Along with record rainfall in October, the streets of the East Bay were flooded with another long-unseen phenomenon last month – crowds.
Most surprising of all was the shift in places like downtown Berkeley, which was long a pandemic ghost town and now requires navigation by pedestrian groups. Shopping areas like Temescal in Oakland and Bay Street in Emeryville have been revitalized by friends and families who enjoyed fall shopping in large numbers. The queues for concerts and movies grew, and everyone patiently wore vaccination cards and masks. Speaking of masks, traditional Halloween quarters that were mostly dormant last year were once again teeming with trick-or-treaters.
One nosh friend calls it a return to “human”. Although not quite at pre-pandemic levels (like actual traffic, ugh), pedestrian traffic is back. To some it feels promising, others are more cautious about it, but for better or for worse, the crowds are on the move again and they are snacking and sipping their way through the East Bay.
As usual, please send all opening tips for food and drinks to [email protected]
Daytrips Prosciutto and Melon Carbonara, which the restaurant describes as “East Coast California cuisine”. Credit: Day Trip / Instagram
DAY TRIP Funky and fermented seem like the two best words to describe the glitzy, modern atmosphere (and much of the food) at this stylish new place that is part restaurant, part wine bar and party. According to Janelle Bitker’s attribution in the SF Chronicle, it’s also a place where chefs Finn Stern (Standard Fare) and Stella Dennig, who staged in Boston and Berlin, experience a “louder, spicier, more ‘out there’ East Coast” approach Californian cuisine. ”That means using fresh chilies creatively, as well as lots of clever, innovative dishes made from fermented ingredients. Wines are special too – the selection comes from producers owned by minorities and those who practice sustainability. Look for fresh pastries on the weekend. Day trip, 4316 Telegraph Ave. (between 43rd and 44th Streets), Oakland
LANA’S Lana’s, formerly Cookiebar Creamery, and by the same team, has been open for several weeks and is delighting the locals by bringing Cookiebars ice cream, burgers (yes, they are smashed) and fries back to this part of Old Oakland. (Note: the associated Smish Smash pop-up continues to serve these smashed burgers at Neptune’s in Alameda at times.) Lana’s, 517 8th St. (between Washington and Clay Streets), Oakland
LONGFELLOW FOOD HALL This (somewhat controversial) new ghost kitchen near Oakland’s Emeryville border has fast-casual pick-up and delivery deals from the following opening tenants (so far): Panera Bread (for fans who miss the now-closed stand-alone Emeryville restaurant); Them Chicken Legs, with a choice of chicken pieces, sandwiches and side dishes; Orenchi ramen; Mendocino Farms sandwich, salad and bowl chain; Que’s Kitchen serves Pho and other Vietnamese dishes; and edible happy pizzeria. Expect more to come. Longfellow Food Hall, 5325-5333 Adeline St. (between 53rd and 54th Streets), Oakland
LOVELY’S Sharing space with Two Pitchers Brewing (see below) at 2344 Webster St. in Uptown is the hot-ticket burger pop-up Lovely’s. Chef owner Mikey Yoon’s take on the “smashburger” was named the best burger in Oakland by Bon Appetit magazine in 2019 while operating out of The Lodge on Piedmont Avenue with plans to try all sorts of other high-end fast goodies : Korean fried chicken and deep-fried fish sandwiches, spicy hot dogs, soft ice cream. Thanks to the Chronicle for sharing the news. Lovely’s, 2344 Webster St., Oakland
MUSHIN SPORT LOUNGE Open since late summer, this boutique sports lounge offers a high-end sports experience with screens and amenities ranging from bar bites and cocktails to full bottle service and private events. Reservations possible on the website. Mushin Sports Lounge, 1814 Franklin St. (on 19th Street), Oakland
TWO MUGS OF BREW Eight year old Two Pitchers Brewing has a new uptown bar and taproom in an old, historic auto store. (The “two pitchers” behind the brand, brewers Tommy Hester and Wilson Barr, met on their college baseball team.) The bar has an airy, industrial feel and a lot of friendly flair, with Two Pitcher’s award-winning small-batch craft radlers on tap (beer mixed with other ingredients such as coffee, citrus or berries after fermentation), as well as dry cider and a number of local breweries. Two Pitchers Brewing, 2344 Webster St. (between 23rd and 24th Streets), Oakland
UMAMI MART KISSATEN Japanese store Umami Mart is stepping into the cafe game and is now serving coffee and candy with a side of vinyl on Sundays, noted Nosh employee Paulina Barrack earlier last month. Coffee drinks are made with Oregon’s Heart Coffee and the desserts are from pastry chef Maya Kono. A traditional Japanese kissaten is a relaxed but lovely café experience that feels European; You can expect fancy cups and finger sandwiches in Japanese style. The airy shop interior is lined with cool Japanese kitchen, art and design imports. Reserve a time slot for the coffee and dessert service on the shop’s website. Umami Mart Kissaten, 4027 Broadway, Oakland
WAHPEPAS KITCHEN Chef Crystal Wahpepah’s long-awaited restaurant opened in Fruitvale on October 30th and features a menu of indigenous dishes like acorn waffles with pine nuts, kickapoo chili and bison burgers in blueberry sauce. Nosh’s Anna Mindess took a close look at the new restaurant with a mural by contemporary Navajo artist Tony Abeyta last month. Wahpepah’s Kitchen, 3301 E. 12th St. (near 33rd Avenue), Oakland – Eve Batey
After delays caused by a pandemic, States Coffee started operations in the former Country Cheese Co. building in West Berkeley. Credit: States Coffee
STATE COFFEE X BREAD BERKELEY Coffee and warm bread lovers (and those who aren’t at least one of them) are drawn to the new Berkeley branch of States Coffee, announced in 2019 and finally opened on October 7 in the former Country Cheese Co. building. The spacious West Berkeley location is the Martinez-based group’s fifth coffee shop and the third to open in these parts this year. (The other two are in Oakland, and Note to Fans: The MLK Oakland store is temporarily closed.) States Coffee X Bread Berkeley, 2101 San Pablo Ave. (on Addison Street), Berkeley
Chicken Tikka Masala from Baltic Spice House. Photo credit: Baltic Spike House / Facebook
BALTIC SPICE HOUSE This new East Indian restaurant in Point Richmond took over the premises that formerly housed Brezo and, before that, The Baltic. Baltic Spice House, 135 Park Pl. (Between Washington and West Richmond Avenues), Richmond
MOANA’S THAI COCONUT HOUSE Potala’s home for almost 10 years is now a Thai restaurant. The remarkable little curved hut on San Pablo Avenue, which used to be the color of brown rice, has been painted fresh blue and is now Moana’s Thai Coconut House, currently in a gentle opening phase. No website yet. Moana’s Thai Coconut House, 1045 San Pablo Ave. (between Marin Avenue and Dartmouth Street), Albany
ROOTED COFFEE Community-oriented Rooted Coffee has opened a location on Locust Street in Walnut Creek. In addition to locally roasted coffee, the company relies on plant-based foods and many delicacies are gluten-free. The flagship Rooted is in Pleasant Hill; This is the second location of the group. Rooted Coffee Walnut Creek, 1321 Locust St. (between Cypress Street and Mt.Diablo Boulevard), Walnut Creek
SIGNAL COFFEE TOASTER Alameda is getting all the good coffee lately. Well-known local coffee roaster, Signal Coffee, has opened its flagship coffee shop on Webster Street in Alameda, where West End Crepe used to be (it closed in October 2020). In addition to professional coffee beverages, Signal Coffee also has the local grail of bagels, Boichik Bagels, on its menu. Take a look at the pretty terrace at the back. Signal Coffee Roasters, 1536 Webster St. (between Haight and Lincoln Avenues), Alameda
SOUTHERN COMFORT KITCHEN Beyond The Creek was the first to notice a permanent location for the Brill brothers’ popular New Orleans Cajun food truck was opening at the Downtown Pleasant Hill Mall. Expect standard favorites like shrimp and grits or lobster etouffee, as well as chicken sandwiches for friends and platters of catfish. Southern Comfort Kitchen, 55 Crescent Drive, Suite F, Pleasant Hill – Eve Batey
STARBUCKS BAY ISLAND Alameda’s Bay Farm Island has a brand new Starbucks in the small, former US bank building. Starbucks, 980 Island Dr. (on Mecartney Road), Alameda
THIRD CULTURE WALNUT CREEK Big smiles and a colorful atmosphere can be found in the new Third Culture Bakery – reported about by Noshs Shirley Huey – in Walnut Creek, which offers the group’s coveted mochi muffins, mochi donuts, mochi brownies and matcha drinks. (Founded literally on sweetness in 2006, this Berkeley-based company has continued to see impressive expansion since it began small-scale wholesale business in 2006, and it’s a treat to mark its progress.) Third Culture Bakery, 1310 S California Blvd. . (on Botelho Drive), Walnut Creek