Tag Archives: Berkeley dining

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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San Francisco’s Flour & Co to open Berkeley bakery

Cookies and pastries from San Francisco's Flour & Co which is opening in Berkeley . Photo: Flour & Co
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Flour & Co is opening a bakery in the former Bread Workshop space on University Avenue in central Berkeley. Owner Emily Day said the plan is to create a similar spot to the original Nob Hill bakery, with classic American pastries and cookies on offer, made with the highest quality ingredients. The bakery will also have breakfast and lunch menus, and it will be serving coffee from Stumptown, a cult roasters out of Portland, Oregon.

Designs, by Berkeley architects Abueg Morris, have already been drawn up and, if the build-out goes according to plan, Flour & Co should be open in June, Day said. The Bread Workshop, an eco-friendly wholesale bakery and café, closed in 2013 after 20 years in Berkeley.

Day opened the Hyde Street bakery two years ago, though she had been dreaming of running her own bakery for more than a decade before then. … Continue reading »

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Bites: MeloMelo and Zing Café open in Berkeley

MeloMelo Kava Bar
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Openings, closings…

MELOMELO OPENS ITS DOORS Berkeley residents looking for an alternative bar atmosphere now have a new destination. MeloMelo Kava Bar (pictured above), a coffee- and alcohol-free watering hole, opened softly this past Tuesday. As we reported in September, kava is a Polynesian drink, made from the roots of the kava-kava plant, that has a mild sedative effect. Along with a rotating selection of kava, MeloMelo is serving kombucha on tap and a weekly “kava koncotion” special. You can learn more about the history and science of kava on MeloMelo’s website. MeloMelo Kava Bar is at 1701 University Ave., Berkeley. Connect with MeloMelo on Facebook and Twitter.Continue reading »

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Cali-Indo-Asian spot Tigerlily opens in Berkeley

Photo: Tigerlily
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Tigerlily, a new restaurant that puts an Indo-Asian twist on Californian cuisine, has opened in the former Mint Leaf space at 1513 Shattuck Ave. in the heart of the Gourmet Ghetto.

Currently in soft-open mode, the warm, low-lit restaurant was buzzing on Friday night with a greeter escorting curious walk-ins to their tables (the restaurant doesn’t take reservations). As a pre-official opening gesture, wait-staff offered complementary platters of Kabocha Squash and Turmeric Fry Bread to guests waiting for their main courses.

Chef Joel Lamica is running the kitchen. Formerly of Bix and Nojo in San Francisco, and, more recently, the Ramen Shop in Rockridge, Lamica’s menu is described as being inspired by produce from the local farmers market and from the restaurant’s own organic farm in Sonoma County, as well as whole spices sourced from Tigerlily owner Deepak Aggarwal’s spice-farm network in northern India. … Continue reading »

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Restaurant Weeks are back, and bigger than ever

Cook and Her Farmer
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January isn’t just a month for New Year’s resolutions. Here in the Bay Area, January brings not one, but two Restaurant Weeks.

Oakland’s Restaurant Week starts tomorrow and runs through Jan. 25, and is organized by Visit Oakland. In a big surge from last year’s offerings, close to 75 restaurants will be participating across the ten days. Those restaurants will offer lunch and/or dinner prix-fixe menus at $20, $30, or $40 per person. Reservations are available through Open Table, a Restaurant Week sponsor.

Just about every popular Oakland restaurant is offering Restaurant Week specials — expect menus from classic spots like Oliveto Café, Yoshi’s, and Flora as well as hot newcomers like The Dock at Linden Street, The Cook and Her Farmer, and Kingston 11. A full list of participating restaurants and menus can be found on the Visit Oakland website. … Continue reading »

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Philip Gelb: Popping up vegan in West Berkeley

Phil Gelb. bagels out of oven
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For the past decade, vegan chef and shakuhachi master Philip Gelb has combined his passion for music and food with a movable monthly series that pairs a four-course meal with a recital featuring singular musicians such as alto sax great Oliver Lake and Irish harp expert Diana Rowan. Looking to expand into new territory, he’s joining forces with Tomate Café’s Jack Wakileh, introducing a new pop-up series in West Berkeley (sans music for the time being).

Gelb kicks off the first of three scheduled events on Saturday Jan. 10 with a celebration of the culinary traditions of Southern African-Americans and the Caribbean inspired by Oakland cookbook writer/culinary historian Bryant Terry. Terry, who will be on hand speaking between courses, recently published Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed.

“Bryant’s a guy I have great respect for,” said Gelb, who is one of the first musicians to perform new music on shakuhachi, the ancient, end-blown Japanese bamboo flute. “I first came across him on KPFA years ago being interviewed about food politics in the African-American community. We’ve met up over the years, traded food and ideas and talked about collaborating.” … Continue reading »

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It’s Christmas! 10 top East Bay spots to eat Chinese

Great China photo by tracey
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While many of you are eating your turkeys and hams, opening presents and spending quality family time, there is a whole contingent of us out there that have our own tradition on Christmas: Chinese food and a movie. From where this tradition comes is up for debate, but it’s easy to surmise that since Christmas isn’t a big holiday on the Chinese calendar either, there was no reason to close, and everyone knows about Jews’ affinity to Chinese food.

Regardless of how old this tradition is, much has been written about it, and the “I Eat Chinese Food on Christmas” video explains the phenomenon quite succinctly!

If your Christmas plans include Chinese food, here are some of our favorite spots in the East Bay (in alphabetical order by city). Tip: call to make sure your choice is actually open on Christmas — not all of the restaurants listed have websites, although those that do are hyperlinked. … Continue reading »

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Smoke’s Poutinerie opens first U.S. store in Berkeley

Smoke's Poutinerie, which has just opened in Berkeley. Photo: Shelby Pope
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By Shelby Pope/Bay Area Bites

The Canadians are coming, and they’re bringing poutine. Smoke’s Poutinerie opened on Durant Avenue in Berkeley on Monday, Dec. 8 (as first reported on Berkeleyside in September). The first U.S. location of a popular fast food chain with over 100 stores in Canada, the restaurant only sells poutine, the gloriously nap-inducing Quebec dish of fries tossed with gravy and topped with cheese curds.

Why Berkeley for the first U.S. store? Ironically, it’s all because of a few enterprising Southern Californians. Los Angeles-based film producers Robert Parada and Danny Rodriguez went out drinking one night during a visit to Berkeley, and when they left the bar, they were struck by the amount of people — and potential customers — out late in Berkeley. Along with a third partner, they approached Smoke’s founder and CEO Ryan Smolkin with the idea of opening a Berkeley location of the chain, which they had tried and loved during a visit to Winnipeg. … Continue reading »

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Vegan deli to open in old La Farine spot on Solano

The retail space at xxxx Solano Ave. that, until July, housed La Farine, is likely to have a new food tenant soon. Photo: Trachtenberg Architects
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The space at 1820 Solano Ave., left vacant by La Farine bakery in July, is to be filled by a new-concept vegan deli-style food retailer, The Butcher’s Son, opening around mid-February 2015.

Peter Fikaris and his sister, Christina Stobing, will be running the new business which is partially funded by their father, Michael, well-known for his eatery, Michael’s American Vegetarian Diner, a popular ’50s-style eating spot on Telegraph Avenue in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“We will offer specialty vegan cheeses and meats, sausages, salami, fresh mozzarella, salads, sides, and sandwiches,” said Fikaris. The deli will have a pizza oven, making baked thin-crust pizza and a raw deep-dish pizza will also be on the menu.

“It will be all vegan, raw and cooked, and made in house,” he added. … Continue reading »

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