Juhu Beach Club has been on my radar for quite some time. The name kept popping up on the Oakland restaurant lists that I love to peruse, and I became curious. When I heard the phrase “Indian street food” I shied away, unsure of what that meant and pretty sure my aversion to things hot and spicy would result in a dining out disappointment. Yet it kept calling out to me; rav reviews and a visit from Anthony Bourdain had me wondering if my wimpy taste buds might actually be in for a treat. I moved it to the top of my list. When I heard that this neighborhood spot has carved out a special niche for kids, I was sold.
Named for a beach in Mumbai famous for its sunsets, street food, and Bollywood stars in residence, Juhu Beach Club brings street food flavors in layered form to the Temescal neighborhood, much like the layered colors of the sunset spot that inspired its name. At the helm of this little eatery tucked into the corner of the small shopping center at Telegraph Ave and 51st Street is Preeti Mistry, Top Chef alum and master of combining freshness and spice into a sit down version of street food that demands the “immediate consumption” that defines this snack style grub-on-the-go.
While it was reviews and recommendations from others that piqued my interest to sample the menu options at Juhu Beach Club, it was the news that this now renowned restaurant has made special effort to accommodate kids that finally got my feet in the door. With custom kids menus for coloring, and an amazing presentation in the form of a sunset colored tiffin lunch box, Juhu Beach Club has done a wonderful job at welcoming children. When I asked Preeti what inspired the effort, she said it was always their intention to be a neighborhood spot. Locals themselves, she and wife Ann wanted to accommodate all the neighborhood families with small children. They seemed to understand that some might be leary of bringing kids into a restaurant steeped in spicier dishes that may cause little ones to turn their nose. So when Ann came up with a brightly colored way to deliver grilled cheese pavs, french fries, and a simple salad in the Indian version of a kids “happy meal”, pint sized clientele were sold.
Our server was kind enough to get the kids food going while my sister and I perused the menu. So while the kids tackled the three tiers of their tiffin boxes, we enjoyed a starter called Bhel Salad, a unique layering of black chickpeas, purple potato, red grapes, pickled onion, puffed rice, peanuts, and Juhu’s own chutney. Presented in a Ball jar intended to be dumped and tossed, the textures and slightly spicy flavors came together in a mix of crunch and freshness.
We then moved on to a sampling of pavs. Slider style street sandwiches often found in India, Juhu Beach Club serves up versions on Starter Bakery buns packed with flavor combinations such as beef meatball with tomato ginger sauce and mint chutney, or a grilled green chili chicken with a vibrant and tangy slaw. We also tried the Bombay Sandwich, a pressed cheese sandwich with beets, cilantro chutney, and chaat masala, a spice mix commonly used in Indian street and snack food.
We ended our meal with everyone’s favorite, vanilla soft serve ice cream from local Strauss Creamery. Offered with unique sauce and topping options, we tried a few of the chia-spiced pecans on the side.
Since we were keeping things mellow with the kids at lunchtime, I went with a Nimbu Pani to drink, an amazing cilantro lemonade with toasted cumin. It was so delicious my sister quickly ordered one as well. The bar at Juhu Beach Club offers a cocktail menu with layered flavors just as enticing as their food, with ingredients such as tamarind, lime, ginger, and turmeric syrup used in some of their concoctions. I saw one of my new favs, Linden Street’s Glow Pilsner, on draft as well.
All in all, the hype surrounding Juhu Beach Club is now understood and I am happy to have experienced such amazing flavors that delighted my slightly wimpy taste buds. It was wonderful to enjoy a quiet afternoon with my sister and kids, seeing their faces light up at the arrival of their own layered lunches. It was unknown to us at the time that our meal was enjoyed on the last day a lunchtime offering was available. Due to inconsistency and a desire to focus on dinner and weekend brunch, Preeti confirmed that it is likely to be a permanent change.
If you have kids in tow, keep in mind that Juhu Beach Club does offer online reservations through Open Table. This is available for both dinner and weekend brunch.
I hope you enjoy your own trip to Juhu Beach Club; whether it’s for an initial flavor-seeking visit or a return to your regular neighborhood haunt. I look forward to a return trip, possibly with the kids in tow, or maybe for my own layered version of what is surely to be a happy meal.
Juhu Beach Club is located at 5179 Telegraph Avenue Oakland, CA 94609 (located in the small shopping plaza at Telegraph and 51st St.)
Dinner: Tues-Sat 5:30pm-9:30pm (closed for dinner Sun and Mon)
Brunch: Sat & Sun 11:00am-2:00pm
More information and online reservations available at www.juhubeachclub.com
Trio of photos from Juhu Beach – Photo on left: Boyhood! by Rajarshi MITRA via flickr / Top photo on right: ||| Juhu Beach ||| (with crop edit) by Dieter via flickr / Bottom photo on right: Juhu by Tee-tina via flickr
All other photos by Adrienne Schell