Tag Archives: Epicurious Garden

Guacamole 61 opens in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto

Guacamole 61. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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By Nancy Rubin

Bay Area native Willy Perez (Berkeley High, class of 1995) knows two things well: cars and food. Summoning inspiration from his love of restoring vintage cars, specifically his 1961 Chevy Impala convertible, Perez began to picture a place that expressed the loyalty of true vintage car culture mixed with the essence of his mother’s savory Mexican spices he knew growing up.

Thus was born the idea of Guacamole 61, whose name was, of course, inspired by his beloved car. The diminutive take-out restaurant opened this week at Epicurious Garden in North Berkeley. It took over the space from the short-lived Herb n’ Chicken, which itself was preceded by Source Mini. It’s not the first time the kitchen has served up Mexican dishes: Picoso Taqueria occupied the spot before Flavor Mediterranean Food, which was itself replaced by Source Mini.

It’s not the first Berkeley restaurant venture for Perez, either. He was one of the group, along with Artemio Maldonado and Dwight Ferron — all former Cheese Board alums  — that opened Sliver in January 2013, the popular pizza destination on Center Street in downtown Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Events

The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Architecture of Life, the inaugural exhibition in BAMPFA's landmark new building - See more at: http://www.bampfa.berkeley.edu/program/architecture-life#sthash.SpHqsWlP.dpuf
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MEET ME DOWNTOWN DAY Berkeley’s downtown will come alive on Sunday with the first Meet Me Downtown Day. Five major arts venues and the Downtown YMCA will be open with free events and numerous downtown restaurants have special offers. Among the free events are tours of the soon-to-open UC Theatre, film demonstrations on the new BAMPFA’s outdoor screen, bluegrass and country jam at the Freight & Salvage, free workshops at the Berkeley Rep’s School of Theatre, a jazz trio concert at the California Jazz Conservatory, and free use of the pool and gym (as well as some free yoga classes) at the Y. Among the restaurant specials are a free salad bar at Sandwich Spot, a free 4 oz taster with every full pint purchase at Jupiter, and 10% off at Phil’s Sliders.There’s also an Instagram contest for the best #MeetMeDowntownBerkeley photos (iPad Mini to the winner) and a draw for an “extravaganza weekend for two.” Full details of the day and the offers on the Meet Me Downtown Day site. Meet Me Downtown runs from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 20. Start at the Welcome Kiosk at the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza.  … Continue reading »

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Bites: Sweetgreen, La Botella, Itani Ramen, more

za'atar salad: chopped romaine, parsley + mint, tomatoes + cucumbers + onions, raw beets, roasted chicken, za'atar pita chips and creamy sumac dressing. Photo: Sweetgreen/Facebook
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Openings, closings

SWEETGREEN PLANNING FOR MID-APRIL OPENING Almost a year after it was announced, the first Northern California location for Washington D.C.-based Sweetgreen is slated to open April 12 in the former Oscar’s restaurant on Shattuck Avenue. Co-founder Nicolas Jammet told NOSH that the build-out stayed mostly on track, despite the discovery of a gas tank buried in the building’s parking lot earlier this year. The Berkeley location of Sweetgreen will feature ingredients from local producers like Full Belly Farm, Rotto Brothers, Van Groningen, Acme Bread, Hodo Soy, Mary’s Chicken and Belfiore cheese. It will also include at least one signature item unique to this location, a Falafel and Feta salad with broccoli leaves, which will feature cheese from Berkeley’s Belfiore. In the lead-up to opening, Sweetgreen will be hosting a few events. On April 9, it will hold a “Planting our Roots Day,” in which community members can come and plant seedlings. They can then take the seedlings home or donate them to the Berkeley Technology Academy (BTA) garden. On opening day, Sweetgreen will be splitting 100% of its proceeds between the BTA garden and Sweetgreen in Schools programing in Berkeley and Oakland. The following day, April 13, the company will hold an afternoon garden building event at BTA, with a complementary Sweetgreen dinner to follow. Sweetgreen will soon be joined by another salad-focused restaurant, Tender Greens, which will be opening at 2071 University Ave. (at Shattuck). Despite the added competition, Jammet said that he is excited about its pending arrival. “If one of us can convert more people to eating this type of food, that’s a good thing,” he said. “The more the merrier.” Sweetgreen will be at 1890 Shattuck Ave. (at Hearst Street), Berkeley, in the former Oscar’s restaurant. Connect with Sweetgreen on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.Continue reading »

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Bites: Grand Fare, Belcampo, Bobby G’s, more

Grand Fare Market courtyard. Photo: Michael David Rose
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Openings, closings…

GRAND FARE WILL RETURN Good news for Grand Lake — it looks like Doug Washington and Freya Prowe’s Grand Fare Market will be making a comeback. We had heard whispers from neighbors about new construction, and the Splash Pad newsletter confirmed the rumors. Washington told Splash Pad that the new iteration of the market will be pared down from the original with a simplified layout, fewer grocery items, a lower price point, and a stronger focus on prepared foods for eating there or taking home. In addition, Washington is adding more seating both indoors and out, plus a canopy and heaters in the outdoor space in case of inclement weather. He will be adding beer and possibly wine on tap. Finally, Washington mentioned interest in building a parklet out front and potentially parking his Spartan coffee trailer in front. The reopening date is scheduled for “sometime soon.” We’ll keep you posted. Grand Fare Market is at 3265 Grand Ave., Oakland. Connect with the market on Facebook and Twitter.Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Peets on Domingo. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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SOURCE MINI SHUTTERS UNEXPECTEDLY Source Mini, an offshoot of San Francisco’s Source restaurant, opened to great fanfare in the Gourmet Ghetto’s Epicurious Garden at 1511 Shattuck Ave. in January 2014. Owner Mitchell Fox said his vegan place was “like a Subway or McDonald’s-esque vegan fast-food menu,” with vegan burgers and sandwiches, gluten-free tacos and quesadillas and dosadillas. Fox shuttered his San Francisco locale in January because of the escalating costs associated with a higher minimum wage; the Berkeley restaurant followed suit last week, apparently because business was slow. Fox left a short note on the restaurant’s Facebook page saying the place closed July 18: “Sorry to say yesterday was our last day in Berkeley, we want to thank everyone for their support.” When fans asked why, he replied: “Wasn’t able to do enough business.” The management of Epicurious Garden has a sign up announcing that a new restaurant will be opening soon. … 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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East Bay’s Lush Gelato set to open in San Francisco

Lush Gelato in Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto. Lush plans to expand to San Francisco's Nob Hill with a combined ice cream store and open kitchen.
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Lush Gelato, which was founded in the East Bay five years ago, is planning to expand to San Francisco.

Co-owner and gelato maker Federico Murtagh has launched a Kickstarter campaign to open a new ‘farm-to-cone’ store at1817 Polk Street in Nob Hill, where he’ll also have a demonstration kitchen.

“We want to show off how we make our gelato,” Murtagh said. “Most ice cream makers you know buy the mixture pre-made, then they flavor it and then they sell it. We make everything from scratch. We want to show all that process.”
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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

dosa
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SOURCE MINI Vegans rejoice! San Francisco restaurant Source is opening up a second location in the Gourmet Ghetto’s Epicurious Garden at 1511 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley. Source Mini is taking over the spot formerly occupied by Flavor Mediterranean Food, which closed as it wants to open a sit-down restaurant elsewhere. Source owner Mitchell Fox, who brought the concept of vegan fast food from the Bronx, says he knew San Francisco and Berkeley would be perfect for his original restaurant (which is on Division Street at De Haro) — it just happened he got a better deal on a building in the city. The Berkeley spot will be a smaller, take-out version of the restaurant. “It’s like a Subway or McDonald’s-esque vegan fast food menu,” he said. That means: vegan burgers and sandwiches, gluten-free tacos and quesadillas, dosadillas (as pictured above), and more. Fox said Source’s was the only vegetarian burger to be included in Grub Street’s latest Top 50 San Francisco’s list. Fox hopes to open Source Mini within two weeks. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Nature's Express
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NATURE’S EXPRESS CLOSING Nature’s Express at 1823 Solano is closing Dec 31 after four years on the Berkeley street. The healthy/vegan fast-food business failed, according to owner Carl Myers, who wrote a long note on the restaurant’s Facebook page. “When ventures fail, it comes down to leadership, so I am painfully aware that the failure has been mine,” he wrote. “I apologize to the employees who have put heart and soul into this venture and the customers who have supported us for our failure to serve them in the future.” Ironically, Myers also salutes McDonald’s who, he writes, “do a lot of things right,” including customer service, locations and advertising. Judging from the response from many loyal customers on Facebook, it will be missed. [Hat tip: Kenneth Goldberg] … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

DSC_3800
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THE FICKLE BAG The handbag and accessory store The Fickle Bag has shut its doors at 1885 Solano AveA note on the store’s website announcing the closure of the 3-year-old business does not provide details regarding why it closed. However, owner Jua Park also operates a Fickle Bag location in the San Francisco International Airport, which will remain open. (Hat tip: Jane Tierney)

IT’S THE CHILDREN Also recently closed is the boutique children’s clothing store, It’s The Children, near the Vine Street Peet’s at 1506 Walnut St. According to the North Shattuck Association, the owner was originally hoping to relocate the business, but ultimately closed instead. The reason for closure is unknown, as the owner didn’t notify the neighborhood business organization, but low-level foot traffic on Walnut combined with the success of nearby Kid Dynamo may have come into play. (Hat tip: Doug Ng) … Continue reading »

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Bites: What’s new in East Bay food, XXXIII

Rico's diner
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Openings, closings…

RICO’S HI LIFE Rico’s Diner, which closed just two weeks ago at 400 15th St. in Oakland, will reopen in the same spot as Rico’s Hi Life this Friday, Aug. 2. According to the East Bay Express, it is evolving from burgers and milkshakes to pizza, sandwiches and beer. And, in the hopes of bringing the Oakland nighttime food scene back to life, the owner of Rico’s plans to keep the eatery open until 2 a.m. every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, and possibly all week once things get going. After 2 a.m., those who are still up can grab the remaining pizza slices at the Rico’s takeout window.

GARDEN TO TABLE The two-year-old Albany-based initiative that connects backyard gardeners with local restaurants is coming to a close. According to a Facebook post by Bay Food Shed, the umbrella organization promoting “a functional gift economy” under which Garden to Table operates, “there has not been the assistance or buy-in” needed to continue the program. Since 2011, founder Doug Reil has been collecting produce donations from community members and delivering them to restaurants, primarily in Albany, that are interested in locally sourced food. Participants included Bua Luang Thai restaurant, Cafeína Organic Café, Benchmark Pizzeria, and Elevation 66 Brewing Company, in addition to the individual community contributors who supplied the surplus of their home harvests. Although Garden to Table will no longer deliver to restaurants, Bay Food Shed says that going forward, “Garden to Table will focus on fewer, high volume deliveries to the needy, so stay tuned.” … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

The Pristine Solutions team. Photo: Skydeck.
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FLAVOR A new Mediterranean restaurant is set to move into the former Picoso Taqueria space in Epicurious Garden at 1511 Shattuck Ave. Picoso closed in early May, and now Flavor Mediterranean Food, run by executive chef Ezra Malmuth, is claiming the Gourmet Ghetto takeout spot. According to a sign posted at the currently empty storefront, Malmuth has worked in “upscale eateries throughout the world” and interned at Chez Panisse. The sign says the new Flavor menu will highlight “California freshness enhanced with Middle Eastern spice,” and will change frequently with vegetarian and vegan options, alongside slow-braised meat and fish. (Hat-tip: Doug Ng) … Continue reading »

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Marc Kelly dishes on the story behind Berkeley’s Soop

Red lentil soupL In demand with new moms
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As mid-life crises go, Marc Kelly’s was a pretty productive one — with a little spice thrown in for good measure.

Seeking change after a 20-year career in the fruit and vegetable export business, Kelly was keen to open a food joint of his own. Something modest and manageable, a takeaway place that satisfied his culinary aspirations and cravings.

That’s how Soop, one of the original anchor businesses in the Gourmet Ghetto’s Epicurious Garden, came about.

Kelly, a self-taught chef, determined that soup was an unexplored market niche in the edible landscape. He sensed an opportunity. Six years into serving up soup every day, Kelly’s enthusiasm for the comfort food he sells is still apparent.

He has a loyal band of regulars — Kelly sees them coming and knows which ladle to reach for. And his years of global travel inform what he sells: every culture has a soup tradition and on the road he learned the universal language of soup. … Continue reading »

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