We know that there’s more to East Bay dining than Temescal, Rockridge and the Gourmet Ghetto. NOSH’s neighborhood guides explore the best of the rest. This month, we explore the south side of Emeryville.
There has been an explosion of food and drink related activity in the Pixar employees and tiki bar-filled city of Emeryville. While only a few short years ago, we wouldn’t have thought to venture to Emeryville for anything other than an IKEA couch or a blockbuster movie marathon at the AMC, the city is now chock-a-block with destination dining and drinking spots. There are enough, in fact, that we’re going to split up our Nosh Emeryville guide into two installments.
First up is the southern portion of the city, stretching from Powell Street in the north to the Oakland border in the south. Feel free to debate our favorite picks and neighborhood demarcations in the comments below. And, as always, we’ve included a map of each mention.
Honor Kitchen & Cocktails
Honor Kitchen & Cocktails doesn’t look like a place you’d want to visit. The unmarked building gives off shady strip club vibes and the old “Sushi Village” sign doesn’t indicate that there’d actually be an operating restaurant and bar inside. But visit you should. The Honor’s bar serves up some of the best cocktails this side of the bay, including a rotating potent punch of the day. Punch concoctions can include anything from tequila, mescal and watermelon to charred oranges, coffee and bourbon. Those who shy from spirits (or spending $11 on a drink) can dip into the communal beer bucket for a can of $2.50 Tecate. The food menu is an equally ambitious blend of the comfortingly cheap and stimulatingly highbrow. Fries and cheeseburgers mingle equally with “hand cranked” lobster leek sausages and bone marrow brûlée. Admire the velvet curtains and play pinball while you sip your supper. Honor Kitchen & Cocktails is at 1411 Powell St. (at Hollis Street), Emeryville. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.
Doyle Street Café
Around the corner from Honor is a somewhat secluded spot holding it down for old-school breakfasts. Doyle Street Café isn’t trying to reinvent the diner menu; Denver omelets and egg scrambles are staples here. Several variations on eggs Benedict — including the California Bene with avocado and crab cakes — anchor the brunch menu. Another big hit with diners is the Huevos Rancheros Azteca, a monster of an egg and tortilla dish that’s loaded with pulled pork, black beans, avocado and cheese. Lunch items are a standard mix of sandwiches, salads, burgers and quesadillas. Again, there’s not much that’s innovative at Doyle Street. Instead, it offers comfort in the familiar — it’s the restaurant equivalent of binge watching Friends or My So Called Life while eating a bowl of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. Doyle Street Café is at 5515 Doyle St. (at 55th Street), Emeryville. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.
A newer entry into the Emeryville brunch scene (Do all restaurants in Emeryville specialize in brunch?), Basic Café opened its doors this past April. The café serves twists on American staples such as eggs benedict with smoked salmon, fried green tomatoes and several varieties of pies. Early reports are highly positive; Yelpers are praising the “eggwhich” sandwich, kale salad with poached eggs, and the sunny patio. We’re intrigued by the happy hour specials — they’re serving $3 beer, $4 wine and $5 appetizers four days a week. Sounds like a good deal to us. Even better? Basic Café hopes to do more than just feeding its neighbors; the restaurant is donating 5% of its monthly profits to a local charity. Basic Café is at 5000 Adeline St. (at 53rd Street), Emeryville. Connect with the café on Facebook.
Arizmendi Bakery and Pizzeria
While great New York-style pies are few and far between in the Bay, we surely have our fair share of vegetarian, seasonal pie-of-the-day joints. North Berkeley’s Cheeseboard Collective is the classic choice, of course, but Arizmendi gets an appreciative nod for being more accessible (read: multiple locations) and for offering more than just pies and drinks. The Emeryville location serves up daily scone and bread specials, muffins, and cookies in addition to a four-cheese pizza and, of course, the pizza of the day. For best results, grab a “light bake” pie to take home and finish in your oven — you’ll be able to get yourself a much crisper crust than at the restaurant and can enjoy it with a nice bottle of California pinot. Arizmendi Bakery and Pizzeria is at 4301 San Pablo Ave. (at 43rd Street), Emeryville. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.
Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café
Yet another solid brunch spot in Emeryville is popular Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café. The funky diner has been slinging generously portioned scrambles, omelets and creative twists on eggs Benedict since 2002. There are lunch and dinner items, too, but really, we go to Rudy’s for dishes like the “Dazed and Confused” (hash browns topped with eggs, chorizo, pasilla chiles, hollandaise and avocado) or the chilaquiles scramble (tortillas fried up with scrambled eggs, green onion, tomato, jalapeños, pepper jack cheese and salsa verde). Rudy’s also stands out for its late-night hours — you can wander in past midnight and still get your pancake fix. Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café is at 4081 Hollis St. (at 40th Street), Emeryville. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.
The owners of Telegraph Avenue’s British-style pub CommonWealth (which we included in our KoNo guide) opened up their newest outpost in Emeryville earlier this year. Dubbed CommonWealth Mircopub, the diminutive restaurant and bar has a smaller menu than the original, but it is far more focused on British- and Indian-inflected fare. Fish and chips, chicken pot pie, and bangers and mash are all on deck, plus several hearty vegan and vegetarian options. The drinks list is small and local brewery-focused, but it still manages to include a couple of hard ciders and boozy ginger beer. A note for the cost-conscious: You’ll notice that the prices at the micro pub are higher than at the original location, but there’s a reason. Owners Ross and Ahna Adair decided to operate the micro pub without tips; each item is priced to include what would amount to around a 20% tip. CommonWealth Micropub is at 3986 Adeline St. (at 40th Street), Emeryville. Connect with the pub on Facebook and Twitter.
Scarlet City Espresso Bar
Just down the block from CommonWealth is the Bay’s only sci-fi themed coffee shop, Scarlet City. The café was opened in 2014 by Jen St. Hilaire and Susanna Handow, and they’ve quickly gained a following for their Northern Italian-style espresso beans, which they roast in their own facility in West Oakland, and the laid-back, pin ball-filled vibe of their café. Scarlet City is a unique spot, for sure. It exclusively sells espresso drinks — don’t look for drip or pour-over here — and doesn’t provide wifi. But for those who prefer to drink their cappuccinos away from a computer and surrounded by Star Wars Lego creations, this is the spot to do it. Scarlet City Espresso Bar is at 3960 Adeline St. (between 40th Street and Yerba Buena Avenue), Emeryville. Connect with the café on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Bank Club and Wally’s Café
Across the street, you’ll find a seriously no-frills watering hole, Bank Club, that’s been in the neighborhood since the 1960s. There’s no need to stop in when you’re craving a ten-ingredient cocktail; rather, Bank Club is the spot for strong well cocktails and $3 drafts. It’s a slice of an older, less shiny Emeryville that isn’t to be missed. Plus, there’s a semi-hidden restaurant attached to the bar: Wally’s Café. Gyros, falafel, and baklava are all popular at this hidden gem, as is the gratis lentil soup. Take your sandwich wrap to-go and return to Bank Club for a beer to wash it all down. Note: both Bank Club and Wally’s are cash only. Bank Club and Wally’s Café are at 3900 Adeline St. (at Yerba Buena Avenue), Emeryville.