Maria Esquivel has been working up to this for a very long time. She started her NorCal-inspired Mexican concept Chica five years ago as a pop-up, finally getting into Off the Grid, and then last year finding a takeout window in Telegraph Hill to claim as her own. Now, she’s opening a full restaurant in Oakland, taking over the old Aztecali space at 303A Oakland Ave. this month.
“It’s like a dream come true because this is what I wanted so badly, and so to come from doing small pop-ups to Off the Grid to a little window and now this ... it’s just a huge deal for all of us,” Esquivel told Eater.
She’s from Oakland, so especially excited to bring her food — which fuses Mexican and American dishes — to her hometown. With a bigger kitchen, Esquivel can offer more dishes like tacos and ceviches in addition to the rice and salad bowls. There will also be espresso service, with lattes and mochas “Chicano-style” at the fast casual concept.
The space seats 25 people, and Esquivel wants to bring in local artists to hang their artworks. “We want to have it be Latino cafe style, welcoming people and making it feel like you’re in a second home.”
Chica will open the week of December 11. Stay tuned for an exact date.