Café Leila: A Quaint, Unobtrusive Little Gem of A Berkeley Café

21 Feb

Sunday morning brunch. After living in Berkeley for three years, I find it safe to say that us “Berkeleyans” like to eat, and we like to eat a hearty weekend brunch filled with good grub and good people.

It was a rainy Sunday at ten thirty in the morning and my two girlfriends and I were seeking a new place to satisfy our morning hunger pangs. Café Leila definitely hit the spot. A quaint, unobtrusive little gem of a café located on San Pablo and Cedar St. in North Berkeley, this place had everything I wanted and more.

The girls and I walked in, immediately ordered our food at the counter (we got our coffee right away), and sat down at a cozy table in the back of the restaurant. Café Leila also offers garden seating, which would be ideal on a lovely spring or summer day.


Started by two brothers, Café Leila strives to feature local, seasonal, organic, sustainable, and fair-trade offerings. They specialize in healthy, tasty food, at affordable prices—everything on the menu was less than ten dollars. Foods are prepared on-site daily—the scones, oh the scones (I was oogling over the gorgeous scones and on the way out I bought big, bursting fresh cranberry and walnut scone because I simply could not resist). Their use of organic ingredients and chemical free foods makes me even happier to have dined here. On the website, they advertise their dishes as naturally low in fat and cholesterol, yet high in taste. High in taste, indeed.

Usually when I go out to restaurants, I have a difficult time making decisions about what to order because, well, I want it all. My friends and I are not shy about digging into each other’s plates and tasting everyone else’s food, so often times we will order a bunch of items and share.

Café Leila may have served me some of the best buttermilk pancakes of my lifetime—light, thin, and fluffy, and I could really taste the buttermilk. So simple yet so good. The special of the day was the salmon hash, and boy was it special. Two poached eggs with a salmon hash cake accompanied by roasted tomatoes. The salmon cake was drizzled with a lemon butter sauce and rested on a bed of little capers. Talk about protein power. We ordered the date omelet because the idea of two farm eggs stuffed with fancy medjool dates, goat feta, and fresh chopped basil just drew us in, and the sweet and savory combination was out of this world.

The cashier was friendly and cheery and we even went back to chat with him when we finished eating because our meal was just so stellar. Although Café Leila may seem like a trek for some Berkeley students who do not have access to a car or bike, I found it refreshing to get out of the hustle-bustle of campus life and to explore a place with more of a family/non-student crowd.

Come with friends or with a significant other, come with family, or come alone. Sophisticated yet casual is the name of the game at this north Berkeley café. They offer jazz concerts on Friday and Saturday nights, which may just be the perfect excuse for me to come back again. Two thumbs up for the homey Berkeley tea room, Café Leila.

(Sadly, I did not snap any of my own photos. They all are from the restaurant’s website. I know I know, I am a failure)

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