Oakland’s Only Standalone Puerto Rican Restaurant Is Ready to Roll Out the Mofongos. La Perla opened on February 14th.
La Perla’s opening day at 3409 Fruitvale Avenue will be Sunday, February 14. After, restaurant will be open Wednesday through Sunday.
For nearly three years, La Perla has been one of the great hidden treasures of Oakland’s Dimond District: a bustling, wildly delicious-smelling Puerto Rican takeout spot tucked inside the Two Star Market liquor store on MacArthur Boulevard.
Now, the business is ready to take its next step: Cheo and Gabriel Ortiz, the father-and-son team behind La Perla, are moving the family business to a new location — just around the block at 3409 Fruitvale Avenue — that’s about four times as big.
It’s likely to be a destination restaurant from day one, simply because of the sheer paucity of Puerto Rican food options in the Bay Area.
In the East Bay, in particular, La Perla will be the only full-fledged Puerto Rican restaurant — a standalone spot where customers will be able to feast on arroz con gandules, shrimp mofongos, and slow-roasted pernil.
It’s no wonder, then, that even back in the restaurant’s back-of-the-bodega days, it would routinely draw customers from as far away as Sacramento, Turlock, and Monterey, many of them Puerto Ricans desperate for a taste of home. “I can’t forget it, there was a couple, they showed up with their luggage, and they said, ‘Hey, we’re from Hawaii,’” Gabriel Ortiz says. “They were on their way to the airport, but they made sure to stop by and have a bite to eat with us.”
Located just a couple of blocks away from La Perla’s previous pop-up incarnation, the new restaurant is a 1,500-square-foot former Subway that Ortiz says represents “a funny part of the history” of the restaurant:
Back in 2017, the owners of Two Star Market first approached Cheo Ortiz about taking over the little takeout counter inside the liquor store — he’d been one of the cooks at Borinquen Soul, the well-loved Puerto Rican spot that preceded La Perla in the space. That day, they’d all walked around the corner to the same Subway to sit down and hash out the details.