Mua: Auto Repair Shop Turned Trendy Hideaway
Source: Mua Oakland
When I arrived in the industrial auto district where Mua was supposedly located, the area looked completely dead and abandoned. It even seemed a little bit unsafe. I found out later that the restaurant offers security guards as escorts back to your car if you feel it necessary. After walking through the doors of the restaurant, it was as if I had emerged into another world. Music was blaring and the walls were covered in art made of recycled materials and graffiti. The main room is an extremely large space with fifty-foot ceilings and an industrial second floor loft. The owners left the former auto repair shop as is, with pipes protruding from the rough walls and the ceiling. This restaurant is a prime example of the gentrification of many old buildings in Downtown Oakland. The place gives off a trendy, grungy, hipster vibe. It seems like a great place to go for a birthday. With slightly cramped family-style seating, Mua can definitely accommodate big groups. The dim lights and the live DJ contribute to the fun atmosphere.
What about the food? It was good, but not fantastic. The ideas for the dishes were fun and creative. The atmosphere distracted a little from the actual quality of the meal. The menu had a Southern theme with a fun twist, including collard greens, fried chicken, catfish, and a softshell crab po’boy sandwich.
It’s important to note that Mua does have fairly fast service, so make sure to order one thing at a time. I started with a refreshing white peach mojito. Mua has a nice selection of virgin cocktails. The next dish to arrive was grilled artichoke with tarragon aioli. The artichoke was the best dish of the night, although it was a little hard to eat. The aioli was delicious and it had a strong lemony flavor that went perfectly with the rich earthy flavor of the artichoke. Next came a good, basic, fun tomato soup with grilled cheese. It wasn’t anything really special, but I did enjoy it.
The third dish was definitely not for the faint hearted. It was beef bone marrow served in the bone with some nice Levain toast and miniature cornichon pickles. The marrow was a little strange. It was oily and gooey with a rich herb flavor. I discovered that the best way to eat it is to spread it on the toast like butter. The pickles added a fun fresh touch and made the dish a little bit less scary to eat.
The main course was the softshell crab po’boy sandwich with fries. This, despite being the most expensive, was the least appetizing. It should have been the big finale to the meal but it was too watery. There was too much sauce, from the coleslaw put right into the sandwich. The flavors were all right. This dish was comparable to the much tastier and crisper fried chicken sandwich at Gregoire (if you’re familiar with that). The best part was the fries. They tasted kind of like McDonald’s fries, which is definitely a positive thing. (You would know this if you’ve ever had the fries at McDonald’s.)
At the end of the night, I was left very full but not totally satisfied. Next time, I would definitely order less. Mua is a great place for a party, but it’s not a great place for a stellar meal.
2442a Webster St Oakland, CA 94612 (510) 238-1100
Lunch Friday 11:30 – 3pm
Dinner Monday – Thursday 5:30 – 11pm Fri & Sat 5:30 – midnight Sun 5 – 10:30pm