Chai Thai Noodles at the Higby in Berkeley.
Chai Thai Noodles at the Higby in Berkeley. Photo: Joanna Della Penna



CHAI THAI NOODLES BERKELEY Family-owned Chai Thai Noodles has a new location on San Pablo Avenue near Ashby. The casual, sit-down restaurant at the base of the Higby apartment complex has spruced up that corner with its welcoming, well-lit, modern interior and lots of appealing faux greenery. The menu features approachable Thai and Lao dishes, including curries, stir-frys, salads, soups and noodle dishes, as well as specialties such as kha moo (pork leg stew) and khao rad na gai (sauteed chicken, mushrooms, carrots and bamboo shoots in gravy over rice). The first of the three local Chai Thai properties launched in Oakland in 2008, and might be remembered as Chai Thai Noodle (no “s”) by longtime regulars; the same family of owners operates Laotian restaurant and bar The Saap Avenue on Piedmont Avenue. Chai Thai Noodles, 3015 San Pablo Ave. (near Ashby), BerkeleyE TEA Yet more boba in Berkeley — the extra-terrestrial sounding E Tea has opened on University Avenue, in the former Sancha Bar. E Tea’s menu comprises a range of milk, green, and fruit teas, as well as snacks such as musubi, simmered beef don and takoyaki in a comfortable, student-friendly space with a good amount of seating and cute art.E Tea, 2041 University Ave. (between Milvia and Shattuck), Berkeley

A Milkbomb sandwich, with milk and cookies and cookie dough ice creams in a warm glazed donut, at the downtown Berkeley location. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

MILKBOMB Nosh lined up to try this sweet new spot on University near Shattuck on the day of its grand Berkeley opening, Oct. 19. Milkbomb offers a variety of ice cream flavors such as ube, birthday cake and Manila mango by the cone, cup or float, as well as a long list of sauces and toppings that include Cocoa Pebbles, mochi, and torched marshmallow. The choicest order might be the Milkbomb sandwich, two side-by-side scoops packed tidily inside a donut, with daily donut flavors to choose from. We opted for milk and cookies and cookie dough ice creams inside a warmed, glazed donut. (It was, it must be said, the bomb.) This is the family-owned scoop shop’s second location, the first is in San Francisco. Milkbomb, 2079 University Ave. (near Shattuck), BerkeleyPEOPLE’S CAFÉ AND HOUSE KOMBUCHA TAPROOM The name may be lengthy (and very Berkeley) but the concept is simple: Two well-established and well-intentioned small businesses have teamed up to create a new, zero-waste kombucha taproom in downtown Berkeley. Read more details on Nosh. People’s Café and House Kombucha Taproom, 61 Shattuck Sq. (near University), Berkeley

Northside favorite Snack Shack moved to 1828 Euclid Ave. in Berkeley. Photo: Doug Ng

SNACK BOX & SNACK SHACK Northside favorite Snack Shack is not new, but the owners have moved their burger- and fried-food-focused menu around the corner to the pubby, indoor-outdoor sit-down spot at 1828 Euclid Ave. that was briefly Matiki Island BBQ. The eatery also serves milkshakes, loaded waffle fries and yes… there are salads. The Snack Shack group also does a brisk business out of its old space at 2505 Hearst Ave., now renamed Snack Box, with a menu of speedy, student-friendly fried and grilled sandwiches such as portobello, cheese or chicken, as well as boneless wings and intriguing varieties of something called “macaRamen.” Snack Shack, 1828 Euclid Ave. (at Hearst), Berkeley; Snack Box, 2505 Hearst Ave. (at Euclid), BerkeleyTAIWAN PROFESSIONAL TEA (TP TEA) Berk-tea locals can enjoy yet more boba near Cal at the sleek, Taiwanese tea franchise TP Tea, softly opened Oct. 26 on Telegraph. Tea aficionados may recognize the brand from its extremely popular shop in Cupertino, the company’s only other U.S. location. TP Tea, 2383 Telegraph (at Channing, Berkeley


EXTREME PIZZA (SHATTUCK) The 2352 Shattuck Ave. location of Extreme Pizza has closed to make way for new building development Logan Park. The branch was open for an impressive 18 years, and according to the Berkeley Daily Planet, was Alameda County’s first certified green restaurant by the Bay Area Green Business Program in 2001. Fans can still find Extreme Pizza at nearby locations, including on College Avenue in Berkeley.

FERTILE GROUNDS CAFÉ This long-loved, eclectic little neighborhood café and deli at 1796 Shattuck Ave. at Delaware shuttered the first week of October, first with a gentle “temporary closed, sorry,” sign and, eventually, the dreaded brown paper over the windows. Fertile Grounds opened in 2002, and 10 years later grew to comprise a mezzanine level; for many, the modest, homey space outfitted in local art was a second living room, and its special mix of quality café fare, coffee drinks and caring service were much appreciated by students and locals.

Upon hearing that it was closing, Berkeleyside staffer Natalie Orenstein enjoyed one last supper at Lilly’s this week. Photo: Natalie Orenstein
Upon hearing that it was closing, Berkeleyside staffer Natalie Orenstein enjoyed one last supper at Lilly’s this week. Photo: Natalie Orenstein

LILLY’S RESTAURANT Northbrae neighborhood denizens might be surprised to hear that today is the last day for Lilly’s Chinese restaurant at 1580 Hopkins St., a stalwart member of the Hopkins artisan food row that begins with Monterey Market and ends with Northbrae Bottle Shop. Family-owned Lilly’s was never the fanciest of its surrounding businesses, flanked as it was by some of the finest purveyors in Berkeley (Magnani’s, Monterey Fish Market, Gioia, etc.), but it provided the area with serviceable Chinese food in a charmingly modest space, and stood its no-frills ground for years. According to a notice on the window, the restaurant will morph into a sushi spot that will probably be much more glamorous. There goes the neighborhood.

Temporarily closed

JAZZCAFFÈ There were many, “oh no!”s heard around the entrance to this favorite Arts District café mid-month, as customers spotted that a flood has temporarily closed both Jazzcaffè and the Hardymon Hall portion of the California Jazz Conservatory’s campus at 2087 Addison St. We wish a speedy return for that part of the school, and of course for Jazzcaffè’s delectable soups and stews, and Reza’s famous cappuccinos and iced coffees, but know that renovations will take time. Good luck to all involved.



Aburaya Go is the Oakland Japanese fried chicken spot’s weekday, lunchtime-only to-go spot on 15th Street. Photo: Sarah Han
Aburaya Go is the Oakland Japanese fried chicken spot’s weekday, lunchtime-only to-go spot on 15th Street. Photo: Sarah Han

ABURAYA GO The Japanese fried chicken shop (with vegan and gluten-free alternatives) that’s a little bit punk rock and a lot addictive has a new, weekday, lunchtime-only to-go spot on 15th Street, next door to the reopened Garden House (see below) where Aburaya began as a pop-up in 2014. Need koji fried chicken and can’t make lunch? The main Aburaya brick-and-mortar is nearby and serves dinner, including on Saturdays. Aburaya Go, 380 15th St. (at Franklin), Oakland BANHMI-NI Oakland chef Tu David Phu seems to have something special going with his new banh mi-inspired sandwich pop-up inside Copper Spoon. As Nosh writer Alix Wall notes, the pop-up’s name “BanhMi-Ni” is a play on “panini,” and the fact that Phu’s sandwiches are pressed and lightly grilled is just one way he deviates from traditional banh mi style. The energetic former “Top Chef” contestant proudly makes his pickles and pâtés from scratch, and experiments with eclectic meats (look for spicy pastrami, chashu pork and Beyond Sausage). Mostly, Phu seems proud to be serving something fresh, well-crafted and flavorful to the community at a price point around $10. BanhMi-Ni, 4031 Broadway (at 40th), Oakland

An egg on a roll with bacon at Binney Park in downtown Oakland. Photo: Becca Wyant

BINNEY PARK Sandwich lovers are pleased with this new downtown Oakland counter spot, opened Oct. 22 near the 12th Street BART station. (Owner Chris Silverman grew up near — and has fond memories of playing baseball and hockey at — the Riverside, Connecticut park for which the shop is named.) Many of the sandwiches here have an East Coast sensibility, down to the New York kaiser rolls used for egg on a roll breakfast sandwiches. For lunch, expect everything from peanut-butter-banana-honey to hefty versions layered with Italian meats. Other menu items include toasts, desserts including Straus soft serve and homemade ice cream sandwiches, coffee, tea, beer and wine. Binney Park, 409 14th St. (at Franklin), Oakland

The Oakland outpost of San Francisco’s popular New Orleans-inspired soul food joint Brenda’s. Photo: Sarah Han
The Oakland outpost of San Francisco’s popular New Orleans-inspired soul food joint Brenda’s. Photo: Sarah Han

BRENDA’S OAKLAND Chef-restaurateur Brenda Buenviaje is letting the beignets roll in Oakland, and since the first minute of her Oct.7 opening on Broadway, it’s been a match made in French-soul-food heaven. Buenviaje has been a San Francisco favorite for addictive, New Orleans-inspired cuisine for more than 13 years at her properties Brenda’s on Polk St., Brenda’s Meat & Three and Libby Jane Café, all three owned together with her wife and restaurant partner Libby Truesdell. Now, East Bay locals are lining up for her po’boys, fried chicken, étouffée, jambalaya, shrimp and grits, hangtown fry, vegan Sloppy Josephines, and so much more. There’s a kid’s menu, sweet watermelon tea, milkshakes, boozy hurricanes, mimosas and Bloody Marys and “Grandma’s molasses-black walnut iced coffee with whipped cream.” No wonder the lines. Closed Tuesdays. Brenda’s Oakland, 4505 Broadway (at 41st), Oakland FIRST EDITIONHoodline offered us the first appearance of First Edition, a comic book inspired cocktail bar that has softly opened on Broadway. Looks very fine so far. First Edition, 1915 Broadway (at 19th), Oakland

Garden House has reopened in downtown Oakland, with its menu of salads, sandwiches, rice plates and other lunch fare. Photo: Sarah Han

GARDEN HOUSE Aburaya Go (see above) shares a building with phoenix-like Garden House, a salad-based restaurant that was closed for two and a half years and reopened this month, reviving its affordable menu of salad mains, sandwiches, rice plates and other nourishing weekday lunch fare. According to its Facebook page, Garden House has been in business in downtown Oakland for 28 years. Welcome back. Lunch only, Monday through Friday. Garden House, 380 15th St. (at Franklin), Oakland

Pepperoni, sausage and mushroom pizza at Graffiti Pizza in Old Oakland. Photo: Graffiti Pizza

GRAFFITI PIZZA Chef Matt Molina (this one, not this one), former head pizzaiolo at Tony Gemignani’s North Beach enclave Capo’s in San Francisco, makes the pies at this friendly slice house in Old Oakland, opened by Davina Dickens in the former Cock-A-Doodle Café. Graffiti’s pizza slices are thin-crust, well topped and appealingly large, and the spot is open late, with a cozy back patio to boot. Seems Old Oakland has given this new spot a warm welcome so far. Graffiti Pizza, 719 Washington St. (between 7th and 9th), Oakland [Updated: A previous version of this story stated that Matt Molina opened the restaurant. The story has been updated to clarify that the owner of Graffiti Pizza is Davina Dickens; Matt Molina is the head chef. We apologize for the error.]VEGAN MOB This hot, hearty new vegan barbecue and soul food counter inside the former Kwik Way attracted such a mob its first weekend, it ran out of food. San Francisco chef Toriano Gordon smokes and grills plant-based meats such as brisket, ribs and links into savory barbecue plates, and also cooks up flavorful vegan gumbo, po’boys, burgers and wraps. The results, according to enthusiastic customers, are smoky, satisfying and deceptively healthful. Vegan Mob, 500 Lake Park Ave. (between Rand and Walker), OaklandZACHARY’S OAKLAND GRAND LAKE Celebrated local pizza chain Zachary’s has opened its fifth location inside the beautiful brick space left behind by Camino on Grand Avenue, notably adding a full bar to the mini-chain’s already winning formula of consistently good thin-crust and stuffed, deep-dish pizza pies. We can’t wait to join the lines and visit. Zachary’s Oakland Grand Lake, 3917 Grand Ave. (between Sunny Slope and Jean), Oakland


Renato Sardo’s Oakland-based pasta company Baia has called it quits. The Jack London Square shop closed in October. Photo: Baia Pasta
Renato Sardo’s Oakland-based pasta company Baia has called it quits. The Jack London Square shop closed in October. Photo: Baia Pasta

BAIA PASTA Founded by Italians Renato Sardo, a past director of Slow Food International, and business partner Dario Barbone, Baia Pasta (baia means bay) was Sardo’s attempt in 2011 to put his Slow Food values into business. Baia’s small team handcrafted pasta made with organic, North American flours, then dried and distributed the product locally, and sold to the public out of its Jack London Square shop. On Sept. 29, an Instagram picture of the nearly empty storefront came with the announcement that Baia would close, and the business wrapped in early October. “Even if I could not find a way to get out of the pasta business a sustainable living in California, je ne regrette rien [I regret nothing],” wrote Sardo. “Baci e paccheri at tutti. [Kisses and pasta to everyone.]”

DONUT SAVANT Fanciful, artisanal donuts were the order of the day at this sleek, modern shop at 1934 Broadway, closed Oct. 5 to make way for a new Uptown development. The good news is that Donut Savant is planning to reopen in new digs, with unconfirmed reports placing the new shop in Oakland’s Laurel District. Stay tuned.

IVY MOON West Oakland has lost a gem. Chef-owner Tanesia Sellman’s warm, welcoming café at 3112 Market St. catered to its neighborhood with soulful, beautifully presented brunch fare — shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, salmon Benedict — that garnered rave reviews from customers and critics throughout its three years.

NOODLE THEORY PROVISIONS Kudos to Noodle Theory Provisions at 5849 San Pablo Ave. for making the Golden Gate neighborhood a little richer, spicier and noodlier for three and a half years, before closing up shop Oct. 13. Noodle Theory Provisions’ mother restaurant Noodle Theory still satisfies at its remaining two locations in Oakland and Moraga.

PLUM COCKTAIL BAR It was only open for eight years, but it’s hard to remember a time before Daniel Patterson’s Plum Bar occupied the prominent, one might say plum corner at 2216 Broadway near Grand, on the hip of his former wildly buzzworthy restaurant Plum. First to break the news of the shuttering, Hoodline reminds us that Plum the restaurant morphed and merged with the bar over the years (for a while the restaurant was called Ume, then after the merger, Plum Bar + Restaurant) and eventually the restaurant piece of the business shuttered, but through the changes Plum Bar, now Plum Cocktail Bar, stood firm. Nosh and Oakland are sad to see it go and we look forward to sharing what’s next for the space.

After 42 years in business, Specialty Foods, the oldest African market in the Bay Area has closed. Photo: Sarah Han

SPECIALTY FOODS This was the oldest African market in the Bay Area, owned and operated in Old Oakland for 42 years by the same family — Balthazar and Adelaida Castro and their daughter, Nina Cruz — at 535 Eighth St. That the family was Filipino, and not from Africa only added to the grocery store’s “specialness,” as the hard-working Castros switched from Filipino to African and Caribbean goods after two years in business in the ‘80s to fulfill their neighbors’ cooking and comfort-food needs. Now there will be one less place to find palm oil, African and Caribbean vegetables, spices, sauces, packaged goods and other staples, and Oakland is poorer for it.

Seasonal closure

KONO FOOD ALLEY On Oct. 25, the alleyway collection of lunchtime food trucks and carts at 3188 Telegraph Ave. wrapped up for the season, with plans to reconvene and begin serving up street fare again in March 2020. Founder and organizer George Dy let Nosh know by email that he’s working on a semi-permanent (maybe permanent) structure for the enterprise, with expanded outdoor seating, to be ready in late spring.



Gyoza at Angry Ramen in San Leandro. Photo: Angry Ramen

ANGRY RAMEN From the good folks who brought Angry Fish Sushi to San Leandro, Angry Ramen softly opened Oct. 13 at the Bayfair Center. On offer: customizable ramen with fresh noodles made in house, along with a few appetizers such as gyoza. Despite the name, reviews are nothing but happy so far. Angry Ramen, Bayfair Center, 15555 E 14th St., Ste. 11, San LeandroBRIOCHE DE PARIS Brioche de Paris opened Oct. 6 in Walnut Creek, adding coffee, tea, French pastries, breads, sandwiches, salads and crêpes to the mix on Locust Street. Brioche de Paris, 1421 Locust Street (between Cypress and Bonanza), Walnut CreekTHE MEAT UP Still a work in progress (hours seem a little haphazard), The Meat Up is the newest incarnation of this casual counter restaurant, formerly Grato, from the next generation of the family of owners who operate Los Cantaros next door. The focus remains sandwiches and burgers, as Nosh reported, with a few tightenings and tweaks. The Meat Up, 4125 San Pablo Ave. (between Park and 45th), Emeryville


A row of closed restaurants that now includes Buckhorn Grill and Fuddruckers on the mezzanine level at Bay Street Emeryville. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

BUCKHORN GRILL The food losses on Bay Street in Emeryville continue to add up, reports The Eville Eye, to include Buckhorn Grill and Fuddruckers (see below) within recent weeks. Tri-tip focused chain Buckhorn Grill thrived at the shopping complex for well over a decade as a popular option for quick, meaty lunch or dinner. Launched in 1999, the Vacaville-based company still operates 11 locations, including three in San Francisco and one in Walnut Creek, and now seems to be making a foray into beer.

FUDDRUCKERSAs reported in depth by The Eville Eye, burger chain Fuddruckers joined Buckhorn Grill in going dark this month after an eye-opening 18 years on Bay Street. The closure adds to a row of empty restaurants along the shopping center’s once bustling mezzanine, with CPK holding strong as the one remaining fast-casual choice on that level.

GRATO BURGERS Grato, at 4125 San Pablo Ave. has closed. The former, no-frills deli and burger joint has already reopened as The Meat Up (see Open, above).

Albany Mexican restaurant La Crema on Solano Avenue still looks intact, but has been dark for weeks. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

LA CREMA The San Pablo end of Solano Ave. suffered a loss this month with the closure of three-year-old Mexican restaurant La Crema. The restaurant halved in size over the summer, which raised some eyebrows, but business in the cozier space was still good enough that fans are left wondering what led to the unexplained ghosting. The restaurant remains intact with no closure sign, but has been dark for weeks. Attempts to reach the owners have yielded no word. The larger portion of the former restaurant space has recently reopened as furniture store Custom Sofa Co.

MIRAKU Walnut Creek’s Miraku at 2131 N Broadway closed on Oct. 1, ending a run that lasted for 34 years. The Japanese restaurant was well known for its ambiance and servers in traditional Japanese kimono, and though recent reviews had been somewhat mixed, it was still a long-appreciated part of that community.

SEE’S CANDIES Not a restaurant, but chocolate and candy empire See’s Candies has closed up its Bay Street shop in Emeryville. The 98-year-old company, with locations across the country, has opened a temporary pop-up storefront in the Powell Street Plaza shopping center while it seeks out a potential new permanent location in the area.

SMASHBURGER Denver-based national chain Smashburger created a splash (smash?) when it opened in Emeryville in 2014, part of a purported Smashburger takeover of the East Bay that never quite happened. The 1151 40th St. location near the Pak N Save quietly shuttered this month. Locations remain in San Jose, Sacramento, and there’s one in San Francisco.

Joanna Della Penna

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...