MELOMELO OPENS ITS DOORS Berkeley residents looking for an alternative bar atmosphere now have a new destination. MeloMelo Kava Bar (pictured above), a coffee- and alcohol-free watering hole, opened softly this past Tuesday. As we reported in September, kava is a Polynesian drink, made from the roots of the kava-kava plant, that has a mild sedative effect. Along with a rotating selection of kava, MeloMelo is serving kombucha on tap and a weekly “kava koncotion” special. You can learn more about the history and science of kava on MeloMelo’s website. MeloMelo Kava Bar is at 1701 University Ave., Berkeley. Connect with MeloMelo on Facebook and Twitter.
NEW: ZING CAFE A new coffee shop has come to South Berkeley, and locals are already singing its praises on Yelp. Located right across the street from Ashby BART, at the opposite end of the block from Flacos Tacos, on the corner of Essex Street, Zing Café (pictured above) is serving Mr. Espresso coffee, deli sandwiches and pastries (including multiple flavors of cronuts). It’s a small spot, but offers several tables on its outdoor patio. The café is convenient for Shotgun Players and visitors to Terra’s Temple. “This corner … between Emerson and Essex badly needs a pleasant lunch spot,” said Patricia M. on Yelp. Zing Café is at 3031 Adeline Ave., Berkeley.
CALI-INDO-ASIAN RESTAURANT COMES TO GOURMET GHETTO As we reported earlier this week, Tigerlily, the new restaurant from the East Bay Spice Company and Westbrae Biergarten team, has opened in the Gourmet Ghetto. Current menu includes dishes such as Tandoori Squid on Squid Ink Naan with Hazelnut Salsa Verde and Ginger; Thrice Cooked Porchetta with Apple Butter Glaze, Rainbow Chard, Butternut Squash and Herbs; and “Oh No You Didn’t” Fried Chicken with House-Made Tikka Masala Sauce. Tigerlily is at 1513 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. Connect with Tigerlily on Facebook and Instagram.
SWEET LEAF TRANSFORMS Sweet Leaf, the Telegraph Avenue home for hearty salads, has now become Mr. Nacho, a Mexican restaurant specializing in, you guessed it, nachos. They’ll still be serving the Sweet Leaf salad alongside a wide variety of nacho toppings. The name, however, may be in flux. The owners, a father and son team, have discussed naming the restaurant Panchos 2, after their original restaurant, Panchos (on Durant Avenue). Mr. Nacho is at 2468-A Telegraph Ave., Berkeley.
What else is going on…
FUSEBOX ADDS HOURS Fans of West Oakland’s FuseBOX can now dine on their chicken wings and wide array of kimchi on Saturday afternoons. Starting last weekend, they officially opened for lunch and brunch service from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Expect twists on French toast served alongside galbi and fried eggs. FuseBOX is at 2311A Magnolia St., Oakland. Connect with FuseBOX on Facebook and Twitter.
OFF THE GRID UPTOWN CHANGES NIGHTS This week was the last week for Monday night’s Off the Grid Uptown. The food truck pod will relaunch on Thursday, Feb. 5 at Telegraph and William Streets at 5 p.m. As this is officially a “launch” party, OTG will be pulling out all the stops, with music from Digital Underground, live Zumba demos from the Downtown Oakland YMCA, and other “special activities” from Visit Oakland. They’ll continue to serve on Thursdays for the foreseeable future. Connect with Off the Grid on Facebook and Twitter.
FIRST FRIDAY CHOCOLATES Oakland’s Homestead Apothecary is hosting a special guest for February’s First Friday: Coracao Confections. This Emeryville chocolate company makes healthier versions of chocolate candies from unroasted cacao and organic nuts, unrefined sugars, and whole spices. All of their products are dairy-, gluten- and soy-free. Expect to taste an array of creative chocolate confections like The Berkeley Bar, a riff on a Snickers, and absinthe truffles. Homestead Apothecary is at 486 49th St. #C, Oakland. Connect with Homestead Apothecary on Facebook and Twitter. Connect with Coracao Confections on Twitter.
EDIBLE EDUCATION IS BACK UC Berkeley’s Edible Education lectures launched this week, with an opening talk by Michael Pollan. Unlike in previous years, Pollan will not be leading the class. Instead, environmental studies professor Garrison Sposito will be taking charge, along with food writer Mark Bittman and poet Robert Hass. Another change from previous years — the lecture hall will not be open to the general public. Instead, interested community members can either attend a live screening at the Brower Center for $7, or they can watch a live stream of the event on YouTube. This year’s speakers include Eric Schlosser, Marion Nestle, Mas Masumoto, Alice Waters, and more. Learn more about the program on the Edible Education website.
SAM’S LOG CABIN UPDATE The kitschy Albany brunch spot reached its Kickstarter funding goals this summer, and is beginning the physical process of expanding the restaurant to include more outdoor seating, community events, and live music. As we told you over the summer, Sam’s Log Cabin has changed ownership in the last few years, and the new owners hope that the expansion will help the restaurant to continue to be a “cozy and warm place where the community can enjoy a great breakfast or lunch in an atmosphere that is as local and organic as the food, all while engaging with each other and the local arts scene.” Sam’s hosted its first community “dig-in” to begin the work on Monday, and plans to host several more events as the work progresses. Sam’s Log Cabin is at 945 San Pablo Ave., Albany. Connect with Sam’s on Facebook.
SUPER BOWL SPECIALS Watching the Super Bowl this year? There are several East Bay restaurants providing game day takeout and in house specials. Uptown Oakland’s Hopscotch will be serving dishes such as an eight-piece fried chicken bucket and miso chili wings with blue cheese dip. (Order by 6 p.m. Saturday for Sunday pick-up.) BUILD Pizzeria Roma in Downtown Berkeley will offer special vouchers for free desserts or appetizers to all takeout customers that day. Order in and you can get a $3 pint of Trumer or Big Daddy IPA. Capone’s Speakeasy in Alameda will have food and drink specials starting at 1 pm, including chicken wings, chips and dip, beer-battered fish and chips, house made corn dogs, and $5 drinks. Caviar is also delivering on Sunday. They’re recommending Phil’s Sliders or the Sandwich Spot as crowd-pleasing options. East Bay Dish reports that Fist of Flour, Carolyn’s Creole Kitchen, Chef Smelly, and Homeroom are also all offering takeout specials and Hog’s Apothecary, Era, Moxy, and The New Parkway will be showing the game with game-appropriate snacks.