Art deco stylings at The Payback, a new bar in Uptown Oakland. Photo: Sarah Han



BAG O’ CRAB This new Asian Cajun seafood boil spot on Center Street takes over the former Sliderbar space. Bag O’ Crab lives up to its name, offering not only Dungeness, snow and king crab, but lobster, shrimp, crawfish, clams and mussels prepared in a choice of seasonings (garlic butter, lemon pepper, atomic sauce, mala spicy). There are also plenty of fried options (seafood and chicken), grilled plates (short ribs, Cajun fish, and lamb chops) and sides, like corn on the cob, sausages, potatoes and garlic noodles. To drink, beer, wine and soju cocktails, as well as soda and juices, are offered. Bag O’ Crab, 2124 Center St. (near Shattuck), Berkeley

The 1300 Fried Chicken Sandwich — topped with jalapeño slaw and honey mustard dressing and served on a brioche bun — at the Bear’s Lair Tavern. Photo: Hannah Hughes

BEAR’S LAIR TAVERN The Cal sports bar reopened this month under new management. The Red Door Group hopes to reinvent the Bear’s Lair as a gourmet gastropub by bringing on a new chef with a pedigree. David Lawrence, who opened 1300 on Fillmore in San Francisco, offers a menu of shared plates and entrees, like roasted brown sugar-brined Mary’s chicken, sambal chili-honey chicken wings and his signature fried chicken sandwich. To drink, there are 20 rotating draft beers, ciders and kombucha, as well as craft cocktails and wines from California and beyond. Guests order at the counter, but servers deliver food and drinks to tables. Along with seating for 100, the tavern boasts an outdoor beer garden and several televisions to catch sports games. The Bear’s Lair Tavern, 2465 Bancroft Way, Suite 104, Berkeley 

CAFÉ OHLONE BY MAK-‘AMHAM California’s first Ohlone restaurant opened on Sept. 2. Café Ohlone by Mak-‘amham, found on the back patio of University Press Books, serves indigenous dishes made with pre-contact, pre-colonial ingredients. The café is run by Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino, native activists who first reconnected with the diet of their ancestors through their ongoing work reviving Ohlone language and culture. Because it is one of many projects for the founders, for now, the café is not open every day, nor is there a set schedule; on Sundays, Mak’amham posts it hours for the week on Twitter, but hopes to have a more formalized schedule in October. The menu rotates with the season, featuring small bites, smoked meats and teas made from ingredients gathered by Medina and Trevino in traditional ways on native lands. (Read more about Vincent Medina and Café Ohlone on Nosh.) Café Ohlone by Mak-‘amham, inside University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft Way (between Dana and Telegraph), Berkeley

CUPCAKIN’ BAKE SHOP On Sept. 14, the Berkeley cupcake business moved its Durant Avenue shop to a space with better visibility and more foot traffic on Telegraph Avenue. This is just the first step in owner Lila Owens’ plans for expansion, which will also include taking over the former Virginia Bakery space and opening a new bake shop at Swan’s Market in Old Oakland this fall. Cupcakin’ Bake Shop, 2391 Telegraph Ave. (between Channing and Durant), Berkeley

Tacos from Enedina Taqueria in Berkeley. Photo: Sarah Han

ENEDINA TAQUERIA San Leandro’s Enedina Taqueria opened its second location in the former Stateside Bakery shop on Telegraph Avenue. The taqueria currently offers a menu of tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tortas, nachos, tostadas, tamales, bowls and bacon-wrapped hot dogs with fillings for omnivores and vegetarians alike. Nosh was told that the offerings may change (and expand) once the owner gets a better sense of the tastes of the neighborhood. Enedina is small, so expect to take your food to-go unless you can grab one of the few stools at a countertop. During lunch hours on the weekdays, you’ll find yourself rubbing elbows in line with scrubs-wearing staffers from the nearby medical offices. Enedina Taqueria, 3001 Telegraph Ave. (near Ashby), Berkeley

ICICLES Berkeley got its first rolled ice cream shop on Sept. 15, when Milpitas-based chain Icicles opened on University Avenue. Icicles makes its version of the Thai frozen dessert with a custard base that can be customized with unlimited toppings, including fresh fruit, nuts, mochi, cookies, condensed milk, chocolate syrup and more. It also offers non-dairy sorbet rolls. Icicles, 1812 University Ave. (near Grant), Berkeley 

IJO Izakaya takes the place of Toyo in the Gourmet Ghetto. Photo: Doug Ng

IJO IZAKAYA Taking the place of longtime Japanese restaurant Toyo in the Gourmet Ghetto is IJO Izakaya. Owner Tara Huang told Nosh that she’s worked as a chef at various sushi and izakaya restaurants, and decided it was a good opportunity to open her own in Berkeley when she heard the Toyo owners were retiring. Huang moved to the United States eight years ago from China, but told Nosh she’s always preferred Japanese to Chinese cuisine, perhaps getting her taste from her mother, who owned a Japanese restaurant in Yokohama for 10 years (both of Huang’s parents help her run IJO; she’s also hired a head chef with more than 10 years experience cooking Japanese fare). IJO offers a combination of small plates, sauteed dishes and sushi in the evenings (5 to 9:30 p.m. daily), and a menu of bento boxes for lunch on weekdays (11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.). For those who miss Toyo, Huang decided to keep a little bit of the old restaurant on her new menu — the Toyo Salad features the dressing from the former restaurant. “People have feelings for certain things,” Huang said, “so I kept the recipe.” IJO Izakaya, 1463 Shattuck Ave. (at Vine), Berkeley

TZONE BERKELEY San Jose-based chain TZONE opened a location in Berkeley’s Southside neighborhood near the Cal campus on Sept. 16. According to the Daily Cal, the store will be in soft opening phase until October. Offerings here include fruit teas, black and green teas, milk teas and fruit smoothies. TZONE’s bestselling drinks are the organic matcha latte, avocado smoothie and Secret Garden, a blended drink made with strawberries and mango. The shop also offers an assortment of fried snacks (fries, calamari, chicken, more). TZONE Berkeley, 2328 Telegraph Ave. (between Bancroft and Durant), Berkeley

The Far East Bowl, with sesame-crusted chickin’, is a seasonal offering at Veggie Grill in Berkeley. Photo: Sarah Han

VEGGIE GRILL Fast-casual vegan chain Veggie Grill opened on Sept. 14 in downtown Berkeley. Here you’ll find a menu of sandwiches, salads, bowls and other normally-not-vegan comfort foods that are entirely free of animal products. Veggie Grill relies heavily on faux meat proteins, like those from Beyond Meat and Gardein Chickin’, but there are a few dishes — like most of its bowls and salads — that, unless you add them, are fake-meat-free. The Berkeley branch is the second East Bay location for the chain. Veggie Grill, 48 Shattuck Sq. (at University), Berkeley

YIFANG TAIWAN FRUIT TEA The Taiwan-based international chain opened a branch across from the Cal campus on Southside this month. Yifang specializes in additive and preservative-free black, green, oolong and fruit teas. Its namesake specialty is made with passion fruit, pineapple, apple orange and ching tea, but there are many varieties, including ones with winter melon, as well as sugar cane drinks and milk teas with brown sugar pearls or grass jelly. Most drinks can be prepared hot or cold, and at your preferred sweetness level. Yifang Taiwan Fruit Tea, 2516 Bancroft Way (near Telegraph), Berkeley


Customers shared stories and fond memories on the last day at Brennan’s in Berkeley. Photo: Cirrus Wood

BRENNAN’S One of Berkeley’s last blue-collar establishments, Brennan’s, closed on Sept. 15. The owners decided to shut down after the landlords of the historic Southern Pacific Railroad building, where the restaurant moved in 2008, increased the rent by 25%. The 6o-year-old restaurant at 700 University Ave. was best known for its hofbrau, Irish coffee and its longtime staffers, who many locals came to know and love over the years. Be sure to check out Nosh’s coverage of Brennan’s last day, where we spoke with regulars who came to say goodbye.

GORDO TAQUERIA The Southside Berkeley branch of Gordo Taqueria, which opened at 2404 Telegraph Ave. in 2011, closed on Sept. 15. Rumor has it that Jalisco Mexican Food will take over the space.

MISTER BOLENCA On Sept. 20, Asian-inspired sandwich shop Mister Bolenca moved out of Highwire Coffee (2049 San Pablo Ave.). Earlier this month, chef Sincere Justice posted on Instagram that he’d be “transitioning into either a farmers market situation or new possible kitchen space” because he “felt that it’d be difficult to scale our business within a coffee shop with a makeshift kitchen.” Justice is also the chef behind Tacos Sincero, a “Chino Latino” taco pop-up that he still runs today. Follow him on Instagram to find out about his upcoming events and future projects.

The charming outdoor patio at recently closed Sol y Luna was a little-known secret space that delivery-only customers never got to enjoy. Photo: Emilie Raguso

SOL Y LUNA This downtown Berkeley taqueria (1926 Shattuck Ave.) closed on Sept. 14. Owner Kamran Nassiri, who also owns Barney’s Burgers, told the Daily Cal that he couldn’t financially sustain the restaurant because it was unable to find a steady clientele and because many of its customers use delivery services, which charge a 20% commission rate for each order. According to Nassiri, a Thai restaurant will take over the space.



IT’S A GRIND COFFEE HOUSE This international coffee chain has 12 other California branches, a café in Texas, shops in Brunei, Abu Dhabi, Malaysia, and one to come in Saudi Arabia, but this month, a new It’s a Grind franchise opened in East Oakland. Here, you’ll find coffee drinks, smoothies and blended drinks, as well as breakfast and lunch sandwiches. It’s a Grind Coffee House, 2521 Seminary Ave. (near Bancroft), Oakland

LA GRANA FISH This new Mexican food truck is parked near the Coliseum flea market on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Its specialties include fish tacos, ceviche and aguachile, and loaded potatoes topped with carne asada, pork and shrimp. La Grana Fish, 865 50th Ave. (between 8th and San Leandro), Oakland

Deviled eggs topped with smoked trout and trout roe at The Payback in Uptown Oakland. Photo: Sarah Han

THE PAYBACK Owner Sky Wegman is still involved with running three bars in San Francisco (83 Proof, The Dogpatch Saloon and Hopwater Distribution), but these days, you’ll find him behind the bar at “his baby,” The Payback. It’s taken three years and several names (the bar was originally going to be called the Oakland Rec Club, until the opening of the Athletic Club Oakland in May ruined that idea, Wegman said), but The Payback finally opened this month, albeit as a work-in-progress. When it’s complete, there’ll be a large billiards room upstairs, but for now, visitors can enjoy the beautiful and spacious art deco bar, where they can order craft cocktails, wines, 12 beers on draft (and five more, in cans), and a creative menu of fancy bar bites. A few menu items worth mentioning are the deviled eggs topped with smoked trout, pickled mustard seeds, and trout roe; a shrimp toast sandwich with sriracha aioli and nori; and a vegan sandwich with marinated broccoli, gigante beans and salsa verde. Wegman told Nosh he wanted to create a fun place for people to hang in Uptown. If all that isn’t enough fun for you, there’s also Big Buck Hunter and skeeball in the back. The Payback, 1618 Franklin St. (between 15th and 17th), Oakland

PHO U Shortly after Japanese restaurant Ding closed shop, Pho U, a Vietnamese restaurant popped up. The menu, developed by chef Lai Huynh, features several varieties of beef, chicken and vegetable pho, as well as vermicelli bowls, rice plates, banh mi and appetizers. Pho U, 6200 Claremont Ave. (at College), Oakland

Shalom’s Café and Donut in North Oakland. Photo: Sarah Han

SHALOM’S CAFÉ & DONUT We had a feeling there was a change of ownership at Johnny’s Café and Donuts when the building was repainted. Before signage for Shalom’s Café and Donut went up, we stopped inside and spoke with the new owners, who confirmed our suspicions. Shalom’s still serves donuts, coffee, sandwiches and bagels like the old spot, but gone is the Chinese food, now replaced by spaghetti, chicken wings, BBQ and lasagna. Shalom’s Café & Donut, 5501 Shattuck Ave. (at 55th), Oakland

SLIVER The Berkeley-based pizza chain opened its first Oakland branch in the Ridge shopping center. The new Rockridge location features a large outdoor patio, and plans to host regular live music performances. Note that the daily pizza and salad offerings at this location differ from the Berkeley Sliver. Sliver, 5132 Broadway, Ste C-102, Oakland

SPASSO The Rockridge coffee shop reopened with a new look, under new ownership and as a non-profit café and community events space on Sept. 16. During the evening, Spasso plans to hosts events, including art exhibits, musical performances, lectures, workshops, and more, while in the day (from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), it’s a traditional café, serving coffee and, for now, a limited menu of eats, including pastries from Oakland-based Batch, and some savory breakfast and lunch bites. The café will expand its lunch menu in the coming weeks. Read more about Spasso as a performing arts space on NoshSpasso, 6023 College Ave. (between Claremont and Chabot), Oakland

An Ethiopian veggie combination plate at Yammy’s Café and Deli in Old Oakland. Photo: Sarah Han

YAMMY’S CAFÉ & DELI This new Ethiopian deli in Old Oakland was opened by first-time restaurant owner, Yamrout Gebremedhin (yes, that’s Yammy). Gebremedhin was a massage therapist, but a shoulder injury meant she had to find a new profession. She always had a passion for cooking Ethiopian food, so when the owners of Dallaq Ethiopian deli decided to call it quits, Gebremedhin decided to take over the space located at Swan’s Market. Like Dallaq, Yammy’s Café & Deli offers Ethiopian dishes as well as burgers, sandwiches, salads and more. Gebremedhin told Nosh she decided to keep the “fusion” menu because she wanted to get a sense of what the neighborhood liked best. So far, she said, Ethiopian food is the clear winner. Yammy’s offers a veggie combo plate, kitfo, beef, lamb, shrimp and vegan tibs, as well as some daily specials, which are served with rice, injera or as a sandwich. The injera here is made with 100% teff flour, but Gebremedhin says she doesn’t call it gluten-free since the flour packaging doesn’t claim so. Yammy’s menu will continue to evolve in the coming weeks. Yammy’s Café & Deli, 542 9th St. (between Washington and Clay), Oakland


Cam Huong, which often had lines out the door during peak lunch hour, closed this month in Chinatown. Photo: Sarah Han

CAM HUONG The East Bay mourned when this popular Chinatown Vietnamese café (at 920 Webster St.) closed on Sept. 18. Cam Huong was a family-owned and operated business most popular for its cheap and reliably good banh mi, noodles and noodle soups, steam tray items and desserts. On the last day of business, the owner told Nosh she closed because her lease was coming to an end, and after more than 30 years of working, she wanted to retire.

DING This Rockridge Japanese restaurant in the former Claremont Café space (6200 Claremont Ave.) was just a year old when it closed. Soon after it shuttered, a new Vietnamese restaurant called Pho U took over the space. (see Oakland Openings)



Cantonese beef noodle soup at AZN Star Bistro in El Cerrito. Photo: AZN Star Bistro/Yelp

AZN STAR BISTRO This new Chinese dine-in and take-out spot in El Cerrito takes over the former Atcha Thai Bistro location. The menu features all the most accessible Chinese standards, but there are a handful of noodle soups, clay pot dishes, BBQ skewers and other choices that venture a little farther from General Tso’s chicken, too. AZN Star Bistro, 10558 San Pablo Ave. (between Moeser and Waldo), El Cerrito

BURGERIM This Israeli-based international chain has brought its mini burgers to San Pablo and Pleasant Hill this month. Here, the sliders are meant to be ordered in packs of two or three (or more), with a choice of three types of buns, five sauces, 11 patties and nine toppings. There are also chicken wings and strips, salads, regular fries, sweet potato fries and onion rings. Pleasant Hill is a bit outside Nosh’s normal territory, but we’re including a mention because this location serves an all-halal menu. Burgerim, 2300 El Portal Dr., San Pablo; 2380 Monument Blvd., Suite C-2, Pleasant Hill

Heritage Eats opened in the Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek. Photo: Heritage Eats

HERITAGE EATS Walnut Creek got a new “fast-fine” dining option with the opening of Heritage Eats. This is the second location for the Napa-based chain, which serves sandwiches, salads, wraps, rice bowls, tacos and other casual fare inspired by cuisine from around the world. To get a sense of what this means, here are a few items you’ll find on its menu: Banh Mi Dutch Crunch Sandwich, Thai Pork Bao, Crispy Falafel Pita and Cowboy Steak Wrap. Heritage Eats, 12 Broadway Ln, Walnut Creek

HONOLULU BBQ Hawaiian plate lunch is what you’ll find at this new casual eatery in Alameda. That means plates of katsu curry, loco moco or chicken teriyaki with two scoops of rice and a side of mac salad. There’s also Spam musubi. Honolulu BBQ, 845 Marina Village Pkwy, Alameda

A bowl of Slurp Up Cilantro ramen at JINYA Ramen Bar. Photo: JINYA Ramen Bar

JINYA RAMEN BAR International ramen chain JINYA opened its second Bay Area location in Pleasanton on Sept. 12. A little over a week after the grand opening, a broken freezer meant the restaurant had to close for most of September, but JINYA came back on the grid Thursday, Sept. 27. JINYA’s menu offers 13 varieties of ramen made with three-day aged noodles, but it’s the broth that the restaurant touts is its secret weapon. Its broths — made with chicken, pork, chicken and pork and a vegetarian version — are said to be simmered for at least 10 hours. Aside from ramen, there’s gyoza, tempura and “tacos” made with raw fish or chashu pork in crispy wonton shells. To drink, there’s local craft beers, wine, sake and Japanese-inspired cocktails. JINYA Ramen Bar, 2693 Stoneridge Dr, Pleasanton

MAIN SQUEEZE The Alameda location of this juice shop features a similar menu to its Oakland Lakeshore branch, with smoothies, fruit-loaded açaí bowls, wellness shots and fresh-squeezed juices. Main Squeeze, 2300 Central Ave. (between Park and Oak), Alameda

MIKE HESS BREWING You might wonder why this San Diego craft brewery decided to open its first Bay Area location in Walnut Creek, until you realize that the man behind Mike Hess Brewing is a native of the city. You won’t find any beer brewing equipment at this tasting room, nor does it serve its own food, but you will find a kid and dog-friendly space with a small indoor seating area and a larger, more comfortable outdoor patio area with televisions and, of course, plenty of beer varieties on tap to try. If you’re feeling indecisive, you can always opt for a flight of beers (five 4-ounce glasses). Mike Hess Brewing, 2313 Oak Grove Rd., Walnut Creek

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...