It was a month of fireworks — from the usual eye-popping East Bay pyrotechnics on and around the Fourth, to many, many local rapid tests flaring “positive purple” thanks to the latest COVID variant BA.5. Meanwhile, piles of colorful produce hit markets and plates (the stone fruit this year…), and a surprising number of new food businesses popped onto the scene. And though this metaphor might literally explode, let’s not forget the hot sparks of contention around the shuttering of Berkeley’s long-loved Cesar, forced to go out with a bang in July after 24 years. (See tomorrow’s closings.)

In Nosh’s mostly quiet neighborhood, one scary kaboom turned out to be a blown-out car with a person inside — who escaped the flames, thank goodness. The culprit? Butane. According to authorities, this type of risky recreation is a growing problem, and gives new meaning to the term Berkeley Boom. (Dab nation?) Take it easy out there, folks. Summer’s been a blast so far, but let’s all maybe chill (and cook with a little less gas) in August.  

As always, please send food and drink opening tips to


Fans of Aliberto’s Jr.’s SoCal stylings know their Mexican and fry combos well. Credit: Aliberto’s Jr.

ALIBERTO’S JR. MEXICAN FOOD The gas-station-adjacent space at Ashby and Telegraph, briefly an ill-fated A&W, is now a branch of the Aliberto’s Jr. Mexican franchise, featuring burritos, tacos, enchiladas and other speedy, student-friendly Mexican fare. Expect San Diego touches  — paper-wrapped burritos made with grilled tortillas; rolled tacos; wet burritos; carne asada fries. The original Aliberto’s chain has locations across Arizona and up into Washington State; Aliberto’s Jr. counter franchises seem specific to California, and the new Berkeley location is their fourth. Aliberto’s Jr. Mexican Food, 2996 Telegraph Ave. (at Ashby Avenue), Berkeley

DARBAND Replacing Flavia inside the Epicurious Garden food court is Mediterranean newcomer Darband. The kiosk features koobideh, kabobs, bolani, grilled fish dishes, stewed meat and vegetable dishes, herb-infused yogurt dips and a range of savory, sweet and spicy Persian and Middle Eastern specialties, all for carry-out only. Darband inside the Epicurious Garden, 1511 Shattuck Ave. (between Vine and Cedar streets), Berkeley 

KŌL JUICE BAR Located inside Cousins Asian Street Food (and co-owned by Cousins chef-owner Kimberly Gamble), this new juice bar offers cold-pressed juices that are naturally sweet, as well as smoothies and house-made crystal boba made with collagen and agar agar. Kōl Juice Bar, 1926 Shattuck Ave. (between Hearst Avenue and Berkeley Way), Berkeley


The skillet-fried chicken at Holder’s House. Credit: Holder’s House/Instagram

HOLDER’S HOUSE Thanks first to the Tablehopper and then Nosh contributor Brock Keeling for sharing details on the opening of Sarah Kirnon’s new venture Holder’s House, now in operation inside Oakland’s Forage Kitchen. When Kirnon’s long-loved sit-down restaurant Miss Ollie’s shuttered earlier this year, Kirnon mentioned a future fresh start with a focus on counter service and carryout, and they have done just that. Check  Instagram for weekly schedules and streamlined, rotating menus, including many of their familiar favorites — jerk chicken, saltfish and ackee, oxtails, succotash, chicken and waffles, goat curry, black-eyed peas and salads. Yum. Holder’s House at Forage Kitchen, 478 25th St. (between Telegraph Avenue and Broadway), Oakland   

PALMS MEDITERRANEAN The former Lazeeza Pakistani restaurant, tucked in the old-school EconoLodge complex near Oakland International Airport, is now Palms Mediterranean. Despite an erratic-looking menu that also includes nachos and Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, reports for the actual fresh Mediterranean food are encouraging. There is also plenty of outdoor seating. Palms Mediterranean, 10 Hegenberger Rd., Oakland 

RAISING CANE’S Hype-wise, this might have been the East Bay’s opening of the month: Raising Cane’s fast-food chain was founded in 1996  in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, by charismatic restaurateur Todd Graves (the restaurant was named for his labrador). The franchise sells chicken fingers and a signature sauce, crinkle-cut fries, coleslaw, fried Texas toast and that’s it, and is currently in serious national expansion mode. The Oakland restaurant marked the company’s first Bay Area location, and fans (“Caniacs”) could not and still can’t get enough. Raising Cane’s, 8430 Edgewater Drive, Oakland  

RAYANE KITCHEN Mediterranean wraps, kabob and mendi plates, and salads are on offer at this tiny counter venture that now shares space with a Krispy Krunchy Chicken at a North Oakland convenience store. Rayane Kitchen inside M&B Liquors, 6310 Market St. (between 63rd Street and Alcatraz Avenue), Oakland

SLUG Look to Eater SF’s opening report for a detailed summary of Slug, sister wine bar to chef Andres Giraldo Flores’s Temescal hit Snail Bar. Located in downtown Oakland, Slug is snug in the Lionel J. Wilson building’s angular corner spot (formerly Downtown Wine Merchants) and sparkled up by a disco ball. According to Eater’s Dianne de Guzman, fans can expect a similar wine list and modern vibe to Snail Bar, but each location tells its own story. Slug features dedicated chef Spencer Horowitz (AL’s Place, Restaurant at Meadowood, Itria), and an additional music focus, including a DJ booth. There are also no escargot on the small-plates menu; instead, look for possible geoduck (slug-like?) and other cool seafood down the line, among a range of playful, innovative small plates from Horowitz to pair with natural wines. Slug, 102 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza (at 14th Street and Broadway), Oakland

SLUTS THE WINE BAR AT HI FELICIA The provocative fine dining restaurant Hi Felicia has launched a new weekly natural wine bar event, because, as chef Imana reveals, she realllly misses being a pop-up. (But also because she’s prepping to eventually open a brick-and-mortar wine bar in San Francisco.) Check for scheduling, but the new pop-up generally runs Thursday nights starting at 7:00 p.m., and is first come first served. Sluts the Wine Bar pop-up at Hi Felicia, 326 23rd St. (between Webster and Valdez streets), Oakland

TOWN FARE BY MICHELE MCQUEEN The Oakland Museum of California’s on-site cafe Town Fare went temporarily dark back in May, but is now revived and refreshed to the point where we’re listing it among this month’s nascent openings. Town Fare’s new chef is Michele McQueen (San Francisco’s Gussie’s Chicken and Waffles), and the seasonal menu, inspired by McQueen’s Oakland upbringing, is yet one more reason to head over to the museum with the family. Shared plates include deviled eggs, barbecue jerk glazed ribs, chicken wings and candied bacon skewers. Shrimp and grits, grilled salmon over field-pea succotash, fried chicken and blackened jackfruit tacos comprise some of the entrees. There are grab-and-go sandwiches such as portobello or turkey with peach jam, plenty of salads, vegetarian and vegan options, cocktails and a whole outdoor bar for the cafe’s new sun deck overlooking the museum’s beautiful gardens, and even a kids menu (that goes great with the museum’s new nature display for young explorers). Town Fare by Michele McQueen at the Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St. (at 10th Street), Oakland   


Bua Thai Kitchen’ cuisine is from northeastern Thailand. Credit: Bua Thai

BUA THAI KITCHEN Longtime locals might always associate this rounded hut on San Pablo with the former Potala, but the building’s transformed, blue-hued, spruced-up look and feel matches the optimism of its new owners, who opened what was very briefly Moana’s and is now Bua Thai Kitchen. Despite the somewhat confusing name change (did Disney intervene?), the menu seems broad, carefully-crafted and appealing. Family spokesperson Thatchakon “Woody” Yaiduang told Nosh via email, “My family came from northeastern Thailand, what most Thai people call Esaan, and have been in the restaurant industry for generations. We hope you truly love our food as much as we love making it for you.” Local Thai food enthusiasts seem to be nodding so far on Yelp. Bua Thai Kitchen, 1045 San Pablo Ave. (between Marin Avenue and Dartmouth Street), Albany 

GOBI MONGOLIAN GRILL The E’ville Eye had the scoop that Emeryville’s long-awaited Gobi Mongolian, part of a growing area minichain, had softly opened at the base of the Parc on Powell building. For those unfamiliar, the concept is fun and simple: Diners choose from a buffet of stir-fry ingredients, special sauces and seasonings (of varying heat levels), then wait as cooks quickly prepare their sizzling custom noodle dish on a large, traditional, circular grill. Gobi Mongolian Grill, 1333 Powell St. (between Hollis and Doyle streets), Emeryville  

MARTY’S GRILL Breakfast sandwiches, burgers, crispy chicken sandwiches, cheesesteaks, gyros and a menu of fries (crinkle, wedge, curly, garlic) are on the opening menu of Richmond’s newest homestyle grill restaurant, now open across from Kaiser Richmond. Marty’s Grill, 1000 Nevin Ave. (at Harbour Way), Richmond

PHO LA SEN San Leandro has a new pho shop in Pho La Sen, featuring noodle soups, savory rice plates, salads, desserts and other Vietnamese specialties. The restaurant replaced Pho Ma-Ha. Pho La Sen, 2089 E. 14th St. (between Harlan and Estabrook streets), San Leandro

TAQUERIA AURORITA This new taqueria took over from the former Hong Kong-style dessert shop Yummy Tummy, which closed during the pandemic, and offers Mexican and Salvadoran fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Initial reviews say to try the pupusas. Taqueria Aurorita, 1780 E 14th St. (between Elsie and Maud avenues), San Leandro