At first glance, the restaurant’s large caveman-style font on its signage strikes me as more of a haunt for Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble than a hip Oakland hangout. Once inside, however, a warm, yet subtle Latin-American vibe feels very welcoming.
On a recent Thursday night, the restaurant and bar area are buzzing at capacity. An upbeat energy pulses through the main dining area and more intimate side rooms. People look happy. The dark textured wood finishes, cozy dining spaces and dim lighting from artsy light fixtures contribute to a relaxed, yet festive mood.
It is clear that owner Jack Knowles imported some of his favorite concepts from his other Oakland baby, A Côté. Though the fare has switched from French to Pan Latin American, the attractive bar, large communal table, and shared plates menu are all still in play.
A Côté’s executive chef Matt Colgan is also along for the ride. Fans of the Rockridge restaurant will be glad to know he brings with him his mastery of mussels. The Rumbo iteration is a Brazilian dish called Mussels Moqueca ($16) with tomatoes, coconut milk, cilantro and malagueta peppers.
I found it tempting to abandon my plans and simply belly up to Rumbo’s long-reaching bar…….