“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. Every week we tell you the newest restaurants to try in Berkeley, Oakland and the rest of the East Bay, then organize them by region for this, our monthly roundup. We hope it helps you find somewhere new to try.
As always, tips and recommendations are welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Berkeley restaurant openings
12/22/22 Open as of Dec. 21 on Telegraph Avenue is the newest location for rapidly expanding, Fremont-based franchise Curry Pizza House, a family-owned Indian pizza chain bringing craveable, bold, tangy and spicy pizza flavors across California and Texas. Curry Pizza House, 2380 Telegraph Ave. (between Durant Avenue and Channing Way), Berkeley
12/22/22 When Sierra Nevada closed its Torpedo Room taproom this summer, Paul Reiter, the CEO of Portland-based brewery was on the case. “We’d been looking for a NorCal spot to expand into,” he told Nosh, with a preference for the beer-friendly East Bay. After several months of renovations, Great Notion’s Berkeley beer bar quietly opened on Dec. 17, with a menu of non-traditional brews like “blueberry muffin,” “baked peach” and even a thick, smoothie-inspired beer. The idea, Reiter said, is to bring non beer drinkers to the table while entertaining those who are already comfortable with a brew.
“We’re not so serious,” he said, alluding to the oft-intense craft beer scene in the region. “We want to keep things light, keep it playful.” Expect limited hours as Great Notion settles into a rhythm: Tuesday-Sunday noon-7 p.m., though on 12/23 and 12/31 they plan on closing around 4.
Great Notion Berkeley’s official grand opening will be the first week of January, “with different super limited Barrel Aged Stouts being poured, including previously sold out Punk Beast, Vanilla Thief, Radio Silence and more,” Reiter said. There will also be a rotating roster of food trucks that week, and hours will expand to Sunday-Thursday from noon-9 p.m., noon-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Great Notion, 2031 4th St. (near University Avenue), Berkeley — Eve Batey
12/30/22 Eagle-eyed students and mochi fans may have spotted the East Bay’s newest wee location of Mochinut, now open in South Berkeley in the space Sesame, A Tiny Bakery departed this fall. The rapidly growing Mochinut chain (seriously, it’s everywhere, and surprisingly this is Berkeley’s first one) offers boba and Korean hot dogs to go along with those mochi doughnut treats. Mochinut Berkeley, 2969 Shattuck Ave. (at Ashby Avenue), Berkeley
New Concord restaurant opening
12/8/22 Concord’s newest casual restaurant serves a variety of Japanese-style ramen, platters of sushi and Hawaiian barbecue specialties, as well as combos of all three for lunch and dinner. It also serves Japanese curry — and has an outdoor fireplace anchoring its front patio. Kyoto Ramen Sushi & Hawaiian BBQ, 1950 Grant St., Ste B, Concord
New El Cerrito restaurant opening
Antojitos Guatemaltecos El Cerrito
12/22/22 Now open in El Cerrito is a new brick-and-mortar for Guatemalan street food outfit Antojitos Guatemaltecos from chef-owner Yury Aguilar, and Nextdoor is lit up with neighborhood tipsters recommending her atol de elote, dobladas, Guatemalan tamales and chiles rellenos. Notably, KQED’s Luke Tsai is a big fan of the business from when it was a well-respected Richmond food cart.
Locals: Antojitos Guatemaltecos is located in the former Taqueria El Salva Mex, near the base of Potrero Ave. Antojitos Guatemaltecos, 11252 San Pablo Ave. (near Potrero Avenue), El Cerrito
New Emeryville restaurant opening
12/8/22 A quick note to say that Los Moles Emeryville is back open as of Dec. 7, after a car hit a fire hydrant outside their front door, causing serious water damage. (Check out this footage courtesy The E’ville Eye.)
Look for the balloons and smiling servers. Consider it a grand re-reopening, as the restaurant had only just reopened after a brief summer closure when it was forced to shut down again thanks to the errant Hollis Street driver. (And you could joke that maybe the fire hydrants should be moved, but then people would just crash into main water lines or electrical closets triggering sprinkler systems.) Welcome back Los Moles. Los Moles Emeryville, 1320 65th St. (at Hollis Street), Emeryville
New Livermore restaurant opening
12/15/22 The newest local Chick-fil-A opened Dec. 8 in Livermore, and that morning KRON 4 was already warning of significant traffic issues around the area. We’ll see if Emeryville is similarly impacted by the controversial, popular fast-food chicken sandwich chain when it opens there in coming weeks. Chick-fil-A Livermore, 1754 N Livermore Ave. (near Interstate 580), Livermore
New Martinez restaurant opening
12/30/22 Martinez has a new fast casual Japanese ramen shop, with a cozy, clean atmosphere and broth made from scratch. Customer response to flavors, quality and price are favorable so far; it’s rumored that expansion to Pleasant Hill is next. Okini Ramen, 6635 Alhambra Ave. (near Paso Nogal Road), Martinez
New Oakland restaurant openings
12/22/22 On Dec. 19, Oakland welcomed newcomer Acre into Market Hall’s two-story dining room, formerly Oliveto. Despite the location’s somewhat daunting legacy, it’s hard not to root for this team of industry veterans’ bright new beginning in the two-tiered space.
Owners are chef Dirk Tolsma (EPIC Steak, Auberge du Soleil, Cyrus, Baker & Banker) — this is his first project as a co-owner — and San Francisco fine-dining restaurateur Pete Sittnick. Tolsma’s menu is seasonal, Mediterranean in focus, and though upscale, the restaurant features approachable and fun nods to local lore (a jumbo garlic shrimp, vermouth and toast dish bears the name Ode to Spenger’s; photos of Oliveto hang on the wall along with new art and refreshed design details).
Tolsma’s cuisine also takes advantage of the wood-fired hearth upstairs where a more formal dinner is served, and stone oven downstairs where an all-day-casual cafe menu is on offer. Also upstairs, a new, 17-seat bar overlooks this busy Rockridge crossroads, with a bar program from Brian Sheehy (Tupper and Reed, Bourbon & Branch). Also, fans, the famed Meyer Sound-designed acoustics remain. Welcome to the East Bay, Acre. Acre, 5655 College Ave. (at Shafter Avenue), Oakland
12/15/22 For nearly three years, chef Nigel Jones (Kingston 11) has been the unwitting poster child for pandemic-related restaurant opening challenges and delays. But in a heart-warming turn, his long-awaited new project is now open at the base of Oakland’s Alta Waverly building.
Calabash, where Jones is joined by chef Hanif Sadr (Komaaj), gives the East Bay an inviting all-day destination with an intriguing mix of Afro-Caribbean and Persian cuisines for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is also a full bar, featuring seasonal cocktails infused with exotic inflections and spice.
The Chronicle featured the opening first, though we liked Eater’s closer look at the Calabash format and what will set it apart, including Jones’ vision of multi-ethnic cuisines in an inclusive space celebrating all of Oakland (“We want to make everybody feel comfortable together.”), the specialty groceries and prepared foods available to go, and potential for late-night industry hours.
Congratulations to the whole team, and welcome Calabash. Calabash, 2302 Valdez St. (at 23rd Street), Oakland
12/8/22 “What began with a bucket and a bag of beans in a home kitchen” begins Nosh contributor Brock Keeling’s recent profile of this local coffee favorite, “has in only two years turned into a burgeoning business for sisters Arianna and Analyssa Cruz.”
The Cruz sisters’ company Charlie May — so named for their grandmothers Charlotte Ann and Ana May — first buzzed the Bay Area via farmer’s markets, with a notable focus on artisanal cold brew. Further livening up each cup are the notes and flavors of their combined Guamanian and Filipino heritage, most apparent in infusions or “sauces” — rice milk, coconut, chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, spice — added to their coffee drinks.
Cold-brewed teas are equally unexpected, with eye-opening combinations such as a popular hibiscus mint. The sisters’ first brick-and-mortar opened Dec. 3 in East Oakland. Charlie May Coffee and Tea House, 11200 Golf Links Rd. (at Grass Valley Road), Oakland
12/30/22 Curated wines from POC, BIPOC and women winemakers are now on offer at new downtown Oakland wine bar and shop CoCo Noir, opened Dec. 16 at the base of the Atlas apartment building. Owner is industry vet Alicia Kidd, founder of both CoCo Noir and wine brokerage The Wine Noire, featuring a similar mission of empowerment, education and inclusion in wine. The business will soon begin ramping up weekly events such as “Wind Down Wednesdays,” with tastings, charcuterie boards and other fare. Thanks to What Now SF for the first reveal back in 2021. CoCo Noir Wine Shop & Bar, 360 13th St. (at Webster), Oakland
12/8/22 Mario Cortez of the Chronicle spotted that Oakland chef-baker Charles Farrier opened the doors to his new brick-and-mortar bakery, Crumble & Whisk, on Dec. 5. The Laurel District has been waiting a long time to clap eyes on Farrier’s first permanent pastry case, the new home for his famed cheesecakes and other baked creations that he vends mainly at local farmer’s markets — he’s been in the business since 2016, and is a La Cocina alum.
As Nosh contrib Brock Keeling noted in his May story on the upcoming business, breakfast and lunch fare are also available, but don’t miss the cakes. (Or the warm cinnamon buns. Or the bourbon-spiced coffee cake.) Crumble & Whisk, 4104 MacArthur Blvd. (at 39th Avenue), Oakland
12/22/22 Grateful to a tipster for alerting us that a Happy Lemon shop has now opened inside the former Tutti Frutti on Piedmont Ave. The Taiwanese tea franchise is most famous for its salted cheese drinks. (For the salted-cheese-tea uninitiated, check out former Nosh editor Sarah Han’s useful, detailed explanation and rankings). Happy Lemon, 4214 Piedmont Ave. (between Entrada and Linda avenues), Oakland
Lion Dance Cafe (prix fixe)
12/8/22 SF Gate first reported on this new format for an old favorite: Going forward, Oakland Singaporean/Chinese/vegan standout Lion Dance Cafe will serve indoor, sit-down, prix-fixe tasting menus only for its fresh, flavorful cuisine, reservations required, rather than its former menu of to-go offerings from a window.
The changes were first heralded by the Lion Dance team over Instagram on Nov. 25, explaining that December would bring a test of the new format — two seatings a night at 18 seats each, at a cost of $90 per person, with optional drink pairings. Fans of chefs CY Chia and Shane Stanbridge — and there are many, and they are excited — can expect the restaurant to polish up its finer dining chops after two pandemic years of take-out, and continue to reassess and evolve after a break from Dec. 24 until mid January 2023.
“We can’t wait to welcome you inside our space, and finally put our food on real plates for you all,” said the team. Reservations are available online. Lion Dance Cafe, 380 17th St. (between Franklin and Webster streets), Oakland
Stirred, Not Shaken Cookies at Adeline and Oakland Food Halls
12/22/22 We spotted this newer member of the Oakland and Adeline (formerly Longfellow) Food Hall ghost kitchens, and it seemed seasonally appropriate to share: Stirred, Not Shaken is a seven-year-old cookie company with a storefront in owner Dan Ponticello’s hometown of Woodland, CA; it also operates out of commercial kitchens in San Francisco and, now, the East Bay.
Cookies are chewy, not crispy, and include a wide range of classics such as chocolate chip, oatmeal and snickerdoodle, as well as decadent originals such as a bacon-chocolate-chip, and the rich, brownie-like hot cocoa chip topped with a fat, toasted marshmallow. Cookie-focused bundles might also include ice cream, milk, hot beverages or cookie-scented candles for take-out or delivery only. Stirred, Not Shaken, 5333 Adeline St. and 2353 E 12th St., Oakland
New Orinda restaurant opening
12/15/22 Orinda’s newest taqueria raises the question — what kind of fries aren’t yours? That’s right, nacho fries. People seemed thrilled so far with the cooking, flavors, price points (and free grand opening cookies with purchase) at this fast-casual Mexican newcomer, opened on Orinda’s Theatre Square Dec. 10. Comelones Tacos, Two Orinda Theatre Square, Suite 142, Orinda
New Richmond restaurant openings
12/22/22 By now folks have heard about The Backyard, Richmond’s newest outdoor family-friendly hangout with food, drink, games and other welcome diversions. This month, in what we’re thinking of as The Backyard After Dark, the eatery also began a new winter residency at The Factory Bar, where The Backyard food truck pulls up to the San Pablo Avenue bar every Thursday and Friday evening, and is there for your burger and sandwich needs long into the cocktail-warmed night. (Check The Factory Bar’s Instagram feed for updated information on this and other regularly hosted food trucks.) The Backyard at The Factory Bar, 12517 San Pablo Ave. (between Clinton and Solano avenues, Richmond
12/8/22 Point Richmond welcomed back two-year-old wine bar and retail shop The Grape Nest after a temporary closure and move, from 229 to 201 Tewksbury Ave. Owner Marlina Miller sources her bottles from California and around the world, and has put together customer perks for the shop’s enthusiastic local community such as a wine club and regular happy hour. The new location’s grand opening was Dec. 3. The Grape Nest, 201 Tewksbury Ave. (at Santa Fe Avenue), Richmond
New San Ramon restaurant opening
12/15/22 Dumpling Time has opened its sixth location, this time joining the wealth of tony restaurants in San Ramon’s City Center Bishop Ranch’s complex. As at the group’s other Bay Area locations, diners can watch as dumplings and noodles are made by hand in the restaurant’s open kitchen. Dumpling Time San Ramon, 6000 Bollinger Canyon Rd., Suite 1505, San Ramon