Tag Archives: Berkeley dining

Bites: The Libertine to open, BUILD Pizzeria closed

The Libertine bar is replacing Kingman's Lucky Lounge on Grand Avenue. Photo: The Libertine
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Openings, closings…

THE LIBERTINE BAR HEADED TO GRAND LAKE A new bar, The Libertine, is set to take the place of Kingman’s Lucky Lounge at 3332 Grand Ave. New owner Aric Yeverino purchased the bar earlier this year, but Kingman’s continued operating until April 12. As of this week, Yeverino has taken down the Lucky sign and begun renovations to change bring the bar up to code. He has posted images on his Instagram feed indicating that the new liquor license is active, so the switch should be fairly speedy. Yeverino is also the owner of the popular Hayward dive bar The Dirty Bird. The Libertine will be at 3332 Grand Ave. (near Mandana Boulevard), Oakland. Connect with the bar on Facebook.Continue reading »

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Imm Thai a welcome addition to University Avenue

Duck Noodle Soup from Imm Thai. Photo: Kate Williams
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It’s all about the fish sauce.

The fermented, salty sauce seems almost ubiquitous now, but it wasn’t so long ago that one had to hunt through the aisles of Asian supermarkets to find a bottle. Ocean-rich umami and unapologetically funky, it is today the secret ingredient, not only in Southeast Asian cuisine, but in trendy restaurant dishes and blogger recipes alike.

There are several Thai and Southeast Asian restaurants across the Bay embracing the call of fish sauce funk, but these restaurants typically fall into two camps: trendy chef-focused spots looking for their next James Beard Award or a nondescript restaurant with two menus, one for Americans and one for Thais. You likely can’t bring your great aunt Mildred to either one.

These restaurants stand in distinct contrast to those generic, take-out-centric joints that populate student-heavy areas like Downtown Berkeley and serve overly sweet bowls of curry without a whiff of fermented fish. There hasn’t, until recently, been a restaurant that successfully bridges the gap between the funky and the generic. Enter Imm Thai. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Continental Club, Wolfhound Bar, more

West Oakland's Continental Club has a new owner, and may be re-opening its doors soon. Photo: Google maps
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Openings, closings

CONTINENTAL CLUB COULD BE GETTING A FRESH START The Continental Club, an iconic West Oakland music venue and comedy club, was once host to countless jazz and blues stars in the 1960s. It was originally opened as a gumbo restaurant in 1947 by owners Curtis and Ross Christy; by the 1950s, the brothers had added a live music component to the restaurant, calling it Ramboogie. In 1961, the duo renovated and expanded the club. From then on, the space was known as the Continental Club. Situated on 12th Street in the Prescott neighborhood of West Oakland, the club fell onto hard times in the 1970s and never seemed to recover. Comedian Pharaoh bought the club in 2010, but shuttered it a few years later. Now, it seems that the club has changed hands once again. New owner Magnolia Entertainment has applied for a liquor license for an eating establishment, which is now pending. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more. The Continental Club is at 1658 12th St. (at Campbell Street), Oakland.Continue reading »

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Camel milk and kava: 2 new Berkeley spots mix it up

The patio at Mission Heirloom. Photo: Shelby Pope
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By Shelby Pope/Bay Area Bites

There is no shortage of non-alcoholic drinks in Berkeley. The first, second and third waves of coffee are all sufficiently represented. There are many spots for tea of every variety, including bubble.There’s even more than one place to get an avocado smoothie.

But two new Berkeley cafes have found something new to offer. In the Gourmet Ghetto, the Bay Area’s first dedicated grain-free restaurant, Mission: Heirloom, serves coffee with everything from camel’s milk to butter. Down on University, MeloMelo Kava Bar is introducing customers to drinks made with kava.

The two cafés are very similar. Both are beautiful spaces, filled with little details like Mission Heirloom’s elegant Heath Ceramic dishes and MeloMelo’s lighting system, which changes colors if they’re mentioned on Twitter or Instagram. Both inspire evangelical devotion among their respective fans. And both are expensive, with drinks hovering around the $6-7 range. Your impression of them will likely depend on your tolerance for both acquired tastes and alternative health. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Newberry Market to Uptown Station, more

A rendering of Newberry Market & Deli, the first tenant to sign on to open in the renovated Sears Building in Uptown Oakland, which developers Lane Partners hope to see transformed into a foodie and tech hub for the Millennial generation. Rendering: Steelblue
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Openings, closings…

NEWBERRY MARKET & DELI TO UPTOWN STATION The first tenant to sign on to the ambitious Uptown Station project in the old Sears building above Oakland’s 19th Street BART station is upscale grocery store Newberry Market & Deli, reports Inside Scoop. The 20,000-square foot store will take its cues from artisanal markets such as Bi-Rite and Market Hall, and will offer everything from organic produce and grocery staples to hot and cold prepared items such as sandwiches, salads, rotisserie meats, and soups. Newberry Market also plans to have a a full-service butcher shop, charcuterie and cheese counter, a café, flower shop, and grab-and-go pizza by the slice. Even with all of these amenities, owners Ann Thai and Loren Goodwin hope to keep the prices “affordable and accessible.” Newberry Market, named after the old Newberry’s department store that operated next door many years ago, will be the anchor tenant in the ground floor food hall, which developers Lane Partners hope to fill with other niche food  and tech businesses and turn into a type of hip Ferry Building for the Millennial generation. Thai and Goodwin hope to open the market in fall 2016. Newberry Market will be at 1954 Telegraph Ave. (at 19th Street), Oakland.Continue reading »

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Bites: Rec Room, Octopus Literary Salon opening

The Rec Room Cafe. Photo: Sean Rouse/Twitter
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Openings, closings…

THE REC ROOM A café and education space is coming to South Berkeley, hopefully by April. The Rec Room bills itself as a “family spot,” an indoor space where parents and caretakers can come with small children to eat, learn and chat. In addition to local, organic, and nut-free food, coffee and tea, The Rec Room will offer everything from free pre-school activities and child-minding, to classes on creative writing, cooking and science for elementary-aged children. The Rec Room will be at 3222 Adeline St. (between Fairview and Harmon streets). Connect with the café on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.Continue reading »

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Charles Phan plans to open café at UC Berkeley

Charles Phan Photo Jennifer Yin
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When Charles Phan was an architecture student at UC Berkeley, he spent a lot of time in Wurster Hall.

Phan left Cal before he graduated, but he is about, once again, to spend time at Wurster, as he is planning to take over the café there in the fall serving his trademark organic, international food. It will be the famous chef’s first venture in the East Bay.

“I am 99%, not 100% sure,” Phan said about the opening. Describing his vision for the space, he said: “You walk up, you get some food. It’s affordable, it’s fast. My goal is to take care of the students.”

Robert Lalanne, the vice-chancellor of real estate at UC Berkeley, approached Phan many months ago about serving food at UC Berkeley. Phan is best known for the critically acclaimed The Slanted Door restaurant in San Francisco. Talks are ongoing, but both men told Berkeleyside they feel confident they will strike a deal. UC plans to redo the plaza outside Wurster Hall for the new café, said Lalanne. The building is named after William Wurster, the famed architect and dean of the Berkeley Architectural School, now known as the College of Environmental Design. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Oakland raises minimum wage, more news

Coffee. Brunch at Camino in February 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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OAKLAND RAISES MINIMUM WAGE Oakland’s minimum wage went up to $12.25 on Monday. Many local restaurants are in support of the wage hike, and have been actively informing customers that prices will rise as a result. Restaurant owners and their staff have joined in on a hashtag campaign, #oaklandlivingwage, to garner city-wide support for small businesses. Piedmont Avenue’s Homestead and Dopo, as well as Camino on Grand Avenue, have made the most drastic changes to their pay structure: all have eliminated tips and increased prices to accommodate the increased wage for employees. Aunt Mary’s Café and Toast have added 15% service charges to their bills to be divided up among the entire staff. Guests may tip in addition to the service charge. Other restaurants will simply raise prices to make up for the wage increase. Actual Café‘s Sal Bednarz has been an active supporter of the wage hike, despite the challenges he and other business owners are facing. In a press conference on Wednesday with Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf, he said: “It was a difficult thing for me to do as a business owner, and I’m still unsure what the ongoing customer impact will be of having done that. We’re here today to remind all of Oakland that we’re doing this for good reasons. Spend your dollar where your vote was. Support the minimum wage increase by supporting small businesses in Oakland.”  … Continue reading »

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Mother–daughter duo makes Vanessa’s Bistro soar

Vanessa's duo
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Vanessa Dang briskly chops a pile of red and yellow peppers, speedily stir-fries chicken slices in a steaming wok, and tosses a tangle of rice noodles into a bowl in the compact kitchen of her Berkeley restaurant, Vanessa’s Bistro. Meanwhile, her daughter, Vi Nguyen, greets and seats customers, takes orders and shakes up a mojito while chatting with the regulars sitting at the bar. Both mother and daughter operate in a blur of continual motion, like two speeding comets whose orbits occasionally intersect. … Continue reading »

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Highwire buys Local 123 café and coffee trailer

Interior Local 123.#2_JDelaney
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Highwire Coffee is buying Local 123, the popular West Berkeley café opened by Frieda Hoffman and Katy Wafle six years ago at 2049 San Pablo Ave. (at University). The deal, which also includes Local 123’s coffee trailer at Flowerland Nursery in Albany, closes on Saturday.

Hoffman said she is excited about the sale as she believes she has found the perfect people to take Local 123 to its full potential.

“They will honor what we’ve been doing, with our focus on quality coffee,” she said, speaking of Highwire’s three founders: Rich Avella, Robert Myers and Eric Hashimoto. … Continue reading »

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East Bay food news of 2014: and what a year it was!

La Botella Republic is now open. Photo: Siciliana Trevino
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By Tracey Taylor and Emilie Raguso

Think the East Bay food scene is calming down? Think again: 2014 was Nosh‘s second year covering the beat, and it’s absolutely hopping! Before 2014 recedes in our collective memory, we are pausing to look at some of our best stories and biggest happenings in East Bay restaurants last year. (Click any of the links below to see complete past coverage of places you want to learn more about.) And be sure to sign up for NOSH Weekly, the free email that arrives in your inbox on Thursdays and ensures you stay up-to-date with the latest restaurant news in Oakland, Berkeley and beyond.

The year in East Bay booze

Before we get to food, let’s talk about how bonkers we continued to be last year about beer, with the opening of, in Oakland, , the Fruitvale Fermentation Factory from Ale Industries, Parliament bar and Diving Dog Brewhouse. In Berkeley, the Westbrae Biergarten which, with its Brazil Café food, was an immediate neighborhood hit; The Rare Barrel, specializing in sour beer; and The Daily Pint on Euclid, which brought a new option for the Northside neighborhood. Craft distillery  opened in Livermore. And there are more in the works, including 21st Amendment in San Leandro, and Fieldwork Brewing Company in Berkeley (the latter had its soft opening last week). Speaking of San Leandro,  also launched in 2014. (See our early 2014 round-up of great East Bay beer spots.)

Read more about hot drinking spots in the East Bay.Continue reading »

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Bites: Johnny B’s, Habit Burger Grill open, more

Johnny B's Café. Photo: John Bajek
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Openings, closings

JOHNNY B’S COMES TO WEST BERKELEY There’s a new spot to grab sandwiches and coffee in West Berkeley. Johnny B’s Café has just opened up shop next to Strawberry Creek Park on Addison Street, in the former Café Zeste location. Owner John Bajek tells us that his corned beef and roasted chicken sandwiches are his bestsellers so far. In addition, he is serving soups, freshly made salads and pastries, with plenty of gluten-free options. Johnny B’s is at 1250 Addison St., Suite 110 (near Bonar Street), Berkeley.Continue reading »

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Nosh

Two Berkeleyside emails worth signing up for

Cupcakes
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Today at 6 a.m. several thousand people received the new Nosh Weekly in their inboxes. (See it here.)

This free email newsletter, just launched last fall, is sent out every Thursday, and highlights the best food coverage from Berkeleyside’s sister site, Nosh.

Nosh covers the East Bay, not just Berkeley. So you’ll hear of new restaurant, café and bakery openings in places like Oakland, Albany, Alameda and Kensington, as well as Berkeley neighborhoods like the Gourmet Ghetto and the Elmwood. Nosh Weekly also brings you recipes for scrumptious treats (like Moriah VanVleet’s rosewater cupcakes with meringue brulée frosting — perfect for Valentine’s Day), interviews with pioneering food artisans and chefs, and news from the food front lines, be it related to the soda tax, school cooking programs or allegations of racism.

Click here to subscribe to Nosh Weekly and/or the Berkeleyside Daily Briefing.

Nosh Weekly is one of two e-newsletters delivered by Berkeleyside. The other is the Berkeleyside Daily Briefing, which is well established and much loved, and lands every day just after 5 p.m. (See it here.) The Daily Briefing has become essential reading for thousands of people who want to keep on top of what is happening in Berkeley. The email highlights, in summary form, all the stories published by Berkeleyside on a particular day. … Continue reading »

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