There is a charming simplicity to Sequoia Diner. A lovely combination of delicious & classic diner fare served in a space full of classic diner style.
Sequoia Diner is located in the Laurel District of Oakland, in a spot that has been occupied by cafes and diners since the 1940’s. Owners Andrew Vennari and Sequoia Broderson have set a nice example of how to make an entrance into an established and tight knit Oakland community. Bringing their years of experience from the front and back of the house at East Bay hotspots such as Camino, Duende, and La Note, they have blended new into old in a subtle and respectful way. Neighborhood residents themselves, they have focused on creating a place that feels like it was meant to be for those of us who are their neighbors.
The prior resident of 3719 MacArthur Blvd. was Full House Café, a beloved breakfast & lunch spot for the last 18 years. When owner Fred Dozier decided to retire, he hand picked Andrew and Sequoia to take over the space to share their own interpretation of a neighborhood diner. With help from a Kickstarter Campaign that garnered astounding support from local residents and merchants, Andrew & Sequoia opened the doors to dish out their version of classic American diner fare in early June 2015.
I visited Sequoia Diner a couple weeks ago on a Friday morning after dropping my son off at preschool just up the hill. I have always loved breakfast; I never skip it, and often spend time baking or cooking early in the morning to fuel my family for the day. I consider it a great treat when I get to enjoy breakfast out, especially without 2 small children to wrangle. My time spent waiting tables at Rick & Ann’s in my early 20’s has also given me a huge level of respect for those who can pull it off really well.
Sequoia Diner brings together a simple interior dotted with vintage touches and exceptionally good, yet classic breakfast dishes with a focus on local, sustainable, and organic. They have kept much of the original decor untouched; from the red leather booths with wood laminate tabletops, to the old lunch counter complete with swiveling chairs. Freshly painted white walls give the light filled space a bright-eyed pop and help highlight small details such as Sequoia’s own vintage Jadeite collection you see scattered throughout the diner. Air plants sourced from Crimson Horticultural Rarities over in the Temescal Alleys, and eye catching “Driftscapes” from local artist and diner patron Jon Holladay add an artful touch.
The food is wonderfully done. I chose to keep things simple on my visit, ordering the Classic American Breakfast, with a cup of coffee sourced locally from Highwire Coffee Roasters. “Housemade” is the adjective used alongside much of what you can enjoy here; from the bread, jam and pastries to the house cured and smoked bacon and sausages. Andrew & Sequoia have chosen to serve 100% pasture raised eggs from Say Hay Farms in Yolo County. I have been giving my own chickens the evil eye ever since my visit. Simply put, they are amazing. I went with over easy, and to call the yolks yellow instead of orange would be a mistake. Served alongside a thick piece of toast, crispy, tender and perfectly seasoned potatoes, and a simple salad of arugula, it was the perfect blend of breakfast indulgence without the heavy and sometimes guilt ridden aftermath.
Sequoia Diner has a full time baker and pastry chef, Tom Purtill, previously of Elmwood Café in Berkeley. Seasonal apple pomegranate danishes, glistening pecan sticky buns, and thick salted chocolate chip cookies were perched on the edge of the counter.
Sequoia Diner is a local gem that I know is already being discovered beyond our little pocket of the city. While weekend wait times may become the norm, I hope that they are able to maintain the close knit neighborhood vibe that I felt when I was there. Sequoia mentioned that the prior owner, Fred Dozier, comes in from time to time to eat and is always available to pop in if something needs fixing. That brief comment is a telling metaphor to me, of what I touched upon at the start of this post. An example is being set in this lovely little spot, of how New Oakland can pay homage to Old Oakland in a way that garners respect and camaraderie, and create a place within the community for both sides of the coin to enjoy, and in this case, be well fed.
I’ve been thinking about my next visit often since I was there. I know it will likely be with 2 kids in tow, but I am rest assured there is a waffle and a mug of crayons waiting for them.
Menu Note: Additional breakfast menu items during my visit included dishes such as Waffle with Strawberries, Huevos Rancheros, Country Breakfast complete with biscuit & gravy, Beef Hash, Crispy Fried Eggs Salad, Bacon & Cheddar Omelet, and a Mushroom & Spinach Scramble.
Sequoia Diner is located in the Laurel District @ 3719 MacArthur Blvd. Oakland, CA 94619
Phone: (510) 482-3719
Open Wed-Sun from 8:00am – 2:00pm. Breakfast is served all day, a small lunch offering is available beginning at 11:00am.
More information can be found on their website, www.sequoiadiner.com
Photo Credit: All photos by Adrienne Schell