“Can you recommend a new place to eat?” That’s the question Nosh contributors get the most, and it’s a good one — while we all have our beloved standbys, exploring a new restaurant is one of life’s great pleasures. Watch this space every week for the newest restaurants to try in Berkeley, Oakland and the rest of the East Bay. As always, tips and recommendations are welcomed at editors@eastbaynosh.org.

The Backyard

Richmond has a new outdoor (heated!) community space for food, drink, wi-fi and family-friendly comfort in The Backyard, opened Nov. 4. The venue serves full breakfast, sandwiches (that’s its burger above) and tartines all day, as well as picnic-friendly fare such as burgers and loaded charcuterie and cheese boards. Curbside pickup is available, although customers who dine on site get to enjoy bocce, cornhole and other outdoor games. Expect live music and outdoor movies (as well as beer and wine) to come soon. The Backyard, 205 Cutting Blvd. (between South 2nd and South 3rd streets), Richmond

Treats from Boba Panda. Credit: Boba Panda

Boba Panda

Sweet, family-owned, Berkeley tea shop Boba Panda shuttered a few years ago, and the building was subsequently gutted in a full retrofit. The boba shop’s owners kept telling us to sit tight, though, and now the patience has paid off — Boba Panda is freshly reopened in the same space; it remains adorable and mostly unchanged, just safer in an earthquake. Also, Boba Panda basically skipped the worst of the pandemic. Well played. Boba Panda, 1796 Shattuck Ave. (at Delaware), Berkeley 

De Afghanan Kabob House

Beyond The Creek had this reopening story with an unusual twist: Opened in Walnut Creek in 2019, Fremont-based kebob minichain De Afghanan closed this location in 2021 to make way for Japanese rice triangle chain Onigilly. Now De Afghanan has returned and reopened in the same space. Perhaps calling a restaurant “triumphant” crosses a line into personification — but it sure looks it, doesn’t it? Welcome back to Walnut Creek, De Afghanan! De Afghanan Kabob House, 1372 Locust St. (near Cypress), Walnut Creek  

Kinfolx

POC-owned Kinfolx is a welcoming haven for coffee, wine, art and community. Thanks to Eater SF for the story, which tells us Kinfolx is only open on Fridays for now. Check for hours and events as the spot gathers momentum during its limited opening. Kinfolx,1951 Telegraph Ave. (between William and 19th streets), Oakland 

What The Cluck at Eat @ Thai

Thanks to the Downtown Berkeley Association for spreading the word of the Berkeley pop-up location for Thai chicken-and-rice chain What The Cluck, which began in SF and spread to Oakland last year. The company specializes in the belly-warming poached chicken and rice comfort dish khao mun gai, and its menu is now available for delivery or pickup at Eat@Thai on University Ave., where orders may be placed online or at the group’s dedicated kiosk inside the restaurant. (And, of course, don’t forget to check out host Eat@Thai’s on-site menu of Thai specialties.) What The Cluck at Eat @ Thai, 1181 University Ave. (between San Pablo Ave. and Curtis Street), Berkeley

Nov. 4

514 Lounge

El Cerrito has welcomed back yet another watering hole from pandemic hibernation with the reopening of San Pablo Avenue cocktail bar 514 Lounge. The bar opened in 2019, and was forced like so many indoor bars to go dark the following year. Hat tip to The Factory Bar and Richmond Standard for helping to spread the news of its relaunch at the end of October. 514 Lounge, 11236 San Pablo Ave. (between Madison and Potrero avenues), El Cerrito

Champion’s Curry

The wait for this Japanese curry shop is over for Berkeley locals, as Champion’s Curry celebrated its grand opening on Nov. 1. The fast-casual spot at the base of the year-old Den student apartment complex features a roomy, industrial-ish interior, with a menu of rich Japanese curry over rice, katsu sandwiches, sides such as salads and fries, and — according to early customers — truly spicy, spicy curry options. Champion’s Curry is based out of Kanazawa, Japan, and has been in operation since 1961; this is the outfit’s third location in the U.S., with a fourth planned soon for Pasadena. Champion’s Curry, 2506 Channing Way (at Telegraph Avenue), Berkeley 

The Lavraki at Elia. Credit: Elia/Facebook

Elia Walnut Creek

Elegant Greek restaurant Elia, based in Pleasanton, has opened a second location in downtown Walnut Creek. The expansion was first mentioned back in June by Beyond The Creek, who also had news of the opening this week. Elia serves fresh, seasonal Greek flavors — lovely dips, salads, seafood, lamb — with an upscale touch. Elia Walnut Creek, 1520 Locust St. (between Bonanza Street and Civic Drive), Walnut Creek  

Muralists Matthew Hurd, Dillion Keene, and Francisco working on paintings that will transform the exterior of the former Mexicali Rose — now called For The Culture — while giving a nod to its legacy. Credit: Brandy Collins

For The Culture

Plenty of folks still miss Mexicali Rose, the family-owned Old Oakland landmark that fed the community for 91 years before closing in 2018. Oakland native and restaurateur Chris Rachal (Liege, M2) is among the nostalgic, which is why his new restaurant and gathering place in Mexicali Rose’s former location looks to preserve and build on the property’s history, including its pink exterior and interior murals.

Look to this profile from Nosh contributor Brandy Collins for some background on the new restaurant and community gathering spot, which celebrated its grand opening on Halloween. For The Culture, 701 Clay St. (at Seventh Street), Oakland

The chef special Singapore rice noodle. Credit: Noodle Dynasty

Noodle Dynasty

For those of us craving noodles, soups and other warm, nourishing fare, it’s an ideal time for new Chinese restaurant Noodle Dynasty to open on Telegraph Avenue, taking over the former Thai Noodle II. The restaurant is already being heralded by students and locals for its broad but well-done menu, generous portions and above-average, approachable Chinese cuisine, both for sit-down dining and take-out. Noodle Dynasty, 2426 Telegraph Ave. (between Haste Street and Channing Way), Berkeley

Nova’s Pizza

As quietly as West Coast Pizza closed up shop recently, newcomer Nova’s Pizza has tiptoed into its place. Parents, students, teenagers — expect similarly agreeable prices for pizzas such as the pesto with tomato and ricotta, or the “meat heaven,” featuring pepperoni, sausage, beef and bacon — and do check out the cheese bread. Note: Despite the leftover phone number and hold music from the former business, these are new recipes from new owners (with a friendly new staff). With hours until 1:00 a.m., it appears that late-night pizza dining remains alive and well in Berkeley. Nova’s Pizza, 1706 University Ave. (at McGee Avenue), Berkeley 

Sons Of Liberty Alehouse Livermore

Comfortable, casual, stylish Sons of Liberty Alehouse, established in San Leandro since 2016, now boasts a second location in Livermore. On the restaurant menu are rich bar nibbles such as burrata salad made with fried Brussels sprouts and bacon; crispy baby back ribs lacquered with orange and soy; burgers; risotto; buttermilk fried chicken sandwiches, and other gastropubby fare, with selections for a range of diets (and a brunch menu on Sundays). There are about 15 rotating beers and ciders on tap, as well as a stout menu of cocktails and wines. Cheers to Diablo Dish for their report on the opening. Sons of Liberty Alehouse Livermore, 2327 First St. (between McLeod Street and S. Livermore Avenue), Livermore

The Xocolate Bar. Credit: The Xocolate Bar/Facebook

The Xocolate Bar

Solano Avenue’s 16-year-old jewel box of a chocolate shop has reopened for in-person customers after a pandemic dormancy, and celebrated its fresh start with a Dia de los Muertos party on Oct. 30. Xocolate vends (and also crafts) beautiful, handmade, organic chocolate confections, and the words alone on their menu are a pleasure: chocolate bars, bonbons, truffles, drinking chocolate, chocolate bark, tasting squares, candy bars, chocolate-dipped fruit and nuts. Go there or be square, and don’t miss the custom boxes. The Xocolate Bar, 1709 Solano Ave. (between Ensenada and Tacoma avenues), Berkeley  


Featured image: A burger and fries at the Backyard. Credit: The Backyard/Instagram