The East Bay restaurants that opened and closed in September

A pocket sandwich from Flying Falafel in Berkeley. Photo: Sarah Han

Berkeley

Open

CHICK’N RICE Earlier this month, downtown Berkeley got a new fast-casual restaurant specializing in Thai street food favorite, khao mun gai. Located on the busy food corridor of Center Street, Chick’n Rice offers this dish, as well as three other entrees (a fried version of khao mun gai, braised pork or fried tofu) all served over rice and with a side of chicken broth. For more details, read our recent review. Chick’n Rice, 2136 Center St. (between Shattuck and Oxford), Berkeley. Wheelchair accessible.

DRAW BILLIARD CLUB Draw bills itself as the “East Bay’s only boutique billiards room,” which in this case means it’s a fancy two-level pool hall decked out in Art Deco-inspired style, serves craft cocktails and food, too. Draw comes from the former owners of The Broken Rack and Sunnyside Cafe in Berkeley. Check out our visit to Draw to see photos and get a peek at the bar and food offerings. Draw Billiard Club, 64 Shattuck Sq. (between Addison and University), Berkeley

FLYING FALAFEL Flying Falafel opened its second location on Shattuck Avenue, in the former Buona Vita Yogurt space. This is Flying Falafel’s second location (the first is in San Francisco), but chef-owner Assaf Pashut actually got the idea for the business while he was a Cal student, when he started making falafel for his friends. Flying Falafel is pretty much standing-room only (there is one table inside, but it’s not super comfortable to sit there; the tables outside are a better choice) and the falafel balls are fried-to-order for maximum crispiness, so expect a little bit of a wait. Still, we can attest that Pashut’s falafel pocket sandwiches — loaded with fresh vegetables and “secret sauce” — are worth the wait. Flying Falafel, 2114 Shattuck Ave. (at Addison), Berkeley

The Japanese Flatbread Sandwich at Mister Bolenca in Berkeley. Photo: Mister Bolenca

MISTER BOLENCA As Nosh reported in August, Crosta, the café within Berkeley’s Highwire Coffee closed, but its former chef with a most awesome name, Sincere Justice, took over the lease and opened his own self-proclaimed “funky flatbread eatery” in its place. Mister Bolenca is the name of this new spot, which opened earlier this month. Here, you’ll find a small, but inspired menu of soups, salads and sandwiches, many with an Asian influence. Recent sandwich offerings include a Korean Chicken Sandwich, Japanese Fried Egg Bolenca Flatbread and Mr. Eggplant, a sandwich made with charred eggplant, tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil and garlic confit. For now, Mister Bolenca’s hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. Mister Bolenca2049 San Pablo Ave. (between University and Addison), inside Highwire Coffee, Berkeley. Wheelchair accessible.


POKE PARLOR This new build-your-own poke spot offers a variety of chopped proteins (raw fish, but also cubed tofu), vegetables, toppings and sauces, and a choice of either sushi rice, mixed greens, tortilla chips or zucchini noodles. But what makes Poke Parlor stand out from other poke spots is its unconventional offerings: the “pokenini,” which is a sandwich filled with poke, mixed greens, ponzu sauce, avocado, Sriracha crema and furikake (rice seasoning); and albacore or tuna poke tacos, served in corn tortillas or nori. Poke Parlor, 2485 Telegraph Ave. (between Haste and Dwight), Berkeley

SHIHLIN TAIWAN STREET SNACKS Shihlin is an international chain that specializes in “popular snacks from the alleys of Taiwan’s night markets.” It opened in Durant Square in mid-September and serves dishes like ji pai (a deep fried chicken cutlet it calls  “XXL Crispy Chicken”), two types of braised meat rices (rice bowls with braised minced meat, usually pork, on top), jiayi chicken rice (rice bowl with shredded chicken) and handmade oyster mee sua (oyster vermicelli soup). There are Taiwanese drinks like lemon ai yu jelly, winter melon tea and Taiwanese root beer to quench your thirst. Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks, 2521 Durant Ave. (between Bowditch and Telegraph), Berkeley

Timeless Coffee’s Berkeley location in the Elmwood. Photo: Sarah Han

TIMELESS COFFEE AND BAKERY The Oakland coffee roaster’s second location in the Elmwood opened in late September. It has taken the place of the former La PanotiQ Bakery Café. Timeless serves coffee drinks, a large case of dairy-free pastries and desserts like vegan donuts, danishes and cakes. If savory is what you’re looking for, Timeless also serves avocado toast. Timeless Coffee, 2965 College Ave. (near Ashby), Berkeley.

VITALITY BOWLS The self-proclaimed superfood café opened its Berkeley location on Sept. 28 in the Gourmet Ghetto. Vitality Bowls is a Northern California-based national chain (first founded in 2011 in San Ramon), which serves soups, smoothies, paninis and coffee drinks. Its main focus though is açai, the trendy antioxidant-rich superfood, which it offers in a variety of formats, from bowls with fruit and other toppings to smoothies and even an açai latte, made with espresso, açaí, coconut sugar and steamed almond milk. Vitality Bowls, 1625 Shattuck (at Lincoln), Berkeley

Closed

LINDGREN’S COFFEE AND CAFÉ  On Sept. 20, Lindgren’s, at 2120 Dwight Way, officially closed. It posted a sign on its door thanking customers for a “great five years.” As we reported on Nosh in June, Lindgren’s owner Eric Lindgren had been hoping to sell his café since 2015. The new owners, Peter Snyderman and Warren Spicer, will be transforming the space into a café called Way Station Brew. Like Lindgren’s, Way Station Brew will roast its own coffee, but it will expand its food offerings, bringing on chef Jeremy Weiss to develop the menu of sandwiches, salads and toasts. Most of the items will be made in-house and locally sourced, and there’ll be vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Way Station also plans to serve beer, wine, and low-alcohol. We followed up with Snyderman from Way Station Brew, who says they hope to open on Oct. 15.


YOGOFINA The Elmwood location of YogoFina, at 2911 College Ave. is now closed. The fro-yo shop opened its doors in September 2016. The space is currently up for lease. Stay turned on Nosh for what’s to come for the space next.

Oakland

Open

CHAI THAI BAR This restaurant-bar on Piedmont Avenue is owned by the same family who owns Chai Thai Noodles in Oakland and Hayward. It celebrated its grand opening on Sept. 22, and offers “Thai-inspired cocktails” — like the Crying Thaiger, made with plum-infused vodka, salted plum syrup, Dimmi, lemon juice and soda water —  as well as spirits and wines. Although the focus here is on the drinks (note, it’s 21+, so don’t bring the kids), Chai Thai Bar also serves a short menu of Thai and Laos small plates and salads. Chai Thai Bar, 4395 Piedmont Ave. (at Pleasant Valley), Oakland

Cole Coffee’s new renovated space. Photo: Sarah Han

COLE COFFEE Cole Coffee is a favorite neighborhood hangout for Rockridge (and nearby) residents. The café opened as Royal Coffee in 1987, but has been called Cole for the past nine years, under the watch of proprietor Michael Murphy, who took over the shop in 2005. In January this year, Cole Coffee closed for remodeling and last week, they finally reopened. The newly renovated café has a bright, open look and plenty of seating. When we stopped to visit on a sunny weekday afternoon, the inside wasn’t too crowded, but all of the outdoor tables were occupied. Aside from coffee and other drinks, customers can order from a small menu of breakfast and lunch items, including avocado toast, breakfast bruschetta, oven roasted turkey and swiss cheese sandwich, and an old fashioned PB&J. Stay tuned on Nosh for an upcoming story of Cole Coffee’s return. Cole Coffee, 6255 College Ave. (at 63rd St.), Oakland. Wheelchair accessible.

PINTOH THAI STREET FOOD This Thai restaurant in downtown Oakland serves standards like pad see ew, tom kha and gai yang, but it also offers some lesser known or rarely offered dishes. So far, the Yelp reviews have been positive (“fresh” and “authentic” seem to be repeating descriptor of Pintoh), and some diners were delighted to find kao soi, a curry dish from northern Thailand, on its menu. Pintoh Thai Street Food, 1442 Franklin St. (at 15th), Oakland. Wheelchair accessible.

PROPOSITION CHICKEN The Bay Area’s second Proposition Chicken opened in Oakland, on Lakeshore Avenue this month. The fast-casual restaurant serves chicken three ways: fried, “flipped” (rotisserie) or fake (a crispy BBQ tofu alternative) in sandwiches, salads or as a main entree. A word to the wise, get the chicken as an entree, if just for the accompanying sweet buttermilk biscuit. It is so good! On Mondays, Prop C donates 10% of proceeds from dine-in sales to a local non-profit, and the Lakeshore location raises money exclusively for East Bay non-profits. Proposition Chicken, 3260 Lakeshore Ave. (between Lake Park and Trestle Glen), Oakland


SUYA AFRICAN-CARIBBEAN GRILL The third location of this local fast-casual restaurant opened earlier this month in downtown Oakland. As with its other locations in downtown Berkeley and Uptown Oakland, this Suya serves skewers of meat, fish and vegetables. Suya African-Caribbean Grill, 1312 Broadway (between 13th and 14th), Oakland

Donuts galore at Vegan Donut Gelato in Oakland. Photo: Vegan Donut Gelato

VEGAN DONUT GELATO Exciting news for East Bay vegan donut lovers! There’s now another vegan donut shop in town (the other being Pepples Donut Farm on San Pablo in North Oakland). Vegan Donut Gelato in East Oakland is the business’ second location (the other being in not-so-nearby Modesto), and it offers all the old-school donut favorites, including glazed, cake, holes, twists, sprinkled, frosted, jelly-filled, fritters and bear claws — all dairy free! As for the gelato, the East Bay Express reported that it will be made in-house with almond milk, but it’s not yet available as the machine to make it has not yet arrived from Florida, due to Hurricane Irma. Nosh called the shop and confirmed that the gelato is still yet-to-come, but owner Sam Kang hopes to be serving gelato in October. Vegan Donut Gelato, 411 E 18th St. (at Park), Oakland. Wheelchair accessible.

Closed

OB’S COFFEE CAFÉ Hoodline reported that OB’s Coffee Café (also known as The Wooden Spoon) at 729 Washington St. in Old Oakland has closed. The eatery was known in the neighborhood for its southern-style fried fare, most notably its fish sandwiches made with fried whiting.

Beyond

Open

Cebiche from Barranco in Lafayette. Photo: Barranco

BARRANCO Chef Carlos Altamirano, who recently opened Paradita Eatery, a fast-casual Peruvian spot in the Emeryville Public Market, just opened his seventh restaurant in Lafayette. Barranco is a full-service restaurant serving a seafood-focused menu, in the form of shareable tapas and larger entrees. Here you’ll find dishes from the sea like cebiche, Pulpo a la Parilla (twice cooked Spanish octopus) Langostinos Crocantes (prawns), as well as anticuchos (meat skewers), empanadas, and the Peruvian classic dish, lomo saltado. As for drinks, Barranco has a beverage program that highlights the Peruvian spirit pisco and other craft cocktails, but you can also get beer, wine, sangria and non-alcoholic beverages like Inka Kola and chica morada, a Peruvian drink made with purple corn. Barranco, 3596 Mt. Diablo Blvd. (at Lafayette Circle), Lafayette. Wheelchair accessible.

ENOTECA MEDITERRANEO Albany’s new tapas and wine bar opened this month in the space once occupied by Cafeina. Chef-owner Jamshied Basseri, who once ran now-closed Saffron Gourmet market and deli on Solano Avenue, has brought his love and knowledge of food and wine to this new neighborhood eatery. Expect small plates like dolmas with pomegranate sauce, Moroccan carrot salad, herring in chardonnay with red onion and sour cream, and a muffaletta sandwich with housemade pickled vegetables. Yelp reviewer have been very positive about the bar, and are especially charmed with Basseri, who is on hand to give recommendations for wine pairings. Enoteca Mediterraneo sometimes hosts live music and is cash only. Enoteca Mediterraneo, 1389 Solano Ave. (at Carmel), Albany

ISLICE It’s a veritable pizza party on Solano Avenue these days and one more pizza joint just opened its doors in early September. iSlice offers New York-style thin crust pizza by the slice or pie, and serves calzones, cannoli and New York-style cheesecake, too. Berkeleyside reader Ernie Limperis wrote to Nosh to let us know, “It’s very good, and probably merits a mention in a Nosh ‘openings’ article.” Well, here you go, Ernie. As Yelper Colby S. wrote, “Brooklyn thin-crust on lower Solano! Yeah boy.” iSlice, 1230 Solano Ave. (at Talbot), Albany

FISH FACE POKE BAR This Sacramento-based make-your-own poke bowl restaurant chain has opened its third location in the Emeryville Public Market. Fish Face serves seafood that’s sustainably caught and locally-sourced, when possible. According to the Eville Eye, this location will serve “a slightly paired down version of their Sacramento location” but will “offer their signature poke dishes with plenty of customizable options.” Handrolls and chirashi sushi are also on the menu. As for drinks to wash down your poke bowl, Fish Face has beer, sake and nitro coffee. Fish Face Poke Bar, Emeryville Public Market, 5959 Shellmound St., Emeryville. Wheelchair accessible.

LOS MOLES This Mexican restaurant, which has two other locations in Emeryville and San Rafael, just opened up a restaurant and beer garden in El Cerrito this month. Los Moles specializes in recipes from Jalisco and its signature dish, as its name suggests, is mole. A customer favorite is Los Moles’ Taco Tuesdays, all-you-can-eat tacos for $12 that happens at all three locations from 4-9 p.m. on Tuesdays (it gets crowded, so be sure to make a reservation). What makes this Los Moles different than the other two is its outdoor beer garden, which serves a bevvy of beers from local and California breweries, incuding Fieldwork, Drakes, 21st Amendment, Carneros Brewing Company, Eight Bridges and Berryessa. Los Moles, 6120 Potrero Ave. (near San Pablo), El Cerrito. Wheelchair accessible.

THE PERIODIC TABLE The owners of Shiba Ramen have opened their newest venture, a sake bar and taproom in the Emeryville Public Market, next door to their ramen kiosk. Here, you’ll find craft beers, Japanese sake and spirits, including whisky and shochu. The Periodic Table does not have its own kitchen, but it offers a small menu of bar snacks like pickles, charcuterie and cheese plates that pair excellently with sake and beer. Diners can also order food at Shiba Ramen to enjoy at The Periodic Table, as long as they also plan on ordering drinks from the bar with their meal. Check out our recent article about The Periodic Table for more details. The Periodic Table, Emeryville Public Market, 5959 Shellmound St., Emeryville. Wheelchair accessible.

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