Plates of barbecued meats and sides from 4505 Burgers & BBQ in Oakland.
Ryan Farr’s 4505 Burgers & BBQ opened June 28 after several delays. Photo: 4505 Burgers & BBQ



AMAUSAAN UJI MATCHA Matcha mille-crêpes cake is just one of many indulgent treats available at Amausaan Uji Matcha, a new sweet shop opened June 15 in downtown Berkeley, dedicated to the elusive, addictive flavor of the sought-after Japanese green tea powder. Along with steaming hot cups of matcha, a wide range of matcha-infused cold drinks and desserts are served at the eatery’s sweet, atmospheric tea-shop tables (red gates, faux cherry trees and kawaii bunnies abound), including smoothies, cheesecake, soft serve ice cream, panna cotta and shave ice. Fun fact: Amausaan’s silhouette logo is a play on an optical illusion. Is it a duck? Or a rabbit? Hint: Both. This fast-growing Chinese-owned chain also launched a San Francisco outpost in May. Stay tuned, on Monday Nosh editor Sarah Han will share details of her recent visit. Amausaan Uji Matcha, 1950 Shattuck Ave. (at Berkeley Way), Berkeley

CRAVE SUBS Specializing in 100% halal meats as well as vegan and vegetarian options, the new fast-casual Crave Subs on Center Street, opened June 1, features fresh ingredients piled high on breads ranging from gluten-free to thick Dutch crunch, and topped with your choice of sauce (there are 17 possible choices, from marinara to barbecue, cranberry to sriracha). Last month, Crave made it into a Nosh piece by contributor Kathryn Bowen, showcasing the “new wave” of halal eateries emerging around the East Bay. Crave Subs, 2136 Center St. (between Shattuck and Oxford), Berkeley

FRUIT T BERKELEY Taiwanese specialties are on offer at new Fruit T, opened in the former Tammy’s Chicken & Waffles space tucked down a flight of stairs on Bancroft Way. Along with boba drinks blended with fresh fruit, the shop serves savory items such as hot and sour rice noodles, chicken wings, beef bowls and Taiwanese sausages. Fruit T’s one dessert is sugar ice jelly. Fruit T, 2466 Bancroft Way (between Telegraph and Dana), Berkeley

WINDMILL COFFEE HOUSE What used to be Pipeline Coffee Café at Durant near Fulton is now Windmill Coffee House, with a menu of coffee drinks, juices, pastries and light fare such as salads and sandwiches, sure to make you smile. Windmill Coffee House, 2131 Durant Ave. (between Shattuck and Fulton), Berkeley


DARA LAO THAI CUISINE Dara (1549 Shattuck Ave.) was purportedly the first restaurant to serve Lao cuisine in the Bay Area when Daovone Xayavong opened it in 1992. The Laotian-born chef went on to write a Lao and Thai cookbook, and open the Ánh Hồng mini-chain of Vietnamese restaurants with her husband, where she added Laotian specialties to their menus. For an impressive 27 years, Dara’s homey, comfortable dining room up those notable stone steps was a reliable choice for curries, noodles, soups and Lao specialties such as catfish salad, nam lao and Xayavong’s award-winning papaya salad, but in recent months tales of lackluster food and service led to a quiet, early-summer shuttering. The restaurant will be reborn in late 2019 as a branch of Thai standout Farmhouse Kitchen.

85℃ BAKERY CAFÉ This upscale café, bakery and confectionery, part of a Taiwanese-owned international chain, abruptly closed its downtown Berkeley operation at 21 Shattuck Sq. this month after nearly four years. The café was mostly well regarded (if a bit on the fancier side for the student-heavy area) for its cups of Guatemalan coffee brewed at 85℃, baked goods, cakes and delicacies, and made headlines in 2017, when a car crashed through one of its large windows (no one was hurt). The chain has dozens of locations throughout the West Coast and Texas, including many in the Bay Area, for those who miss its fanciful slabs of strawberry tiramisu.

Chef Tina Ferguson-Riffe with husband Jed Riffe and son Sean Hagler at Smoke BBQ, which closed this month.
Chef Tina Ferguson-Riffe with husband Jed Riffe and son Sean Hagler at Smoke BBQ, which closed this month. Photo: Smoke Berkeley

SMOKE BERKELEY When Nosh broke the news that long-loved Smoke Berkeley would close up their digs at 2434 San Pablo Ave. sooner than expected, customers lined up for last helpings of chef-owner Tina Ferguson-Riffe’s native Texas-style barbecue and kindly service, and expressed hope that the notably community-oriented barbecue operation might find a new home. Fingers crossed.

ZABU ZABU A tipster alerted Nosh to the fact that, despite assurances on Yelp that its closure is only temporary, Japanese shabu shabu restaurant and lounge Zabu Zabu (1919 Addison St.) has officially ended its 12-year run. The restaurant outlasted many predictions, given its tricky location hidden down the University Walk Building walkway. According to a letter posted by the building’s owner, the walkway itself — an office alleyway leading from 1918 Addison St. to 1942 University Ave., used as a handy shortcut for downtown pedestrians — will soon be closed to the public entirely, and will be accessible only by key and an intercom system. New hours for the walkway have already been established, with gates locked starting at around 8 p.m. every evening, and all day on weekends. It is unclear what this means for the now-vacant restaurant space, that before Zabu Zabu was Le Theatre, and before that, Gertie’s Chesapeake Bay Café. Note: The next door building’s Promenade walkway, at 1936 University, is so far unaffected.

Temporarily closed

Egg sandwich pop-up Cracked has left Spats, but hopes to relaunch in new digs.  Photo: Cracked/Facebook

CRACKED The Cracked egg-sandwich pop-up team has left Spats, and is taking a quick vacation. The group hopes to relaunch in a new downtown Berkeley location soon, with details to come.

FAMOUS BAO Back in May, Famous Bao owner Frances Sun said the downtown location would reopen, refreshed with a new noodle focus in June, but the gate at 2116 Shattuck Ave. remains closed for now. Stay tuned.

1951 COFFEE COMPANY KIOSK The popular 1951 Coffee Company kiosk located on the Downtown Berkeley Plaza near the BART station entrance, is temporarily closed as the nonprofit organization ramps up its newest location in the former Spasso space in Oakland’s Rockridge. (See openings, below). Expect the coffee drinks to return with the students in the fall.



Edward Tucker (meat department), Julie Stonebraker (meat and seafood deparment manager) and Mark Sokolov (food service manager) at the new Community Foods Market in West Oakland.
Edward Tucker (meat department), Julie Stonebraker (meat and seafood deparment manager) and Mark Sokolov (food service manager) at the new Community Foods Market in West Oakland. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

COMMUNITY FOODS MARKET The good people of Community Foods Market welcomed customers on June 1 to the first grocery store of its kind in that neighborhood in literal decades. The bright, clean, spacious new market is stocked with fresh produce, full-service meat, seafood and deli departments, canned and packaged groceries and a dining area called The Front Porch Café, offering prepared foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is also a small parking lot. With respectful nods to Stay Gold Deli and Spinning Dough, the market and café is a long-needed one-stop shop for good food on this stretch of San Pablo in West Oakland. Read all about the project and its dedicated spearheaders in this piece by Nosh contributor Deonna Anderson. Community Foods Market, 3105 San Pablo Ave. (near Myrtle), Oakland

4505 BURGERS & BBQ OAKLAND East Bay barbecue joints have been in the news quite a bit this grill season, and this long, long-awaited Oakland opening might take the sting off some of the sadder news we’ve heard: Beginning today, June 28, after three years of meat-lovers’ patient anticipation, San Francisco-based 4505 from Ryan Farr opens its first East Bay location in the Laurel District. Read all about the menu here, the 2,800-square-foot restaurant and patio space here, and Farr’s story here, then grab the family and go there. 4505 Burgers & BBQ Oakland, 3506 MacArthur Blvd. (at 35th), Oakland

GRAMMIE’S DOWN-HOME CHICKEN & SEAFOOD Its grand opening isn’t planned until July, but Grammie’s, from chef Rashad Armstead (Crave BBQ), has been softly opened since May inside the former Las Palmas burrito eatery on Market near MacArthur. Look for fried chicken and fish plates with sides such as mashed potatoes, french fries, candied yams, macaroni and cheese and red beans and rice. Read Nosh’s look into Armstead’s inspiring story for more background on Grammie’s (and the scoop on Armstead’s real Grammie, his great-grandmother Sarah Rawls). Grammie’s Down-Home Chicken & Seafood, 3817 Market St. (at MacArthur), Oakland

The Adobo Wings are made with halal chicken and come with a choice of dipping sauce at Grandeur in Oakland.
The Adobo Wings are made with adobo-spiced halal chicken wings and come with a choice of dipping sauce. Photo: Grandeur/Facebook

GRANDEUR As with Crave Subs (see Berkeley openings, above), new Grand Avenue fast-casual spot Grandeur fits with the current zeitgeist of vegan, gluten-free and halal cuisine served together in harmony. Counter-service menu items include meat-free burgers as well as halal beef and lamb versions, halal and vegan hot dogs, French fries, halal adobo chicken or cauliflower “wings,” salads, vegan donuts and specialty vegan cheeses and sauces. A boon for local night owls and barhoppers, Grandeur is open until 2 a.m., Thursday through Sunday. Grandeur, 366 Grand Ave. (between Perkins and Staten), Oakland

HOZA PIZZERIA One Yelp review says the burying of pepperoni beneath Hoza pizza’s cheese means each bite “releases this hot pepperoni air, and it feels like it’s giving you a meaningful kiss.” Hard to top such a write-up. Slices are on the crispy side, running $4.25 for cheese and a dollar more for the day’s specialty toppings such as the “spicy Hawaii,” with ham, pineapple, garlic and jalapeño; full 18-inch pies start at $22.99. There are six beers on draft. Note: The pinball and arcade machines from the space’s former Five10 Pizza incarnation have left the building. Hoza Pizzeria, 400 15th St. (at Franklin), Oakland

MAGO Mago opened for dinner the night of June 10, rewarding months of anticipation for local foodies. Chef Mark Liberman’s (La Folie, Auberge du Soleil, Charles Nob Hill, AQ) first solo project, set inside the transformed former Cybelle’s Pizza at the southern end of Piedmont Avenue, has been buzzed about plenty across the food-media world, but the take-aways are: playful yet seasoned chef; seasonal cuisine (you could call it Californian but Liberman’s cooking, much of it executed over wood flame, doesn’t lend itself to being pigeonholed); warm and approachable new destination restaurant for the neighborhood. One note: The sweet outdoor patio, though part of the new restaurant, is only available for private events for now. Mago, 3762 Piedmont Ave. (between MacArthur and Yosemite), Oakland

A bowl of Q Mochi Milk Shaved Ice at Meet Fresh in Oakland.
Q Mochi Milk Shaved Ice at Meet Fresh in Oakland. Photo: Meet Fresh/Facebook

MEET FRESH This rapidly expanding Taiwanese dessert chain made a lot of fans happy with its Oakland opening on June 18, ending pilgrimages to Fremont (opened since 2018) for Meet Fresh’s sweet creations such as custom shaved ice, tofu pudding, taro balls and icy grass jelly. The Oakland interior is bright and clean, with counter seating and fast-casual service. Meet Fresh has locations all over the world. Meet Fresh, 362 Eighth St. (between Webster and Franklin), Oakland

A mural at the Rockridge location of 1951 Coffee.
A mural at the Rockridge location of 1951 Coffee. Photo: Sarah Han

1951 COFFEE COMPANY ROCKRIDGE The growing 1951 Coffee Company group of cafés, dedicated to the training, staffing and benefitting of refugees, fittingly opened its newest café on World Refugee Day, June 20, in the former Spasso Arts & Community Café space. This is the organization’s fourth opening (though the BART kiosk in downtown Berkeley is temporarily closed for the summer), and this location boasts a soul-warming backstory and new murals, along with a wide array of coffee and non-coffee drinks for many tastes, Third Culture mochi baked goods and a variety of other pastries. 1951 Coffee Company Rockridge, 6021 College Ave. (between Claremont and Chabot), Oakland

ORBIT COFFEE & DOUGHNUTS Hip little Orbit Coffee & Doughnuts has been causing a stir on Seventh Street, near the West Oakland BART station, since its opening several weeks ago. The coffee shop with counter service offers hot and cold coffee drinks (beans are roasted in-house), donuts, sconuts, breakfast burritos and a short menu of lunch sandwiches such as grilled cheese and a grilled pesto chicken wrap, all in a chic, subway-tiled, mid-century modern space (with very little seating, so get your order to go). Orbit Coffee & Doughnuts, 1225 Seventh St. (between Union and Magnolia), Oakland

Steak torta at Porque No? Tacos, a breakfast and lunch-only restaurant sharing space with Pucquio Peruvian restaurant in Rockridge.
Steak torta at Porque No? Tacos, a breakfast and lunch-only restaurant sharing space with Pucquio Peruvian restaurant in Rockridge. Photo: Sarah Han

PORQUE NO? TACOS Rockridge’s new Porque No? Tacos, opened June 20 from chefs Omar and Tony and their friendly crew of family friends, serves up a savory mix of satisfying breakfast and lunch fare inside Peruvian dinner-only spot Pucquio. The eatery is open from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day but Sunday, when it opens from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The space transitions to Pucquio at 5 p.m., except Sundays and Mondays, when it’s closed. (One of the employees told Nosh the owners of Pucquio and Porque No? Tacos are friends, but the two businesses are not related.) Offerings at Porque No? range from chicken and waffles (because…porque no?), croissant sandwiches and chilaquiles in the a.m. to tortas, quesadillas and, yes, tacos for lunch. Meats include cabeza and lengua, along with al pastor, grilled chicken and carne asada. Drinks include aguas fresca and imported Mexican sodas. The small, sit-down space also includes some outdoor tables. Porque No? Tacos, at Pucquio, 5337 College Ave. (between Manilla and Clifton), Oakland

POKE LIFE It does sometimes feel like it’s a poke life with the proliferation of poke shops around the Bay Area. This San Francisco-based poke outfit opened its second location in Old Oakland, in the former Holy Gelato! storefront, and features the traditional array of customizable and signature fresh fish and seafood bowls made with rice and a wide variety of toppings, as well as musubi. Poke Life, 815b Washington St. (between Eighth and Ninth), Oakland


FIVE10 PIZZA We missed this in the spring: Old-school downtown New York-style pizza hangout and arcade Five10 Pizza (née Hi-Life) closed earlier this year, and is now under brand-new ownership as Hoza Pizzeria (see openings, above).

Merritt Bakery's Kwik Way location has closed and has a for lease sign on it.
Merritt Bakery’s Kwik Way location has closed; take-out is available at its new Lakeshore Avenue location. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

MERRITT BAKERY KWIK WAY Though visible for a while, this closure deserves mention for those outside the neighborhood — the Merritt Bakery location inside the former Kwik Way at 500 Lake Park Ave. has shut for good, and the entire operation, including take-out, has moved to the bakery and restaurant’s newer (since January) digs at 3355 Lakeshore Ave.

PHO U/RICEPHORIA After nine months as a Vietnamese pho house and a very brief stint as Korean-inflected “Ricephoria,” the owners of Pho U in Rockridge have abandoned this eye-catching corner restaurant space that was once the Claremont Diner.



CINNAHOLIC Berkeley’s popular vegan cinnamon roll shop opened its second Bay Area location on June 21 in Concord, joining more than 30 locations across North America. Cinnaholic, 2008 Salvio St. at Todos Santos Plaza, Concord

FUDO Fudo has opened in Walnut Creek, with a focus on Japanese-style desserts: souffle pancakes, fish-waffle ice cream cones, the dessert du jour matcha mille-crêpes cake (see Amausaan Uji Matcha in openings, above), as well as some savory bento box menu items such as teriyaki chicken. Fudo is also a new location for T4-brand boba drinks. Fudo, 1385 North Main St. (near Cypress), Walnut Creek

MADE PHO YOU Alameda has a welcoming new family-friendly eatery on Park Street in Made Pho You, featuring pho but also a variety of other dishes such as rice and noodle plates, banh mi and five spice chicken, all crafted with fresh ingredients. Also: cute art (check out the adorable t-shirts). Made Pho You, 1245 Park St. (between Encinal and San Antonio), Alameda

The interior of Nomi Tea, a new boba shop on Solano Avenue in Albany.
Nomi Tea, a new boba shop on Solano Avenue in Albany, claims to use high quality teas for its beverages. Photo: Nomi Tea/Facebook

NOMI TEA Albany got a new bubble tea spot with the opening of Nomi Tea on Solano Avenue. So far, reviews have been positive for the boba shop’s offerings, including classic milk teas, matcha, fruit teas, slushies and premium teas. The company claims it offers “high quality tea, homemade organic syrup, and locally sourced fruit and dairy.” As is au courant, customers can choose their level of sweetness and add toppings like “popping boba,” jellies, red bean and aloe. Nomi Tea, 1475 Solano Ave. (at Santa Fe), Albany

OHGANE KOREAN BBQ & CUISINE ALAMEDA One recent customer called Ohgane’s large, new, softly-opened dining room in the South Shore Center, “beautiful,” and its modern, industrial vibe has certainly resonated with diners so far, as has the all-you-can-eat (AYCE) Korean barbecue, the first of its kind in Alameda (!). Ohgane Alameda has a similar menu of fresh meats, seafood, vegetables, sides and banchan that have made Ohgane Oakland and Concord so popular. Dinner meats include brisket, pork belly, kalbi, steak, tongue, thinly-sliced pork and more. (For a less gigantic feast, try the AYCE lunch menu for $18.95, but note that all meals here are of the AYCE variety. Read: A good choice for groups…or hearty eaters.) Ohgane Korean BBQ, Suite 160 inside the South Shore Center, 2211 South Shore, Alameda


The Fish Face Poke Bar kiosk at Public Market Emeryville closed on May 31.
The Fish Face Poke Bar kiosk at Public Market Emeryville closed on May 31. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

FISH FACE POKE BAR The Emeryville Public Market has lost its only poke tenant. Despite being actively recruited, and receiving consistently good reviews, Sacramento-based Fish Face co-founder Billy Ngo told the Sacramento Business Journal that the company “couldn’t sustain the super expensive Bay Area rent and tough employee market there,” and it folded up shop on May 31, after less than a year. (Note: The Fish Face Carmichael location, opened in 2017, has also shuttered, but the original Fish Face Poke Bar in Sacramento’s WAL Public Market remains open and thriving.)

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Freelancer Joanna Della Penna has written about food, people and the arts in the Bay Area since moving here from the East Coast in 2001, and was Gayot's Northern California regional restaurant editor for...