Hot East Bay restaurants, food news of 2013

Homestead, August 2013, Oakland, CA. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Homestead was one of many Oakland restaurants to open in 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso

In 2013, Berkeleyside Nosh celebrated its one-year anniversary, and we’re looking forward to bringing you even more local restaurant news this year. Before 2013 recedes too far in the rear view, we wanted to take a moment to look back at some of our best stories and biggest happenings in East Bay restaurants over the past year. (We’ve included a few places that opened in late 2012, as well, as we didn’t do a round-up last year. Click any of the links below to see complete past coverage of places you want to learn more about.) Make sure not to miss our weekly Bites feature for all the latest restaurant news in Oakland, Berkeley and beyond.

Oakland openings

Oakland and Berkeley had a big year of openings in 2013. Oakland saw the new arrivals of Box and Bells by James Syhabout on College Avenue. Also in Rockridge, there’s now Bourbon & Beef, the much-lauded Ramen Shop from Chez Panisse alums, and A16 came to town, after running a successful San Francisco outpost of the same name, with wood-fired pizzas and more. Osmanthus brought a new Asian option to the avenue and, in December, the Barrel Room — also an East Bay branch inspired by an original San Francisco location — opened on College with 50 wines available by the glass, with 200 choices by the bottle. And don’t forget about Trappist Provisions, an extension of the popular Trappist drinking hole in Old Oakland.

Duende, Name that nosh. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Duende, Name that nosh. Photo: Emilie Raguso

In Uptown Oakland, Paul Canales opened stylish, Spanish-inspired Duende, Umami Burger opened a new branch on Franklin Street, and Kingston 11 Cuisine came in with Caribbean fare.

Downtown Oakland saw the openings of Tribune Tavern, Marrow from Jon Kosorek of Jon’s Street Eats fame, and Camber. Miss Ollie’s, which opened in late 2012, also hit its stride in 2013 with killer fried chicken and many other delectable eats.

Jack London Square welcomed Lungomare — from Tribune Tavern and Chop Bar owner Chris Pastena — and The Forge, which offers a wide range of pizzas with ample outside seating.

Timeless Coffee opened last week on Piedmont Ave. in Oakland

Timeless Coffee. Photo: Christina Mitchell

Elsewhere in Oakland, Fred and Elizabeth Sassen opened Homestead on Piedmont Avenue, Timeless Coffee also came to Piedmont Avenue, Hog’s Apothecary opened on 40th Street with beer and sausages galore, Preeti Mistry’s Juhu Beach Club opened in Temescal, Penrose came to Grand Avenue from Pizzaiolo/Boot & Shoe Service chef-owner Charlie Hallowell, and Brotzeit Lokal opened with more sausage and beer on the scenic estuary across from Alameda’s Coast Guard Island.

For those hankering for Latin American fare, don’t forget newbies MolcajetePucquio, Tambo and El Gusano, all of which have at least four stars on Yelp. (See some Luke Tsai recommendations from the East Bay Express for two of these spots here.) Nido, which opened in late 2012, expanded its offerings to include dinner.

Honorable mentions: The New ParkwayRosamunde Sausage Grill in Swan’s Marketplace (which itself is in the midst of a major rejuvenation), Sweet Bar Bakery, Off the Grid, Jules Thin Crust, Loring Café, The Star on Grand, Park Burger, Anfilo Coffee, Venga Paella, Grand Lake Kitchen, Hutch Bar & Kitchen, Monkey Forest RoadOlde Depot Public House, Ramen TomoLegionnaire SaloonKain’bigan, Campovida, Barkada Bakery and Café, Hive CaféKeren Café and MarketCafé 3016, The Grease Box, DescoSlicer PizzeriaRico’s Hi Life, Tian Jin Dumplings, Gogi TimeLucky Three SevenTorpedo SushiScarecrow PopcornOrdinaire wine shopHomespun Fare, MockingbirdBottom of the Ninth Bar & Grill, Copan, The Cro Café, Pollinate Farm & Garden, Black Spring Coffee CompanySukho Thai

Pizza Moda. Photo: Emilie Raguso

New in Berkeley

Pathos. Eureka! BurgerBuild Pizzeria Roma. Pizza ModaEasy Creole. Sliver. Iyasare. Bleecker Bistro. Stella Nonna. These are just a few of the new restaurants that opened in Berkeley in 2013, and which were covered by Berkeleyside Nosh. The city already has an impressive resident-to-restaurant ratio, according to Berkeley’s economic development department, but it has certainly gotten smaller in the past few months.

Heat Hot Sauce Shop. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Heat Hot Sauce Shop. Photo: Emilie Raguso

We also featured the East Bay’s first hot sauce shop, Heat, near Trader Joe’s on Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The shop focuses on sauces made in small batches, with more than 200 varieties from producers around the country, and around the world, many of which are small businesses.

Scores of interesting coffee shops and bakeries opened as well, including La Fournée in the Elmwood, Take 5 Café on Sacramento Street, Artís Coffee Roasters on Fourth Street, and Lindgren’s Coffee and Café — with a wide range of house-made baked goods — on Dwight Way near downtown. There’s also Café La Renaissance on Shattuck Avenue. And of course there’s Bartavelle, which opened in late 2012, serving excellent local food and wine in the former Cafe Fanny’s space. We have all your Berkeley coffee news here.

Dan Cook, the mead maker, tests the mead at Urbano Cellars in Berkeley. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Dan Cook, The Mead Kitchen. Photo: Emilie Raguso

But it could easily be argued 2013 was the “Year of Beer” with a new tasting room on Fourth Street for Sierra Nevada, called the The Torpedo Room, and the arrival of both the Moxy Beer Garden and The Mead Kitchen. Northbrae Bottle Shop, an artisanal liquor and drinks store under the stewardship of Arthur Kinsey, opened in North Berkeley. Squeaking in just before New Year’s, The Rare Barrel had its grand opening recently on Parker Street. See our exclusive Berkeley drinking map here.

It was a good year for ice cream too, with controversial Dream (across the street from the ever-popular Cream) opening on Telegraph Avenue, as well as Italian gelato spot Caravaggio on Shattuck Ave. For those with sweet tooths, Bittersweet café, which already had two Oakland branches, opened in Berkeley on University Avenue. Purple Kow opened on Center Street with loads of delicious Asian-inspired varieties of boba (and beyond) drink offerings. More sweet treats can be found at the new brick-and-mortar location of Phoenix Pastificio. In late 2012, Cakes and Purls bakery and knitting shop opened in downtown Berkeley. Read all about dessert in Berkeley right here.

Alice Waters, Chez Panisse, June 20, 2013

After being closed by fire, Chez Panisse and Great China returned triumphantly to much acclaim in 2013. In nearby Albany, China Village, which also had been closed by fire, returned after a long closure to Solano Avenue. Albany also gained Grazzy Burgers and next door neighbor the Albany Taproom on San Pablo Avenue. And, to the northeast, Benchmark Pizzeria came to Kensington in late 2012.

Gather Restaurant owners also opened a new restaurant in San Francisco, called Verbena.

Honorable mentions: Crab Yard, Toss Noodle Bar, Claypot, Troy Greek Cuisine, Arabica, La Fable, Next Door RestaurantSweet Leaf Café, Kiku SushiSheng Kee Bakery, Tomo’s Japanese Cuisine, East Bay Spice CompanyZensen Sushi ExpressDot Island GrillThe Mix PlusLevant Organic Café, Togo’s, The Sandwich Spot, Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, Tsunami Dogs, SpoonRocketRangoon Super Stars, a new Brazil Café location on University Avenue, Café La Peña, Pacific Cookie Company, SliderBarEl Burro Picante, Le Petit Cochon, Lama Bean’s, Bonita Fish Market, Cup Story, Nanna’s House, South Berkeley Produce and MeatKoJa Kitchen, Artichoke Basille’s PizzaParis Baguette

Read more about dining in Berkeley here.

All good things must come to an end

O Chamé on Fourth Street: in the Chronicle's Top 100 for 2010

O Chamé on Fourth Street: in the Chronicle’s Top 100 for 2010

There were numerous notable closures in 2013, too. Berkeley said goodbye to O Chamé, Brasa on University Avenue, New Amsterdam Coffeeshop on University, and Filippos in the Elmwood and Caffe Venezia, which had held court for 25 years. Eat + Lounge, which opened briefly in the former Sea Salt location, closed quickly on San Pablo Avenue.

Oakland lost Zatis on Piedmont Avenue, Borgo Italia, Disco Volante and Nan Yang, a popular Burmese restaurant in Rockridge, District Carriage House, as well as Miss Pearl’s Restaurant and Lounge.

Honorable mentions in Berkeley: Hippie Gypsy Café, La Cascada Taqueria, Top Dog, Bec’s Bar & Bistro, University ProduceSonoma Coffee Café, Toaster Oven, ViceroyNaan ‘N’ CurryGreen Earth CaféPicoso TaqueriaCasa Bernal Taqueria, The Bread Workshop, Flavor Mediterranean FoodMrs. Munchies, Oggi, Pasta in a Box, Bel Forno

Honorable mentions in Oakland and beyond: Temescal Produce Market, Destino, Sugar Cone CaféScream SorbetNoble Café, Local Café on Piedmont Avenue, Guest Chef, Pearl of Siam, Sura Korean Restaurant

Follow Berkeleyside NOSH on Twitter and Facebook. Email us food tips or other news or questions at nosh@berkeleyside.com.

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  • bingo

    what an outstanding and comprehensive review–thanks!!!

  • Susan Tarvin

    Home Room, no? Heat sounds interesting.

  • emraguso

    Heat is awesome. I was thinking about Homeroom too — but turns out they’re coming up on three years! http://www.berkeleyside.com/2013/02/15/bites-whats-new-whats-hot-whats-happening-x/ Hard to believe.

  • emraguso

    Some of my new favorites: Barkada, Duende, Bartavelle, Lindgren’s, Heat Hot Sauce, Mead Kitchen, Miss Ollie’s, Timeless, Grand Lake Kitchen, Pizza Moda, Stella Nonna, Easy Creole.
    Most sad to see close: Sura — food tragedy. That place was the best. Nan Yang.
    Excited to try: Ramen Shop, Mockingbird, East Bay Spice Company, Koja Kitchen
    Very interested to hear where others stand.

  • Tone Hope

    Try the new Osmanthus which just opened in the former Nan Yang space on College Ave. Excellent range of Asian influenced dishes.

  • David D.

    Great list. It’s been a good year for restaurants, even if it seems like every other one serves pizza. :) I have been able to try several of these places, and I have already made multiple return visits to El Burro Picante and Toss Noodle Bar in particular. Yum!

  • BB8890

    Eureka! is an absolute joke. That place is a chain restaurant and does not contribute to the local business culture in Berkeley. They are opening up new stores all over the country in the next year and pay their employees minimum wage, with no benefits whatsoever. Also heard they have been sued for sexual harassment a bunch of times. So, yeah.

  • JW

    Hippie Gypsy served breakfast, but didn’t open until 10 am. Not surprising they couldn’t make it. Sorry to lose O Chame and Caffe Venezia.

  • Suganya

    You can find menus of some of the restaurants at http://www.zmenu.com