Wally’s Cafe – More hidden than Hernando’s Hideaway

So when I was in high school, I did tech crew for a number of productions (my favorite being Once Upon a Mattress but that’s neither here nor there) and my favorite dance scene was Hernando’s Hideaway from the Pajama Game.   I found it hilarious that a bunch of kids would be recreating a speakeasy without mentioning liquor.

As an adult, I was delighted to find the culinary equivalent of Hernando’s Hideaway in Wally’s Cafe.  Clearly the food had to be good because you would never know about this place were it not for word of mouth.  It’s right off of San Pablo Avenue in the back of the building that houses the Bank Club Bar in the front.  You have to walk down a little pathways, PAST THE GARBAGE BIN to get to Wally’s.

Once there, it’s one big ass counter with a few tables outside. This is as hole in the wall as they get.  You totally get the Oakland/Emeryville hipster crowd coming in and while hipsters can be annoying, they certainly know good food (although the bacon and cupcake craze has GOT TO STOP!).

The food is totally lives up to the hype.  First, Wally’s gives you these interesting little extras – lentil soup at the beginning and a little baklava at the end.    Both are excellent.  In fact, the baklava has a lightness that I’ve never encountered in baklava.  Being diabetic, I could only have a taste.

J and I split the babaganouj to start and I had the meat shwarma wrap with beef and lamb and J had the chicken  shwarma platter with rice and a salad.  Where Wally’s knocks it out of the park are the basics.  They really do elevate their food beyond what you would get at a regular Middle Eastern place.  The babaganouj has a really interesting smoky flavor and the salad of all things has a great balance of sour and salty.  They even use good tomatoes for their salad as opposed to those rubbery ones that taste like plastic.  My sandwich was excellent and being the lamb lover that I am, it failed to disappoint.  But J’s chicken was out of this world.  It was clearly brined because it had an unsurpassed tenderness that you normally don’t get with grilled chicken.  If you go, please avail yourselves of the chicken because that’s some tasty stuff.

Finally, being a hole in the wall gives you the benefit of having hole in the wall prices.  Between our two entrees and appetizers, we left there for about $25.

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