We sat down with cofounder Alberto Namnum to learn a little more about the restaurant Roots Natural Kitchen, set to open its Oakland location in early January just as spring semester classes begin. 

Sai Bhatte

If you’re like most of us, you have probably given up on your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier by the third day of January on a typical year. No judgement – it’s hard, we get it, and we have a solution. Thankfully, Oakland’s newest restaurant makes it easy AND enjoyable to get the nutrition your body needs without having to choke down giant bowls of plain old kale.

Sai Bhatte

The first Roots NK was opened near the University of Virginia, which is where the cofounders went to school. The cofounders Alberto Namnum and Alvaro Anspach knew they wanted to dive into the restaurant industry. When they were brainstorming to create a new restaurant that would fit UVA’s health-conscious campus, they decided to make the perfect health food joint by keeping it simple and accomplishing what other healthy eateries hadn't: making delicious food that filled you up and wasn’t completely overpriced.

That’s where the idea for Roots Natural Kitchen was born – to sum up the food there in three words, Namnum says,

“Flavorful. Satisfying. Natural.”

The whole point of Roots was that it was so much more than just salads. That’s why the cofounders partnered with chefs from a Latin American restaurant in downtown Charlottesville to put together the menu: marinated chicken, interesting sauces, fresh ingredients - they had to make sure they nailed the flavors. They created food you enjoyed eating and left you feeling great after, too.

Sai Bhatte

Now they’re bringing it to the streets of Oakland. It’s the perfect fit (especially for students ballin’ on a budget), featuring high quality ingredients in a general price range of about $8 to $10 for a meal. Food is served in a down the line, "Chipotle-style" setting - making it perfect to pick up before getting on with your busy schedule. Or, you can stick around, as there is plenty of seating. You can build your own bowl if you're feeling adventurous or play it safe with one of their signature bowls - it's completely customizable. 

As Namnum puts it, “You don’t even have to like salads to enjoy it.” If you are one of those people that isn't too big on salads, you can try the “Balboa” bowl, which has a brown rice base and zero, I repeat, ZERO lettuce. Namnum’s recommendation: the popular “El Jefe” bowl with jalapeños lightly dressed with agave on top for a sweet and spicy kick.

So, give it a shot this semester. There’s a bowl out there for anyone and everyone.