Tomate Cafe, Berkeley

We decided to find somewhere different in Berkeley for Breakfast. Tom found one on line which served steel-cut oatmeal and he sent me the details. The name looked familiar so I checked ny old notebooks. Sure enough, Tomate Cafe was there. We visited way back in March 2003. Back then I kept a breakfast journal but didn’t publish any of my reviews. It will be interesting to compare our previous visit to this one.

When we saw the outside of Tomate Cafe neither of us could recall being there before. Maybe they have moved premises since our last visit. The entrance was a bit difficult to find but we eventually found it by walking into a courtyard at the side. As soon as I stepped inside I recognized it.  Very little had change over the years.

Straight in front as you walk in, are large blackboards on the wall. Tomate Cafe is open for breakfast and lunch and their menu is extensive. Their oatmeal comes with coconut, raisins, walnuts, milk and honey ($5.75). The description sounds exactly the same as in 2003 but a big difference is the price. Then it was $3.95. Tom ordered Huevos Rancheros at $9.75. He had the same last time but, for some reason, I didn’t make a note of the price back then.

Tom had coffee as usual. It was good and he told me that several times. For refills you helped yourself. I had water, which was also help yourself. The container said is was filtered water so that was reassuring. No ice though, which is how I prefer my water anyway.

I spoke to the lady who took our order. She has been working there for nearly 8 years so she probably served us last time though but in my hazy recollection I think it was a man.

The inside of the cafe is a little stark. There were a few abstract pieces of art on the walls and a large green plant with a pink ribbon around the container on an old stove against the end wall. An array of adverts made interesting reading. All manner of things were on offer – Fiction Writing, Bakery Loft, Open Studios, Summer Sonatas, Therapeutic Massage with a Nurturing Touch, Meditation, Pop Art your Pet, Make your own Saukraut, to name but a few.

Our food was served and Tomate Cafe gets high marks for originality. Tom’s Huevos Rancheros were served on crispy tacos, covered with a spicy salsa and sprinkled feta cheese on top. It came with black beans, greens and sausages. My oatmeal came on a pretty plate in a large, deep, round bowl. The oatmeal was hidden by a topping of hot frothy milk and was sprinkled with cinnamon. The only thing missing from las time was the sprig of mint on top. It was absolutely delicious. The coconut and walnuts were just right and the hint of honey was the only sweetener needed. Tom said his food was really good and spicy.

Way back in 2003 I did not check out restrooms so have no way of knowing if there had been any changes. But I can tell you about my visit this time. I had to ask where it was, expecting I would be handed a key to an outside restroom. It was inside though, at the end of the kitchen. The restroom obviously served as a changing room for the staff as there were white shirts hanging on a rail underneath a high shelf. On the shelf were several pairs of shoes, a pair of boxer shorts and some paper plates. Near the door stood a stack of metal coat hangers. The facilities were pretty basic and the hand towel machine, which was supposed to be ‘no-touch’ did not work. It amused me to discover that the maker’s name for the machine was ‘Intuition’.

That aside, it does not detract from the fact that we would definitely come back again. The food is excellent and original.

Tomate Cafe
2265 5th St
Berkeley, California 94710
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