A recent thread on happy hours ended up vearing into a discussion of a topic very near to my heart: places to eat in 'North Downtown Oakland'. As Oakjoan pointed out, lunch (and dinner) options in the immediately vicinity of 20th and Broadway (or in my case, in the immediate vicinity of the Kaiser Building a few blocks down at 20th and Lakeshore), are quite limited...
so, wanted to pass along a tip. I've always thought that the best salad bar in the area was at the little lunch room/coffee shop/cafeteria on the second floor of the Ordway Building (which is at 21st and Webster, directly across from the Kaiser Building). The place has a name, but sorry, I can't remember it (and it should decidely *not* be confused with Nick's, which is the (really bad) lunch place on the ground floor of the Kaiser building.
Anyway, went the the other day to get a salad, and the young man behind the counter said the soup was really good, and I should try it. I asked him what it was and he said,'sort of Mexican chicken'. He suggested that it was best with a wedge of lime, then I heard him speaking in his native Spanish to another customer, and suddenly I got a good feeling about the whole thing...
it was really excellent: shredded chicken, onions and garbanzo beans in an earthy, spicy chicken broth that tasted like a pozole base. I swear someone put epazote in the broth! and of course, yes, the lime cut the slightly fatty taste perfectly (just too bad they didn't have chopped cilantro...) . Made an excellent lunch on a rainy day with selections from the salad bar. They also have pre-made salads that can be hit or miss (they day I was there the fruit salad had gorgeous strawberries, also available on the salad bar), and burritos (I think chili verde and carnitas). I've never tried the burritos, but maybe I should.
The place is hidden away (take elevators to the second floor, walk to your left; or from Kaiser Center walk through the walkway from the E level of the Garage) but well worth checking out for the soups and salad bar.
p.s. desserts such as cookies, brownies and baklava, look lovely, but stick with the soup and salad: none of the ones I've tried have been worth the calories at all. (overly sweet and sometimes a bit stale).
The Ordway Building
1 Kaiser Plaza (near Webster and 21st)