The East Bay restaurants that opened and closed in April

Tacos from Comal Next Door in Berkeley. Photo: Charlie Villyard

Berkeley

Open

COMAL NEXT DOOR Comal owners John Paluska and Andrew Hoffman opened their latest project, Comal Next Door, on April 13. The new all-day taqueria is literally next door to the full-service restaurant Comal, which specializes in modern interpretations of Mexican — specifically Oaxacan — cuisine. Comal Next Door functions as a counter-service establishment and offers burritos, bowls and tacos along with a selection of agua frescas, margaritas and beer. Comal Next Door, 2024 Shattuck Ave. (near University), Berkeley 

Gold Leaf Café in Berkeley. Photo: Hailey Johnson

GOLD LEAF CAFÉ Berkeley’s newest coffee shop, Gold Leaf Café, opened on April 21. Since the opening, its welcoming atmosphere with a charming gold-motif decor and rotating coffee brews have already become quite popular among locals. Gold Leaf serves up specialty coffee — supplied by Counter Culture — as well as teas and daily featured drinks, including a decaf coffee selection and an iced drink of the day. These two specials can be found framed on the wall, along with the rest of the menu. Pastries from Firebrand Artisan Breads are also available and a homemade chai is soon to come. Gold Leaf Café, 1951 Martin Luther King Jr. Way (between University and Berkeley Way), Berkeley

Henry’s in Berkeley. Photo: Hailey Johnson

HENRY’S The Graduate hotel’s live-in restaurant and bar, Henry’s, reopened this month with a new chef and an updated look. The kitchen is now run by Chris Kronner — along with chefs Jeffrey Hayden, Justin Huffman and a few staffers from KronnerBurger — and offers modern farm-to-table comfort food in the form of shared dishes, baked goods from Tartine and a couple burgers, too (Check out what we ate on our recent visit). The bar got an upgrade, as well, with a focus on craft cocktails, natural wines and local beers. Henry’s, Graduate Berkeley, 2600 Durant Ave. (at Bowditch), Berkeley

KC’S BAR-B-QUE After suffering a major fire last February, KC’s Bar-B-Que soft-opened this past weekend in a new location in Berkeley. The nearly 50-year-old family-run business took over Meal Ticket’s former home on San Pablo Avenue. The menu offers up soul food and barbecue classics, like beef brisket, hot links and ribs. The meat is also topped with the famous KC’s BBQ sauce to top off the southern flavor — according to the website “No meal is complete without it!” A grand opening will take place June 2. KC’s Bar-B-Que, 1235 San Pablo Ave. (between Harrison and Gilman), Berkeley


Nash Café before opening hours in Berkeley. Photo: Hailey Johnson

NASH CAFÉ Following its soft opening on April 1, Nash Café officially opened for business on University Avenue. The restaurant is located right next door to the Nash Hotel and specializes in “tasty kebabs and Chinese street food.” The menu includes a range of kebabs (beef, lamb and mushroom, to name a few) as well as dumplings, rice and a range of cold dishes like duck wings and edamame. Prices hover in the $4-$9 range for most items. Nash Café, 2047 University Ave. (between Shattuck and Milvia), Berkeley

SIDEWALK STREET FOOD The soft opening of the new Vietnamese restaurant Sidewalk Street Food took place on April 4. The eatery took over the space formerly occupied by Fresh & Best Restaurant and serves the Claremont neighborhood from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. The menu includes Vietnamese classic offerings like banh mi, pho ga, spring rolls and fresh bowls filled with your choice of beef, chicken, pork, shrimp or tofu. Sidewalk Street Food, 2924 Domingo Ave. (between Tunnel and Russell), Berkeley 

Closed

ANZU As Nosh reported earlier this month, the Japanese eatery Anzu on Shattuck Avenue has closed. According to reader Tilia Bell, the eatery closed in March without notice or posting. Nosh has been unable to contact the owners for comment.

Elmwood Café in Berkeley. Photo: Hailey Johnson

ELMWOOD CAFÉ April 20 saw the closure of the longtime neighborhood favorite Elmwood Cafe (at 2900 College Ave.). As Nosh reported this month, there has been no official explanation from owner Michael Pearce regarding the closure, but the closure comes on the heels of the reemergence of racism charges from an incident with comedian Kamau Bell in 2015. Going forward, Pearce hopes to donate the café or hand it over to the employees as a worker-owned cooperative, but for now, the future of the Elmwood Café is yet to be determined.

MEAL TICKET After nearly 25 years of serving breakfast and lunch, Meal Ticket closed this month. To announce its closure, owners Jimmy and Carolyn Carter thanked their customers for years of support “in what has become a very difficult environment for small, independent restaurants in Berkeley.” The community can take comfort in the fact that a new independent, family-owned restaurant, KC’s Bar-B-Que, took over the spot this month (see Openings above).

POMPETTE The California-French restaurant at 1782 Fourth St closed without notice in mid-April. Owners David and Caramia Visick opened Pompette last April, and we still do not know the reason why the spot has shuttered.

SMOKEY J’S Q HOUSE Smokey J’s Q House closed its Berkeley storefront on April 4 to become a catering-only operation. The closure was announced via a sign in the restaurant’s window written by owner Josh Kemper. The Southern-style eatery occupied its space at 3105 Shattuck Ave. from 2011-2018.


VIRGINIA BAKERY As Nosh reported earlier this month, Gourmet Ghetto’s Virginia Bakery, at 1690 Shattuck Ave., closed on April 28. Owners John and Anne Erdmann announced the closure on Facebook explaining that it was time for them to retire. The bakery was a Berkeley institution for 84 years and was run by the Erdmann family for 65 of those years. The space is currently up for lease.

Oakland

Open

Owners Michael (left) and Daovone Le (middle) and friend at the new Anh Hong location in Oakland. Photo: Anh Hong/Facebook

ANH HONG The family-owned business Anh Hong opened a new location this month at Rainbow Café’s prior home in Oakland. The restaurant had a location in  Berkeley, but after 12 years in business closed in December 2017, as that building will eventually be demolished and converted into a seven-story multi-use building. Anh Hong’s new Oakland location offers the same extensive menu, including its signature Bò 7 Món (seven courses of beef), which includes, but is not limited to beef porridge, beef carpaccio and ingredients to make your own spring roll.  Anh Hong, 725 International Blvd. (between 7th and 8th), Oakland

BAR 41  Bar Underwood in Oakland underwent some rebranding recently and is now open as Bar 41. Besides the name change, the dinner menu was also simplified to focus on salads, sandwiches and a few main dishes to accompany its drink menu. Guests can also purchase beer and wine to go. Bar 41 will roll out a brunch and lunch menu soon. On Sundays at 4 p.m., it hosts a soul food pop-up with Oakland’s Chef Yeaaahh. Bar 41, 308 41st St. (between Broadway and Emerald), Oakland

Best Coast Burritos in Oakland. Photo: Sarah Han

BEST COAST BURRITOS Best Coast Burritos, a.k.a. BCB, opened a new location this month in Oakland. Like its Emeryville location, guests order at the counter and have the option to build their burrito as they go. The menu offers BCB favorites like The 3 Amigos Burrito, which comes with grilled chicken, carnitas and shrimp, and BCB Super Fries, topped with guacamole, cheese, sour cream and a choice of meat. Guests also love the California Burrito, which comes stuffed with all the standard super burrito fillings and an addition of hand-cut french fries for good measure. Best Coast Burritos, 5100 Broadway, (between 51st and Coronado), Oakland

BLU MOON LOUNGE The Asian-fusion eatery Blu Moon Lounge opened last month in Oakland. The menu draws from Cantonese, Vietnamese, Thai and Japanese cuisine to cook up dishes such as green papaya salad and stir-fried udon noodles. Prices range from $9.25 to $24.25 for entrees, but the restaurant is offering 15% off until June 30 to celebrate its grand opening. Happy hour is from 3:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; the restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Blu Moon Lounge, 3009 MacArthur Blvd. (between Maple and Laurel), Oakland

Rice bowl at Dosirak Shop in Oakland. Photo: Dosirak Shop/Facebook

DOSIRAK SHOP A new Korean-Japanese restaurant, Dosirak Shop, has come to Oakland’s Adams Point neighborhood. Dosirak is the Korean word for packed meal, which is exactly what the restaurant serves. The menu includes rice bowls, bento boxes and bibimbap. As reported by the East Bay Express, the Korean family behind Dosirak once ran a Japanese restaurant, so along with bulgogi, kalbi and japchae, this new spot includes some Japanese fare, such as tempura and sashimi. Being so close to Lake Merritt and with easily transportable meals, Dosirak could be the perfect place to grab food for a lakefront picnic. Dosirak Shop, 366 Grand Ave. (between Perkins and Staten), Oakland


DRAGON PEARL The new pan-Asian restaurant opened in the space previously occupied by Mama’s Vietnamese Restaurant. The spot is run by the owners of Mama’s Vietnamese, so it offers some of the prior restaurant’s most popular dishes like banh mi, vermicelli bowls and rice plates, but has expanded its menu to offer sushi and some Chinese-inspired stir-fry dishes. Dragon Pearl365 19th St. (between Webster and Franklin), Oakland

DYAFA Reem Assil, founder of Reem’s California, opened her new, full-service restaurant this month in Jack London Square in partnership with chef Daniel Patterson’s Alta Group. The menu reflects Assil’s background from a Palestinian-Syrian home, including items such as fresh bread, braised meat and spiced fish. The eatery also aims to provide excellent service, as conveyed by the name of the restaurant, which comes from the Arabic phrase for hospitality. The restaurant recently expanded its hours for dinner service.  Dyafa, 44 Jack London Square (at Harrison St.), Oakland

Wet burrito at Happy Burrito in Oakland. Photo: Happy Burrito/Facebook

HAPPY BURRITO After a temporary closure for a few months of renovations, Happy Burrito in Downtown Oakland is back in business. The reopening brought slightly higher prices (now $3.50-$8.50) to the same menu, which includes a variety of Mexican taqueria standards, like burritos, quesadillas, tostadas, tacos, nachos and dinner plates. Happy Burrito, 1616 Webster St. (between 15th and 17th), Oakland

SUSHI VILLA The restaurant formerly known as Sushi Valley in Oakland has reopened as Sushi Villa. It wasn’t clear why the former sushi bar closed late last year, but it did receive a number of negative Yelp reviews. Sushi Villa offers nigiri and sushi rolls, as well as a poke bar. Sushi Villa, 367 17th St. (between Webster and Franklin), Oakland

UCCELLO COFFEE The Italian-inspired cafe, Uccello, opened this month in the former home of Brown Couch and Mi Lindo Jalisco. The space is concluding a remodel, so there are still some finishing touches to be put in place. Still, according to Yelpers, the friendly service and modern decor make for a very welcoming space. The eatery serves City Baking Co. pastries and McLaughlin Coffee Roasting Company coffee and teas. Uccello, 340 14th St. (between Webster and Harrison), Oakland

Closed

MAMA’S VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT Oakland’s Mama’s Vietnamese Restaurant closed earlier this month. While there have been no official comments, Yelpers as well as Hoodline are speculating that the eatery never recovered from an extended closure last year. The space is set to be taken over by Dragon Pearl Asian Fusion (see above in Openings).

Pommes Dauphine and an herb salad, from the farewell menu at Michel Bistro. The restaurant closed on April 14. Photo: Sarah Han

MICHEL BISTRO On April 14, after a month of farewell dinners and a big final bash, Grand Lake said goodbye to Michelin-recommended French restaurant, Michel Bistro. Owners Seth and Jenni Bregman plan to convert the space into a ’60s-themed restaurant with a”living room vibe” called Bardo Lounge and Supperclub. Chefs Anthony Salguero and Brian Starkey will be kept on board for the new project, so fans of Michel Bistro will have to stay tuned for the new iteration.

PORTOFINO CAFÉ Portofino Café, near the MacAthur BART station on Telegraph Avenue has closed. While no official announcement was made detailing the reasons for closure, the pizzeria had received a slew of negative Yelp reviews.

Beyond

Open

TacoBar at La Penca Azul in Alameda. Photo: La Penca Azul TacoBar/Facebook

TACOBAR AT LA PENCA AZUL Alameda Mexican restaurant La Penca Azul opened its new counter-service taqueria on April 4. Called TacoBar, the new spot is connected to the main restaurant on Park Street through a side entrance. The menu offers various tacos, burritos, bowls, tortas and quesadillas. The TacoBar is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. TacoBar at La Penca Azul  2402 Santa Clara Ave. (at Park), Alameda

UTZUTZU The grand opening of Alameda’s new omakase sushi restaurant, Utzutzu, took place on April 28. The seven-seat restaurant —  opened by Chikara Ono, chef-owner of Oakland’s B-Dama and Delage — is in the spot previously occupied by another prix-fixe sushi restaurant, Yume. According to the East Bay Express, although Ono is behind the restaurant, the sushi at Utzutzu will be prepared by Joji Nonaka (ICHI Sushi) and chef Asuka Uchida (B-Dama) will handle the other dishes, including dessert.  The meals include 16 pieces of sushi (most of which is flown in from Japan), an appetizer, salad, soup and dessert. Currently, the set price of a meal is $100 per person. Utzutzu1428 Park St. (between Central and Santa Clara), Alameda

Closed

ANGKOR GRILL The Cambodian bistro Angkor Grill at 1319 Park Ave. in Alameda closed this month. Its closure was announced April 5 via Facebook, just days before the eatery closed for good on April 8. Owner Ricky Do wanted to spend more time with his family and a proposed rent increase was just the motivation he needed. Going forward, Do may offer catering services, but a Thai restaurant looks to be taking over Angkor’s space.

CAFÉ VALPARAISO A Nosh reader tipped us off that Albany’s Chilean restaurant, Café Valparaiso closed last week. A posted note at the restaurant, located at 1403 Solano Ave., cited “personal reasons” for the closure on April 24.