“Can you recommend a new place to eat?” That’s the question Nosh contributors get the most, and it’s a good one — while we all have our beloved standbys, exploring a new restaurant is one of life’s great pleasures. Every week we tell you the newest restaurants to try in Berkeley, Oakland and the rest of the East Bay, then organize them by region for this, our monthly roundup. We hope it helps you find somewhere new to try.
As always, tips and recommendations are welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
East Bay-wide reopenings
Such a rough few months we’ve had. The recent storms have not been kind to local restaurants, with power outages that have destroyed product, leaks and flooding that have shuttered dining rooms, and decreased patronage as we all hunkered down. One such recent reopening after a multi-day power loss is Delirama (1746 Solano Ave. near Ensenada Avenue in Berkeley), which the SF Chronicle noted as having lost an estimated $100,000 in revenue and 2,000 pounds of brisket. (They’ve since launched a fundraiser to help recoup their losses.)
Please, if you can, check in on your favorite spots to be sure they’re managing, and perhaps consider contributing to those that have had to temporarily close over the past month as the weather made business impossible. While many restaurants and bars affected by leaks, structural damage or lost power have made the news, many haven’t. All are struggling to catch up. — Joanna Della Penna and Eve Batey
New Alameda restaurant
Signal Coffee Alameda (#2)
3/23/23: Signal now has a jewel box of a second cafe in Alameda, on Central Avenue near Park Street, joining the west Alameda flagship across the island on Webster Street. The new location marks the fourth overall for the growing local coffee chain from partners and co-owners Brendan Doherty and Rebecca Brown. Signal is known for its rich, locally roasted coffee and stylish yet approachable atmosphere, both of which have notably charmed Berkeley since opening there last September. Now lucky Alameda gets a double shot. Signal Coffee, 2318a Central Ave. (between Park and Oak streets), Alameda
New Berkeley restaurants
5 Tacos & Beers Berkeley
3/8/23: Berkeley’s Elmwood neighborhood is about to get even more festive with Tuesday’s grand opening of 5 Tacos & Beers, in the former Shen Hua restaurant space on College Ave. For those who have not visited the original 5 Tacos & Beers in Albany, trust — this restaurant from Lito Saldaña (Los Moles) is known for its fun, easy sophistication.
The lively taqueria features an appealing menu of craft beers and taco flights, and pleases friends, families, groups and dates with equal charm. As at the Albany location, a nice amount of outdoor seating is on offer. 5 Tacos & Beers, 2914 College Ave. (between Ashby Avenue and Russell Street), Berkeley
Boichik Bagels Sixth Street
3/23/23: Berkeley gets its much-anticipated second location for Boichik Bagels on Friday, opening to doubtlessly long, eager lines at 7:30 a.m. The enormous new bagel plant, cafe and retail space features at its heart, as Eater described it, a “robot bagel maker,” aka owner Emily Winston’s beautifully designed new mechanical dough line, yet another innovation improving our new bagel reality here on the West Coast. Said Winston herself in her newsletter to Boichik fans, “in celebrating Women’s History Month, this may very well be the first woman-built and-owned bagel factory ever! (Cursory googling; I can’t find any others.)” Expect a similar menu to Boichik’s other locations, plus some additional treats. Boichik Bagels, 1225 Sixth St. (between Gilman and Harrison streets), Berkeley
Cafe Buenos Aires West Berkeley
3/14/23: Argentinian empanada purveyor Cafe Buenos Aires has opened a third location, joining the original South Berkeley location and its more recent opening on Powell St. in Emeryville. The new West Berkeley branch is a welcoming little counter-service spot on Tenth Street, with warm tile, floor-to-ceiling glass windows and outdoor cafe seating. The small menu includes fresh empanadas (corn, ham and cheese, “pumpkin pie”), pastries and coffee drinks available weekdays. Cafe Buenos Aires, 2530 Tenth St. (between Parker Street and Dwight Way), Berkeley
Fish and Bonez
3/14/23: As noted by What NowSF, chef Booli Huerta’s pop-up Fish and Bonez has a new HQ at the commercial kitchens at 2701 Eighth St. in Berkeley, joining an eclectic array of local industry players. Look for fresh local collaborations and pop-ups; fingers crossed we’ll eventually have the chance to pick-up the chef’s flavorful boards, tacos and other colorful specials (as seen at Korner, Slug Bar, Rare Barrel, De La Creamery and others) direct from the space. For now, follow them here for weekly pop-up events around the Bay, including Friday at Hammerling Wines. Fish and Bonez (commercial kitchen HQ), 2701 Eighth St., Berkeley
3/30/23: It might be a bit hard to tell behind those frosted glass doors, but it’s all true — Homeroom has launched its first Berkeley location. The new Gilman District restaurant is sleek and inviting, with a long bar and spacious dining room. Warm-weather outdoor furnishings populate the small front patio.
The menu features many of the same classics that have made Homeroom in Oakland such a crowded family favorite for years — savory bowls of loaded-up macaroni and cheese, either customized or off the prepared menu, such as the chicken pot pie mac, piled with grilled chicken and vegetables, or the truffle mac, with sautéed mushrooms and truffle oil. Bowls with a kick feature spicy chorizo, jalapeños, serrano peppers or Buffalo-style chicken.
New to this location are a garden pesto mac with basil-Parmesan pesto, and a kogi barbecue short rib mac with scallions, garlic butter and Sriracha. A kid’s bowl of classic mac and cheese is $7.49. Salads, sides and desserts are also available, as well as craft beers and wine. Homeroom Berkeley, 1313 Ninth St. (between Gilman and Camelia), Berkeley
Pizzeria da Laura
3/23/23: This one’s exciting: Downtown Berkeley just welcomed a big, beautiful, stylish new woman-owned pizzeria from award-winning pizzaiola and Berkeley resident Laura Meyer, inside the former Passione Caffe. Meyer is a 20-year veteran of Tony Gemignani’s famed restaurants including Tony’s Pizza Napoletana and Capo’s in San Francisco’s North Beach, as well as his chef-hub, the International School of Pizza. She launched a focaccia-based pop-up during the pandemic, the business of which prompted this move into her own pizza restaurant. It’s open for dinner now (dine-in and takeout); hours will eventually expand into weekday slice service, too. See you there. Pizzeria da Laura, 91 Shattuck Sq. (at Addison St.), Berkeley
Purple Kow Berkeley
3/14/23: Students! After multiple delays, the opening date for Purple Kow’s fresh, pretty new digs on Channing St. at the base of The Den student apartment complex is Mar. 30. Head there to find all those boba drinks and tasty snacks you might recall from the Center St. location, now closed after 10 years of service. Purple Kow, 2508 Channing Wy. (near Telegraph Avenue), Berkeley
New Emeryville restaurants
Arthur Mac’s Little Snack
3/30/23: Bay Street diners are suddenly spoiled for choice, as the mezzanine’s newest restaurant, Arthur Mac’s Little Snack, has opened its doors, joining a range of food newcomers to the mall (and more to come). Little Snack is the little brother to original Arthur Mac’s Tap & Snack, the popular pizza and beer garden known for welcoming, fast-casual outdoor family dining in Temescal, near the MacArthur BART station.
Though a bit less indie and storage-containery than its flagship, Arthur Mac’s Little Snack serves the same brick-oven pizza, wings, craft beer and snacks with the same old-school fun vibe as the original. Note: Also officially opened this weekend was Bay Street’s comfortable, tricked-out Bay Break Dining Terrace — a public outdoor patio with screens and games on Bay Street’s upper level, and a great place to eat a slice. Arthur Mac’s Little Snack, 5614 Bay St., Unit 238, Emeryville
3/30/23: The controversial, Southern-style fast-food chicken chain — notably owned in Emeryville by POC and member of the LGBTQ+ community Jon Hooper — opens Mar. 30 in the former Panera. Chick-Fil-A, 1525 40th St., Emeryville
Shake Shack Emeryville
3/23/23: As advertised, Shake Shack opened Mar. 16 on Bay Street, sandwiched among waves of hot-ticket new openings at the Emeryville shopping center, with a grand opening scheduled for the Bay Break Terrace updated dining area on Mar. 25. Expect a solid uptick in Bay Street crowds, as the opening of a Shake Shack alone brings them in droves. This, coupled with recent new destinations Uchiwa Ramen and Tipsy Putt, and upcoming newcomers such as Pippal (from San Francisco’s Rooh team), Arthur Mac’s Little Snack and Fogo de Chao promise a range of crowd-pleasing new options for shoppers — and maybe just diners — on Bay Street. Shake Shack, 5614 Bay St., Suite 240, Emeryville
New Oakland restaurants
3/14/23: Lucky for us, Oaklander and Michelin-starred chef James Syhabout (his destination restaurant Commis has not one but two stars, and is the only East Bay restaurant to claim any) is equally comfortable slinging comforting street food for the people: His fast-casual, Thai-inspired eatery Hawking Bird reopens its indoor dining room this week, after restricting service to takeout since the pandemic began.
On offer are accessible, flavorful dishes with a focus on chicken — khao mun ghai, sticky marinated fried and barbecued chicken bowls, curries, salads, hefty sandwiches and a range of soul-satisfying options for many diets. The Temescal restaurant is all the more sought after now that Syhabout has closed all locations of his more upscale-casual Lao restaurant Hawker Fare. Hawking Bird’s indoor dining reopens Mar. 14. Hawking Bird, 4901 Telegraph Ave. (at 49th St.), Oakland
Hesher’s Pizza & Tap House
3/23/23: As noted in this week’s Nosh closings, Hesher’s Pizza — and yes, that is a nod to our area’s metal rock history — has taken over the reins at Crooked City Cider Tap House, effective immediately, and as the transition occurs, the notable Jack London Square bar and restaurant will remain open daily. New owner is Zak “Coffin” McCune, founder of Hesher’s Pizza, a Crooked City subtenant since 2002. McCune said he plans to maintain the spot’s cider, mead and kombucha program, adding a larger selection of beer and wine as things develop. Pizza here is among the area’s top underground favorites — Sicilian pan pies, deep and rich, sometimes featuring a kick. For more information and a sense of the vibe, please see Hesher’s Instagram account. Welcome to headline billing, Hesher’s. Hesher’s Pizza & Tap House, 206 Broadway (between 2nd and 3rd streets), Oakland
Highwire Coffee Broadway
3/8/23: Coffee lovers PSA: Highwire has opened a new downtown Oakland cafe at 1111 Broadway, replacing a pandemic-related casualty Peet’s that closed last May. The Emeryville-based roastery with the lovely marketing serves up rich drinks at some of the East Bay’s more handsome locations, from Albany’s Flowerland to Alameda’s Park Street to Oakland’s Market Hall in Rockridge.
This spacious, tony, light-filled new corporate-district shop is no exception. Also on offer are Highwire’s 4Track brand teas, chai, retail coffee products and a curated list of locally made pastries. The downtown Oakland Highwire opened Feb. 13. Highwire Coffee Roasters, 1111 Broadway (between 11th and 12th streets), Oakland
3/30/23: Korean food fans have been watching this one — quick-service eatery K Banchan has opened inside the La Mancha Plaza (with a parking lot!) on Telegraph Ave. near 40th. The casual counter space serves rice bowls, rice cakes, dosirak lunch specials and Korean-style sandwiches stuffed with egg, vegetables or bulgogi, as well as banchan and kimchi.
The airy location is decorated in plants (also for sale); Acme pastries are on offer near the counter. Many thanks to a Nosh reader for giving us the lowdown on their soft opening. K Banchan keeps mainly to daytime hours as the kitchen (for now) closes at 6:00 p.m. K Banchan, 4013 Telegraph Ave. (between 40th and 41st), Oakland
3/30/23: No, nearby Mama restaurant and newcomer Mama’s Boy are unrelated — though they both harken to East Coast flavors, both serve Italian, and, now, both count among Oakland’s hottest destinations. Mama’s Boy, from the team behind The Athletic Club on the same (extremely popular) Uptown block, serves New York-style thin and crispy-chewy, foldable pizza slices and full pies. The simple yet appealing modern pizzeria features a nostalgic font and the red and white color scheme one would expect, with tables, booths, beer and some outdoor seating. Pizza only for now, with the promise of hero sandwiches soon to come. Mama’s Boy, 15 Grand Ave. (near Broadway), Oakland
3/30/23: Human interaction is unnecessary at new, cutting-edge Japanese eatery and import shop Ramen Station in East Oakland, outfitted to resemble a Japanese train stop, with food ordering that, from entry to snacks, drinks and piping hot ramen, is kiosk-based and completely contact free. Ramen Station, 1211 Embarcadero (inside the Estuary Cove complex), Oakland
3/8/23: Brian Wood’s Starter Bakery, well known since 2010 for breads and pastries delivered wholesale to Bay Area specialty shops, restaurants and cafes, has opened its first stand-alone storefront in lucky Rockridge; Nosh readers can find all the details from Eve Batey here.
Fresh croissants, brioche, bread loaves and quickbreads, quiches, pies, cookies and those sought-after kouign amanns, along with some new dedicated treats made just for the new shop, are turned out from on-site ovens in the warm, pleasant cafe space.
While the Rockridge retail shop ramps up, the public-facing online store operating out of Starter’s Gilman Street production site is temporarily paused (though its wholesale operations will continue) — all the more reason to head over to College Avenue and test the wares there, where sandwiches, coffee drinks and other refreshments are also available. Tip: Order ahead to avoid the opening lines, which were deliciously long last weekend. Starter Bakery, 5804 College Ave. (between Chabot Road and Birch Court, Oakland
New Walnut Creek restaurant
Shake Shack Walnut Creek
3/8/23: The Bay Area’s tenth and newest Shake Shack burger chain location had the Creek quaking last weekend, as lines snaked around the block at least an hour before the eatery had even opened. As fans know well, the widespread North American franchise began as a single hot dog stand in New York City in 2001, and now boasts a long menu of specialty burgers as well as chicken sandwiches, various topped fries, milkshakes and frozen custard. (And yes, there is still a hot dog on the menu.) Shake Shack, 1604 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Walnut Creek