously messy (and said chicken sandwich, tempura sea beans and a glass of draft beer are offered on Tuesday as the restaurant’s “burger and fries special” for $20).

Other dishes include a beef tongue with sea urchin, seaweed and green salsa ($18), and an octopus melt bao, with Oregon shrimp and cracklins ($15). While the restaurant doesn’t have a liquor license, there is a carefully-curated wine and beer list. Wines range from $8.50-$15 by the glass, and $32-$58 for the bottles, and all beverages are meant to be paired with the food. Salsipuedes doesn't take reservations, and somehow got its hands on the incredible, car-service-sounding phone number of 555-5555. (That's how it's listed, anyway, but don't fall for that.)

Salsipuedes, 4201 Market., Oakland.


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About The Author

Alix Wall

Alix Wall

Alix Wall is an Oakland-based freelance writer and certified natural foods chef. Her web site is


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