Last week, Chef Nelson German announced that he’s opening a new Afro-Latino cocktail lounge in Oakland called Sobre Mesa. The lounge will be in Uptown Oakland, taking over the spot formerly occupied by The Payback (1618 Franklin St.) and is expected to open in early 2020.
German is best known as the chef-owner at alaMar in Uptown Oakland, which opened in 2014. There, he serves up a seafood-heavy menu that draws from his roots as a Dominican-American born and raised in Manhattan’s Washington Heights. Some of his signature dishes include his build-your-own seafood boils, honey garlic shrimp sopes, and braised Angus oxtails. Over the years, alaMar has earned accolades including the Express‘ Best of the East Bay, Michelin guide recognition, and a recent rave review in the San Francisco Chronicle.
The name “sobre mesa,” which means “over the table,” refers to the conversations that take place after a meal is over. At Sobre Mesa, German will turn his focus away from entrees and toward cocktails and tapas-style plates. German plans to take inspiration from the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and other Latin American countries. According to a recent press release, the cocktail menu will focus on small-production spirits with a story: rum made from sugarcane from a small family farm in Louisiana, rum made in the Dominican Republic by Cuban masters, and Träkál, a Patagonian spirit made from indigenous botanicals and fruits.
German has already announced a few of his signature cocktails. The Sobre Mesa will feature rum, mezcal, pandan syrup, falernum, soursop juice, and lemon, while the The Latin Quarter will blend brandy, sherry, celery, orange, and bitters. The Mama Juan, a drink inspired by German’s father, will contain Dominican rum, Cocchi Americano, Punt e Mes, nocino, yerba mate spiced honey, and ginger. No details on the tapas menu yet, but the items promise to be seasonal and designed to pair well with the drink menu.
The atmosphere is meant to be tropical and lush, making guests feel like they’re on vacation. German hopes the cocktail lounge will be fun and vibrant, yet also welcoming and accessible.
“I’d like to start another renaissance for people of color by revealing Oakland’s stylish, sexy side,” German said in a press release. “Oakland gave me my first restaurant, and I’ll always be indebted to the city for that.”
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