Readers’ choice award
Cafe Ohlone, Good to Eat Dumplings and Korean Superette
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.
Readers voted our way into a three-way tie this year — and while I considered mounting a run-off election, why not honor all the winners?
Cafe Ohlone‘s rebirth on the UC campus is a genuine revelation, Good to Eat Dumplings‘s May opening in Emeryville after years as a pop-up is a delightful and delicious success story and Korean Superette has turned the sadly vacant Rivoli space into a sweet and welcoming lunch and dinner destination (as well as a reliable banchan grab and go spot).
Congratulations to all these businesses — and to every other restaurant that braved the industry’s increasingly challenging conditions to open this year.
Cityside’s editorial picks
The Rendez-Vous in Bushrod took the top spot in my heart this year. How could it not? It combined two of my favorite things — excellent fare and thoughtful decor. The delicate contemporary French menu, care of chef Nate Berrigan-Dunlop (Pizzaiolo, Starline Social Club), paired nicely with the restaurant’s dizzying yet cohesive array of decor like the risqué circa-1920s murals buried behind decades of wallpaper, a 1800s street lamp fixture from the Dordogne region of France and copper pendant lamps flanking the bar. And the adorable back patio, featuring flora galore and a neon heart, was the cherry atop this new spot that helped usher in the returning of in-person dining this year. — Nosh contributor Brock Keeling
The Rendez-Vous sure seems to have nailed it. People love its artsy, French-inspired allure — a classic bistro setting with great plates and cocktails that’s a little glam, a little cozy and all fun. — Nosh openings and closings columnist Joanna Della Penna
Occitania: I’m a big fan of Paul Canales, so I was keen to try his new spot which opened in the spring. The birthday dinner I had there was delicious — salade Lyonnaise and bourride. I appreciate the care he’s taken devising the menu of southern French cuisine, and the space, in the Kissel Hotel in Uptown Oakland, is beautiful. — Cityside editorial director Tracey Taylor
The most exciting “new” restaurants and bars for me were those that made triumphant returns after tragic closures or those that were rescued at the 11th hour. While I haven’t gotten to try all of these reincarnations yet, the list includes Oceanview Diner, Thee Stork Club, Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe, and The Oriental Restaurant. Crossing my fingers that Albatross Pub will have a similar rebirth sometime in 2023. — Oaklandside housing and homelessness reporter Natalie Orenstein
I’m jumping on the bandwagon for Delirama. While, of course, their pastrami is that good, I’ve sent several people there specifically to try their vegan pastrami made from celery root, as it was one of the most unusually delicious things I ate this year. Also, as someone whose regular beat for J., the Jewish News of Northern California, is the Bay Area’s Jewish food scene, I am moved by the reverence that Cash and Anahita have for foods that are Jewish in origin, but they’re not afraid to put their own unique spin on them. Mazel tov to them! — Nosh contributor Alix Wall
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and breakfast sandwiches are one of my favorite ways to enjoy that meal. That’s why I was so thrilled to see Egg Pals take root as a reliable East Bay pop-up this fall, serving up East Coast-style BECs and spiced tots at a wallet-friendly price point. While we’re talking about mobile feasts, I’m also so stoked that former taco truck Tacos El Último Baile has found a permanent home in Fruitvale, with a menu that’s starting to express ambitions even beyond owner Dominic Prado’s reliable menu of hits. I think we’re going to see even greater things from Prado in 2023, and I cannot wait. — Nosh editor Eve Batey
After three years of watching and waiting, it was so heartwarming to see Calabash finally open its doors this December. That’s the ambitious restaurant slash marketplace from Nigel Jones of Kingston 11, who’s collaborating with Hanif Sadr of Komaaj, featuring their respective Jamaican and Iranian dishes, and also planning to feature other underrepresented cuisines. It’s a tough call on whether to come in for breakfast or cocktails first, but I can’t wait to try those slow-simmered and spiced short ribs. — Nosh contributor Becky Duffett