BENTO CHEF This tiny wooden hut with window service in downtown Berkeley (formerly Taiwanese to-go spot Face to Face, and before that a hot dog stand) is back in business thanks to new owner John Xie. Xie and his wife Jasmine Gu have added fast-casual Japanese options — namely sushi rolls — but kept much of the previous small menu, including the hot dog, wraps, potstickers and beef noodle soup. Bento Chef, 2109 Milvia (near Addison), Berkeley
BOLLYWOOD CAFÉ A new family-owned Indian food spot has opened in the slip of a space on Euclid Avenue left by departed Jasmine Thai. On offer: Indian staples such as masala, korma and saag in student-friendly combination platters with rice and naan. Bollywood music and splashy art set a fun, vibrant tone. Bollywood Café, 1805 Euclid Ave. (between Hearst and Ridge), Berkeley
CRACKED There’s a new “draw” at downtown Berkeley’s Draw Billiard Club: Once known mainly for his breakfast sandwiches (most recently at Spats), Cracked fast-casual pop-up chef Buna Babilla now slings a menu of flavorful hot and cold sandwiches, burgers, baked pasta dishes and plenty more from within the spacious billiards parlor. Breakfast, lunch and (new to this location) dinner menus feature attractive prices, with most dishes under $10. Customers may grab and go, or there’s plenty of seating inside or on the outdoor patio. (Check out Cracked’s new hours, that differ from Draw’s hours.) Cracked inside Draw Billiard Club, 64 Shattuck Sq. (between University and Addison), Berkeley
[Updated Aug. 8] LUCKY BIRD Officially opened July 22 in the former Sol Y Luna space on Shattuck, Lucky Bird is a bright new spot with a refreshed interior, counter service and room for about 22 inside, and a small but pretty outdoor patio with space for six. Fast-casual Southeast Asian flavors range from Laos to Malaysia, with Thai-style barbecued chicken and sides as a centerpoint. Diners will find curries, noodles, fried rice dishes and stir fry, and, along with the chicken, other proteins such as crispy Korean-style pork and various tofu dishes. Desserts include honey toast and Korean-style bingsu. Owner is 24-year-old Kimberly Gamble, and though this is her first solo venture, she is a former co-owner of Daughter Thai in Montclair, and is the “daughter” for whom the restaurant was named. Read all about Gamble’s impressive family restaurant pedigree here — including her mom’s Livermore restaurant Lanna Thai. Lucky Bird, 1926 Shattuck Ave. (between Hearst & Berkeley Way), Berkeley [Correction: This story has been updated to remove an incorrect statement that said Kimberly Gamble’s father co-owns Farmhouse Thai Kitchen.]
MA LA ZUI TASTY BOWL Formerly Duck Duck Chicken (DDC) Café, this new Chinese spot with Sichuan-style dishes (and spice levels) features a picture-driven menu, $11 lunch specials and customizable stir fries. Ma La Zui Tasty Bowl, 2017 Shattuck Ave. (between University and Addison), Berkeley
MY COFFEE ROASTERY This sweet café in the “fairytale” cottage at MLK and Addison is a bit of a fairytale come true for first-time owner Christine Yu, who saw the building five years ago and fell in love; she and her husband Peter Chow bought it this spring. Yu is a barista originally from Hong Kong; the couple moved to the Bay Area when their son Caven was a student at Cal. The family has kept the building’s charms, including its original, chapel-like stained-glass windows, but refreshed the intimate space. The surrounding outdoor patio with room for about 10 is a peaceful refuge. Aiming for quality and consistency, Yu proudly hand-sorts all her beans and roasts them herself at a roastery in Alameda every Tuesday, when the café is closed. Her menu is mostly high-end coffee drinks (espresso, latte, pour overs) for now, with some pastries. Yu’s Chinese first name is Man, hence the initials in MY Coffee Roastery. Note: MY Coffee is adjacent to the equally magical plant and flower shop, Flora Arte, making this a neat oasis of a Berkeley corner in an otherwise bustling area. MY Coffee Roastery, 2080 Martin Luther King Jr. Way (at Addison), Berkeley
NOM NOM BANH MI Opened July 15, in a former t-shirt shop storefront, is long-awaited banh mi shop Nom Nom. The Vietnamese sandwich eatery is bright and clean and offers cheap and cheerful prices for its meat (chicken, pate, beef, sardine, pork loaf) and meat-free sandwiches, made with lots of fresh and homemade pickled veggies on bread sourced from an Oakland Vietnamese bakery. Nom Nom Banh Mi, 2491 Telegraph Ave. (at Dwight), Berkeley
SMOKE BERKELEY The displaced BBQ restaurant recently announced a partnership with downtown Berkeley watering hole, Spats. There, chef Tina Riffe-Ferguson will serve her Texas-style BBQ, tea smoked salmon and new offerings to come. Smoke will make its debut at the bar July 30-31 for a big-screen viewing of the Democratic debates. Smoke Berkeley at Spats, 1974 Shattuck Ave. (near University), Berkeley
THAI CORNER Westbrae readers have been waiting impatiently for this one: After months of covered windows, Thai Corner has finally softly opened at the corner of Gilman and Santa Fe. The casual dining room is roomy yet cozy, with lots of windows, dark wood and brick. Expect Thai standards such as noodles, curries, soups and salads, with prices that seem very reasonable. Thai Corner, 1277 Gilman Ave. (at Santa Fe), Berkeley
THE BIRD The Bird at 2400 Telegraph Ave. has closed up shop, and Nosh reports the new tenants are the Los Angeles-based Family Style, Inc., owners of Oakland’s somewhat confusing Lorenzo’s of New York multi-company pizza delivery shop that also includes Pizzaoki. The company is still determining which of its brands it will bring to the space.
DUCK DUCK CHICKEN CAFE (DDC) This former Hong Kong-style café in downtown Berkeley has switched gears, and is now operating under the new name Ma La Zui Tasty Bowl (see openings, above).
FRAUSTO’S GUADALAJARA RESTAURANT Frausto’s Guadalajara at 2504 Shattuck Ave. has closed. The small, family-run Mexican eatery had an excellent run, having opened in 1997, and will be especially missed for its budget-friendly lunches and happy hours.
SANCTUARY BISTRO Sad diners made one last pilgrimage to this Gilman District “sanctuary” for its final brunch service July 28. The warm yet sophisticated outpost for vegan bistro dining opened in 2014 from chef Barry Horton and Jennifer Jones Horton, founders of Local Love Catering. Sanctuary Bistro was their passion project; it closed this month, as advertised, as the husband-and-wife owners and their children are moving to North Carolina to be closer to family. Signage in the window indicates the property will be taken over by an eatery called Nest of Comforts, which has applied for a beer and wine license.
SATURN CAFÉ One more older loss for the vegan community: Nosh editor Sarah Han marked the July 12 closure of the Saturn Café, reflecting on downtown Berkeley’s shifting food scene for veg and vegan diners since Saturn Café’s Berkeley opening in 2010. Santa Cruz’s original Saturn Café, open since 1979, remains open and popular in that community.
TEANCE Fourth Street tea room Teance closed July 21. Founded by Winnie Yu, Teance offered artisanal teas and wares from China, Japan, India and Taiwan, and in-store tastings. It plans to open a pop-up shop at its West Berkeley warehouse (1036 Grayson St.) with an indoor tasting room and outdoor tea garden and continues to sell its products online.
ZOONIE’S CANDY SHOP Formerly a Powell’s Candy Shop, Zoonie’s at 3206 College Ave. closed to make way for a new pet grooming business. The owners’ second location in Lafayette remains open.
CAFÉ UMAMI A second outpost for Dimond District café opened in Uptown Oakland this month. The Grand Avenue eschews the café’s popular toasts and its espresso drinks, but has plenty of grain bowls, jook and salads, as well as organic teas, cold drinks and other drinks like its matcha latte. Café Umami will be at 25 Grand Ave. (near Broadway), Oakland
THE DAMEL Senegal-born and widely-traveled chef Oumar Diouf showcases Senegalese, Brazilian and Argentinian flavors at The Damel (a Senegalese word for “king”), and in particular the dishes in which they intersect, at this permanent pop-up inside Oakland’s 25th St. Taproom. Look for counter-service dinner Tuesday through Sunday, late-night empanadas on weekends and lunch and brunch possibly to come. Diners might know Diouf’s cuisine from his catering company Afro-Brazilian Cuisine. The Damel inside the 25th St. Taproom Bar & Restaurant, 2507 Broadway (between 25th and 26th), Oakland
FYUB Though she’s been cooking in San Francisco for a bit now, Drip Line’s former chef Nora Haron and her flavorful sass is back in Oakland, this time with a bakery pop-up with a not-for-kids name. The debut pop-up took place at newly opened Orbit Coffee & Doughnuts in West Oakland, but Haron plans to pop-up twice a month, alternating locations between San Francisco and Oakland. Follow FYUB on Facebook or Instagram for information on her next appearance. (And for those who miss her savory fare, get thee to Local Kitchen across the bridge.)
MAMA OAKLAND Though opened conveniently near Children’s Fairyland, new Adams Point Italian-American enclave Mama won’t need any help capturing the attention of Oakland’s food-forward mamas and their families (or anyone else for that matter), given the restaurant’s notable owners and attractive concept. Launched July 8, from Bay Grape founding couple Josiah Baldivino and Stevie Stacionis, Mama is a warm, affordable red-sauce restaurant near Lake Merritt with a nightly three-course prix-fixe Italian menu for just shy of $30, plus curated wines from two of Oakland’s most knowledgeable, charismatic somms. What’s not to like? Andiamo. Mama Oakland, 388 Grand Ave. (between Perkins and Staten), Oakland
MOMO RAMEN The triangle restaurant space at 6200 Claremont, formerly Ricephoria and Pho U, is now Momo Ramen, offering affordable bowls of flavorful noodle soup and a family-friendly atmosphere. Reviews are positive so far. Momo Ramen, 6200 Claremont Ave. (at Florio), Oakland
RARETEA Boba tea has arrived in Rockridge with RareTea, a fast-growing chain that was founded (initially under the name “TeaOne”) right here in Berkeley in 2016. RareTea prides itself on quality and organic options across a menu of milk teas, fruit teas, smoothies and Yakult drinks. It also offers snacks, mostly fried, such as popcorn chicken and calamari. The shop began franchising this year. RareTea Oakland, 5817 College Ave. (between Chabot and Oak Grove), Oakland
RUSH BOWLS This Colorado-based chain offering fruit and açai bowls and smoothies has opened in Uptown. (There is also a location in downtown Berkeley.) The expanding franchise has many more openings on the way, including Palo Alto. Rush Bowls Oakland, 350 17th St. (at Webster), Oakland
SISTER Popular Oakland pizzeria and café Boot & Shoe Service announced some changes this month, most notably with its name. Now called Sister, the restaurant aims for a fresh start from its former incarnation under Charlie Hallowell. The rebrand from owners (since 2018) Jen Cremer and Richard Clark also includes new all-day hours. The timing was somewhat familial: Sister transitioned just as Mama opened down the street. Sister (formerly Boot & Shoe Service), 3308 Grand Ave. (between Mandana and Santa Clara), Oakland
TRAP KITCHEN After offering Warriors fans a little taste with a Coliseum pop-up in the spring, Los Angeles-based Trap Kitchen fully arrived in the East Bay in late June, taking over a dining area on the second level of Complex Oakland. Seafood, soul food, chicken and burgers and the group’s famed pineapple bowls are all represented on the menu. The space offers daily hours until late. Trap Kitchen inside Complex Oakland, 420 14th St. (between Broadway and Franklin), Oakland
CHOP BAR Chris Pastena and Lev Delany’s Jack London Square gastropub is currently closed for its move into Fourth Street East, a mixed-use residential and retail building just across the street from the original restaurant. The restaurant at 190 Fourth St. is almost double the size and will have indoor seating, including at the bar and a private dining room, as well as an outdoor patio. Chop Bar will reopen on Aug. 1 in its new digs.
DREYER’S ICE CREAM PARLOR AND CAFÉ Nosh had the scoop (haha) that Dreyer’s Ice Cream Parlor and Café at 5925 College Ave. would close at the end of July after more than 20 years. Parent company Nestlé has been mum on what’s to come for the Dreyer’s brand flagship space, but you know we’ll keep you posted. Its final day as the current incarnation was July 26.
KFC GRAND LAKE Hoodline’s tipsters report that the Lake Merritt KFC at 470 Lake Park Ave. has shuttered, adding another empty fast-food storefront to that strip near the also-dark Merritt Kwik Way.
HOG’S APOTHECARY John Streit’s temple to great beer and artisanal sausages (flavorful, rich, seasonal, served in creative, composed dishes) closed July 21. The beer hall, built in a corner space that was once a laundromat at 40th and Opal streets, was one of Oakland’s most welcomed openings of 2013, and one of the earliest restaurants to follow Homeroom’s lead in putting 40th Street on the foodie map. It had an impressive seasonal selection of local craft beers, but also wines, ciders, and an aforementioned notable food menu carefully crafted to pair with the drinks. It will be missed. Read a fuller story on the reasons for its closure here.
LOVELY’S Just last month, Bon Appétit declared “the best burger in Oakland” could be found at Mikey Yoon’s pop-up Lovely’s at The Lodge. But after a year-long stint at the bar on Piedmont Avenue, Yoon, who specializes in affordable classic diner-style burgers, fried chicken sandwiches and sides, has decided to move on to find a place of his own. His last day at The Lodge was July 26. Yoon told the SF Chronicle that Lovely’s had outgrown the bar’s small kitchen — when he started, Lovely’s was making about 40 patties a day, by the end of its time at The Lodge, it made 150. He also hopes his new location will be a place that all ages can enjoy.
CANYON CLUB BREWERY Squeaking through just under the July wire is new Canyon Club Brewery in Moraga, opening the afternoon of July 30. The brewery, biergarten and gastropub features an attractive-looking menu of food and “sessionable” craft beer. Canyon Club Brewery, 1558 Canyon Rd. (at Country Club Dr.), Moraga
CIELITO COCINA MEXICANA Impressive Cielito, new to Danville since late June, features a spacious, romantic dining room and bar, and upscale Mexican fare with a focus on Oaxaca. The new restaurant replaced Danville’s location of Chow. Cielito Cocina Mexicana, 445 Railroad Ave. (at San Ramon Valley Blvd.), Danville
GALPÃO GAUCHO Contemporary Brazilian steakhouse outfit Galpão Gaucho has opened a festive, upscale new dining room and bar in Walnut Creek, bringing the number of its popular northern California locations to three (There’s also a Galpão Gaucho in San Antonio, Texas). Galpão Gaucho, 1444 N. California Blvd. (at Bonanza), Walnut Creek
HIP HOP JUICE BOX A labor of love from owner Eric Turner, this café and juice bar is a welcome new Emeryville destination dedicated to coffee, healthy juices and smoothies, as well as relaxing and enjoying old-school hip-hop in comfortable digs. Read Nosh’s great profile on the spot, which is family-friendly to boot. Hip Hop Juice Box, 3960 Adeline St. (at 40th), Emeryville
JOE & THE JUICE This Copenhagen-based juice and coffee chain opened a new store at the Park Place Shops in Lafayette. Joe & The Juice already has several locations throughout the Bay Area, and according to the East Bay Times, plans to open two more at City Center Bishop Ranch in San Ramon and Old Town Center in Los Gatos.
BRITT-MARIE’S A part of the fabric of Solano Avenue in Albany since the early 1980s, this wine bar and eclectic little restaurant with live music closed July 14. The restaurant was named for chef Britt-Marie Pazdirek, who cooked Eastern European and Scandinavian fare for her customers (who, in the beginning, were mainly women; Britt-Marie’s early popularity was as a gathering place for the lesbian community). In 1990, chef Arthur Morfidis took the reins and added Mediterranean dishes, and a chef named Timo took over in late 2017. The vibe here was always welcoming, community-minded and supportive of the arts of all kinds, with regular live music, poetry readings and other events. It had character and will be missed. A note posted on Britt-Marie’s website says the owners will be retaining the space (and keeping a few favorite dishes on the menu), but reopening under a new name and concept.
RUBIO’S EMERYVILLE The Bay Street Emeryville location of Rubio’s, a Mexican-American chain known for its coastal fare, shuttered the last week in June after at least a decade slinging fish tacos and grilled-shrimp salad bowls at the shopping mall. The El Cerrito Rubio’s remains open.
SAIGON VIETNAMESE BISTRO Diablo Dish also had the news that Saigon Vietnamese Bistro at 1560 Newell Ave. in Walnut Creek has closed, despite six years of popularity for its quality cuisine and service.
STANFORD’S RESTAURANT & BAR Stanford’s in Walnut Creek closed at the end of June after 23 years. The restaurant belonged to Seattle-based parent company Restaurants Unlimited, owner of properties around the country, whose website provides a farewell from Stanford’s but no explanation. However, as Diablo Dish reported, the company (also the parent owner of Skates on the Bay and Oakland’s Kincaid’s) has recently filed for bankruptcy, and is seeking a buyer. It’s unclear what this means for its other properties.
TENDER GREENS WALNUT CREEK Tender Greens shuttered its Walnut Creek location June 23, adding that corner property to the other papered-over storefronts on Locust Street. A posted sign from the Los Angeles-based national chain explained that despite the attractive spot’s popularity, it was the group’s poorest performing restaurant, and so they did not renew their lease. The four other Bay Area locations of Tender Greens are still in operation.
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