Tag Archives: Berkeley dining

Bites: Agave Uptown, Mokka, Fieldwork, more

Executive Chef Octavio Diaz of Agave Uptown. Photo: Agave Uptown/Facebook
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Openings, closings

MORE MOLE TO OAKLAND Calavera will soon no longer be the only Oaxacan restaurant in Uptown. On June 13, Agave Uptown will open, bringing with it a menu of dishes and drinks from the southwestern Mexican state. It will be the second location for the restaurant; the original Agave opened in Healdsburg in 2010. Behind the restaurant is Octavio Diaz, who grew up in Santa Gertrudis, southwest of the city of Oaxaca. Agave Uptown will focus on “farm-raised ingredients and handmade cooking … [and will] draw from the artisanal tradition of Oaxaca,” according to a a statement. Translation? A menu highlighting Diaz’s 20+ ingredient mole, plus plenty of Oaxan mezcal and Mexican craft beer. (There will also be Sonoma county wine on the menu, in a nod to Diaz’s original Healdsburg location.) The restaurant space has been designed by local firm Arcsine, and it features a mural painted by Lapiztola, a Oaxaca-based art collective. Agave Uptown will be located in the newly opened Kapor Center for Social Impact; as such, Diaz wants the restaurant to serve as an incubator for underrepresented communities with interest in the culinary field. He plans to partner with nearby schools and colleges to provide internships. “When we think about diversity, entrepreneurship and local people being able to benefit from new businesses and opportunities, Agave certainly fits that description,” said Cedric Brown, Kapor Center’s chief of community engagement, in a statement. Once open, Agave will serve both lunch and dinner seven days a week. Agave Uptown will be at 2135 Franklin St. (at 22nd Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.Continue reading »

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Seven East Bay spots to fuel an impromptu picnic

A spot at Shorebird Park with a bento box from Tokyo Fish Market — an easy picnic with a view. Photo: Benjamin Seto
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The warm weather is a clear signal that summer is just around the corner, and that means a lot of outdoor fun.

Picnics are one way to enjoy the Bay Area weather, and the East Bay has a variety of parks and trails to enjoy some fresh air. But picnics don’t have to be a big production. With the various eateries around town, you can easily grab some delicious bites and hang out in a nearby park with friends or a special someone.

We’ve pulled together a few recommendations on where to get easy-to-travel grub and suggested parks to lay out on the grass — all in an effort to help you plan your next unplanned picnic. (And don’t miss the special offer to Nosh readers from Homeroom To Go, below.) … Continue reading »

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Bites: B&B Wine Bar, LocoL, 2 Laurel beer gardens

Octopus and chorizo from B&B Kitchen and Wine Bar. Photo: B&B
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Openings, closings

B&B WINE BAR OPENS TOMORROW In January, we broke the news that Burritos, Inc. had abruptly shuttered. We now know that the owners Abraham Masarweh and Julia Joslyn have stuck around and will reopen the restaurant as B&B Kitchen and Wine Bar tomorrow for dinner. B&B will be a seafood-focused sister restaurant to the owners’ Rockridge spot Bourbon & Beef. Masarweh told Nosh in an interview that they decided to overhaul Burritos, Inc. because the space was too big for the concept. He said that they landed on a seafood restaurant because the neighborhood is currently lacking in classic American seafood dishes. Menu highlights include butter-poached lobster with squid ink linguine, a grilled octopus and chorizo appetizer, and classic cold seafood towers of oysters, shrimp cocktail, ceviche, crab and lobster tail. For those skipping seafood, B&B will serve steaks, burgers and pork chops, and there will be both vegan- and gluten-free dishes as well. On the drinks side, B&B will serve around 30 affordable wines by the glass — “There will be something for everyone,” said Masarweh — plus 10 draft beers. B&B will open for dinner hours this weekend; starting Monday, it will transition to its full schedule, which includes weekday lunch, nightly dinner and weekend brunch. The restaurant may stay open later on the weekends if the community wants it, said Masarweh. B&B Kitchen and Wine Bar is at 2116 Shattuck Ave. (between Addison and Center streets). Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.Continue reading »

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Maker’s Common to ‘geek out’ on local producers

Cheese plates like this one will be served at Maker's Common. Photo courtesy: Maker's Common
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Sarah Dvorak, Oliver Dameron and Eric Miller weren’t thinking of Berkeley when they first began planning the expansion of Mission Cheese, their popular Valencia Street cheese and charcuterie bar. They expected to open their new spot — called Maker’s Common — somewhere in San Francisco.

But, as has been the case with other restaurants like Millennium, which relocated to Rockridge, and Pal’s Takeaway, which opened in Uptown Oakland, finding affordable space in San Francisco proved impossible. The three founders started looking further afield in the East Bay. And when they had a look at the large, light-filled space at 1954 University Ave., just east of MLK Jr. Way, in downtown Berkeley, they were sold.

With plenty of space to build out both a market and a restaurant, plus outdoor dining space and zoning permits already in place for beer and wine service to boot, the Rose Garden building was too good to pass up.

“When we first saw the space its layout just said ‘THIS IS IT!,'” wrote the founders on the company’s blog. “We all walked and and knew where the retail market would be and where the kitchen would go for the eatery. When we brought an architect in they said the exact same thing — we knew we were onto something.”

Plus, as Dameron says, “It’s a great time to come to Berkeley. There’s lots of change going on here.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s Franklin Bros. Market gets a makeover

Owner Jennifer Freese at Franklin Bros. Market. Photo: Alix Wall
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Jennifer Freese has lived on Bancroft Way, west of San Pablo Avenue, since 1998. And, like many in the neighborhood, she came to rely on Franklin Bros. Market, on the corner of Bancroft and Seventh Street, especially when she was in a pinch.

The store was never much to look at. The windows were boarded up with plywood, and it made most of its profits as many corner markets do — selling cheap beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets.

Freese used to suggest to Franklin Bros.’ previous owners that they spruce it up a bit, but they never listened. And she’d joke with them: “When you retire, I’m going to buy your store and fix it up.”

So, when they decided to sell the business after 40 years, it wasn’t surprising that they gave first dibs to Freese. And after giving it some thought, Freese, who formerly worked for arts-related nonprofits, realized a job ambition she never knew she had. … Continue reading »

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8 East Bay spots for sips and swigs with kids in tow

Commonwealth Cafe. Photo: Adrienne Schell
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Who doesn’t enjoy an adult beverage every now and again? As a parent, the moment when you can sit back with a glass in hand is all the more needed at the end of a hard day of child wrangling. I’ll never forget the moment when I realized life had changed: my husband and I walked into a bar for a beer with our six-month old in the Ergo and we were told, “No one under 21 allowed.” It was a reality check, and, since then, we have done our best to scour the East Bay for spots where we can relax and unwind with great food, a cold beverage and our two kiddos by our side. While family-friendly dining is becoming more widespread on this side of the Bay, the same can be said for the pubs, beer gardens and wineries that are popping up in town. … Continue reading »

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Bites: The Fifth Quarter, Taco Bell Cantina, Zatar

Scott Brennan of The Fifth Quarter Charcuterie. Photo: The Fifth Quarter/Facebook
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Openings, closings…

THE FIFTH QUARTER CHARCUTERIE TO MONTCLAIR Scott Brennan’s farmers market charcuterie business The Fifth Quarter has found a permanent brick-and-mortar home in Montclair, according to Tablehopper. Brennan, the former head butcher at Cafe Rouge, has been selling his own sausages, patés and smoked meats at the Berkeley and Kensington farmers markets for the past five years. His new retail location will be in the former Amba Falafel space at 6464 Moraga Ave. In addition to offering an expanded version of his farmers market lineup, Brennan will also be selling sandwiches, prepared foods and dry-cured meats. The Fifth Quarter Charcuterie will be at 6464 Moraga Ave. (at La Salle Avenue), Oakland. Connect with the shop on Facebook and Twitter.Continue reading »

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‘Knee-deep in animals’: Women butchers talk shop

Kelly Taylor (left) and Renee Reed at The Local Butcher Shop. Photo: AK Carroll
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“I always tell people, ‘When I was a little girl all I wanted to do was grow up and be a butcher. Didn’t you?’” says Monica Rocchino, co-owner of The Local Butcher Shop in Berkeley. Reserved and unassuming, she’s not exactly who you’d picture when you think of a local meat-monger. Rocchino isn’t serious, of course.

Her response is a joke meant to counter the common reactions of consumers confronted with the concept of a female butcher.

“If I’m just meeting a person, they’ll be impressed and a little intimidated and kind of confused,” says Kelly Taylor, a 25-year-old who’s been working for Rocchino for the past year.  Taylor adds that her friends are typically more sympathetic than shocked.
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Food startup Josephine pauses East Bay operations

Diana's green curry with chicken. Photo: Josephine/Facebook
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In an email sent out to 2,000 East Bay customers last week, Oakland-based food startup Josephine announced that it would be pausing cooking operations in Alameda County. All non-profit partnerships, including Josephine’s partnership with Willard Middle School, have not been affected.

The decision was made after cooks working for the company were recently served with cease-and-desist orders for illegal food sales by environmental health regulators. In the email to customers, CEO Charley Wang said the regulators told the cooks that they were “committing misdemeanors, punishable by jail time.”

Wang said that Josephine “immediately informed the entire cook community of what was happening and scrambled to console and support the cooks that had been impacted.” As of May 6, Josephine had advised all cooks in Alameda County to pause operations to avoid further legal action.

“Our cooks didn’t just lose a means of income and financial stability, they were also cut off from a source of pride and empowerment,” said Wang. … Continue reading »

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Six favorite seafood tacos from around the East Bay

Shrimp tacos at Cosecha. Photo: Kate Williams
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Tacos are blessedly easy to come by in the East Bay. But tacos with seafood inside are a rarer breed than your average carnitas or pastor. From Fruitvale trucks to local, organic Berkeley foodie pleasers, we’ve collected six of our favorite local fish (and shrimp) tacos. But there are so many great taco options in this neck of the woods, we’re sure we’ve missed some. Leave us your favorites in the comments below! … Continue reading »

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Bites: Maker’s Common, Salsipuedes, Giovanni, more

The future home of Maker's Common, a cheese and charcuterie restaurant and retail shop, at 1958 University Ave. Photo: Kate Williams
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Openings, closings…

MISSION CHEESE OPENING MAKER’S COMMON ON UNIVERSITY Popular Valencia Street cheese and charcuterie bar Mission Cheese made plans to open a second, larger restaurant and retail location in San Francisco about a year ago. But after struggling to find affordable space in San Francisco, founders Sarah Dvorak, Oliver Dameron and Eric Miller decided to search elsewhere. They’ve now signed a lease at 1958 University Ave. in downtown Berkeley. The new restaurant will be called Maker’s Common, and it will offer a small, curated retail market in addition to a sit-down restaurant. “We are incredibly excited to dig into our new East Bay surroundings, meet our neighbors, and get this train rolling,” wrote Miller on the company’s blog. The restaurant’s name is a reference to its emphasis on supporting makers — cheesemakers, winemakers, beer makers, etc. “When I think about food and what gets me excited about food, is thinking about the people and the process that has gone into bringing that food to my table,” said Dvorak in the company’s fundraising video. Funding for Maker’s Common is being secured through a $600,000 Direct Public Offering; so far Maker’s Common has raised close to half of its goal. Maker’s Common will be at 1958 University Ave. (at Bonita Avenue), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.Continue reading »

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Drumroll, please… introducing the Nosh Guide

Fried chicken sandwich at The Half Orange. Photo: The Half Orange
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You’ve heard it many times, and you’re likely to hear it many times again: the East Bay restaurant scene is booming. We live in a place with more than just high-end, Michelin-starred restaurants — there are plenty of places serving innovative dishes for less than you’d pay for an appetizer on Valencia Street. And, as more chefs and food businesses are leaving San Francisco for sunnier digs in Oakland and Berkeley, the East Bay is reaping all the benefits.

Yet this restaurant boom has a downside, if you could call it that: too many choices. We can’t count the number of times we’ve been bombarded by endless ideas when looking for a new spot for dinner or different bar for happy hour. We craved an easily scrollable list of the best places to grab a delicious sandwich, the most worthwhile restaurants for a fancy dinner, or the ‘diviest’ dive bars.

So, we made one — the Nosh Guide.

The guide is divided into six categories — Breakfast and Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert, Coffee and Tea, and Drinks — because that’s where our mind goes when we’re thinking about food and drink. But the categories are broad: there’s no reason why you couldn’t stop into some of our favorite bakeries for a dessert instead of breakfast, or grab lunch at some of our dinner picks. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Genova Deli, People’s Café, The Wolf, more

Genova Delicatessen. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Openings, closings…

GENOVA DELI’S LAST DAY IS SATURDAY Get in for your Italian combo fix while you can, because Genova Delicatessen‘s last day will be April 30. “We are humbled by all the good wishes and love from the community and want to thank you for so many years of support,” wrote the deli’s owners on its website. The 90-year-old Italian deli in Oakland’s Temescal district had announced in February that it may be forced to close due to a rent dispute with its landlord. However, in a story in the San Jose Mercury News, co-owner David DeVincenzi’s wife Patti said that other rising costs were a bigger contributor in the decision to close. They didn’t want to be forced to raise prices. “The cost of doing business is to the point now where it became uncomfortable,” she said. David DeVincenzi told the San Francisco Chronicle that the family is working on finding a new location in Oakland, but was unwilling to hint at where that location may be. In the meantime, the Genova factory on Broadway, the Napa store, and the two Genova Deli locations in Walnut Creek (owned by another branch of the family) remain open. And, according to the Mercury News, the property owners at Temescal Plaza are looking for a new local deli operator to open in the space; property representative John Dobrovich said he hopes the new tenant will hire some of the former Genova employees. Genova Delicatessen is at 5095 Telegraph Ave. (between 49th and 51st streets), Oakland. Connect with the deli on Facebook.Continue reading »

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