Cuban Delights in Oakland

Cana’s bright, colorful exterior

There’s not enough Cuban food in the Bay Area. No, this is (thankfully) not Miami with its close proximity to Cuba and, therefore, plethora of Cuban food. But I wouldn’t trade the vibrant cuisines we are swimming in for anything.

It’s with joy I speak of a new Cuban cafe, Cana, in Oakland. Pretty much a walk-up counter with one table inside plus patio seating, Cana scratches the Cuban itch with winning pastries (try a flan-like, guava tart – Pastry de Guayaba, $4.50 – or a Chocolate Ancho Chile Cookie, $2) or lunch and dinner items, like a hefty Cubano ($8.50), loaded with pork, ham, Swiss cheese, crunchy with pickle, contrasted by hot mustard.

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Chandelier over Cana’s counter

It’s satisfying, affordable food, filling a needed niche. They custom-grind beans for coffee and espresso. I ordered a classic Cafe Cubano ($2.50), robust but ultra-sweet, as tradition demands. It accompanied a read-through of one of their books on Cuba (I enjoyed one on Havana’s heyday of bar, cocktail and music culture pre-Castro).

In the other half of the space, currently papered over, they are preparing to open a parlor, or essentially a bar/lounge focused on rum & agricole cocktails, with an in-house cane press (!), cigars, their cafe menu, and live music. If it’s as good as it sounds, this will be one special cafe.