It’s the last day of May, which means it’s time for our end-of-the-month update on all the restaurants that have recently opened and closed in the East Bay. The theme for May is delayed reopenings. Several restaurants that were slated to reopen for business — Mezzo, Raleigh’s, Grocery Café and Mockingbird — are all behind schedule. While we patiently wait for these places to reopen, we caught up on eight spots that have opened, including a couple we missed in March and April. We also gathered intel on a few upcoming eateries that are in various stages of fruition. Surprisingly, we only have one closing on this list, The Sandwich Spot, which we reported about earlier this month.
As always, let us know if we’ve missed anything in the comments.
CROSTA PANINI BAR Here’s a spot we didn’t include in our March openings roundup. Located within Berkeley’s Highwire Coffee is Crosta, a new casual café serving panini, salads and a soup du jour. It opened on March 1. Its menu is small and simple, but the ingredients are fresh and inventive. One of its three panini, for example, is made with a roasted cauliflower “steak,” sundried tomato walnut tapenade, arugula and mozzarella. Crosta also offers weekend specials, such as a roasted asparagus panini with herbed ricotta or waffles on a stick with Nutella and powdered sugar.
Crosta Panini Bar, 2049 San Pablo Ave. (between University and Addison), Berkeley. Wheelchair accessible.
MATT & IZZY’S PUB AND GRUB This new sports bar in Berkeley offers an international take on comfort food. That means along with burgers, fries and buffalo wings, you’ll find lumpia, Korean fried chicken and pork belly fried rice. If those dishes aren’t what you’re hungry for, there’s also mussels, clams and shrimp by the pound, ribs, gumbo, salads and Matt & Izzy’s take on the Hawaiian specialty, Loco Moco. On its Yelp page, the restaurant owners write: “Inspired by our children Mathew and Isabella, Matt & Izzy’s offers the comfort food we all grew up with. Our family loves great food from around the world.” Take note that Matt & Izzy’s opens at 4 p.m., so don’t expect to eat lunch here.
Matt & Izzy’s Pub and Grub, 2116 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley. Wheelchair accessible.
POKÉ BAR Yet another restaurant specializing in poke, or raw fish over rice, opened early this month in Berkeley. Poké Bar is a Southern California-based chain with three other Bay Area locations; its Berkeley branch is its first foray in the East Bay. Specializing in fast, convenient and customizable poke bowls, diners choose the size, protein, dressings and toppings, which include some non-traditional additions, like quinoa and kale.
Poké Bar, 2433 Durant Ave. (between Telegraph and Dana), Berkeley. Wheelchair accessible.
THE SANDWICH SPOT May 24 was the last day of service for the downtown Berkeley deli on Shattuck Avenue, popular amongst Berkeley High and Cal students for its hefty sandwiches. When we spoke to co-owner Bill Armanino, Jr. about the decision to close The Sandwich Spot earlier this month, he said the reason for closing was financial, more specifically — rising rents and minimum wage. Armanino also ran Bomba, a gourmet doughnut business, as a pop-up at The Sandwich Spot. Although he is leaving the sandwich biz, he will continue Bomba as a food truck in downtown Berkeley and on the Off the Grid circuit. A sign for the next business just went up this week: Happy Lemon. The Shanghai-based tea chain serves boba milk teas, smoothies, lemon teas, and a whole series of tea drinks with salted cheese flavor!
IPPUDO Earlier this month, we reported that New York City-based ramen chain, Ippudo announced an opening date for its downtown Berkeley ramen-ya. Initially, the restaurant’s co-owners at the Panda Restaurant Group told us Ippudo would open on June 2, but two days later, a rep with Panda said the latest projection for its opening was pushed back another month. “Currently, we’re looking at a mid- to late-July timeframe for the grand opening,” she told Berkeleyside. Ippudo in Berkeley will be its first West Coast location.
Ippudo, 2011 Shattuck Ave. (at University), Berkeley
MEZZO AND RALEIGH’S May was the intended month for the reopening of two Telegraph Avenue institutions, Berkeley’s beloved salad café Mezzo (the new iteration of Café Intermezzo) and sports bar Raleigh’s, but it looks like nostalgic diners will have to wait til June or July to relive their salad days. Check back tomorrow, June 1, on Nosh for a sneak peek inside Mezzo and Raleigh’s, as well as more details about what to expect when they finally do reopen.
Mezzo and Raleigh’s, Telegraph Ave. at Channing, Berkeley
SOUVENIR COFFEE The former Semifreddi’s space on Claremont Avenue has a new tenant. According to Eater SF, Souvenir Coffee, a small batch, Berkeley-based coffee roaster, will open its cafe sometime in June. Its founder, Berkeley-native Jeremy Bled, hopes to offer daily tastings at the shop and hold community events. Souvenir will serve espresso drinks, pour over, cold brew, and nitro cold brew coffee drinks, along with breads, pastries, salads and sandwiches.
Souvenir Coffee, 3084 Claremont Ave. (at the Uplands), Berkeley
VITALITY BOWLS A zoning notice is up at 1625 Shattuck for a proposed Gourmet Ghetto location of Vitality Bowls, a national chain that specializes in açai bowls and smoothies. Permit applicant Ivan Alan told us that they are halfway through the permitting process, and if all goes as planned, Vitality Bowls will be open around September 1.
DEGREES PLATO Oakland’s Laurel District just got a new family-friendly taproom. Husband and wife Rich Allen and Mercedes Sperling opened Degrees Plato on May 3, treating the month as the taproom’s soft opening. Degrees Plato offers a good selection of craft beers, ciders and wines on its taps and a kitchen serving bites that go well with such drinks, like tortas, quesadillas and guacamole. If you don’t have time to stay and enjoy a drink in house, Degrees Plato has refrigerators stocked with bottles and cans to take home. In case you’re wondering about the taproom’s name, the Plato scale is an European measurement of the concentration of sugars in the beer wort prior to fermentation.
Degrees Plato, 4251 MacArthur Blvd. (at High), Oakland
MUN-CHEEZE PIZZA AND GRILL Downtown Oakland got a new late-night pizza spot in May, and as its punny moniker might suggest, Mun-Cheeze is proving to be a hit with the hungry bar crowd looking for a bite after a night out. Pizzas can be ordered by the slice or the pie. Mun-Cheeze is also open for lunch on weekdays, and offers slice and drink combo specials.
Mun-Cheeze Pizza and Grill, 1259 Jefferson St (between 12th and 13th), Oakland
REEM’S This month, Arab street food vendor Reem’s opened its brick-and-mortar restaurant. Found in the plaza at Fruitvale BART station, Reem’s is open for breakfast and lunch, specializing in man’oushe — traditional flatbread that are cooked to order on a special rounded griddle, filled with toppings and rolled into a wrap-style sandwich. To cater to morning commuters, Reem’s serves its breakfast menu, with items like Shakshuka, until 11:30 a.m.
Reem’s, 3301 E. 12th St., Ste. 133 (at 33rd), Oakland
WINGMAN CHICKEN AND TEA From the owners of Bowl’d comes this new Korean fried chicken spot in Rockridge. Wingman has four varieties of its KFC (served as an order of five, 10 or 15 pieces): Prinkle Yogurt, Sweet & Sour, Soy Garlic and Hot Spicy. But if wings aren’t your things, the restaurant also offers four types of Korean-style ramen; a variety of rice bowls with toppings like bulgogi and katsu curry; and sides like fried dumplings and “Fried Nori Mari,” or sweet potato noodle wrapped in seaweed. As Nosh reported in October 2016, Wingman wants to focus on the powerhouse combo of fried chicken and beer, or chimaek (“chi” is the shortening of “chicken;” the word for beer in Korean is maekju), so it offers a few beers, as well as soju and sake cocktails. For dessert, Wingman has milkshakes and boba tea, which can be made with milk, soy milk or almond milk.
Wingman, 5295 College Ave. (at Clifton), Oakland
BLUE NILE EXPRESS Oakland BBQ joint the Brick Pig closed in early 2017 and signage for Blue Nile Express, an Ethiopian and Eritrean eatery, went up about a month ago in its place, but the windows and doors remained shut until about a week ago. Now, you may see the door to Blue Nile Express open, but don’t get your hopes up about eating there quite yet. We stopped by this week and spoke with the owner, who said that Blue Nile Express is currently open as a catering business (it supplies injera to many local Ethiopian restaurants, including Barcote and Cafe Romanat), but will not be open as a dine-in restaurant for another month or so.
Blue Nile Express, 5973 Shattuck Ave. (between 59th and 60th), Oakland
CHAI THAI BAR Taking the spot of recently closed Adesso on Piedmont Avenue is Chai Thai Bar, a restaurant and bar, owned by the same family who owns Chai Thai Noodles in Oakland and Hayward. Owner Thomas Manyvong told Nosh that this location will focus on “Thai-inspired cocktails” and drinks, but will also offer a small menu of Thai and Laos food. Chai Thai Bar expects to open in July.
Chai Thai Bar, 4395 Piedmont Ave. (at Pleasant Valley), Oakland
DALLAQ MARKET AND CAFÉ Old Oakland is getting a new market and restaurant that will serve Middle Eastern, African and American food. Dallaq Market and Café, located next door to Swan’s Market, is run by the same owner who owns Dallaq Market, a grocery store at 6901 Lion Way near the Oakland Coliseum.
Dallaq Market and Café, 542-B Ninth St. (between Clay and Washington), Oakland
GROCERY CAFÉ The grand reopening of the Grocery Café in Jack London Square was supposed to have happened this past Monday, on Memorial Day, but the restaurant is currently closed. On May 29, Grocery Café posted a message on Facebook that said: “Hi all, unfortunately we are not ready to open just yet. A lot of things are coming up last minute and the owner, William, would like to be able to give everyone the right experience and attention they deserve. Thank you for understanding. We will let you know when we officially open to the public.” We spoke with owner William Lue on Tuesday, May 30, and he confirmed that the restaurant is not yet open for walk-in diners, but it is currently still offering catering services. He hopes to open in the next coming days. Grocery Café was formerly in East Oakland and was well-known for serving some of the best Burmese food in the East Bay. As reported by The East Bay Express, Lue decided to close the restaurant and look for new digs rather than spend more than $100,000 in necessary upgrades to get it up to code. The new Jack London space, formerly Hahn’s Hibachi, is much larger, with 100 indoor seats and charcoal grills in the kitchen, which will allow Lue to experiment with offering more unusual Burmese dishes, as well as grilled meat skewers. We’ll report back when Grocery Café does finally reopen.
Grocery Cafe, 63 Jack London Square, Oakland
HINA YAKITORI Temescal izakaya restaurant Hina Yakitori is currently closed. The restaurant announced on Instagram on May 3 that the closure is temporary, until it moves to its new location. Executive chef Tommy Cleary explained to Nosh that he is unable to say where the new location is at this time or when it will reopen, but that it is in Oakland in a smaller space, very close to its former location at 4828 Telegraph Ave. He said, “It’s a move to go back to my original idea of a small omakase-only space. The new place will be 12 seats and will be a fixed menu. It’s easier to manage — staff-wise and product-wise — with a smaller place. I can focus on quality and deliver a superior product. I’m looking to do two seatings a day so I can calculate everything and be more precise. In the end it should be a better experience for the customer.”
THE KON-TIKI Oakland tiki bar Longitude closed in March, but it looks like a new tiki bar will take its place. A photo of public notice for a transfer of liquor license to new owners was posted on Instagram by @overattired, aka Sam Simmons, who runs neighboring business, OverAttired Vintage Fashion on 14th Street. The Kon-Tiki is listed as the new business, owned by Fatu Hiva Enterprise, LLC, a company co-run by Christ Aivaliotis (Holy Mountain) and Matthew Reagan. We’ll keep you updated on details as we get them. H/t critiki and thanks to @seanyodarouse for the tip.
The Kon-Tiki, 347 14th St. (at Webster), Oakland
MOCKINGBIRD Well, looks like the anticipated re-opening of Mockingbird has been pushed back. The Oakland bistro, which closed its doors in 2016, had hoped to reopen in May, but General Manager Daniel Alonzo-Gipson said that it will likely reopen the second week of June. The new iteration of Mockingbird (occupying the former location of Ba Vo Vietnamese restaurant) will have a full liquor license. Its cocktail program, led by Shirley Brooks and Matt Grippo, will focus on local spirits. As before, Mockingbird will serve California-style seasonal dishes, such as fried Brussels sprouts, duck liver mousse with local strawberry jam and steak frites. When it reopens, Mockingbird will start with lunch for the first couple of weeks, then expand hours for happy hour before eventually opening for dinner service.
Mockingbird, 416 13th St. (at Franklin), Oakland
SOBA ICHI There’s a new soba restaurant coming to West Oakland, taking over the former FuseBOX space on Magnolia Street. SFGate reported that Berkeley’s Ippuku team — Christian Geideman, Paul Discoe, Koichi Ishii and Shinichi Washino — are behind Soba Ichi, which will serve handmade Japanese soba. The noodles will be made from scratch at the restaurant; Geidemann told SFGate that Ishii went through “a rigorous three-year soba apprenticeship in his home city of Yamagata.” Soba Ichi is slated to open in August.
Ichi Soba, 2311A Magnolia St. (at 24th St.), Oakland
NOMAD CAFÉ In April, Nomad Café opened a new location, its third in the East Bay, in Kensington, where the Ele Thai Cafe once stood. Like its Oakland and Berkeley locations, this iteration of Nomad serves coffee, pastries, bagels and a variety of sandwiches, including banh mi.
Nomad Café, 303 Arlington Ave (at Boynton), Kensington
PATATAS NEIGHBORHOOD KITCHEN The space once occupied by the Commonwealth Micropub in Emeryville has a new tenant – Patatas Neighborhood Kitchen. Chilean-born chef Marcos Quezada will offer a menu that features Latin American specialties like paella, herb roasted chicken and Spanish tortilla, a potato and egg omelette. Although dining in is an option, Patatas will focus on offering take-out and delivery options. According to the E’ville Eye, it is currently in soft-opening mode, with plans for a grand opening on June 1.
Patatas Neighborhood Kitchen, 3986 Adeline St. (at Yerba Buena), Emeryville
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