Cafe Noir

The former Food Foundry in Oakland’s Dimond neighborhood is now Cafe Noir, softly opened and already growing a local fan base for its hearty American-style plates—crispy chicken wings and Brussels sprouts, big salads, saucy pasta dishes, stacked burgers and chicken sandwiches. (For longtime Oakland locals, the cafe appears unrelated to the former, pizza-focused Cafe Noir in Uptown that closed in 2009.) Cafe Noir, 2818 MacArthur Blvd. (at Coolidge Avenue), Oakland

El Escotillon

While Oakland waits for the hotly anticipated brick-and-mortar version of Taqueria La Venganza to open, vegans and fans of chef Raul Medina can opt for his fry fare at El Escotillon, launched late summer at The Hatch. The pop-up features a menu of “bar food, except it’s vegan,” including bacon cheddar tots, burgers, fries and spicy chicken sandwiches. El Escotillon at The Hatch Oakland, 402 15th St. (at Franklin Street), Oakland

The Little Pear

Still in soft-opening mode, The Little Pear is now serving lunch and dinner in Walnut Creek. The California bistro is from chef Rodney Worth, also behind Danville’s The Peasant & the Pear and Alamo’s The Peasant’s Courtyard (and, formerly, Danville’s The Little Pear and Prickly Pear Cantina, both now closed). Dishes include flatbreads, fresh soups and salads, bistro-style sandwiches, composed pastas and, despite the bistro’s lighter sounding name, carnivore-friendly plates such as burgers, lamb shanks and short ribs. The Little Pear, 1699 N California Blvd. (at Cole Avenue), Walnut Creek

Melo’s Italian Table

Downtown Walnut Creek recently welcomed family-owned Melo’s Italian Table to Locust Street, the fifth restaurant from the Melo’s group that first opened in Pleasant Hill in 1971. Melo’s restaurants are known for refined takes on rustic Italian dishes, with an emphasis on upscale pizza and pasta. Melo’s Italian Table, 1360 Locust St. (between Cypress Street and Mount Diablo Boulevard), Walnut Creek

Nature’s Finest

In a healthful twist, organic mini grocery store Nature’s Finest has taken over the former Maly’s Donut and Burger shop on 14th St. a couple blocks west of Lake Merritt, where fresh produce, whole foods, organic products and specialty goods now line the tidy shelves. Nature’s Finest, 144 14th St. (between Oak and Madison streets), Oakland

Sheba Restaurant

Anh Hong’s former Oakland location is now home to Yemeni restaurant Sheba, with a casual, welcoming dining room and a menu including shareable rice platters, spiced meat and vegetable entrees, sides (including generous Yemeni breads), sandwiches, fruit smoothies and coffee drinks. Sheba Restaurant, 725 International Blvd. (between 7th and 8th avenues), Oakland 

Tanghuo Kungfu Mala Town

New on University Ave. in downtown Berkeley (inside the former Sushi GoGo) is Los Angeles-based Tanghuo Kungfu Mala Town, serving up budget-friendly spicy hot pot against a backdrop of bright red decor. Tanghuo Kungfu Mala Town, 2041 University Ave. (between Shattuck Avenue and Milvia Street), Berkeley

Credit: The Xocolate Bar

Xocolate & Confections

Berkeley has long swooned over The Xocolate Bar’s artisan chocolates and chocolate products at their Solano Avenue shop, and now Oakland can join in the fun. Xocolate’s new Rockridge shop features world-class craft chocolates, including those handmade by Xocolate, as well as artisan candies and other confections, “chocuterie” (ingredients for presentable dessert boards at home), sweet local artworks, community events and other surprises. Xocolate & Confections, 5854 College Ave. (at Chabot Road), Oakland