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Camino or Marica? [Oakland]

I was all set to go to Camino, but most of the recent Yelp reviews are terrible. Is this place slipping? Would you choose it over Marica?

Everything else in Oakland or Berkeley that folks here have suggested is closed this week when we want to eat.

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  1. We've had three or four brunches and one dinner at Camino, and haven't been disappointed. While unlike Chez Panisse in the food it serves, the relative simplicity of the food and presentation reflect the chef/owner's history at CP.

    I looked at some of the Yelp reviews, and they are quite mixed. Most have complaints about service--which hasn't been a problem for us. In general I think Yelp is a highly suspect source for restaurant information. I'd suggest that you both wait for responses to your post, and (if you haven't already) do a search of Camino and Marica on this board to see what you find.

    1. I wouldn't really compare them, Marica is at a lower price point, has more traditional menu and has a more casual style. I've never had service problems at either place so that issue is moot for me.

      Camino is big on seasonal and since the menu changes you might find the dishes to be interesting more than perfectly composed but I've remember every meal I've had there.
      Marica is a safe bet for some good food in Oakland and I've never had a bad meal there but never been wowed by anything.

      The last time I was at Camino was a few months ago.

      1. Moishe, get real.
        yelp...? vas is das?

        camino is amazing. last week we had a most delectible meal -- roasted goose, wood oven roasted crab, yummy yummy yummy.
        run don't walk.

        4 Replies
        1. re: escargot3

          Ok, then. You've all been quite convincing. Here's the $64K question: do you smell like smoke after you eat there? My wife and I are hopping on a red eye after this meal, and don't want to smell like smoke all night long.

            1. re: vonmoishe

              If you go to Camino, do try the barley tea -- delicious. We went for dessert in November and were quite impressed with the sweets there as well, if you can save room.

              1. re: vonmoishe

                definitely won't smell like smoke.

                it's a fireplace and wood oven at the end of the room, not a K-BBQ grill on your table :)

            2. I have liked every meal at Camino, but I will say that the last time I was there (in November) the service seemed a bit absent-minded. I just assumed our server was having an off night, & it certainly wouldn't keep me from going back. Haven't tried Marica so can't compare.

              1 Reply
              1. re: indigirl

                Following up on this, went to Camino last night & the service was really pretty bad, significantly worse than before. We waited a really long time for our food; finally a different server (not our waiter) came & acknowledged the problem, comped us a salad in order to "buy time". She said it was a communication problem. Her warm apology & the salad went a long way toward improving our outlook, but the next few times we saw our waiter he was so awkward that we thought he might be high or brand new or just plain unsuited to waiting tables. Later we saw him wandering around the restaurant with plates in his hands as if he had no idea where to deliver them.

                The place wasn't even full, so how can they handle it when it is?

                Too bad. Food still delicious overall. The salad was too salty though.

                I don't think I'll go back until I hear some really good reports about the service.

              2. I've only gone to Marica once, but they really are a nice bunch. The food was fine and the prices super reasonable, but the thing that impressed me most was the service and customer care taken by the staff. We had ordered 3 chocolate souflees to finish up our meal, but noticed that one hadn't risen like the others and mentioned it to our server. Not only was it replaced but they gave us two complimentary fruit trifles, a complimentary panne cotta and a complimentary creme brulee to make up for it. This is the type of overkill that I like!

                2 Replies
                1. re: nicedragonboy

                  Marica deserves extra credit for offering a discount for paying in cash, too. food is very different from Camino. Camino has a more extreme aesthetic with its self imposed minimalism, including hard, bare wood to sit on, which isn't kind to senior citizen joints.

                  1. re: nicedragonboy

                    yeah, the Marica folks seem to be generous with freebies.

                    we've gotten free mussels appetizer and free desserts

                  2. how are the portions at camino? with a limited choice of entrees, and all in the mid-20s, i would hope that they would be sufficient, but there are mixed reports on yelp ranging from "tiny" to "not huge, but just right"

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: vulber

                      I would agree with "not huge, but just right" based on at least a dozen visits. However, my guy pals complain that the drinks are on the small side. I personally think it's the glass/tumbler they use, but I'm unable to sway opinion!

                      Every time I go there is something really lovely to eat like piping hot doughnuts, fried bodega bay shrimp, grilled monterey squid, or the most flavorful local salmon I've had in many years. They never fail to please me.

                      1. re: vulber

                        portions are usually OK, but last brunch there the fritatta was TINY. 2 little wedges maybe 1" x 3" and 1/8" thick. i think it was $12?

                        as rubadub says, cocktails are small, and it IS because of the glass they use . . . it's a small glass ;-)

                        limited wine list with predominantly lighter, fruity "food-friendly wines" (as our server described the list). if you like bolder wines, you will be disappointed.