Late spring is a time for change, and we don’t just mean moving on from COVID-19. Congratulations to all local graduates, from UC Berkeley’s Class of 2021, through Berkeley High’s 137th graduating class (!), all the way down to East Bay fifth-graders saying goodbye to elementary school after a doozy of a final year. (Post-ceremony hint to families: Menchie’s has reopened.)
Safe transitions and celebrations to all, and happy upcoming summer. And as always, please send any East Bay food and drink tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
BOMBERA OAKLAND One of this month’s longest (years!) awaited openings is Bombera, opened May 25, from award-winning chef Dominica Rice-Cisneros (whose beloved Old Oakland restaurant Cosecha closed in March). Her new, full-service restaurant in Oakland’s Dimond neighborhood showcases wood- and mesquite-fired Mexican cuisine — which dovetails nicely with Bombera’s location inside a former fire station. Note: Expect nourishing sides of heritage, community and social activism-focused events and opportunities with those Chicana specialties, as part of Rice-Cisneros’ vision for the space. Bombera, 3459 Champion St. (near Lincoln Avenue), Oakland
DINNER HOUSE OAKLAND Comfort seems to describe both the cuisine and atmosphere of Dinner House Oakland, a new bar, lounge and restaurant from the same team behind Oakland favorite The Lunch Box, and set in the fully revamped former downtown location of Em Deli. Attention carnivores: The menu includes plates of roast turkey with fixings, burgers and loaded Buffalo fries crumbled with bacon. (There are also fish and chips and cheese ravioli.) Even the cocktail menu leans meaty. Also, I’m going to leave this photo of deep-fried Oreos right here. Dinner House Oakland, 329 14th St. (between Webster and Harrison streets), Oakland
I.B.’S LAKESHORE Local chain I.B.’s hearty cheesesteaks, hoagies, burgers, wings and fries are now available on Lakeshore. Fun fact: The cheesesteak chain is owned by an extended family member of The Lunch Box/Dinner House Oakland crew. (Imagine the spread at those family get-togethers?) I.B.’s Lakeshore, 3203 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland
LA DOLCE VITA Attention post-pandemic commuters and Temescal denizens: The busy intersection of 40th and Telegraph has a new, family-run, Italian-inspired pastry, dessert and sandwich spot. Owner Tegsti Woldemichael is the former owner of four-year-old Oakland-based Ethiopian and Eritrean spice company Shamden Spice, which Woldemichael closed last year due to the pandemic. Woldemichael and her charming family warmly welcome guests inside (we were treated to smiles and waves before we even reached the door), and so far, people are loving La Dolce Vita’s service and selections. La Dolce Vita, 3931 Telegraph Ave. (at 40th Street), Oakland
LOVELY DAY Grace Street Catering (the same team behind Cafe Zellerbach above Zellerbach Hall) has opened a North Oakland restaurant called Lovely Day, that is open for dinner Fridays and Saturdays for now. The pretty website promises new American “elevated comfort food,” as well as craft cocktails in a lofted space tailor-made for special occasions. Outdoor dining is also available. Lovely Day, 4629 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way (at 47th Street), Oakland
NOODLE BELLY Garlic noodles are the star of this softly opened new brick-and-mortar for Oakland’s Noodle Belly, previously a pop-up. The menu is simple: Noodles topped with proteins and/or vegetables, but with depths of flavor and texture to those simple components that have customers going back for more. Noodle Belly, 1014 Fruitvale Ave. (between San Leandro and Tenth streets), Oakland
OK’S DELI It’s a couple of months old, but we wanted to alert diners who may not have heard about this new pop-up to check out Nosh editor Sarah Han’s recent feature. Chef Albert Ok’s changing menu of craft sandwiches runs the gamut from Wagyu roast beef to Sichuan hot chicken and though unpigeonholeable, many of his sandwiches are vehicles for Asian sauces, ingredients and inflections. The pop-up currently operates out of Mago. Ok’s Deli at Mago, 3762 Piedmont Ave. (at West MacArthur Boulevard), Oakland
PRESSED JUICERY National juice chain Pressed has opened its first Oakland location in Rockridge. The College Avenue shop offers individual servings of cold-pressed juices on up to full juice-cleanse packages. There is also vegan soft serve, as well as smoothies and acai bowls. Pressed Juicery Oakland, 6300 College Ave., Suite 150 (near Claremont Avenue), Oakland
SUNDAY BAKESHOP This jewel box of French-inspired, Asian American pastries comes from the San Francisco-based Sunday team of food businesses, where Sunday Bakeshop pastry chef Elaine Lau honed her menu for Sunday Gather. The new brick-and-mortar bakery inside the former Katrina Rozelle dessert shop, open weekends only for now, deals in treats such as strawberry Pocky cruffins, ube snickerdoodles, White Rabbit candy and matcha cookies, and chocolate hojicha croissants. We can’t wait to try one of each. Sunday Bakeshop, 5931 College Ave. (near Chabot Road), Oakland
SWEETGREEN OAKLAND Slick, national salad chain Sweetgreen has arrived in Old Oakland, the latest in the growing empire’s 121 locations. If the popular Berkeley outpost is any guide, there should be a line down the block for Harvest Bowls, Kale Caesar salads and Naomi Osaka bowls as you read this. Sweetgreen Oakland, 831 Broadway (at Ninth Street), Oakland
YOMIE’S RICE X YOGURT This yogurt drink chain with several local locations started sharing space with San Leandro’s Full House Cafe this spring. Yomie’s Rice X Yogurt inside Full House Cafe, 1456 E 14th St., San Leandro
LIEGE SPIRITS Bites had the unfortunate news that Liege closes for good May 31 after 11 years. A toast to a decade plus of Taco Tuesdays, Sunday brunches and Old Oakland cocktail nights. Liege Spirits was at 481 Ninth St.
PRETTY LADY Oakland’s classic diner Pretty Lady has sadly closed, we heard thanks to a tipster and regular who will miss having a warm spot to fill a growler. Others will no doubt miss the friendly service, smothered pork chops, biscuits and gravy and banana pancakes. Stay tuned to see what’s next for the space. Pretty Lady was at 1733 Peralta Ave.
BADAN Bites had the story on Badan, a new counter inside the Elmwood neighborhood’s Berkeley Organic Market and Deli, serving seasonal soups and other fare, including manakeesh (savory, pizza-like flatbread with toppings). Badan at Berkeley Organic Market and Deli, 2642 Ashby Ave. (near College Avenue), Berkeley
MOMO HOUSE Himalayan noodles and dumplings — both steamed and fried — are culling hungry students to this friendly new momo shop with counter service across from campus. Momo House, 2456 Bancroft Ave. (between Telegraph Avenue and Dana Street), Berkeley
OORI RICE TRIANGLES Oori has launched its third East Bay location for savory, seaweed-wrapped rice snacks, rice plates, salads and tacos in the former Fresco Mexican space. The new spot features the same menu as in Oakland and Albany, and seems like a natural fit for busy downtown Berkeley lunchers. Oori Rice Triangles, 2177 Shattuck Ave. (between Center Street and Allston Way), Berkeley
SOJO RAMEN The spacious cafe that was Boileroom (and the famous Caffe Med before that) is now Sojo Ramen, from chef-restaurateur John Chien Lee, who also owns Sojo Ramens in Fremont and Las Vegas. Lee is Chinese American, but has spent most of his career studying Japanese cuisine. On Sojo’s menu, tonkotsu (pork-based) ramen noodle soup shares space with vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options, with a crowd-pleasing array of toppings and spice levels; the Mala Shio Ramen draws from Lee’s heritage with a Sichuan-peppercorn boosted broth. Appetizers, bowls, salads and a bento box option round out the student-friendly menu. Sojo Ramen, 2475 Telegraph Ave. (between Dwight Way and Haste Street), Berkeley
4TH STREET BAGEL SHOP This long-running little bagel shop was first opened as a Manhattan Bagel (year undetermined, though reviews date back to the early 2000s), and morphed into 4th Street Bagels in 2016. For many of us, it was an easy, budget-friendly stop for decent bagels, sandwiches and smoothies along the tony Fourth Street strip, and will be missed. 4th Street Bagel Shop was at 1789 Fourth St.
PARADIGM PIZZAS Opened during the pandemic, Paradigm might have also closed during the pandemic, as its phone and website are no longer in service. Paradigm Pizzas was in UC Berkeley’s Clark Kerr dining facility at 2601 Warring St.
SOOP Thanks to a reader, we learned that Soop in North Berkeley has closed after more than 15 years in business. According to a bittersweet Facebook post by Soop, the small takeout stand within Epicurious garden closed on May 13. Soop was one of the first anchor businesses at the Shattuck Avenue food hall; it was opened in 2006 by self-taught chef Marc Kelly, who after 20 years in the fruit and vegetable export business, changed careers on the belief that others would crave his comforting selection of scratch-made soups, stews and chowders. Kelly’s hunch turned out to be right — Berkelyans of all stripes, including famous ones, such as Michael Pollan, Alice Waters and Robert Reich, all sought out soup from Soop (Learn more about Soop in Berkeleyside’s 2012 interview with Kelly). In the goodbye post, Soop thanked the community for its support and listed off some happy memories from its years in business, but stated that the time has come for Kelly and the Soop crew “to move on to other pursuits.” Soop was at 1511 Shattuck Ave.
COFFEE CULTURES ALAMEDA Thanks to The Tablehopper first for this one: Coffee Cultures Alameda is a homecoming of sorts for its owner Jason Paul (who owns Coffee Cultures in San Francisco) and collaborators Luigi Di Ruocco (of Mr. Espresso) and David Burke (whose mural graces the new Alameda property’s roomy courtyard). All three were born and raised in Alameda. The cafe now serves new private label Coffee Cultures coffee alongside Mr. Espresso coffee drinks, courtesy Di Ruocco. There is also Straus soft-serve ice cream and other treats. Coffee Cultures Alameda, 1926 Park St. (at Blanding Avenue), Alameda
HONEY U San Leandro has a new boba, tea and smoothie shop in Honey U, located in the former Ya Ya Poke space. Honey U, 1384 East 14th St. (at Joaquin Avenue), San Leandro
KIKU SUSHI & VEGETARIAN LAFAYETTE The owners of Berkeley’s homey, friendly Kiku Sushi in Westbrae have brought their winning formula to Lafayette, pleasing locals with an array of fresh fish, rolls and a special menu of vegetarian options. Kiku Sushi & Vegetarian, 261 Lafayette Circle (near Mount Diablo Boulevard), Lafayette
LB STEAK SAN RAMON Foodies should note that elegant, French-born (but all-American) steakhouse LB Steak has been added to the smorgasbord of food options that is City Center Bishop Ranch. Chef Roland Passot (La Folie, RIP) and his company Vine Hospitality opened the upscale restaurant and bar May 26. In a refreshingly luxe menu rarely seen during COVID-19, expect hand-cut Prime Angus and A5 Japanese wagyu beef, sustainable seafood, sophisticated steakhouse sides, craft cocktails and lots of wine. Those uncomfortable with indoor dining will find plenty to love on the patio, including fire pits. Executive chef is Jonah Oakden (Boulevard). LB Steak San Ramon at City Center Bishop Ranch, 6000 Bollinger Canyon Road, Suite 1614, San Ramon
STARBIRD CHICKEN Walnut Creek welcomed the latest location of this growing Bay Area mini-chain this month, bringing the number of its chicken-centric outposts to nine. Starbird’s menu includes fried-chicken tenders, sandwiches, topped salads, tacos and wings, and promises local, sustainably raised birds. Starbird Chicken Walnut Creek, 2489 Ygnacio Valley Rd. (near Via Monte), Walnut Creek
URBAN KA-RE HOUSE Japanese sandwiches, donburi (rice bowls), curries, udon and other specialties are now available from Urban Ka-Re’s new San Leandro location, joining properties in Dublin and Alameda. Urban Ka-Re House, 699 Lewelling Blvd., #104 (near Washington Avenue), San Leandro
WANDA’S RESTAURANT Crockett’s newest bistro is a charmer, serving new American breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner in a revamped, historic bakery space. (Appropriate, given Wanda’s bakery counter.) Insiders say not to miss the Thai-style chicken wings, burgers, pasta Bolognese or Belgian waffles with berries for brunch. Wanda’s Restaurant, 601 Second Ave. (at Wanda Street), Crockett
WONDROUS BREWING COMPANY In Wondrous Brewing, Emeryville has scored more than just another welcoming drinking patio (joining nearby Prizefighter, Honor Bar, Branch Line, etc.). According to The E’ville Eye, the craft brewery is Emeryville’s first since Golden Pacific Brewing moved to Berkeley in 1997, and comes with a modern bar, laid-back vibe and impressive pedigree — owner and brewer Wynn Whisenhunt is a Lagunitas, Bartlett Hall and Sante Adairius vet. Wondrous wares can also be purchased in cans from the brewery to go. Wondrous Brewing Company, 1306 65th St. (near Hollis Avenue), Emeryville
NOODLES PHO ME Eater broke the news that sadly, Lao-style pho shop Noodles Pho Me in San Leandro has closed for good. Noodles Pho Me was at 377 Bancroft Ave. in San Leandro.
PLAYT Thanks to a reader for first alerting Nosh that Hayward destination for Southern cuisine PLaYT, from Pican’s former team, has closed. Staff left a simple note of farewell on the door. As Nosh writer Eve Batey discovered, a temporarily closed outgoing phone message dates back to November 2020, though recent reviews put the permanent closure closer to early spring. PLaYT was at 1036 B. St. in Hayward.
AUGIE’S MONTREAL DELI As reported by Nosh, Augie’s announced it will go on hiatus for the entire summer starting June 1. Watch Instagram for reopening news, and please continue to support the business — Augie’s smoked pastrami and other deli meats are available at local counters. Augie’s Montreal Deli is at 700 Essex Way in Berkeley.
Nosh editor Sarah Han contributed reporting.