Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pomeranians and a Polar Bear in Port Costa, CA

Canyon Lake Drive, Port Costa, CA

We follow a winding road, descending through golden hills, sparkling in the sunshine, behind a biker, his mama, and two Pomeranians in the basket on the back. We reach a stretch of homes in dappled sunshine, shaded by large Oaks and Willows - the beginning of the tiny town of Port Costa, CA.

Artist Wendy Addison's Studio, Theatre of Dreams, open Saturdays only
Next we reach the time and weather-beaten Victorian-era commercial strip, leading to the water of the Carquinez Straight. A whimsical assortment of tenants fill the wood, brick and cement buildings. Dusty windows offer a glimpse inside to artist's studios, vintage stores, the swanky Bully Valley Roadhouse, and the crooked yellow paint peeling Victorian Burlington Hotel  (once a brothel).
The Burlington Hotel, Port Costa

The Warehouse Cafe anchors the end of the strip in a hulking cement warehouse built in 1886. The Port Costa Post Office looks as if it belongs in 1886 and shares the main street-facing portion of the building. The Warehouse Cafe patio reaches towards the water. A band sets up outside. Bikers in leather, a few with Pomeranian dogs stand on the patio, in the dirt parking lot and in the street. They might look tough if it weren't for their foo foo doggies. 

The Warehouse Cafe Building, Port Costa
Inside, the Warehouse Cafe holds a cabinet of curiosities, ready to be explored, mason jar of beer in hand. A massive stuffed polar bear towers over drinkers from his plexiglass case, a stuffed headless seal at his feet. Giant crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling, draped in red and white striped circus fabric. A wood and glass theater box office sits in the middle of the space. The restaurant offers burgers and hot dogs from a counter that looks like it was once held a smorgasbord. 

Polar bear inside The Warehouse Cafe, possibly
Port Costa's most famous resident
An oddities shop that feels more like a head shop sits in the corner of the Warehouse Cafe, only accessible through the bar. The bathrooms are down a shoddily built wooden hallway. The two stalls in the ladies’ room don’t have doors. Somehow, this just adds to the charm of the Warehouse Cafe.

This is the kind of place you can get lost in. You could choose to sit at the bar or on the patio with other customers, or you could find yourself a dark hidden corner to hunker down in. Alternatively, you could walk through the dirt parking lot, over the railroad tracks, to the rocks on the shore of the Carquinez Strait and have yourself a picnic looking over the water towards Benicia. 
Railroad tracks between Port Costa and the Carquinez Strait

Port Costa is a short 25 miles from Oakland, but if feels a world away, in both time and space. In other words, it's the perfect day trip from crowded San Francisco or Oakland. Explore the links below for more information on Port Costa's quirky businesses. 


Warehouse Cafe Yelp Page  

New York Times Article on the Warehouse Cafe 

The Burlington Hotel 

Bull Valley Roadhouse 

Theatre of Dreams

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