Restaurant openings at this time of year tend to mirror the bounty of late summer and early fall at local markets: diverse, colorful, abundant. Even this year, after 2021’s summer of uncertainty, September’s change of seasons saw the usual proliferation of new venues — maybe not like your neighbor’s zucchini, but close.

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Bev, the robot barista at Berkeley’s Bbox café, is back at work Credit: Cirrus Wood

BBOX The robot cafe inside the Berkeley Way West building has reopened. Nosh likes to think they had to wait until the robot arm was vaccinated. Bbox, 2121 Berkeley Way (at Shattuck Avenue), Berkeley

THE KEBABERY South Berkeley (and nearby Elmwood) locals have scored big time with the move and reopening of this stylish kebab shop from Oakland’s Longfellow neighborhood to the corner of Shattuck and Ashby. The four-year-old eatery is owned and operated by the team behind former Oakland standout Camino, and has become a casual local favorite for its simple, savory kebab meal offerings. (See below for news on its next-door bakery, Sesame.) The Kebabery, 2929 Shattuck Ave. (at Ashby Avenue), Berkeley 

SESAME, A TINY BAKERY Adjacent to The Kebabery, but an exciting opening in its own right (and not just for the appealing name and charming aesthetic) is Sesame, A Tiny Bakery. Try anything in season, which right now might mean a slice of organic pear-walnut cake or petite apple galette. Baker is Marykate McGoldrick, former pastry chef at Camino, known for her local MK Gold popups; this is her first wee brick-and-mortar. Sesame, A Tiny Bakery, 2969 Shattuck Ave. (at Ashby Avenue), Berkeley

SUSHI GRAB & GO Sandwiched into the same small storefront as Yomie’s (see below) is this new fast-casual sushi eatery, with pre-made and swiftly made-to-order rolls, nigiri, sashimi and salads. Sushi Grab & Go, 2107 Addison St. (between Kala Bagai Way and Oxford Street), Berkeley

YOMIE’S RICE X YOGURT Purple rice yogurt drinks from this growing franchise out of Australia provide a tart, chewy, less sweet and (many say) addictive alternative to boba. Yomie’s Rice X Yogurt, 2107 Addison St. (between Kala Bagai Way and Oxford Street), Berkeley


Asian-inflected pastries from Bake Sum, which is now open in Oakland. Credit: Bake Sum/Instagram

BAKE SUM Joyce Tang and the team behind this impressive French- and Asian-inflected bakery, a media darling since early 2020, has moved from its rented kitchen space at The Bread Project in Berkeley to sweet new headquarters in Oakland’s former Wild Rabbit Bakery. Lucky, lucky Oakland. Bake Sum, 3249 Grand Ave. (between Santa Clara and Elwood avenues), Oakland

BIG HOUSE BEANS Temescal’s newest coffee shop is one of a growing Brentwood-based chain, with the mission of offering the formerly incarcerated a second chance with employment and mentoring. Founder John Krause was a San Quentin inmate; his wife and co-founder LeeAnn is president of the company. Double meaning aside, the newly opened Oakland location of Big House Beans is, in fact, big, with a modern vibe and menu of coffee drinks and lighter bites (toasts, acai bowls, wraps). Big House Beans, 4770 Telegraph Ave. (at 48th Street), Oakland

LA SANTA TORTA RESTAURANT Birria fans have waited for almost a year for this new spot, and though it’s only softly open for now (weekends only) the wait is over. Popular Jalisco-style taco truck La Santa Torta’s first brick-and-mortar restaurant is located inside the formerly dormant restaurant space next door to Old Kan Beer & Co.’s brewery in West Oakland. Note: As mentioned in Tablehopper, Old Kan’s taproom is aiming for an October reopening, and will make for excellent beer-birria pairings. (Beerria?) Tablehopper also mentions birria chilaquiles. La Santa Torta Restaurant, 95 Linden St. (at 3rd Street), Oakland

SAAP WING New business, same owners: Uptown’s Thai Corner Express is now Saap Wing, featuring a fresh focus on tangy, southern Thai-style chicken wings. Saap Wing, 435 19th St. (at Broadway), Oakland

SOUL ON A ROLL With a similar mission to Big House Beans (see above), this new food truck was developed and financed by former Black Panther Party leader Elaine Brown, now CEO of Oakland & the World Enterprises, with support from Dave Kavel, president of the Oakland A’s. Soul on a Roll gives employment and business ownership opportunities to the previously incarcerated. It also serves up tasty fried chicken sandwiches and vegan wraps. Running the business together are GaQuayle Lagrone, Keshia Evans and Howard Harrison, along with chef Sarah Germany (The Food Commonweal, Youth Uprising’s Corners Cafe). Check out Soul on a Roll’s schedule via Instagram. Soul on a Roll, 7th and Campbell streets and other locations, Oakland

SUMMER BAR & LOUNGE New on the Oakland LGBTQ+ bar scene is Summer Bar & Lounge, featuring good energy, live music and events, dancing, cocktails and happy hours in Old Oakland. Summer Bar & Lounge, 526 8th St. (between Clay and Washington streets), Oakland

SUSHI JINGLE The newest member of the Oakland Food Hall ghost kitchen team is Sushi Jingle, available for take-out or delivery only. Sushi Jingle inside Oakland Food Hall, 2352 E 12th St., Oakland


An unbagged crab from Bag O’ Crab, now open in San Leandro. Credit: Bag O’ Crab

BAG O’ CRAB SAN LEANDRO Talk about turning a page: Former classic sports pub The Englander has been revamped and reopened as the newest branch of Bag O’ Crab, a growing, fast-casual, Cajun-style seafood restaurant chain. And apparently this location has robot servers. Bag O’ Crab, 101 Parrot St. (between Washington Avenue and E 14th Street), San Leandro

CURRY UP NOW Back in 2017, the owners of fast casual Indian street food chain Curry Up Now said they hoped to expand into”400 or 500 locations” nationwide, serving those infamous tikka masala burritos to folks across the country. They’re not there yet, but they are now open in San Ramon’s City Center Bishop Ranch, the restaurant announced on Instagram. This restaurant, which is their 18th outpost, will also have a cocktail bar called Mortar & Pestle inside its doors. Curry Up Now, 6000 Bollinger Canyon Rd. #2601, San Ramon — Eve Batey

HASHI GAWA New sushi restaurant Hashi Gawa only opened last month, but has already garnered a strong Alameda following for its small but stylish interior and quality fish and Japanese dishes. Bento boxes available for lunch. Hashi Gawa, 2661 Blanding Ave., Alameda 

KOKOLO DONBURI WALNUT CREEK People might be familiar with Kokolo Donburi’s curries, rice bowls and other fast-casual Japanese offerings from their locations in Berkeley, Pleasanton, Milpitas or Alameda; now the folks in Walnut Creek get to give them a try. Thanks to the Mercury News for the scoop on their most recent opening, and stay tuned for even more Kokolos to come. Kokolo Donburi & Bar, 1231 S California Blvd., Walnut Creek 

LUCIA’S CRAFT SANDWICH MARTINEZ This celebrated Crockett sandwich shop has opened a second location in Martinez. Lucia’s Craft Sandwich, 6682 Alhambra Ave., Martinez 

RICHMOND KEBABS & GYROS Enthusiastic reviews so far for the fast-casual Greek and Middle Eastern plates from this new Richmond kebab shop, located at the shopping center near the crossroads of San Pablo Avenue and the Richmond Parkway. Richmond Kebabs & Gyros, 15501 San Pablo Ave., Suite J, Richmond

ROCKY ISLAND OYSTER COMPANY Hard not to love the look of the newest member of the Assembly family, softly launched this month at the Rocky Island Summer Fest party at Richmond’s waterfront Craneway Pavilion. Rocky Island’s menu features raw oysters, fried oyster sandwiches, shrimp and other seafood. Yes, please. Note: Though Assemble is open for lunch Wed.-Sat., Rocky Island Oysters’ schedule is in process during their soft opening. Watch Instagram for scheduling. Rocky Island Oyster Company, 1414 Harbour Way S., Richmond  

SULTAN’S KEBAB Beyond the Creek was the first to report that Sultan’s Kebab has opened its doors in downtown Walnut Creek. Diablo Dish notes that it’s the third location for the shawarma and falafel mini-chain, which also has spots in Danville and Pleasanton. Sultan’s Kebab, 1512 N. Main St, Walnut Creek — Eve Batey

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...