Mashed potatoes are one of the most popular dishes served during family gatherings, holidays and other special occasions. But this traditional dish prepared by boiling potatoes, then mashed to create a smooth and blended texture, isn’t just a side dish with butter and gravy. Although potatoes originated in South America thousands of years ago, consumption has spread all over the world and potatoes are now the world’s fourth largest food crop. With enormously diverse ways to prepare this ubiquitous tuberous plant, there is an equal number of distinct tastes to enjoy from more than 4,000 potato varieties. Whether it’s to sample international versions or for a fresh new recipe, the East Bay has a veritable melting pot of mashed potato techniques. The following are five unique mashed potato dishes in the East Bay.
2261 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94704
Cajun food lovers looking for a spicier version of mashed potatoes might want to visit Angeline’s Louisiana Food Kitchen in downtown Berkeley. Easily the East Bay’s most reviewed Louisiana-style restaurant, Angeline’s offers exceptionally tasty mashed sweet potatoes bursting with ginger and vanilla flavors. While most entrees come with potato salad and Creole dressing, mashed sweet potatoes are included with the mouthwatering buttermilk fried chicken or as an inexpensive side dish. Among other favorite dishes worth a try at Angeline’s Kitchen are the wild mushroom jambalaya, Angeline’s Gumbo, crawfish etouffee, Po’boy sandwiches and delicious New Orleans desserts like bread pudding, Creole pecan pie and the always tempting beignets.
2109 Cedar St.
Berkeley, CA 94709
For an exceptional alternative to traditional mashed potatoes, owner/chef Grégoire Jacquet offers a delightful crispy potato puff described as achieving “cult status” in the Bay Area. This locally owned business, with locations in Oakland and the original in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto, has been named one of the “Bay Area’s Top 9 Takeout Spots” by San Francisco Magazine. Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, the crispy potato puffs have been mentioned among the “125 Best Things to Eat” by San Francisco Magazine, in addition to one of the Top Ten favorite dishes by East Bay foodie Jonathan Kauffman and an Editor’s Pick by 7×7 Magazine. Chef Jaquet, who previously served as the executive sous chef for the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco, Boston and Puerto Rico, began his cooking career as a 14-year-old apprentice in his native France. He was also chef de cuisine for four years under master chef Jacky Robert at Amelio’s in San Francisco.
Oakland, CA 94607
For a enticing South American version of mashed potatoes, locals frequently mention La Furia Chalaca, a traditional Peruvian picanteria or eatery. Located a few blocks from the waterfront at Jack London Square, La Furia Chalaca is well known for its savory seafood dishes, such as arroz con mariscos, jalea especial and ceviche. In addition to Peruvian appetizers like empanadas and tamales, celebrated chef Maria Fiestas also offers causa, a Peruvian favorite made from cold yellow organic mashed potatoes and the classic papa rellena, a deep fried mashed potato dish stuffed with seasoned beef and lime-onion salsa. Some other tasty entrees come with other potatoes dishes, including Andean dried potatoes, golden fried potatoes and sweet potatoes.
5301 College Ave.
Oakland, CA 94618
Located in the Rockridge section of Oakland, the acclaimed Marica Restaurant specializes in Asian fusion-New American cuisine. Featured as one of Zagat’s Best Seafood Restaurants in the East Bay, customers rave about the twice-cooked Maine lobster and the seafood stew simmered in lobster cognac sauce. But another favorite dish is the mesquite-grilled filet mignon with a superb potato leek puree. Owner-chef Christopher Cheung is a well-known Bay Area restauranteur, having opened a number of other local eateries, including Christopher’s Nothing Fancy in Albany, Oakland’s Christopher’s Burger, Christopher’s Solano Cafe and Christopher’s San Francisco.
2424 Lincoln Ave.
Alameda, CA 94501
For hundreds of years, potato pancakes have been a staple for European and Middle Eastern cultures. Known as kartoffelpuffer or reibekuchen in Germany, draniki in Russia, placki ziemniaczane in Poland and a traditional food during Hanukkah, potato pancakes can be grated, grounded or mashed with sweet or salty flavorings. Alameda’s popular German restaurant Speisekammer serves a scrumptious reibekuchen with house-made apple compote as an appetizer. Additionally, a good assortment of lunch and dinner entrees come with mashed potatoes, including schweinebraten, bratwurst gegrillt and kassler vom grill with roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes and potato salad with bacon available as a side dish.
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Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.