CLOSED: Encuentro

  • Vegetarian Vegetarian
    ( 13 reviews )



550 2nd St, Oakland, California, USA, 94607

In 2014 this vegetarian restaurant relocated from 202 Second St and shortened its name from Encuentro Cafe and Wine Bar. Now it's a full service restaurant with more food offering. The name Encuentro means "to meet, gather, encounter." Happy hour Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5pm to 6:30pm. Confirmed closed, Jan 2017.

Categories: Vegan-friendly, Lacto, Ovo, American, Italian, Beer/Wine

13 Reviews

First Review by Marni

Great restaurant, good vibe - Edit

I've been to Encuentro several times over the years and will say that it has improved a lot from when it first opened. I really enjoyed my meals the last few times. The atmosphere is really great, they have a great, creative menu of small plates and they serve good wine. It's a great date spot! It's slightly pricey, which makes sense for what you get because it's really good. Not sure why they don't go full blown vegan, but that's my own opinion.

Pros: creative menu, cozy atmosphere, date spot

Cons: not all items are vegan, parking was a little bit of a pain

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Wonderfully creative vegan food - Edit

Visited for the first time last evening with a friend. We started with the avocado bruschetta appetizer - slices of avocado topped with fresh basil and crunchy bruschetta. Very good.

For dinner, I had the seared turnip cakes. Crispy outside, savory on the inside. The mushroom broth combined wonderfully.

My friend had the 14 carrot sweet yam gnocchi. The combination of flavors was wonderful.

Pros: Excellent food, Great service

Cons: Hard to get reservations

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Colleen Patrick Goodreau was right!! - Edit

Colleen Patrick Goodreau was right!! This restaurant is amazing!! I was so looking forward to the cheeses, and they didn't let me down!! Everything was so wonderful, including the presentation. Staff was quite friendly. Chef came out to greet me and was so gracious. Dessert was out of this world!

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delicious dinner - Edit

We met up with another friend for dinner on a Friday night. We did not have reservations, but it didn't take long to get seated after they cleared a table for us in the front corner. The atmosphere and décor are very nice casual. The server was friendly and answered all our questions, including about recommendations. Dirk and our friend each ordered a Pliny the Elder while I went with an Italian wine recommendation. We started with an appetizer special of tempeh buns. Two of us got the yam gnocchi while Dirk got the turnip cakes. We ended with two desserts, the ice cream sandwich and chocolate cake. Everything was delicious. We loved all of it, but we had to make sure more than once that the server knew we wanted vegan versions of everything. I really want to give them a five, but they really should be all vegan like Millennium although we would definitely return if in the area again.

Pros: delicious food, friendly server, nice atmosphere

Cons: not all vegan

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Superb - Edit

Among the best meals I've ever had! Every single course hit it out of the proverbial park.

I agree with other reviewers who say Encuentro is as good as Millennium, but cheaper (though not that much cheaper, unfortunately). (And Millennium has the occasional uninspired dish; when I tried Encuentro, the meal was consistently great from beginning to end.)

Everything can be made vegan except the cheese plate (and they even have a vegan cheese plate, so I guess everything can be made vegan including the cheese plate).

Pros: stellar food, proximity to Jack London Square ferry

Cons: expensive, reservation required (with credit card)

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Delcious & Creative Plant-Based Cuisine - Edit

What a lovely little gem in Oakland! From the stylishly designed decor to the creative seasonal menu, Encuentro is a shining example of the delicious possibilities of plant-based cooking. My friend and I split the watermelon, cherry tomato and tart plum salad with the nori crackle, the 14 carrot and sweet yam gnocchi, 3 vegan cheese plate, and the bread pudding for dessert. Everything was amazing. This was the best vegan cheese I've ever had. I wish they would sell it commercially. This place is a must if you're in the area!

Pros: Delicious Food, Friendly Staff, Ambiance

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Artistic food with Superb Flavor - Edit

Without a doubt, I will be coming back next time I want upscale dining without the hefty price. The menu is seasonal and creative, and the chef really knows how to compose flavors and textures beautifully. The food was delicious. I would recommend the portobello sandwich--my dinner company kept reaching for more! Portions are quite reasonable. For a party of four, we shared an appetizer and salad, and four entrees. We were left full, but not grossly stuffed. The food was healthy, fresh, and decadent.
Fortunately, the menu is more vegan than vegetarian. Their dessert menu was all vegan. I did not try them, however, but they looked delicious and served in large portions. They also offer many tasty, homemade vegan "cheese" (more like pates).

The wait staff were so delightful. They were helpful, friendly, did more than was expected...created a pleasant dining experience.

Encuentro caters to all sorts of diners. We saw a large family with children, groups of older people, couples, etc. It reminded me of a trendy NYC restaurant with your good ol' Oakland vibe.

Pros: seasonal menu, Great service and attention to detail, warm, trendy ambiance

Cons: needs more art on the walls, a little on the pricier end

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DO NOT MISS!!! - Edit

The hotel where we planned to stay turned out to be right around the corner from this place...and oh my god it was amazing. I called to see if I should make a reservation thinking it wouldn't be a big deal since it was a Wednesday, but they were pretty booked up! We ended up with an 8pm reservation and the place was packed, which I completely understood after trying our first appetizer. My husband and I split the stuffed dates, grilled bread with nut ricotta and roasted grapes (mmmmm!!), roast vegetable salad (which had these little crunchy quinoa clusters in it!), pumpkin stuffed empanadas, and roast potatoes with aioli. I was completely stuffed but this was not the kind of place to skip dessert- so I got the ice cream cookie sandwich with chocolate and caramel sauce and it was ammaaaaazzzziinnng. It's hard to say what I liked best, the nut ricotta & toasty bread and the dessert were pretty incredible, but it was all really good. I would love to go back and try everything. Don't miss this place!!!

Pros: Amazing quality, creative menu with seasonal ingredients , incredible desserts!!

Cons: Pricey- but worth it!

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Great Food - Edit

Amazing food and the service was grand. This is a must, if you in the city decrepit city centre of Oakland.
Seriously, there are many restaurants to choose from here, many converted Asian hole in the wall to deep fried Louisiana grease pit.
If you want looking for a clean well maintain place look no further.

Pros: Clean, Friendly, Creative

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Fantastic small plate fine dining in Jack London - Edit

Place is tiny, plates are tiny, flavors are huge. When I feel like something approaching fancy and refined but do not want to go all in on Millennium (or cook at home and bemoan the loss of Ubuntu), this is the spot. Love the avocado bruschetta, the tempeh satay, and, if you have a sweet tooth, they have excellent rotating desserts. I have never had wine here so I cannot review that, but their iced green tea is very good.

Pros: refined flavors

Cons: tiny place, so can be a looooong wait

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Amazing! As good as Millennium, but less $$ ! - Edit

My dining companion and I just adored eating here this evening. We ordered LOTS of food, small tapas-style dishes that we shared. Everything on the menu is vegan unless you're crazy and you opt for goats' milk cheese instead of the delicious smoked pecan/macadamia nut/herbed cashew cheese. WHAT? Who would do a certifiably insane thing like that? I don't know, but my friend and I certainly didn't. OK, they also randomly have deviled eggs on the "small bites" menu. I guess it's kinda the "omni option" (I was trying to make a little joke there about restaurants having one "vegan option" but I'm not sure that it actually works as a joke, so, sorry.)

The stuffed dates with macadamia nut pate and walnut "honey" were so good that my friend got a second order of it to go. The French lentil walnut spread with crostini (it also had a bunch of arugula) was really great and I kinda licked the container after we finished. The side salad, which I got with vegan Caesar dressing due to the novelty of vegan Caesar was quality. The marinated mushrooms with smoked pecan pate, cornichon, house made prune chutney, French mustard and crisp crostini was rich and flavorful and very much like something you'd get at Millennium, but kind of a small portion, which actually suited the two of us fine because we'd ordered so much. We also got the quesadilla with cashew pecan chipotle cheese, which apparently has a different filling every day.

Each thing made us ooh and ahh. It was a LOT like spending twice as much at Millennium in SF (a restaurant I love, but cannot really afford), except I got to do it while sitting outside on a bright, quiet Oakland street while people walked their adorable tiny dogs by us (yep, everyone at the veg restaurant wants to pet your dog, you know this). This place has a great friendly and casual vibe and it seems like the people who work there are, like, happy. Not BS happy, but actually not-hating-their-jobs happy.

And, yes, we also got dessert and somehow put it all into our faces. The 4 desserts were all vegan! I opted for a raw strawberry cheesecake kind of thing that was perfection, and my friend got a little multi-layer parfait thing which was also perfection, but I liked mine better.

Go to Encuentro! It's easy to park nearby, also. This place has the best food in Oakland, I'm pretty sure of it. I want to eat all the things (except the deviled eggs)! Can't wait to return.

I've posted pictures of the food. Look and drool.

Pros: best food & vegan cheese, people's tiny dogs, great friendly vibe

Cons: deviled eggs, want to eat all the things, cons?? no.

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Comment - Edit

I had read about this place on happycow and decided to stop by and check it out. Here's my Encuentro Cafe and Wine Bar review/comment (well, it's more of a comment than review).

Enroute to San Francisco from LA, I stopped in Oakland to try the VEG places. I had just had a filling meal at Souley Vegan a few blocks away, when I had made my way here afterwards, I was too full to eat.

However, I was very impressed with how nice this place looks and feels. Encuentro is a very modern and chic place, yet feels laid back. Floor to ceiling glass windows frame the entire front side of the cafe, so you can see inside, and diners can see outside. In addition to small table seating, there is also a bar with tall stools for seating.

The menu features wine and alcoholic drinks, of course, but also some food. Mostly smaller plates and appetizer like foods. Food is all vegetarian with vegan ones marked. Prices ranged from $5 - 11 or so.

The area seems a bit odd/unfamiliar to me. Encuentro is just a block around the wholesale fruit and vegetable distributors whose gates have all shut by the late afternoon hours, so the area seems a bit "deserted" - yet just a block all around you see very new and modern condo buildings, and Jack London Square is a short walk away.

Anyways, next time I will save room in my stomach so I can try the food.

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cool space, great vegetarian, vegan restaurant - Edit

This stylish Oakland vegetarian restaurant, which will make many dishes vegan, has delicious, creative food with outstanding fresh ingredients. The food is elegant in conception and very well prepared. A great place for a relaxed meal in a very cool space with interesting people. Good art work on the walls, too. I highly recommend it.

Pros: Delicious food, fresh ingredients, friendly staff

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