The bar at Angela’s Kitchen in Alameda. Photo: Risa Nye

We heard about Angela’s Kitchen in Alameda from friends who live on the island. We were finally persuaded to make the short trip across the estuary to check it out. We have since returned twice to this friendly spot on the other side of the Park Street Bridge.

Angela’s is located on bustling Park Street and is part of a small strip mall with parking in the back. Entering Angela’s from the parking lot, you will find yourself in the bar area, called “Mari, the Bar at Angela’s,” which is separated from the dining and open kitchen areas of the restaurant by a short wall topped with frosted glass. The large room with high ceilings is pleasantly decorated in earth tones. Seating includes a few high tables for small groups.

A chalkboard announces the featured cocktail of the week, while the bar menu changes according to the season and the experimentations of Cody, the highly energetic bar manager and creator of libations. Featured cocktails on the current bar menu (all listed at $12) include the P.S.B. (vodka, pistachio, snap pea, lime and bay leaf), the Gibbons Detour (the complex and time-consuming-to-create clarified milk punch), Gingletown (a summery combination of gin and rhubarb tonic), the 510 (tequila, grapefruit, ginger, chili tincture and pink peppercorn), the Full Moon Over Nason (bourbon, amaro, banana and bitters) and the Chipster (mezcal, black butter, garlic, sage, lemon and honey). This adventurous menu takes its inspiration from chef-owners Saboor Zafari and his wife Maria, who create the seasonal Cali-Euro-Afghan dishes on Angela’s food menu and who also own and operate the market next door.

We were drawn toward trying the Dayton Dusk, made with rum, blueberry, thyme, gentian amaro, lemon acid and housemade soda. For those unfamiliar with gentian, it’s an herb that’s a common bittering agent used in cocktails, and with the recent revival of bitter liqueurs like amaro, you’ll notice the ingredient mentioned on more drink lists.

Back to the cocktail at hand — The Dayton Dusk is served in a stemmed glass and garnished with a wedge of lime, a long strip of lemon peel and a handful of plump blueberries. Drinking it required some “audience participation,” as our server described it. A bottle of garnet-hued soda arrived on the side. Once poured over the ice, rum and other ingredients, the cocktail looked like a party: the bright green and white straw in happy contrast with the red fizziness in the glass. The Dayton Dusk captures the taste and feel of a lazy sunny afternoon: citrus, rum, fresh fruit and hints of herbs. Light and refreshing and just enough of everything in a glass.

The dining area at Angela’s Kitchen in Alameda. Photo: Risa Nye

On our most recent visit on a Friday night, all the tables in the dining area were full of celebratory groups. The television in the bar area allowed anyone who was interested to watch the NBA playoff game, or to turn to a fellow patron and converse. We liked the way this worked to everyone’s advantage. For those of us who like (a nearby) island getaway every now and again, Angela’s belongs high on the destination list.

The crowd: Families and celebratory groups
The vibe: Casual, neighborhood friendly
The drink: The Dayton Dusk
To try next time: Either the Gingletown or whatever else Cody comes up with
Good to know: Parking is not a problem at Angela’s

Freelancer Risa Nye is a Bay Area native. She was born in San Francisco and grew up in the East Bay. She spent many happy years on the UC Berkeley campus, both as a student and as an employee. She has...