It’s been a month of renewed restaurant life across the East Bay, including in neighborhoods (such as downtown Berkeley) that have mostly languished during the pandemic. Familiar spots are cautiously reopening, colorful new parklets are increasing outdoor seating options and even indoor dining rooms are budding open with limited capacity. As always, please continue to be vigilant, considerate and safe, and send any tips to email@example.com.
ANGITI/TAQUERIA CHEF TONY Thanks to a couple of tipsters, we learned of an intriguing new partnership in downtown Berkeley. Indian restaurant The Chef Kitchen is now sharing space with Taqueria Chef Tony. What makes this collaboration even more delightful is the fact that taquero Tony Torres once co-owned Saigon Deli Sandwich & Taco Valparaiso, a combination banh mi shop and taqueria. Nosh spoke to The Chef Kitchen owner Paramjit Singh, who said the unlikely partnership was a result of needing to make ends meet during the pandemic, but was excited to offer diners the opportunity to order Indian cuisine off his menu, along with quesadillas, burritos, tacos and bowls from Chef Tony at the same time. To make matters more interesting, Singh has recently changed his restaurant’s name to Angiti. Angiti/Taqueria Chef Tony, 2160 University Ave. (at Oxford Street), Berkeley
AT ANN’S TABLE This new takeout and delivery-only ghost kitchen operation is found within Passione Pizza on Fifth Street. While Berkeley resident Ann Simmons has been in restaurant management for years (including with Bon Appetit Management Company to bring local food vendors to the Chase Center), this is her first restaurant where she’ll do the cooking and run operations. The menu focuses on brunch, and will change with the seasons and feature locally sourced ingredients, like English muffins from the Cheese Board for the Hog’s Hips and Cackleberries breakfast sandwich and Passione’s focaccia for the carved Cajun turkey breast sandwich and Berkeley BLT. Other offerings include deviled eggs, shrimp over pasta, salads and a couple of desserts. At Ann’s Table is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday; orders must be made online. At Ann’s Table, inside Passione Pizza, 2326 Fifth St. (between Channing Street and Bancroft Way), Berkeley
HAPPY HOOLIGANS VEGAN Now softly opened inside downtown Berkeley’s ARTech Building, South Bay-based vegan restaurant Happy Hooligans features hearty plates of plant-based comfort food, including vegan fish and chips, nachos, burgers, sandwiches, salads, and an array of savory vegan Mexican fare. Look for a convenient lunchbox menu, coming soon. The restaurant was formerly Gecko Gecko (see Closed, below). Happy Hooligans Vegan Comfort Food, 2101 Milvia St. (at Addison), Berkeley
HAY TEA San Leandro boba tea purveyor Hay Tea has newly taken over Northside’s former Quickly space. The shop provides fruit, boba and milk teas, and a short menu of snacks, including popcorn chicken, wings and BBQ skewers. Hay Tea, 2505 Hearst Ave. (between Euclid and Le Roy avenues), Berkeley
THE HIDDEN KITCHEN As mentioned in Nosh contributor Lauren Bonney’s thorough roundup of the East Bay’s ghost and collaborative kitchens, Hidden Kitchen is now showcasing a variety of locally made artisan pastries under the umbrella Bakers In Common. (FYI, Thai food purveyor Intu On has moved on for now.) The Hidden Kitchen at The Hidden Cafe, 1250 Addison St. (near Bonar Street), Berkeley
LOCAL FOOD HALL BERKELEY Also spotlit in the Nosh ghost kitchen roundup is Local Food Hall, a “virtual food court,” with 10 Bay Area locations and counting. The somewhat nondescript Berkeley hub on University Avenue belies cuisine from Bay Area favorites such as Dosa, China Live, Papalote, Homeroom and more, with abbreviated menus meant specifically for takeout and delivery. Don’t miss the ice cream menu. Local Food Hall, 1812 University Ave. (between Grant Avenue), Berkeley
MILKBOMB Some reopenings deserve a little extra confetti: Family-owned Milkbomb Ice Cream relaunched its Berkeley location late this month after surviving not only more than a year of pandemic but a six-alarm fire in the building next door, among other struggles. On offer once again are small-batch ice cream cones, sundaes, sandwiches, hand-packed pints and, yes, ice cream-stuffed doughnuts. (As well as this toasty marshmallow hat business? Sign us up.) For now, Milkbomb is open Thursday through Sunday beginning at 2:30 p.m. Milkbomb, 2079 University Ave. (near Shattuck Avenue), Berkeley
EL POLLO PICANTE This year-old, spicy fried-chicken concept from the owners of El Burro Picante (see Temporarily closed, below) has replaced tacos and burritos at the restaurant for now. Look for the impressive (and effective) billboard. However, representatives tell Nosh that El Burro Picante is only dormant, and its Mexican specialties will return once things start to pick up and students return, possibly in July. El Pollo Picante, 2021 University Ave. (between Milvia Street and Shattuck Avenue), Berkeley
SUSHI SALON The Chronicle recently featured this intriguing new high-end sushi pop-up inside Fish & Bird, featuring former Utzutzu staffers sourcing premium wild fish. The pop-up runs on Tuesday and Wednesday every other week, and brings a welcome touch of exclusivity to downtown Berkeley. Sushi Salon at Fish & Bird Sousaku Izakaya, 2451 Shattuck Ave. (at Haste Street), Berkeley
TENDER GREENS Next door to Milkbomb, Southern California-based salad chain Tender Greens’ recent Berkeley reopening after last year’s fire is another impressive surprise. Tender Greens, 2071 University Ave. (near Shattuck Avenue), Berkeley
BOILEROOM A kind reader first let us know that, despite reports to the contrary, the mid-2020 closure of this newer Taiwanese hotpot spot on Telegraph was not temporary. According to large, fresh signage on the former Boileroom (and Caffe Mediterraneum) storefront, Las Vegas-based Sojo Ramen, which has a location in Fremont, is coming soon to the storied space. Boileroom was at 2475 Telegraph Ave.
GECKO GECKO THAI CALIFORNIA EATERY “Due to the hardships of the coronavirus pandemic, it is with heavy hearts that we announce that Gecko Gecko has closed its doors after 12 years of serving the Arts District community,” reads a letter on this downtown Berkeley Thai restaurant’s website. “It has been our family’s honor and pleasure to serve you. We wish you all safe passage through these difficult times.” The good news is, related restaurants Giin Thai Canteen and Gai Barn Thai remain open and supportable. Gecko Gecko’s space at the corner of Berkeley’s ARTech Building is now vegan comfort food eatery Happy Hooligans (see Open, above). Gecko Gecko was at 2101 Milvia St.
NEST OF COMFORTS News of the April 18 closure of Berkeley’s pretty little Nest of Comforts made Nosh crave a good, comforting cup of tea. According to a farewell message from owner Lynette Purves, the year-old tea shop might continue business with boxed tea-service delivery going forward. Watch the website and social media for updates. Nest of Comforts was at 1019 Camelia St.
SEASONS OF JAPAN We tried reaching this chain’s Southern headquarters to no avail, but the writing sure seems on the wall for its downtown Berkeley branch. Seasons of Japan was shuttered immediately after the shelter-in-place order, has been dark and gated ever since, and the location is no longer listed on the website. Past signage indicating a possible reopening has also been removed. Seasons of Japan was at 2122 Shattuck Ave.
BAR MOXY As first reported by Nosh contributor Eve Batey, Uptown has a swank new hotel bar and patio in Bar Moxy, part of the Moxy lifestyle hotel chain owned by Marriott. A new Cuban-themed hotel restaurant called La Palabra, from some of the same folks behind local restaurant Caña, is also to come. Bar Moxy is at 2225 Telegraph Ave. (at Grand Avenue), Oakland
GHOST TOWN BREWING LAUREL As revealed by Nosh contributor Cirrus Wood in January, Oakland’s brief-but-beloved location of 4505 Burgers & BBQ is now the second taproom for West Oakland’s Ghost Town Brewing. Opened since mid-March, Ghost Town Laurel features the space’s comfortable outdoor seating, small and large plates of beer-friendly food from the full kitchen, and, of course, a rotating selection of Ghost Town brews on tap, including for pickup by the crowler, growler or four-pack. Ghost Town Brewing, 3506 MacArthur Blvd. (near 35th Avenue), Oakland
JOLLY-JOLLY COFFEE & KITCHEN Nosh was informed by both a kind tipster and this thorough feature story from KQED’s Luke Tsai about this new Nigerian restaurant in a former pupuseria near the West Oakland BART station. Jolly-Jolly’s menu includes jollof rice, akara burgers on agege bread, bole, egusi soup and other, often hard-to-find West African specialties. Jolly-Jolly Coffee & Kitchen, 1498 Seventh St. (at Chester Street), Oakland
THE LEDE Bites first had the scoop on this briefly closed, then briefly nomadic restaurant’s resettling into brick-and-mortar life this month. After weeks of pop-ups in Cafe Encina’s pretty space (including outdoor dining on its sunny patio), The Lede eventually took over the lease — and the owners have since truly made it their own. Chef Carlo Espinas is serving up fresh flavors while maintaining founding chef Cal Peternell’s vision of community nourishment and service. (Note: A former pop-up itself, the new Lede already seems pop-up friendly; as mentioned in this week’s Bites, Edith’s Pie will hold its first birthday event there tomorrow.) The Lede, 308 41st St. (between Emerald Street and Broadway), Oakland
MINTO’S JAMAICAN PATTIES Caribbean fruits, herbs, sea moss and Jamaican-style patties, available with coco bread, are on offer at this Oakland shop that opened in March. A drinks menu includes fresh juices, smoothies, tea and coffee drinks. The shop is from the same folks behind Minto Jamaican Market at 4042 Broadway. Minto’s Jamaican Patties, 1405 Franklin St. (between 14th and 15th streets), Oakland
OAKLAND FOOD HALL Feel free to spotlight your favorite takeout and delivery businesses from this ever-evolving ghost kitchen via comments and tips. Recently added to the giant roster: Growing national chain Dog Haus serves gourmet dogs, sausages and burgers, and will feature specials this coming week to celebrate its Oakland launch. Meanwhile, Oakland Food Hall resident Alloko Garden has moved on from the ghost kitchen. Oakland Food Hall, 2353 E. 12th St. (at Miller Avenue), Oakland
PORTOBELA Classic Cars West Bar & Restaurant has new cuisine on site. Portobela features eats such as rosemary-roasted nuts, deviled eggs, fried portobello mushroom sandwiches and a fried chicken sandwich with Caribbean spices. Portobela at Classic Cars West Bar & Restaurant, 411 26th St. (between Telegraph Avenue and Broadway), Oakland
RED BAY COFFEE One of the more beautiful openings this month was Red Bay Coffee’s new flagship. The airy, spacious Fruitvale cafe and roastery is located inside an historic, restored former bank. This Hoodline feature shares more detail on the cafe’s design; this Oaklandside piece from Brandy Collins sheds further light on the company’s focus on social justice. Red Bay Coffee, 3136 International Blvd. (at Fruitvale Avenue), Oakland
R’NOODLE & BAKERY Nosh editor Sarah Han spotted this quick switch in Oakland’s Chinatown: The former R’Noodles is now R’Noodle & Bakery, with fresh Chinese pastries and noodles, along with frozen dumplings and dim sum. R’Noodle & Bakery, 930 Webster St. (between 9th and 10th streets), Oakland
SOUVENIR COFFEE SWAN’S MARKET “Souvenir Coffee 4.0” has softly opened inside Swan’s Market in what was formerly Coloso Coffee (see Closed, below). The growing local coffee company now has locations in Old Oakland, Albany and San Francisco, as well as the O.G. Berkeley shop on Claremont Avenue. Souvenir Coffee, 917 Washington St. (between 9th and 10th streets), Oakland
QUE RICO A Nosh feature from Eve Batey spotlit this new Latinx-focused LGBTQ+ club from La Frontera owner Valentino Carillo. Expect giant parties when gatherings return, but for now… tantalizingly distanced outdoor shows and events, happy hours, dinner, future drag brunches, and lots of quesabirria at the rainbow-tinted patio on 15th Street. The bar and restaurant took over from Bissap Baobab’s recent community space (see Closed, below). Que Rico, 318 15th St. (at Franklin Street), Oakland
BISSAP BAOBAB OAKLAND COLLECTIVE KITCHEN When it opened in September, Nosh had high hopes for this concept — a collective led by women featuring food and craft purveyors, backed by Bissap Baobab owner Marco Senghor. Unfortunately, the business shuttered for good after only a few short months. It is now LGBTQ+ nightclub and restaurant Que Rico (see Open, above). Bissap Baobab Collective Kitchen was at 318 15th St.
CAFE ENCINA Open in late 2019, Cafe Encina’s permanent closure during the pandemic was quiet enough to slip past us. The good news is, the cafe is now fully taken over and reopened by The Lede (see Open, above), which began operating as a pop-up at the cafe in June 2020. Cafe Encina was at 308 41st St.
COLOSO COFFEE Coloso has gracefully departed, and owners Jose and Renzo have passed their handsome Oakland cafe over to Souvenir Coffee. Coloso Coffee was at 917 Washington St. (A second Coloso in Tokyo closed in March 2019 and Coloso’s planned Berkeley cafe is no longer happening.)
TOWN SQUARE EATS Town Square Eats was another quiet casualty of 2020. Launched inside Crooked City Cider Tap House in 2019, the cool collaboration between folks from Great China and Perle Wine Bar featured an attractive and addictive menu (those potato chips!). Note: Pop-ups Salvage Hausu and Gangster Wraps now operate out of the Crooked City kitchen space, and the cider house remains as grand a hangout as ever. Town Square Eats was at 206 Broadway.
BROTHERS PUBLIC KITCHEN Orinda’s Piccoli Napoli restaurant was bought by two brothers, Blair and Jason Bagneschi, who transformed it into Brothers Public Kitchen, reports the Lamorinda Weekly. Opened in March, Brothers Public Kitchen serves comforting, locally sourced Italian-inspired eats, such as freshly made pastas and Neapolitan-style pizzas, but there’s also a burger on the menu and craft cocktails. As the brothers tell the Lamorinda Weekly, the menu reflects them — “a couple of Italian-American kids who grew up in California.” Brothers Public Kitchen, 2 Theatre Square, #144 (at Camino Pablo), Orinda
HIDDEN SPOT EMERYVILLE Hometown Heroes in Emeryville has a new food pop-up in Hidden Spot, a South San Francisco-based outfit that slings loaded burgers, saucy sandwiches, Asian fusion dishes and chicken wings on the roomy outdoor patio. Hidden Spot Emeryville at Hometown Heroes, 4000 Adeline St. (at 40th Avenue), Emeryville
LA HUERTA TACOS In a collaboration with Alameda favorite Speisekammer, La Huerta Tacos will now take over the German restaurant’s kitchen to provide lunch and dinner at the restaurant on Mondays and Tuesdays. (Expect the traditional German menu the other days of the week, including for lunch beginning in May.) La Huerta Tacos at Speisekammer, 2424 Lincoln Ave. (between Everett and Park streets), Alameda
LOCAL KITCHENS Lafayette’s ghost kitchen has added food from Sajj Mediterranean, Saucy Asian and The Little Chihuahua to its growing list of appealing takeout and delivery-only options. Order through the main website. Local Kitchens, 3455 Mt. Diablo Blvd. (at Second Street), Lafayette
PHO BENNY Opened on April 19 in Lafayette is Pho Benny, named after owner Benny Tran, who shares on Yelp that this is his first restaurant. According to Beyond the Creek, Pho Benny takes over the space last occupied by Bistro Burger & Grill, and features a large menu of Vietnamese soups, appetizers, banh mi, rice plates and vermicelli bowls. Pho Benny, 965 Mountain Blvd. (at Mountain View Drive), Lafayette
PHO GA 88 San Leandro got a new pho spot in March with the opening of Pho Ga 88, specializing in comforting Vietnamese chicken noodle soups and chicken rice plates. Pho Ga 88, 15040 Farnsworth St. (at Chapel Avenue), San Leandro
RANDY’S BEST ICE CREAM Thanks to Nosh contributor Paulina Barrack for the story of this adorable new ice cream cart from Albany-bred chef Brandon “Randall” Nguyen (Verjus, The Progress, State Bird Provisions). Look for small-batch flavors such as Popcorn Salted Caramel, Passion Guava Milk and Meyer Lemon Lavender, made with locally sourced ingredients and love. Randy’s Best Ice Cream operates Friday through Sunday beginning at noon in front of the Albany Twin theatre until sold out. (Tip: Act fast). Randy’s Best Ice Cream, 1115 Solano Ave. (near San Pablo Avenue), Albany
RARETEA Over in the Alameda Landing shopping center, growing, locally founded chain Raretea has replaced Taiwan-based juggernaut Sharetea. Seems fairtea. Raretea, 2670 Fifth St. (near Singleton), Alameda
S.A.G.A. KITCHEN Experience Tea is now operating out of the small collective kitchen S.A.G.A. Kitchen in Alameda, offering a menu of fruit, milk, matcha and boba teas. Experience Tea at SAGA Kitchen, 1707 Lincoln Ave. (near Grand Street), Alameda
SALT & STRAW Ice cream lovers have been waiting for this one: Salt & Straw, opened 10 years ago in Portland, Oregon, and beloved up and down the West Coast (as well as in Miami), have opened their first East Bay scoop shop inside San Ramon’s City Center Bishop Ranch. Expect a range of seasonal flavors, from delicate to bold, and some delicious play with local ingredients. (Psst: Can’t get to San Ramon? Remember that Oakland Food Hall we keep mentioning…?) Salt & Straw, 6000 Bollinger Canyon, Suite 1107, San Ramon
SHANVI INDIAN KITCHEN Yet another symbiotic, small food business collaboration is Shanvi Indian Kitchen, offering takeout Indian food from inside Good 2 Go Liquor in Alameda. Reviews are enthusiastic so far. Shanvi Indian Kitchen inside Good 2 Go Liquor & Curry, 2536 Santa Clara Ave. (near Broadway) Alameda
SLICE HOUSE SAN LEANDRO Fans of Bay Area pizzaiolo Tony Gemignani’s various award-winning styles of pizza (we enjoy his New York-style and puffy Sicilian), will be pleased to note that the Slice House San Leandro has opened, although about a month later than originally expected. The restaurant is a collaboration among old friends Gemignani and Tom and Teresa Lawrie, owners of Sons of Liberty Alehouse. The restaurant serves the aforementioned New York-style and Sicilian, as well as pies and slices served Detroit, California or “Grandma” style — a square, crispy type of pizza seen mostly in New York and on Long Island. Patio seating is available. Slice House San Leandro, 135 Parrott St. (near Washington Avenue), San Leandro
WORLD WRAPPS This growing California-based wrap(p) chain is another recent addition to the City Center Bishop Ranch complex in San Ramon, and features tortilla, nori, rice paper or flatbread wraps, as well as bowls featuring savory global flavors. World Wrapps, 6000 Bollinger Canyon, Suite 1512, San Ramon
DA NANG VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT Da Nang first opened in 1983, and may even have given some Albany locals their first taste of Vietnamese cuisine. It remained open for an impressive 22 years, shuttered for three, and then reopened under the same owners in 2018. The Da Nang in Antioch remains open, but a staffer there confirmed that the Albany location was sadly another pandemic-induced closure. Da Nang was at 905 San Pablo Ave. in Albany.
ELAINE’S GOURMET CHINESE Nosh joins the former patrons of this weeks-old Alameda restaurant in wishing chef Elaine a speedy recovery. The proprietor was in a car accident just as her opening gathered momentum, and the restaurant is now permanently closed. Elaine’s Gourmet Chinese was at 2520 Santa Clara Ave. in Alameda.
PANERA BREAD EMERYVILLE Even The E’ville Eye blinked a little at this month’s sudden, unexpected closure of Panera, as the fast-casual soup-and-sandwich franchise location near the Emeryville Target was never not busy. But in a matter of days, the stand-alone eatery went from bustling with bread bowls to toast. Panera Bread was at 1525 40th St. in Emeryville.
POTALA ORGANIC CAFE We spotted this potentially permanent closure back in August of last year, and this month various news outlets took up the story: Potala Organic Cafe is indeed closed for good, and according to the Chronicle, the team is now repositioned at Shangrila Buddha Vegan in Albany. Potala Organic Cafe was at 1045 San Pablo Ave. in Albany.
YUZU RAMEN & BROFFEE is also definitely more than temporarily closed. Yuzu Ramen was at 1298 65th St. in Emeryville.
BOBA PANDA Though Yelp might have labeled this sweet little boba shop permanently shut, the owners have once again reassured Nosh that they will reopen once their building’s retrofit is complete, probably this summer. (Hopefully by then the boba shortage will have also abated.) Boba Panda is at 1796 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley.
EL BURRO PICANTE El Burro Picante’s year-old fried-chicken sandwich pop-up El Pollo Picante was such a success that they have refocused the restaurant during Covid’s slower months. El Burro Picante only features the El Pollo Picante menu for now (see Open, above), featuring spicy fried chicken served in a variety of ways (sandwich, waffles, mac ‘n’ cheese). However, according to representatives, El Burro Picante and its Mexican specialties will return, possibly later in the year, maybe July. El Burro Picante Mexican restaurant is at 2021 University Ave.
HOMEMADE CAFE Hang in there, Homemade Cafe regulars: The cafe’s heartfelt breakfast, lunch … and maybe even a new dinner menu will return after some plumbing and other upgrades are complete. Work began at the end of March and is lasting longer than expected. Homemade Cafe is at 2545 Sacramento St.
POPOCA Smoky Oakland darling Popoca is no longer operating out of Classic Cars West, and is temporarily closed while the pop-up restaurant seeks out a permanent home. Meantime, fans should watch for news of upcoming (and exciting) local collaborations. Popoca is currently nomadic.
SHARETEA ORINDA Sharetea permanently closed its Alameda location in 2020 (it is now a Raretea, see Open above), and as of this month, the Orinda Sharetea shop is also shuttered until further notice. Here’s hoping Berkeley’s upcoming Telegraph Avenue Sharetea from the Taiwanese tea company is on track. Sharetea is at 41 Moraga Way in Orinda.
ZINO The Hotel Shattuck Plaza’s sophisticated indoor bar and restaurant has been temporarily closed since the beginning of the pandemic. Management does intend to reopen, but only when it’s well and truly safe to permanently rehire staff. For now, Zino appears to be open for breakfast sandwiches, coffee and other beverages. Zino inside the Hotel Shattuck Plaza is at 2086 Allston Way in Berkeley.
Nosh editor Sarah Han contributed reporting.