In the NIMBY-dominated Bay Area, six-year-old Oakland restaurant Nido is taking the YIMBY approach, opening their new outdoor drinking and dining space, dubbed Nido’s Backyard, to the public today. The motto at the space, which calls itself the Bay Area’s first “margarita garden,” is “mi backyard es sú backyard.”
But Nido, a Mexican mainstay (and East Bay 38 Essential Restaurant) at the edge of Jack London Square, did encounter some municipal red tape in its effort to expand. After four years of work on the spinoff at 104 Oak Street, an abandoned, 30,000-square-foot parking lot, owners Silvia and Cory McCollow were forced to construct their own crosswalk in order to open. There’s no question that the crosswalk is necessary, says Cory — and he’s glad it’s there. “It was just our hope the city would take care of that for us,” he says. “We pay taxes for that, I thought.” To help defray the cost — at least $35,000, they say — the McCollows launched a Go Fund Me campaign this summer.
Once they pass over that crosswalk, customers at Nido’s Backyard step onto a much more colorful walking path: A 200-foot-long road that’s styled after a serape, or Mexican blanket. That path winds its way through the space, which is about 4,500-square feet occupied by 14 shipping containers and 200 seats (the rest of the lot is not yet developed). It’s “a yellow brick road, but multi-colored,” says Cory. Along thew way, customers will pass backyard games, a dedicated kids area, and Mexican art prints from local Latinx artists.
Like at Nido, the menu at Nido’s Backyard includes popular Mexican dishes from various regions in the country. Nido’s chef, Silvia McCollow, was herself born in Tecuala, Nayarit. Jose Ramos, until now Silvia’s co-chef at Nido, is in charge of the new Backyard menu. It’s “the same level of execution and level of thought [at Nido’s Backyard], but in an a more fun approachable fashion,” says Cory. For instance, chef Ramos will continue to use Nido’s own tortillas, made from house-made masa. But with a much larger kitchen (made up of six shipping containers), “everything we wanted to do at Nido we can do on a grander scale here.” An abbreviated opening menu is below: some items include pressed tacos dorados, escabeche tostadas, and tortas.
Jenny Schwarz, a co-owner of Oakland’s Hopscotch and a consultant on the project, is particularly enthusiastic about the cocktail offerings. Finally, an outdoor drinking space that’s not a beer garden, she says. Cocktails are a collection of Nido favorites created by Nido staff, including margaritas on draft.
“I’m not a big beer drinker, and I’ve always wanted to go get cocktails outside somewhere.” Margaritas, agave spirits, and yes, some beers, are all available. “They’ve created a really incredible space for the community here,” says Schwarz.
But it’s not over yet. Schwarz herself will be part of an effort to host events at the space, and eventually, the McCollows want to expand into the rest of the lot, perhaps adding a DJ space or greenhouse.
Nido’s Backyard is softly open Friday September 13 and Saturday September 14 from 5 p,m, to 9 p.m, and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Then it’s closed Monday, and open with regular hours next Tuesday at 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Regular opening hours thereafter will be Monday to Thursday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.