Bites is Nosh’s round-up of restaurant and bar news in the East Bay. Got a tip or a scoop? Send it our way at Bites is produced by Nosh in collaboration with Christina Mitchell, founder of East Bay Dish.

Freshly served…

anfilo coffee facebook

ANFILO COFFEE It’s not just about the caffeine. Ambessaw Assegued and Dagmawit Bekele have been sharing a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony at the Grand Lake Farmers Market for months. Now the pair have opened Anfilo Coffee, a brick and mortar location, on Grand Avenue. The husband and wife team plan to add pastries, soups and salads, along with Ethiopian specialties like rolled injera filled with lentils or meat. The grand opening is scheduled for Feb. 1. 35 Grand Ave, Oakland; 510-828-2759.

CROSSROADS CAFE Crossroads Café is a worker-owned cooperative that recently opened in North Oakland. To show a little local love, sandwiches on the menu are all around $6 and named after nearby streets: the Market, the Adeline, the San Pablo, and so on, reports Oakland Local. The café not only shares the parking lot with the Phat Beets Farmers Market on Saturdays, it also sources produce from the farmers. The kitchen is available for the community to rent and there are plans to host events like film screenings for the neighborhood. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 942 Stanford Ave., Oakland.

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KENSINGTON CIRCUS PUB The Kensington Circus Pub has started offering weekend breakfasts, according to Scott McFadin, managing partner. On Sundays, the restaurant sources food from the Kensington farmers market. McFadin said “family dining” is a key element of the morning meal: “There is no other place that allows the parents to enjoy a good meal at a reasonable price while their children play and socialize in the kids corner.” Competitive prices, a large dining area, several large televisions for weekend games and “a roaring fire to keep you warm” are all highlights, said McFadin. 389 Colusa Ave., Kensington.

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CAFE V Cafe V has announced the hiring of a new Vietnamese chef, and a new menu that includes pho. “We kept the favorites like the duck fat fries and jalapeño eggroll poppers, and plan to add more new creations in the coming weeks.” On the weekends, Cafe V offers “bottomless mimosas” from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for $10. The business also has created a “Pho Happy Hour” called Pho Twenty (dine-in only, weekdays, from 4:20-5 p.m.). The special menu includes medium-sized bowls of beef, chicken or vegetable pho for $4.20 and hot sake for $4.20. 2056 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley.

Crab Yard

CRAB YARD Launched in December, Crab Yard describes itself as a Cajun-Creole Asian fusion restaurant that specializes in seafood. You simply order your seafood of choice and pick a seasoning (lemon pepper, garlic & butter or a combo), and you’re off. The restaurant does not provide utensils, but does offer “gloves, vibe, and plenty of paper towels.” A note on the door advises diners not to “wear anything you don’t want to get dirty.” Mains include shrimp, clams or mussels for $9.99 per pound. Raw oysters are $10 for half a dozen and $18.99 per dozen. Lobster, crawfish and crab go for seasonal prices. (A recent special had them going for $13.99 a pound.) Hours: Weekdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Weekends, 2-10 p.m. 2037 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; 510-883-1033.

El Gusano. Photo: Milthon Yojeni Sandoval Rivera
Photo: Milthon Rivera

EL GUSANO CLOSED TEMPORARILY One of downtown Oakland’s newest taquerias, El Gusano, said it had to close temporarily on Thursday afternoon due to a major equipment failure. Unfortunately, no details were available on the restaurant’s Facebook or Twitter pages about when they might be back in business.

GROCERY SHOP CLOSING Temescal Produce Market closed its Broadway and 40th Street location in Oakland earlier this week, citing slow sales. The market continues to operate its Telegraph Avenue location.

Coming soon…

the rare barrel facebook

THE RARE BARREL A new brewery, The Rare Barrel, is coming to Berkeley. Jay Goodwin, former Brewer at The Bruery will take care of the barrel aging, Brad Goodwin (Jay’s father) will handle the books and Alex Wallash (a homebrewer) will be in charge of sales and marketing, says East Bay Beer. So what makes The Rare Barrel unique? The brewery is producing all sour beers, which take up to a year (or more) to mature. A small tasting room is also a possibility in the future.
937 Carleton St., Berkeley.

What else is going on…

POP-UP OYSTERS Romney Steele and her partner Steven Day are, as we reported previously, working on opening The Cook and Her Farmer, an oyster and wine bar, in Swan’s Market in Oakland sometime this spring. In the meantime, they’re running a Friday pop-up series at Guerilla Café in Berkeley. There will be fresh Tamales Bay oysters with a house “wash” and roasted oysters with something called Memphis Dirty Butter. They will also serve salads, crab gumbo and weekly specials, along with local wine and beer. 1620 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-798-1895, Fridays, Jan. 25, Feb. 8, Feb. 22, 6-10 p.m.


FREE PIZZA Since Nick’s Pizza opened last May, it has been hosting quarterly Community Meals, and passing out over 300 slices to bring neighbors together. Next week they’ll give away free pizza, salad and drinks and Caamaño Bros. Soda Pop Co. will serve free samples of its natural craft root beer, High Noon Sarsparilla. Bring your own plate and cup, if possible. 6211 Shattuck Ave., Oakland, 510-658-3903. Mon, Jan. 28, 5-7 p.m.

WHISKY PAIRING DINNER Hopscotch is hosting a whisky pairing dinner with Whiskies of the World on Monday, Jan. 28, when the restaurant would ordinarily be closed. Featured whiskies include Glenkinchie 12yr, Clynelish 14yr, Royal Lochnagar DE, Oban DE, and Royal Lochnagar DE, of which there are only 18 bottles in Northern California. The menu includes smoked kanpachi crudo, braised veal breast, and bites of carrot cake and chocolate torte. Cost: $80. 1915 San Pablo Ave., Oakland; 510-788-6217. Monday, Jan. 28, 6-8 p.m.

BOX AND BELLS PREVIEW Chef James Syhabout (Commis, Hawker Fare) is busy working on his third Oakland restaurant, Box and Bells, which is set to open in Rockridge at 5912 College Ave. later this year. Meantime, Inside Scoop has details about the chef’s plans to have preview pop-up dinners at Hawker Fare. The goal is to test recipes and get feedback from customers. 2300 Webster St., Oakland, Feb. 17, 6 p.m. Cost $45.

MAC & CHEESE THURSDAYS Smokey J’s Q House on Shattuck recently launched “mac & cheese Thursdays.” Basic mac & cheese goes for $8; add meats like pulled pork, brisket or pulled chicken and pay $10. There’s also a “Fat Mac” option “with all the meet and twice the size” for $35. See the menu3015 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley.

Quick hits and tidbits…

  • Berkeley’s Comal gets a new write-up in the Chron featuring its drinks and bar.
  • Forge pizzeria in Jack London Square, which we tipped in November, is due to open Tuesday, Jan. 29, according to Tablehopper. Sfgate calls the restaurant “massive” with 4,100 square feet and 150 seats. See a photo slideshow from Grub Street. Inside Scoop wonders if the restaurant will “help turn the corner” for Jack London Square.
  • According to Diablo DishI-Squared in Rockridge, which recently closed, plans to launch a new restaurant concept later this month, as promised in a note on the window. The Dish also does a helpful round-up of local pizza shops (though it forgot to mention Kensington’s own Benchmark Pizzeria, which we featured on Nosh in December).
  • Friday, Jan. 25, is the soft-launch of Off-the-Grid at the Oakland Museum of California.
  • According to the Huffington Post, diners in Jack London Square’s Bocanova were surprised by an announcement on Wednesday from an airline rep who stood up to promise every diner in the place a voucher for a free round-trip ticket to anywhere in South America. (They got a much nicer surprise than the Papa Murphy’s employee in Alameda who was robbed by a masked gunman; the robber pistol-whipped the employee and broke a bone in his face, according to Grub Street.)
  • The East Bay Express highlights two spots for hot pot to celebrate the Lunar New Year and profiles Anfilo Coffee in Oakland, noted above.
  • Tasting Table takes a closer look at Line 51 Brewing, based in Oakland. According to the company website, “beer is now pouring at select stops up and down Broadway Avenue. Line 51 is based in Oakland and our beer is proudly produced at Hermitage Brewing Company in San Jose.”
  • Oakland’s Destino has closed to remodel just three months after opening, says Inside Scoop.

Bites is Nosh’s round-up of restaurant and bar openings and closings in the East Bay. Got a tip or scoop? Send it our way to

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Some of these items may first have appeared in Shop Talk, Berkeleyside’s regular column in which we post updates on Berkeley businesses. If you’re a Berkeley business with news, or a Berkeleysider who has spotted a change in your neighborhood or on your travels, email us with the details. Read previous Shop Talk columns here.

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