Crystal Wahpepah is a member of the Kickapoo nation of Oklahoma, but growing up, she spent most of her time in Oakland, not far from the location of her new restaurant. Her goal is to introduce diners to the beauty of Native foods. While she gets much of her produce from local Indigenous farmers, she features a variety of beans, corn, rice, and other foodstuffs from Native producers across the country.
Wahpepah was the first Native contestant on the Chopped TV show in 2016 and was recently nominated for a James Beard Award for Emerging Chef. Before opening this spot in the fall of 2021, she catered both locally and at Native events across the country.
In a colorful interior featuring murals by celebrated Native artists, her mostly gluten-free menu celebrates the seasons. Carnivores will appreciate her bison meatballs in blueberry sauce and braised rabbit blue-corn tacos. Vegan choices include sweet potato tostadas and pumpkin seed mole with wild mushrooms. Her Three Sisters Veggie Bowl is a festival of tastes and textures, including heirloom corn, quinoa, squash, tepary beans, blueberries, walnuts, and greens. Wahpepah clarifies that being a Native chef is not just a business. “It’s historical,” she says, “and about respect.”
Know Before You Go
Reservations are recommended and can be booked on the restaurant's website.