Funky Elephant, a new Thai eatery in West Berkeley. Photo: Sarah Han



THE BURGER JOINT When Troy Greek Cuisine closed in the Elmwood last November, we heard a burger spot was taking over and we imagined it would be some fancy shmancy $15 artisanal burger place. We were wrong. The Burger Joint is owned by the former Troy owners and it’s all about simple, cheap eats. Here you’ll find $6 burgers (choose between beef, fried or ground chicken, or veggie patty) that are made-to-order, but are more like the kind you’d find at an old-school mom-and-pop shop, rather than a gourmet burger joint. That’s A-OK with us. The standard burger comes with shredded iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, grilled or raw onion, mayo and a side pickle, but there are extra toppings and a few specialty burgers too. You couldn’t have a burger spot without fried goodies; here you’ll find french fries, onion rings, curly fries and chicken tenders. Shakes and floats round out the gut bomb. The Burger Joint, 2985 College Ave. (between Ashby and Webster), Berkeley

CAFÉ THINK This new café is found at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. It is the fourth eatery opened on the Cal campus by local restaurateur and UC Berkeley alumnus Daryl Ross, who also operates Caffe Strada on Bancroft Way. Café Think offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a menu leaning heavily towards healthy, locally sourced and vegetable-forward fare. That means salads like the Shoots & Stems, with roasted winter vegetables, organic kale and farro with a miso-curry vinaigrette, and bowls like the Ancient Grains Bibimbap, with a medley of veggies, kimchi and a spicy sesame dressing. If you’re craving something meaty, there are a few options for carnivores, like the Marin Sun Farms cheeseburger and Mary’s Chicken Banh Mi. Café Think, Connie and Kevin Chou Hall, UC Berkeley, 2220 Piedmont Ave., Berkeley

Pad Thai Old Skool at Funky Elephant in West Berkeley. Photo: Sarah Han

FUNKY ELEPHANT Joining a new school of fast-casual Thai spots in the East Bay is West Berkeley’s Funky Elephant, opened by former Hawker Fare chef  Supasit Puttikaew (who goes by “O”) and his wife Nanchaphon Laptanachai in the Gilman District. Funky Elephant’s menu is inspired by the comfort food dishes Puttikaew grew up eating in Thailand, but his focus on fresh, locally made and sourced ingredients make his dishes pop. What really sets Funky Elephant apart from the myriad of other Thai places is Puttikaew’s curry pastes, sauces and pickled vegetables, all of which he makes in house.

We stopped in and tried the Pad Thai Old Skool, which Puttikaew says is a crowd favorite. Gigantic head-on, white gulf shrimp sourced from Berkeley’s Monterey Fish Market sit atop a bed of saucy sweet and sour noodles and generous chunks of tofu from Oakland’s Hodo Soy. We also tried the Crispy Rice Salad (nam khao todd), which is made with fried Jasmine rice and house made red curry paste, with flecks of fermented sour pork sausage and tendrils of thinly sliced pig skin. Combined with a squeeze of fresh lime, crushed dried chili peppers and a bouquet of fresh herbs, the dish is crunchy, savory, pungent, fresh and bright in all the best ways.

Funky Elephant is in the process of getting its alcohol license to serve beer and wines, but in the meantime there are lots of non-alcoholic drinks, like Thai iced tea, hot teas, fresh limeade with butterfly pea (which makes the drink an uncanny purple color) and several interesting sodas to quench your thirst. For dessert, there’s soft serve, with flavors rotating on a regular basis. Puttikaew and Laptanachai admit that being on Ninth Street is a bit of a challenge for visibility, but are hopeful that Berkeley residents will find their way to taste the fresh, bold flavors here. Funky Elephant, 1313 Ninth St. (at Gilman), Berkeley

GONG CHA Taking over the 723 Tea Station spot in Durant Avenue’s Sather Lane is yet another boba shop called Gong Cha, which opened in early December. Gong Cha is another global chain with roots in Asia to come to Berkeley (joining others like Happy Lemon, Ippudo, Bonchon and Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks). Its first shop opened in Hong Kong in 2009, but it now has more than 1,500 franchise stores across the world. The chain claims to brew its teas and cook its boba pearls on site every four hours, for maximum freshness. Aside from drinks, the Berkeley location also has made-to-order snacks like egg puffs, fried tofu and Taiwanese mochi waffles. Gong Cha, 2431 Durant Ave., Ste. B (between Telegraph and Dana), Berkeley

Meat ravioli are made fresh at Italian Homemade Company in Berkeley. Photo: Italian Homemade Company/Facebook

ITALIAN HOMEMADE COMPANY A counter where fresh pasta is made, stuffed and cut sits right at the front window of this Italian café-grocery store. Italian Homemade Company is based in San Francisco, and this new Elmwood location is its first outpost outside of the city. If you’re thinking, “Wait, wasn’t there always an Italian place that sells groceries there?,” you’re thinking of AG Ferrari, another Bay Area chain which was in this location, but closed last year. Aside from fresh pasta, Italian Homemade’s menu offers flatbread sandwiches, salads and desserts like tiramisu and panna cotta, all of which you can order for dine-in or take-out. A small grocery area has goods like pasta, jarred sauces and olive oil. Trepalle Di Gelato, another San Francisco Italian company, has a counter inside offering 10 flavors. The Italian Homemade Company, 2905 College Ave. (at Russell), Berkeley

LA CALLE 10 In December, Nosh reported that the restaurant formerly known as T-Rex BBQ was going through an identity crisis. After trying out two other names (it was District 1 Fire & Hops in September, then 1300 Tenth Street in December) and some menu tweaks, it’s finally settled on its newest iteration. Now called La Calle 10 (note: we were told in December, it would be “Calle Diez,”), it’s a Latin BBQ bar and grill serving smoked meats and sides like mac and cheese, as well as Mexican cantina standards like tacos and enchiladas. La Calle 10, 1300 10th St. (at Gilman), Berkeley.

A selection of cocktails at Morgan’s Bar and Lounge in the Berkeley City Club. Photo: Morgan’s Bar and Lounge/Facebook
A selection of cocktails at Morgan’s Bar and Lounge in the Berkeley City Club. Photo: Morgan’s Bar and Lounge/Facebook

MORGAN’S BAR AND LOUNGE Berkeley City Club members celebrated the opening of its new lounge on Jan. 20. Named Morgan’s, after architect Julia Morgan who originally designed the historic building, it takes the place of the former Julia’s Lounge and is located next to the club’s French restaurant, Julia’s. For now, the lounge is a work in progress, but it is currently open to the public, serving cocktails and a menu of bar bites by Julia’s chef, Fabrice Marcon. Things will continue to fill out up until the lounge’s grand opening on March 3. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s story on Nosh, which will have more details about the historic bar furnishings you’ll find inside. Morgan’s Bar and Lounge, 2315 Durant Ave. (between Dana and Ellsworth) 2nd floor, Berkeley

SLIVER PIZZERIA January was a busy month for Berkeley’s Sliver Pizzeria. At the beginning of the month, it cleared out of 2132 Center St., where it first opened five years ago. Then, less then two weeks later it opened in Berkeley’s Southside neighborhood — a move they kept on the downlow until opening. The new location was divisive. While Southside eaters rejoiced, fans in downtown Berkeley, notably those from Berkeley High and Berkeley City College, weren’t happy. But before anyone could raise too much of a stink about it, Sliver pulled another rabbit out of its hat, announcing it would return downtown, with a second location. The reason for all the secret moves became clear when Sliver announced a contest for fans to guess the exact address of its new spot. On Jan. 28 it proclaimed two winners had guessed the correct address of the downtown Berkeley location, which will be on Shattuck in the former Site for Sore Eyes location. Sliver Pizzeria, 2468 Telegraph Ave. (between Haste and Dwight), Berkeley and 2174 Shattuck Ave. (between Allston and Center), Berkeley

Zazzi Foods owner Cassandra Chen. Photo: Sarah Han

ZAZZI FOODS The new café from Cassandra Chen, owner and producer of Café Fanny Granola and CC Made confections is in the former Flour & Co. bakery space. Zazzi has a small retail store in front, with plenty of tables and seating off to the side. For now, you can order coffee, pastry, granola bowls and toasts at the counter. Zazzi Foods is currently in soft open mode with a grand opening happening in about a week. Read more about the new café/retail shop in this week’s edition of BitesZazzi Foods, 1398 University Ave. (at Acton), Berkeley 


BARCLAY’S RESTAURANT AND PUB As Nosh reported this week, Barclay’s (2430 Shattuck Ave.) abruptly closed this month. Owner Gene Bromstead made the decision to end things after the business failed to drum up enough regular customers after its move to downtown Berkeley from Oakland’s Rockridge district last June. Barclay’s was on College Avenue for close to 25 years and had many fans, but the distance to Berkeley was a bit too inconvenient for its longtime base.

CUGINI MANZONE The Elmwood’s Italian wood-fire restaurant, Cugini Manzone closed on Dec. 22. Giuseppe and Michele Manzone opened the restaurant at 2930 College Ave. in March 2014, and told Nosh they sold the business to “pursue other endeavors.” As Nosh reported last week, a new restaurant called In the Wood will open in its place in February.



Larb mu (with a side of sticky rice) at Bird & Buffalo in Temescal. Photo: Sarah Han

BIRD & BUFFALO Earlier in this article, we referred to a slew of a new casual Thai eateries opening in the East Bay, and Bird & Buffalo is another one of these. It opened on Jan. 8 in Temescal in the former Rosamunde space and serves “Thai soul food.” The menu is simple in that it’s divided into six main categories: snacks (like crispy spring rolls, lao sausage and fried chicken wings), curries (five types to choose from, served with rice and blistered green beans), grilled meats (chicken, pork or lamb), somtum (two papaya salads), larb (five variations of the spicy Thai salad) and desserts (mango sticky rice and two others). Worth noting is Bird & Buffalo serves Doi Chaang coffee, a Canadian company that sources single-origin, organic and fair trade coffee from the Akha Hill Tribe in northern Thailand. Bird & Buffalo, 4659 Telegraph Ave. (at 46th), Oakland . Bird & Buffalo will be at 4659 Telegraph Ave. (between 46th and 47th), Oakland

La Boulangerie in Rockridge. Photo: Sarah Han

LA BOULANGERIE Taking over the former Pasta Pomodoro building is Bay Area bakery chain, La Boulangerie de San Francisco. This is La Boulangerie’s first East Bay location since all of its bakeries were closed in 2015 after its acquisition by Starbucks three years earlier. The new Rockridge café is spacious, with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. As with other La Boulangerie locations, you’ll find full cases of pastries, pre-made cold sandwiches and grab-and-go salads, but you can also order soups, salads, sandwiches and more to be made-to-order off of the menu. La Boulangerie, 5500 College Ave. (at Lawton), Oakland

HIMALAYAN CURRY HOUSE In late December, defunct Flavors of India in Montclair Village came back from the dead, with a new name, new management, a new look and a new menu. OK, it’s a completely new restaurant, but its website asks locals to consider the following: Montclair, your’s [sic] only Indian Restaurant is now under new management. With over 14 years of experience on successful ventures around Bay Area, our new team is delighted to reform the restaurant with more authentic and soul touching delicacies. Brand new name and addition of Himalayan cuisine is sure to work out as a great fusion for this neighborhood. Now, what is your excuse for not trying us?” So far, Yelp reviewers are liking its momos, samosas and curries. Himalayan Curry House, 6112 La Salle Ave. (between Moraga and Mountain), Oakland 

JJ’S FISH AND CHICKEN JJ’s Fish and Chicken is a national chain that started as a fried fish joint in Chicago back in 1982. Today, there are more than 130 locations nationwide. This West Oakland branch of JJ’s opened in December — joining two other locations already in Oakland. You’ll find a variety of fried seafood, including oysters, red snapper, shrimp, tilapia and calamari, and various cuts of fried chicken, including a fast-food rarity in these parts — gizzards. JJ’s has a bevy of sides too, like mac and cheese, red beans and rice, collard greens and coleslaw. JJ’s Fish and Chicken, 941 West Grand Ave. (at Myrtle), Oakland

OESTE Anna Villalobos, Lea Redmond and Sandra Davis opened up Oeste in Old Oakland with the desire to be a place for locals to eat and drink all day, whether it be coffee and grab-and-go sandwiches from the café or cocktails and Southern-Latino bites at the bar-restaurant. Oeste’s menu is a little bit Mexican, a little bit Southern and a whole lot Oakland. Chef Peter Jackson’s menu offers dishes like beef picadillo steamed in banana leaf and chicken and sausage gumbo with okra, dark roux and rice on its menu. The bar serves house tap cocktails and several wines from black-owned wineries. Read our recent feature on Oeste to find out more. Oeste, 722-730 Clay St. (between 7th and 8th), Oakland

130 CAFÉ Affordable breakfast burritos and burgers are the main attractions at this new mom-and-pop breakfast and lunch spot in Downtown Oakland. According to Hoodline, the owners plan to expand the menu, eventually offering Asian-inspired foods and possibly boba drinks when the weather warms up. 130 Café, 130 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza (between San Pablo and 15th), Oakland 

LA PERLA PUERTO RICAN CUISINE If you’re craving Puerto Rican fare, you’ll want to check out this new Dimond district restaurant, where you’ll find large combination plates of specialities like bistec encebollado (steak with sauteed onions) and chicharrones de pollo (fried chicken cracklings) served with rice, beans and plantains. On weekends, La Perla offers three specials — lobster with mashed plantains, fried snapper and roast pork (on Saturday only). La Perla Puerto Rican Cuisine, 2020 MacArthur Blvd. (at Dimond), Oakland

SHALIMAR GARDEN Vegan & Tikka Masala on Piedmont Avenue closed to make way for this new Pakistani and Indian halal restaurant. The menu has a large variety of meat and vegetarian curries, biryanis and tandoori dishes, but worth noting are its goat specialities. Shalimar offers four goat dishes — curry, vindaloo, karahi and tikka masala. Shalimar Garden, 3814 Piedmont Ave. (near Yosemite), Oakland

YOKEE MILK TEA Milk teas, fruit teas, cheese teas and smoothies are what to order at this Uptown boba shop. It soft opened at the end of December in the former U-Tea spot. So far, Yelp reviews are positive, noting that the teas are fresh tasting and high quality. Like with many new boba shops, you can request less sugar and ice in all your drinks. Yokee Milk Tea, 1728A Franklin St. (between 19th and 17th), Oakland


DUCHESS Shortly after the new year started, Duchess in Rockridge (5422 College Ave.) abruptly closed. As Nosh reported, owners Caroline Conner and Chris Strieter blamed a “lack of financial sustainability” for the restaurant’s closure. The space is currently being renovated with plans of opening a restaurant with a new concept later this year. No further details were given about what that might be, but we’ll let you know as soon as we hear word.

JUHU BEACH CLUB Chef Preeti Mistry closed her five-year-old Indian restaurant Juhu Beach Club this month. The restaurant at 5179 Telegraph Ave. in Temescal was put up for sale last September. Although fans mourn the loss of Juhu, they can still get a taste of Mistry’s cooking at Navi Kitchen (5000 Adeline St.) in nearby Emeryville, where she told Nosh she’s been able to spend a lot more time at since Juhu’s closure. Mistry also mentioned that she’s been adding more dishes to the Navi menu and having fun experimenting with new recipes and making new pizzas. We’ve yet to hear what’s going into the Juhu Beach Club spot next, but we’ll keep you updated when we find out.

MAX’S DINER & BAR Max’s at 500 12th St. in Oakland City Center shuttered abruptly this month. According to Hoodline, the eatery closed because it defaulted on its lease. The Oakland restaurant served typical American diner fare, like burgers, salads and sandwiches, and was part of the larger Max’s chain — the original opened in 1978 in Burlingame, with other locations in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Redwood City and Auburn.

THE PAIN SHOP Temescal Alley lost its bread shop, The Pain Shop this month. The small storefront in the former Doughnut Dolly space sold several varieties of naturally leavened loaves, baked fresh at Pain Bakery, which bakes out of a shared kitchen in San Mateo. Knowing these logistics, it makes sense that The Pain Shop was open for less than three months. Baker-owner Davey Surcamp told Nosh it was just not sustainable to keep doing it. For now, he’s on the search for a space for a bakery/restaurant. Surcamp said he’s solely looking to open the new Pain location in Oakland, where he currently lives, and that it will offer bread and bakery offerings, sandwiches at lunch, and dinner fare.

[Updated Feb 2, 2018] WINGMAN CHICKEN AND TEA We got a tip from Nosh reader that Rockridge Korean fried chicken spot Wingman (5925 College Ave.) closed this month. The restaurant had just opened in May last year. We reached out to Wingman for comment, but haven’t heard a response at the time of publication. Update: Nosh went to Wingman on Feb. 2 to try to get more information. All the windows were covered and a note on the door from “Wingman Management” stated, “We understand your disappointment and apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused you. At this moment we are on a long vacation [for] about a week . Thank you for your understanding.”



Cantina Del Sol in Albany. Photo: Cantina Del Sol/Facebook

CANTINA DEL SOL Pacific Northwest-inspired restaurant Café Eugene closed at the end of 2017, and Cantina Del Sol arose in its place this month. Eugene owners, who also operate Little Star Pizza and Boss Burgers, decided to refocus the spot as a casual sit-down, family-friendly Mexican restaurant, serving typical cantina-style fare with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Sounds kind of like Picante in Berkeley, no? Well, former Picante executive chef Luis Rodriguez now heads the kitchen at Cantina Del Sol, which is dishing out tacos, burritos, tamales and plates, like Chile Verde, Camarones Diablo and Carne Machacha. On weekends, there’s a special brunch menu. Although you will see lots of strollers and young families eating here, there’s also a full bar at Cantina Del Sol, so not to worry — you can still get your drink on, too. Order mezcal, tequila, as well margaritas, sangria, beer, wine and cocktails. And on weekdays between 3-5 p.m. (and everyday one hour before closing), there’s a happy hour, with snacks and drink specials (on Thursdays, happy hour drinks are served all day). Cantina Del Sol, 1175 Solano Ave. (at Stannage), Albany 

POKÉ SALAD Alameda Landing’s new poké spot offers build-your-own bowls at an affordable price. For $10.75, bowls come with a base of rice or organic greens, three scoops of protein, whatever sauces you want, plus as many standard toppings and seasonings that you desire. Yelp reviewers are impressed with the generous portions and that toppings like avocado and mango that you often pay extra for are standards here. Poké Salad, 2680 5th St. (at Singleton), Alameda

The Rake in Alameda. Photo: Admiral Maltings

THE RAKE Alameda’s newish barley malting facility, Admiral Maltings just opened its own on-site taproom this month. Called The Rake, it overlooks the Admiral’s floor malting facility, where barley becomes malt for beer. The Rake serves 20 brews on draft, two cask conditioned ales and plenty more in bottles and cans — all from various breweries that use Admiral malts. For food, there’s a menu of pub fare — like cheese and charcuterie boards, pickled vegetables and sandwiches. The Rake, 651A W Tower Ave. (at Pan Am Way), Alameda 

SAIGON BISTRO This new Vietnamese restaurant opened in December, taking over the space once occupied by Zen Asian Fusion Tapas & Lounge. The extensive menu offers many varieties of pho, vermicelli bowls, rice plates, pan fried noodles, including an entire section devoted to dishes that are vegan. Saigon Bistro, 2315 Santa Clara Ave. (between Park and Oak), Alameda

Sarah Han was the editor of Nosh from 2017 to 2021. Previously, she worked as an editor at The Bold Italic, the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. In 2020, Sarah won SPJ NorCal's...