Matt Horn is planning a burger store; two new Thai spots are coming to Oakland

Pitmaster Matt Horn plans to open two more restaurants in Oakland this summer. Photo credit: Horn Barbecue

Pitmaster Matt Horn will open a burger shop in a now closed vegetarian eatery

Matt Horn, the celebrated smoked meat writer whose Horn Barbecue opened in Oakland last fall, has big plans for 2021: As reported by Eater SF, he will be fully immersed in the incandescent fried chicken sandwich market with a stationary location of Kowbird pop-up just down the street from Horn at Peralta St. 1733. But the frizzy poultry news hides another expansion of Horn’s empire, a burger joint slated for Old Oakland.

It’s no secret that Horn got into burgers. Last spring, he started an Instagram account for a company called Matty’s Old Fashioned, which was followed (per SFist) in March by a 100 burger event that was only pre-ordered. The meals were pretty simple, a double patty made from a beef mix made by Horn and topped with cheese and a special sauce. The burgers sold out in a flash.

Horn said at the time that he was looking for a permanent location for Matty’s company, and now he’s found one. According to SF Chronicle, Matty’s is located at 464 8th St., a place known to longtime locals as the former home of New World Vegetarian, a popular plant-based place that served meatless for well over a decade. The eatery is also next to the established craft beer destination The Trappist, a nice juxtaposition for people looking for a prestigious brew to go with their lively burger.

Kowbird is slated to open in Old Oakland this summer, and Matty’s should open next month. The menus for both locations are yet to be announced, but given the headlines, it is fair to assume that Horn will make some big buys when it comes to buns. Kowbird, 1733 Peralta St. (near 18th Street), Oakland and Matty’s Old Fashioned, 464 8th St. (near Broadway), Oakland

Pladaek’s version of the classic Som Tum Thai salad. Photo credit: Pladaek Thai / Instagram

Two new Thai restaurants are preparing to open in Oakland

Two new restaurants promise fresh variations on classic Thai dishes like Pad Kee Mao and Som Tum for hungry Oakland diners. Jo’s Modern Thai is for 3725 MacArthur Blvd. planned while a place called Pladaek Thai at 4133 Piedmont Ave.

The location of Pladaek Thai is no stranger to Thai cuisine. His room was most recently the home of Orchids Thai, which closed in December after a string of health violations. The new spot, which appears to have no online presence beyond its Instagram account, promises the salty-sweet Esan-style Thai food (often spelled as Isan or Isaan), like curry puffs and its own version of the classic Thai papaya salad. Further information about the restaurant remains unknown as the owners of Pladaek have not yet responded to a message from Nosh at the time of publication.

The SF Chronicle was the first to report that Oakland-born Kao Saelee is preparing to open Jo’s Modern Thai in the former home of long-time Nigerian restaurant Miliki. Saelee’s family has owned the trustworthy Berkeley Thai takeaway restaurant Racha Cafe for 16 years, so the game is no stranger to them, and the Jo’s menu was created by Intu-on Kornnawong, whose Thai snack pop-up of the same name is making waves across the bay . Expect the same “Thai drinking food” at Jo’s, Kornnawong told the Chron, and a selection of dishes that are not “specific to what type of food – Bangkok, Isaan, everything is cool”. According to Saelee, Jo’s should open on July 1st. Pladaek Thai, 4133 Piedmont Ave. (near 41st Street), Oakland and Jo’s Modern Thai, 3725 MacArthur Blvd. (near Loma Vista Avenue), Oakland

The popular Cal-Mediterranean restaurant Lalime’s was closed in April 2020 after a 35-year period. Photo credit: Lalimes / Facebook

The space that once housed Lalimes will soon be rented out

Berkeleyside’s tipsters were thrilled when a notice of a change of ownership was posted in a window at 129 Gilman St., the former home of the 35-year-old Mediterranean restaurant Lalime’s. “It looks like they are starting again under new owners,” wrote one reader hopefully, but that is not exactly the case, unfortunately I have to report.

As Nosh reported last April, the owners of Lalime Haig Krikorian and Cindy Lalime Krikorian said the combination of the pandemic-induced ban on indoor dining and their desire to say goodbye after 35 years in business was – certainly understandable – spurred her decision to close the beloved restaurant. Commentators on the report were stunned. Many said that Lalime’s was their favorite restaurant, citing special events like birthdays and anniversaries that they would celebrate each year.

So it’s understandable that residents of the area could skip the possibility of a revitalization of the restaurant. While the restaurant’s liquor license is actually being transferred to a new owner, that licensee is not Lalimes 2.0. Instead, it is noted real estate investor Ito Ripsteen who has confirmed to Nosh that he bought the building to renovate and fill the building with a restaurant “that honors Lalime’s legacy.”

This isn’t Ripsteen’s first foray into restaurant real estate: he cites his purchase of the Bay Wolf restaurant building on Piedmont Avenue as an example of what could become of the former Lalime building. The pioneering, 40-year-old Bay Wolf restaurant was closed in 2015 when co-founder Michael Wolf retired. Ripsteen bought his building shortly thereafter and then worked with Wood Tavern owners Rich and Rebekah Wood to open The Wolf, a restaurant that kept many of its predecessor’s biggest hits in place.

With that in mind, Ripsteen said he is “looking for the next collaborative partnership” and noted that he has already contacted some lively local restaurateurs. “My office is within walking distance” of the venue, he says, so he has a personal lunchtime interest in what’s next for the room. He has not yet placed the spot on a local listing service, but he expects to do so in the “next few weeks”.

Lovers of mezzo salads and sandwiches can return to the restaurant next week. Photo credit: Melati Citrawireja

After a 15-month shutdown, popular Berkeley salad spot Mezzo is back

Mezzo is perhaps one of the toughest restaurants in the area. Founded in 1983 as Café Intermezzo, a five-alarm fire in 2011 (one of the biggest fires in Berkeley, as reported at the time) closed the place for six years. It reopened as a mezzo six years later, with a well-known menu of sandwiches and salads, including poppy poppy dressing, which arguably cemented its position on the East Bay food menu.

The restaurant closed a second time in 2020 as pandemic health regulations banned indoor eating across the state. But on June 15, most of these health ordinances will be lifted and restaurants will be back to full indoor and outdoor capacity. It is probably no coincidence that Mezzo comes back roaring on June 15 after more than a year in the dark.

For the time being, the opening times are limited, the restaurant said: It will be open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., with breakfast service ending at 11 a.m. every day like mezzos, as well as long queues – queues you can avoid by calling your order at 510-705-1089. Mezzo, 2442 Telegraph Ave. (near Haste Street), Berkeley

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