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 email@example.com.
Roasted, yogurt-marinated halal lamb is a specialty at this new Mediterranean gyro and kebab spot in downtown Oakland, though there is also well-spiced harissa grilled chicken, beef, shrimp, vegan kofta and plenty of roasted, savory veggies. Flavorful dips and sauces (including a specialty dill tzatziki) round out the heaped rice plates and stuffed pitas. Kosmos Gyro Kabob, 499 14th St., #119 (between Broadway and Clay Street), Oakland
Artisan winemaker Nori Nakamura, founder of Noria Wines, has opened a new production and tasting room in Berkeley. A native of Japan, Nakamura’s path as a winemaker began with a revelatory bottle in Italy, and led to studies and award-winning work in Tokyo, San Francisco, U.C. Davis (where he earned his winemaking degree), Sonoma and across Wine Country. He launched Noria Wines in 2010. Nakamura’s locally produced Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs are designed to be paired especially with the flavors of Japanese cuisine. His tasting room features a streamlined, calming ambience and enclosed outdoor patio for wines by the glass, bottle or flight. Noria Wines, 725A Gilman St. (at Fourth Street), Berkeley
The secrets of any powerful tiger start with a good breakfast, according to this new Emeryville restaurant in the former Jasmine Blossom Thai space. Intriguing choices for breakfast, brunch or lunch include flavorful shakshuka, fresh Japanese milk-bread French toast dusted with cinnamon, and house-smoked bacon lacquered in either maple glaze or black beer sauce. Savory options include soups, bruschetta and Japanese spaghetti topped with bacon sauce and egg. Jams are housemade. The restaurant softly opens Aug. 9, and will run Mon.-Sat. until 2 p.m. to start. Secrets of Tiger, 6520 Hollis St. (between 65th and 66th streets), Emeryville
Celebrated craft distillers St. George Spirits celebrated the relaunch of its Alameda distillery’s visitor’s center last weekend after a pandemic dormancy. Reservations are required for a visit to the tasting room that might include a flight of curated spirits and discussion of the distilling process, or cocktails featuring the artisan group’s award-winning gins, whiskeys, vodkas, brandy and other liqueurs, mixed with fresh, house-crafted ingredients. St. George Spirits Distillery Visitor’s Center, 2601 Monarch St., Alameda
There is some very good news for Vital Vittles bread fans. As first announced in The Chronicle, Altamirano Restaurant Group, new owners as of May 2022 of the cult-favorite local bread company, as well as their own wholesale company Alta Mira Baking, have opted to continue production of the soft, organic, Vital Vittles sandwich loaves. Despite widespread announcements a year ago that Vital’s bread operations would cease after 46 years, many of us noticed with a touch of curiosity that those loaves were quietly still on the shelves. A press release late last week explained that Altamirano’s married owners chef Carlos and Shu Altamirano, together with their head baker Francisco Barrera, have opted to keep the brand in production. “It felt right to maintain the Vital Vittles legacy in addition to creating our own flagship baking operation,” said chef Carlos. The release also clarified that the two baking companies operate in tandem under the same roof, and that Vital Vittles bread is made by Barrera using the same recipes developed by Kass Schwin and Joe Schwin in the 1970s. Vital Vittles can be ordered directly from the bakery or found at many local groceries; Alta Mira breads are wholesale only for now, but might grow to encompass pastries and other customer-facing treats. Alta Mira Baking/Vital Vittles, 2810 San Pablo Ave. (between Grayson Street and Heinz Avenue), Berkeley
A diverse menu of tasty hot dogs, vegan dogs, wings, ribs and loaded fries, and some enthusiastic marketing are what distinguish newcomer Winky Dinky Dogs, now open in Oakland (and soon Walnut Creek). “Step into Winky Dinky Dogs, an inviting oasis filled with scrumptious delights and vibrant energy,” says the website. “Join us for a memorable experience, where laughter and camaraderie flow freely, and indulge in the joyous atmosphere of good cheer. With each delectable bite of our signature Dogs, you’ll feel a sense of closeness, as if we’ve brought you right into our heartwarming embrace.” The fun new eatery is located inside the former Burma Bear. Winky Dinky Dogs, 325 19th St. (between Harrison and Webster streets), Oakland