BISON MEATBALLS BATHED IN BLUEBERRY sauce. Roasted fiddlehead ferns. Acorn crêpes topped with maple cream. These are just a few examples of what Indigenous chefs are serving at restaurants across California. Three spots in particular are dedicated to championing Native foods and culture in the state. Their chefs cite the same formative experience: growing up wondering why every other culture had a restaurant featuring its cuisine, but seeing none that reflected their own Native foodways.
Cafe Ohlone, the first Indigenous restaurant in California, opened in 2018 on the back patio of a Berkeley bookstore. Founders Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino rooted their restaurant in the cuisine and traditions of their Ohlone people and their ancestral homeland of Northern California. But despite accolades for their meals of locally gathered ingredients, the pandemic forced the closure of their cozy pop-up spot in 2020.
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