Oakland’s Bacheesos Mediterranean buffet is now a Persian restaurant

Bay Area buffet restaurants have been nearly wiped out by the pandemic. But an Oakland buffet staple is making a purposeful and creative return.

Bacheeso’s, the 15-year-old Mediterranean buffet restaurant closed since March 2020, will reopen later this month with a revamped look and a new menu focused on Persian cuisine. The restaurant, located at 246 Grand Ave., is now called Persian Nights at Bacheesos and is reopening for dinner with Persian stews, rice dishes and other specialties.

Bacheesos opened in 1997 in Berkeley, followed by the Oakland location a decade later. The Berkeley site closed in October 2019 to make way for a five-story mixed-use complex at the Telegraph Avenue site. But the location across from Lake Merritt and Fairyland remained, and was especially popular for its weekend buffet brunches and all-you-can-eat mimosas.

When the pandemic hit, buffets were deemed unsafe and owner Amir Asli had to come up with a plan. His cafe, 1888 Coffee Station at Bacheesos, was always busy, especially for takeout breakfast and lunch. Asli is expanding the cafe menu to include buffet favorites converted into a window-friendly format. Standouts include Persian Stallion, or farm-fresh dates, honey and eggs in warm pita bread, and marinated “lollipop” lamb chops served with basmati rice and fire-roasted tomatoes.

For dinner, Asli brought in Iranian chef Farshad Moradi, a native of Tabriz who once owned a restaurant on Kish Island, a popular tourist destination in Iran. Moradi will serve classic Persian dishes, like skewers of marinated filet mignon and stews, including gheimeh, made with yellow peas and slow-cooked lamb; and ghormeh sabzi, a meat stew with herbs and fenugreek.

Don’t miss the mirza, a breakfast consisting of mashed eggplant, caramelized onions, tomatoes, spinach and poached eggs. It’s not commonly available in the Bay Area.

The opening dinner service will be from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Breakfast and lunch are served from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday to Friday and until 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. More information on www.bacheesos.net.

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