Readers’ choice winner
The votes have been cast, and our staff has weighed in. All this week, Nosh is celebrating the best and most notable drinking and dining in the East Bay, with editorial picks and our first annual readers’ choice awards. Check back daily from Dec. 26-30 to see our picks.
The upscale vegan trailblazer, which transitioned seamlessly from its longtime SF location to one in Rockridge back in 2015, was the one that readers cited most often as the place that gave them a dining experience to remember this year. The Michelin-honored spot opened in 1994, when phrases like “plant-based” weren’t in the lexicon and Beyond or Impossible mock meats seemed beyond impossible to execute. It’s weathered dining trends — and the pressures of the pandemic — in style, and remains a reservations-recommended special treat for both omnivores and veg-heads.
Cityside’s editorial picks
A table outside of the Kensington Circus Pub spread with fish and chips and shepherd’s pie and tended by the kindest servers. It’s a spot that can turn an otherwise dreary evening into a jolly, savory, British-inflected delight. — Nosh openings and closings columnist Joanna Della Penna
My best restaurant experience in 2022 was basically every time I visited Nido’s Backyard. I went with the family, for a birthday party with friends old and new. Sitting outside, drinking a mezcal cocktail, and just enjoying the vibe of the diversity of lovely people who live in the East Bay always puts a smile on my face. — Nosh contributor Elise Proulx
I treated myself to lunch at Dona and got exactly what I wanted, skipped the line and sat at the bar. Sometimes, it’s just the simple things that make it “best.” — Nosh contributor Risa Nye
There was a special dinner series at Oakland Spanish spot Duende earlier this year, a sneak peek inside chef/owner Paul Canales’s mind as he worked through the dishes he might serve at Occatania, his then-upcoming French restaurant at the base of Kissel Uptown hotel. Not every item was a slam dunk, but that was part of the fun — watching this seasoned restaurateur puzzle out what would work and what might not for his new business felt like that part in the murder mystery where the detective pulls everyone into the drawing room to unpack the narrative. For a food process nerd like me, the meal was such an exciting look behind the curtain and into a genius’s brain. More restaurateurs should occasionally trade polish for run-and-gun thrills the way Canales did for those dinners. I really think diners would appreciate it, and it’s just so damned fun. — Nosh editor Eve Batey
I rolled into Bombera in Oakland for a large reservation with some of my favorite ladies, and Dominica Rice Cisneros’ acclaimed restaurant is such a party and a good time all around. We sipped on blush palomas and feasted on smoked trout tostadas, crispy duck leg in green mole, and rich pork belly folded into fresh corn tortillas. The Mexi-Cali menu is so fresh and seasonal, and it’s a gorgeous space spilling outside under the cafe lights and colored flags. — Nosh contributor Becky Duffett
Creekwood‘s Italian dishes are cooked with care and precision, and the other menu choices – I’ll single out the black cod and the pork loin – are invariably delicious. — Cityside CEO Lance Knobel
Not a restaurant, but the arrival of Pie Society in my neighborhood proved the best food-related news of the year for me. Their key-lime pie is divine, but everything I’ve tasted there is delicious. — Cityside editorial director Tracey Taylor
I picked up takeout from Berkeley’s Ono Bakehouse and took my partner on a birthday hike through Reinhardt Redwood Park. As we gained elevation, we feasted on spam musubi and then sat down for dessert at the glade near the science museum. The sweet potato haupia pie was divine. — Berkeleyside managing editor Zac Farber