Despite the spring weather, May was a dark month. Nationally, the news was unconscionable and difficult to bear. Even the local restaurant beat, usually such a safe space, took a joyless turn, and not just because of overwhelming Bay Area COVID numbers. Among other East Bay stories, May saw brittle tensions between customers and overwrought staffers; brazen vandalism, theft and muggings; and the senseless killing of Lucky Three Seven co-owner Jun Anabo on May 18.
Industry owners and staffers are a notoriously hard-working, optimistic people. Despite the risks and inevitable setbacks of the business, the resilience of the food and drink community is always inspiring to witness, and never more than right now. Nosh wishes healing for anyone suffering, be it from sickness, fear, anger or grief. Now is a great time to support local businesses out for the greater good, and here’s hoping for a gentler, safer summer.
4BELLS PUBLIC HOUSE A year after a DUI crash into popular local bar Doc’s Refresher, a new sports bar has opened in its place. 4Bells Public House is a joint venture between Doc’s and Acme Bar & Company owner Jennifer Seidman and chef Sergio Emilio Monleon of nearby La Marcha, with a menu of fast casual dishes (think gochujang-honey buffalo wings and lobster hot pockets) and a vintage arcade game room. Though its owners told the SF Chronicle it would open its doors on June 2 (making it June openings fodder), it was open over Memorial Day weekend with a standing-room-only crowd for the Liverpool v. Real Madrid match, so we’re counting this one as a May baby. 4Bells Public House, 984 University Ave. (near Ninth Street), Berkeley — Eve Batey
AFGHAN BURRITO Nosh is so pleased to announce the opening of Afghan Burrito’s new bricks-and-mortar within what is now the Cal Food Garden, a comfortable, gated outdoor patio on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley’s Poets Corner neighborhood. Food is as the name suggests — an intriguing blend of Afghani spices, sauces and flavors melded into fresh, Mexican-style dishes. including bowls and burritos, made with halal ingredients. Go check it out. Afghan Burrito inside the Cal Food Garden, 2309 San Pablo Ave. (between Chaucer and Bancroft Way), Berkeley
BABETTE As announced late last year, BAMPFA cafe Babette left its museum digs for the former home of the original Lanesplitter pizza, which ended its 23-year run in late 2021. Owners Joan Ellis and Patrick Hooker quietly opened in its new location in mid-May (as Eater SF was first to report), with limited hours and service as they staff up. Right now, expect coffee and pastries Wednesday-Friday, and dinner service Saturday and Sunday. Hooker tells Nosh that brunch is on the horizon, launch date TBD. Babette, 2033 San Pablo Ave. (near University Avenue), Berkeley — Eve Batey
ETOIL COFFEE Well, that was fast! Last month we told you about the sale of Cafe Nostos to folks planning a new spot called Cafe Etoile; and this month the new restaurant is already in business. Co-owner Tae Kim tells Nosh that he opened his doors over the Memorial Day weekend, and a tipster who visited has already raved to Nosh about the South Korean/French menu of cafe fare, sandwiches and croffles (a croissant and waffle hybrid, as the portmanteau suggests, usually stuffed with sweet or savory ingredients). This feels like one to watch. Cafe Etoile, 1930 Martin Luther King, Jr. way. (near Berkeley Way), Berkeley — Eve Batey
GOLD BEAN CAFE Look for hot and cold coffee drinks, pastries, bagels, breakfast and lunch sandwiches and fresh juices from this new cafe in the former Windmill Coffee House. Gold Bean Cafe, 2131 Durant Ave. (at Fulton Street), Berkeley
LOVE AT FIRST BITE (VINE STREET) This longtime Berkeley cupcakery, opened in 2005, has expanded to a fresh storefront on Vine Street near Walnut, giving passersby even more access to their case of sweet, made-from-scratch temptations. The original, upper-level Walnut Square location remains in use as the company’s bakery and kitchen. Thanks to Berkeleyside contributor Joanne Furio for the tip. Love at First Bite Bakery, 2122 Vine St. (between Shattuck and Walnut), Berkeley
SOURDOUGH & CO. This franchise opening snuck past us in late April — growing California chain Sourdough & Co. serves fast-casual soups, salads and deli sandwiches on fresh-baked sourdough, and has launched their first Berkeley location near campus. Hat tip to The Daily Californian for their opening story. Sourdough & Co., 2509 Stem St. (near Telegraph Avenue), Berkeley
DAMAOXIE DaMaoXie opened earlier in the spring but we are never afraid to spotlight late. The Chinatown spot serves Cantonese-style Dungeness crab and other dishes; boba shop Tea Daily also shares a counter within the restaurant. DaMaoXie, 251 Ninth St. (at Alice Street), Oakland
MATSUYAMA JAPANESE RESTAURANT There’s yet more takeout to try from the Longfellow Food Hall ghost kitchen, now serving sushi and innovative fusion dishes from Sacramento-based sushi chef Song Kim. Matsuyama Japanese Restaurant at Longfellow Food Hall, 5333 Adeline St. (at 54th Street), Oakland
ODIN Nosh loves the irreverent energy coming from this hot new opening from the team behind Nido’s Backyard, first reported by the SF Chronicle. The mezcaleria showcases the agave drink (and supports its farmers) in flights and cocktails, paired with food from Tacos El Precioso. Odin, 444 Oak St. (at 4th Street), Oakland
SEOUL BIRD & SOJU Oakland’s former Blessed Garden now houses Seoul Bird & Soju, featuring Korean fried chicken and soju cocktails (alongside Blessed Garden’s old budget-friendly menu of Chinese cooking, according to the website). Seoul Bird & Soju, 419 15th St. (between Franklin Street and Broadway), Oakland
SFIZIO AT DEGREES PLATO PSA (Pasta Service Announcement): Chef Matt Solimano’s very popular pop-up paste Sfizio concluded its run at the Ramen Shop in April, and is now being hosted at the Degrees Plato Tap Room. Sfizio at Degrees Plato, 4251 MacArthur Blvd. (between High Street and Maybelle Avenue), Oakland
CITY SQUARE PIZZERIA Bierhaus owner Mike Finley has reopened his former Walnut Creek biergarten as new Italian pizzeria City Square, baking up thick, square pies such as the salsiccia, pepperoni, vodka, spicy pepe and potato. Also on the menu are hearty Italian grinders, chopped salads, and other specialties such as polenta fries and garlic knots that frankly look East Coast-level good. Don’t miss co-owner Ollie the dog, and thanks to the Bay Area News Group for the story. City Square Pizzeria, 1360 Locust St., Walnut Creek
EAST OCEAN SEAFOOD WALNUT CREEK Long-loved in Alameda, East Ocean Seafood Restaurant’s generous menu of dim sum and Hong Kong style dishes is now available in Walnut Creek inside the former Dynasty Bistro. East Ocean Seafood Restaurant1841 Ygnacio Valley Rd., Walnut Creek
GOOD TO EAT DUMPLINGS Nosh is excited for this long-awaited newcomer to Emeryville, now softly open per The Chronicle and already gathering great reviews. Launched as a pop-up in 2017, Good To Eat’s Taiwanese dumplings, bao, noodles and larger specialties are among the area’s most sought-after, and are best known as a long-time fixture at Original Pattern Brewing Co. in Oakland. It’s a treat keeping up with the team’s gracious positivity as they ramp up their first brick-and-mortar. Yay joy. Good To Eat Dumplings, 1298 65th St. (between Hollis and Vallejo streets), Emeryville
YOJIMBO AND GALLERY In a quick turnaround, Yojimbo Japanese restaurant has softly launched their second Alameda location inside the recently closed American Oak, filling the roomy space with the restaurant’s trademark cool, energetic artwork. Yojimbo’s menu of sushi, ramen, bento boxes and Japanese curry is similar to their original location on Park Street, which remains open. Both locations also offer take-out. Thanks to our Alameda tipster on the ground for the update. Yojimbo and Gallery, 2319 Santa Clara Ave. (between Oak and Park streets), Alameda
Joanna Della Penna has lived in the Bay Area since 2001, and moved to the East Bay in 2009. She has written about area restaurants for 20 years, and should really exercise more.