Sweetgreen, La Botella, Itani Ramen, more

za'atar salad: chopped romaine, parsley + mint, tomatoes + cucumbers + onions, raw beets, roasted chicken, za'atar pita chips and creamy sumac dressing. Photo: Sweetgreen/Facebook
Za’atar salad from Sweetgreen: chopped romaine, parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, raw beets, roasted chicken, za’atar pita chips and creamy sumac dressing. Photo: Sweetgreen/Facebook

Openings, closings

SWEETGREEN PLANNING FOR MID-APRIL OPENING Almost a year after it was announced, the first Northern California location for Washington D.C.-based Sweetgreen is slated to open April 12 in the former Oscar’s restaurant on Shattuck Avenue. Co-founder Nicolas Jammet told NOSH that the build-out stayed mostly on track, despite the discovery of a gas tank buried in the building’s parking lot earlier this year. The Berkeley location of Sweetgreen will feature ingredients from local producers like Full Belly Farm, Rotto Brothers, Van Groningen, Acme Bread, Hodo Soy, Mary’s Chicken and Belfiore cheese. It will also include at least one signature item unique to this location, a Falafel and Feta salad with broccoli leaves, which will feature cheese from Berkeley’s Belfiore. In the lead-up to opening, Sweetgreen will be hosting a few events. On April 9, it will hold a “Planting our Roots Day,” in which community members can come and plant seedlings. They can then take the seedlings home or donate them to the Berkeley Technology Academy (BTA) garden. On opening day, Sweetgreen will be splitting 100% of its proceeds between the BTA garden and Sweetgreen in Schools programing in Berkeley and Oakland. The following day, April 13, the company will hold an afternoon garden building event at BTA, with a complementary Sweetgreen dinner to follow. Sweetgreen will soon be joined by another salad-focused restaurant, Tender Greens, which will be opening at 2071 University Ave. (at Shattuck). Despite the added competition, Jammet said that he is excited about its pending arrival. “If one of us can convert more people to eating this type of food, that’s a good thing,” he said. “The more the merrier.” Sweetgreen will be at 1890 Shattuck Ave. (at Hearst Street), Berkeley, in the former Oscar’s restaurant. Connect with Sweetgreen on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

La Botella Republic is now open. Photo: Siciliana Trevino
La Botella Republic is now open. Photo: Siciliana Trevino

LA BOTELLA REPUBLIC SHUTS ITS DOORS As reported in Shop Talk, the Berkeley wine bar La Botella Republic has closed. It opened two years ago to to great fanfare – and to the delight of wine lovers on the hunt for unusual California wines. The decision to close was a result of two factors: Berkeley doesn’t seem to have the kind of “drinking culture” to support a wine bar (on many nights the best-selling drink was IPA beer) and the co-owner Lauren Brody-Clark needed to spend more time with her children, four and seven, now that her husband and co-owner Christopher Clark has taken a job as associate creative director with Yahoo. In addition, the professional class – well-to-do techies and the like – that the couple had hoped to cater to never materialized, Brody-Clark said. The couple is in negotiations to sell the business and it will remain some sort of service establishment, Brody-Clark said, although she declined to name the prospective owners. “I’m disappointed. I loved my bar and I am very proud of what we created,” she said. “I am very thankful to our patrons.”

Itani Ramen

ITANI RAMEN LOOKS TO APRIL We’ve teased you about the opening of Hopscotch chef Kyle Itani’s new ramen restaurant for what feels like months now. Itani Ramen was originally scheduled to open at the beginning of this year, but it appears to have been hit with several delays. Fortunately, we hear from Eater that Itani Ramen has now passed all of its inspections and should be open mid-April. In the meantime, chef Itani will be hosting a series of pop-up dinner previews at the restaurant. Each pop-up will feature a new style (or two) of ramen, plus a couple of sides and limited drinks. The first dinner series will take place this Saturday and Sunday from 6 p.m. to midnight, and the menu will include shoyu ramen with chashu, vegetarian miso ramen, pork and cabbage gyoza, a Little Gem salad and pickles. Itani’s pop-ups will continue March 25-27, April 1-3 and April 8-10. The hours may extend as the restaurant gets closer to opening day. Itani Ramen will be at 1738 Telegraph Ave. (at 18th Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Grilled chicken skin skewer from Hina Yakitori. Photo: Hina Yakitori/Facebook
Grilled chicken skin skewer from Hina Yakitori. Photo: Hina Yakitori/Facebook

MODU TRANSFORMING INTO HINA YAKITORI Temescal’s Modu restaurant has been holding temporary test kitchen pop-up events since January in order to iron out its concept, and it seems to have finally landed on a more permanent concept called Hina Yakitori. Chef Tommy Cleary, of Ippuku and B-Dama, will be taking over the kitchen, and he will be serving “refined chicken yakitori” starting April 1. For each dinner service, Cleary will be breaking down 15 whole chickens into various grilled skewers; expect everything from chicken thighs to cartilage. Given the limited number of chickens, there will certainly be a shortage of certain items, such as deliciously fatty chicken butts. An a la carte menu will include additional non-skewered items such as chicken liver pate, chicken sausage, grilled duck breast and sweet egg omelettes. Hina Yakitori will be at 4828 Telegraph Ave. (at 48th Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Instagram.


The future location of Laurel Beer Garden. Image: Google Maps
The future location of Laurel Beer Garden. Image: Google Maps

LAUREL BEER GARDEN HEADED TO MACARTHUR It looks like Oakland will be getting another beer garden. We noticed an ABC listing for a new business called Laurel Beer Garden that will be looking to open up next door to Sequoia Diner on MacArthur Boulevard. The license is currently pending, so the project is likely a long ways off. However, it does look like the beer garden will be taking over two storefronts on the block, Candy’s Beauty Island and Miliki Restaurant, which may come as a disappointment to fans of former Full House Café chef Kirk Roberts. Roberts had made the move to Miliki after Full House Café closed last February to make room for Sequoia Diner. He started a new breakfast program at the restaurant, and brought along some of his original staff to help out. We’ve reached out to the folks at Miliki for confirmation, and we will update this post if we learn more. Laurel Beer Garden will be at 3721 and 3725 MacArthur Blvd. (at Loma Vista Avenue), Oakland.

Koja Burger with braised pork. Photo: Diana Byun
Koja Burger with braised pork. Photo: Diana Byun

KOJA KITCHEN NOW OPEN IN PUBLIC MARKET EMERYVILLE The renovations at Emeryville’s Public Market have been slow going; Shiba Ramen opened last fall, but few other new businesses have opened. Now we hear that KoJa Kitchen has finally finished its stall in the food court and is now serving its signature Korean-Japanese fusion dishes like kamikaze fries and short rib koja “burgers” served between rice patties. The Emeryville location is the fourth brick-and-mortar spot for the food company, which launched as a food truck in 2011. It also has an East Bay location at 2395 Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley. KoJa Kitchen will be joined by We Sushi and the sandwich restaurant Mayo and Mustard in (hopefully) the coming months. KoJa Kitchen is at 5959 Shellmound St., Emeryville. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo: Classic Cars West
Photo: Classic Cars West

HELLA VEGAN + CLASSIC CARS WEST BEER GARDEN In other beer garden news, Classic Cars West opened its collaborative beer garden and restaurant inside vintage car dealership this week. As we reported last spring, owner Michael Sarcona has partnered with Oakland-based Hella Vegan Eats to provide the food component. Inside Scoop reported that the opening menu includes classic Hella Vegan dishes like cornflake crusted fried chicken and waffles, oyster mushroom poutine and a fried rice potsticker burrito. Beer is local; tap offerings include Linden Street, Line 51, Ghost Town, Ale Industries and Crooked City CiderClassic Cars West is at 411 26th St. (between Telegraph Avenue and Broadway), Oakland. Connect with Hella Vegan Eats on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Photo: Descanso
Photo: Descanso

TIDBITS Shortly after we ran last week’s Bites column, we learned that the arrival of Endgame Café was even closer than we thought — it opened its doors March 14. It is currently serving a limited menu, but it will debut its full offerings in April. Also in Oakland, Piedmont Avenue’s Latin-American restaurant DeScanso has closed, according to a post on Chowhound. The poster initially wrote: “I just stopped by DeScanso this afternoon, and it looks like they are either refurbishing or closing, I don’t know which.” Later, the poster added an update: “The closing party was last night and I wasn’t invited. I guess I wasn’t A-list.” In Berkeley, a new restaurant called The Riveter Café looks ready to open at 1701 Solano Ave. The Riveter will replace Jin’s Café, the short-lived replacement to Tangerine, which closed last fall. Also in Berkeley, it looks like Yolo Berry Yogurt has re-opened after being closed for several months. Fro-yo fans, rejoice! Endgame Café is at 921 Washington St. (at 10th Street), Oakland. Connect with the store on Facebook and Twitter. The Riveter Café will be at 1707 Solano Ave. (between Tulare and Ensenada avenues), Berkeley. Yolo Berry Yogurt is at 2114 Shattuck Ave. (at Addison Street), Berkeley. Connect with the shop on Facebook and Twitter.

Dinners and events

Photo: Sam's Log Cabin/Facebook
Photo: Sam’s Log Cabin/Facebook

CLANDESTINO AT SAM’S LOG CABIN Tonight, Sam’s Log Cabin is hosting a collaborative art and food event with Sam’s chef Rhasaan Fernandez and artist Eduardo Valadez-Arenas. Valadez-Arenas is a Mexican artist from the Coachella Valley currently working in Southern California and the Bay Area whose work is primarily community-based and focuses on interactive and collaborative projects with a multidisciplinary studio practice that involves creative writing, painting, drawing, collage and performance. The two will share their inspiration from travels to Puerto Rico and Mexico in both food and visual art. Music for the event will be provided by Turbo Sonidero and Los Sirenas. Learn more about Clandestino hereSam’s Log Cabin is at 945 San Pablo Ave., Albany. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.


The Epicurious Garden: one of the many culinary treats enjoyed by a Boston Globe writer.
The Epicurious Garden.

EPICURIOUS GARDEN 10TH ANNIVERSARY North Berkeley’s Epicurious Garden is celebrating a full decade of operation this Sunday with a fundraiser for Berkeley-based non-profits. The event, which takes place from 2-7 p.m., will include live music, cooking demonstrations, free samples and goodies for kids. Each restaurant in the Garden will be partnering with a different local non-profit and will donate 10% of their Sunday sales to their partner organization. In addition, each guest will get a free token to donate to your favorite organization; additional donation tokens are available for $1 and $10. The non-profit that earns the most tokens will receive a minimum contribution of $1000. The other seven participating organizations will receive at least $500.

HAMANTASHEN CLASS WITH URBAN ADAMAH As part of its Jewish Food Series, Urban Adamah Farm is hosting a hamantashen-making class with food entrepreneur Julia Braun on March 20. The class will include instruction on making classic fillings as well as new takes on the cookie. Braun will also lead the class in learning about the history and traditions of the pastry. Advanced registration for the $35 class is required. If you can’t make the hamantashen class, Urban Adamah is hosting classes on matzo and matzo balls, challah, and shavout specialities (blintzes, sour cream and farmers’ cheese) in the coming months. Purchase tickets hereUrban Adamah is at 1050 Parker St. (at 10th Street) Berkeley. Connect with the farm on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

What else is going on…

Calavera is a Mexican restaurant serving up dishes inspired by the Oaxacan region. Photo: Benjamin Seto
Calavera is a Mexican restaurant serving up dishes inspired by the Oaxacan region. Photo: Benjamin Seto

SOPHINA UONG TAKES OVER CALAVERA KITCHEN It has only bee open for six months, but Uptown Oakland’s Calavera has already seen a major chef shake-up. As of March 15, Sophina Uong has replaced opening chef Christian Irabien at the modern Oaxacan restaurant in the Hive Complex, reported Eater. Uong was most recently at Berkeley’s Revival Bar and Kitchen, and has spent time at other local restaurants like Picán, the short-lived Captain and Corset (for which she designed the menu), and 900 Grayson. This will be her first experience cooking Mexican food professionally. As for Irabein, he is reportedly headed to San Francisco’s Cala. No word yet on any menu changes; we will keep you posted. Calavera is at 2337 Broadway (between 23rd and 24th streets), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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