I am a chip girl. BBQ potato chips, classic tortilla, new-age flax and chia speckled, doesn’t matter the flavor: pretty soon after opening I’m covered in crumbs and tossing the empty bag in the recycling. That’s why I don’t even keep them in my house. So when I tried the Totopoz Adobadoas at Degrees Plato, tortiila chips in a Guajillo salsa, topped with queso cotija and crema fresca, I was pretty happy for weight-control purposes that they came in a small bowl.
Degrees Plato is a newish beer bar in the Laurel with Oaxacan-inspired fare from Flor Crisostomo, a Oaxacan chef who has worked at Nido, Calavera and other spots around the Bay Area. With all the beer gardens and tap rooms opening in Oakland, it’s the Mexican bar food that attracted me to this place— and the overall vibe and menu that kept me interested.
Owners Rich Allen and Mercedes Sperling live in the neighborhood and wanted to make it a family friendly place, and even though I don’t have kids yet, a beer bar that garners a more diverse crowd than bearded beer bros was definitely a pleasant place to pass the evening. The Mexican twist on bar food pays homage to Rich’s mom, who is from Mexico, and I like that the kids furniture and books honor the next generation.
There’s a huge and varied selection of beer on tap here, as well as a long beer fridge that lines the back hallway with foreign and domestic craft beers that can be taken to-go. Ciders and wine are available on tap too, but the selection of beers is so wide I bet if you have a conversation with the bartender you’ll find a beer that’ll please your palate.
For food, go for the smokey totopoz, and don’t forget to squeeze a lime on them. I love epazote, the minty and earthy herb seen in Oaxacan cuisine, so I appreciated its addition to the quesadillas filled with black beans. Tortas are made with Fruitvale’s Peña’s Bakery bread, and can easily be split between a few people. The food is affordable, with the most expensive bites toppng out at $11.
Decor here is fun and comfortable: black, white and green murals from Denmark-born artist Anne Bundgaard decorate the walls and poke out of corners. It could almost be mistaken for a Mikkeller taproom, but the table tents holding colorful cards from the Mexican bingo game Loteria signal otherwise.