Alameda County is taking a wait-and-see approach to vaccine mandates for restaurants. But as of Sept. 22, Contra Costa County restaurants like Walnut Creek’s Bierhaus (pictured) must check the vaccination status or COVID test results for all indoor diners over the age of 12, but folks who want to eat outdoors needn’t provide those documents. Credit: Eve Batey

Contra Costa County has joined Berkeley and San Francisco in a pandemic-related mandate on vaccinations for indoor dinersthe Bay Area News Group reports. As of Sept. 22, restaurants in cities like Walnut Creek, Richmond and El Cerrito (among many others) must require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test from the last 72 hours for every indoor restaurant patron over the age of 12. “This order is necessary now to save lives, protect our overburdened healthcare system, and slow the pandemic enough to keep our schools open,” county health officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said in a press release. The health order also applies to indoor seating at bars and entertainment venues, as well as at gyms. Alameda County’s Department of Public Health responded to Nosh’s questions after this item was published, repeating the month-old statement it gave the SF Chronicle, saying that it would “monitor how these policies roll out in San Francisco and New York.”  A spokesperson said, “We do not have anything new to share other than what we have said previously.”

In Alameda County, 23 people are seeking permits to use their homes into restaurants. So reports the SF Chronicle in a story on former San Leandro City Councilman Lee Thomas, whose GrilleeQ barbecue spot is — as the Bay Area News Group wrote last month — one of the first legally sanctioned microenterprise home kitchen operations (MEHKOs) in the area. Seven of the applicants (like Nancy Chang’s Purpose and Hope soup business) have already been permitted to prepare and serve food from inside their homes. Thomas tells the Chron that his cost to open legally was about $1,500, including the $696 MEHKO permit fee and $150 for an online food manager certification. With an overhead that low, expect more aspiring restaurateurs to set up shop in a neighborhood near you. 

These East Bay beers are now available on many SF Bay Ferry departures. Courtesy: San Francisco Bay Ferry

You can now snag a special East Bay-produced beer to chug during your commute. The San Francisco Bay Ferry, which shuttles folks across the water between (among other cities) Alameda, Oakland, Vallejo, Richmond and San Francisco, has added a lineup of ferry-themed brews to the onboard menu on many of its ferries. There’s a “Ferry Good Pale Ale” from Richmond’s East Brother Beer Company, a “Ferry No. 2 India Pale Ale” from Mare Island Brewing Co. (Vallejo) and Alameda’s Faction Brewing is serving up a pale ale called “Hop On.” The beers are available for purchase on any San Francisco Bay Ferry departure with a bartender, and a spokesperson says that “Most evening and weekend trips on the Oakland & Alameda and Vallejo routes are currently staffed” with someone who can pull you a brew. A full schedule for the ferry can be found here.

Quick Bites

  • Oakland’s Mi Barrio (4749 International Blvd) is reportedly the home of the region’s the best torta ahogada, a cult-fave Mexican sandwich drenched in árbol chile and tomato salsa. [48 Hills]
  • While many East Bay cities bolster its outdoor dining culture as the delta variant continues to spread, Pleasanton has dumped its Weekend on the Main program in favor of car traffic. [Bay Area News Group]
  • East Bay-based Chunky Butt Ice Cream specializes in flavors that reflect its founders’ Mexican and Filipino cultures. [Thrillist]
  • Oakland pitmaster Matt Horn lists his favorite Oakland spots, including Uptown’s Bar Shiru and Orbit Coffee. [Food & Wine]
  • Mona Leena, whose Palestinian-inspired restaurant Lulu opened in Berkeley last month, says she’s tired of making hummus and craves McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets. [The Daily Beast]

This article was updated at 3:49 p.m. on 9/15/21.