CAFÉ NOSTOS The long-vacant restaurant space next to the Trader Joe’s in Berkeley is now open for business. Nostos, an Ionian café run by a Greek family, opened on July 26. It serves Illy coffee and Semifreddi’s pastries, like croissants, muffins and cookies. But what sets Nostos apart from your standard coffee shop is its offering of flakey Greek pastries. These stuffed phyllo dough pies are made in Greece by Alfa Pastry, and include fillings like spinach and feta cheese (spanakopita), tomato and cheese and sweet cream sprinkled with powdered sugar (bougatsa). Nostos co-owner John Samaras explained that they were originally going to offer pizza, but they eventually decided to focus on the fare from their native country. Samaras, who’s from Thessaloniki, said he is importing the pastries from Greece because real deal Greek feta — made with a combination of sheep and goats milk — is difficult to find in the United States. Samaras’ sister Lili makes homemade dipping sauces that Nostos will serve with its Greek pies, including a dill yogurt sauce and a tomato chutney. Café Nostos, 1930 Martin Luther King Jr Way (between University and Berkeley Way), Berkeley.
GUACAMOLE 61 The second location of Gourmet Ghetto Mexican restaurant Guacamole 61 opened on July 16 near the Cal campus on Center Street. Given its location, this outpost of Guacamole 61 is focused on a younger crowd, with several televisions playing sports games and a full bar. Berkeleyside contributing photographer Nancy Rubin visited on opening day and spoke with owner Guillermo “Willy” Perez, a former student of Rubin’s at Berkeley High. Rubin shared her conversation with Perez, who told her, “We wanted to bring something to downtown Berkeley where there’s a little bit of culture flair to it …. a Mexican kind of feel but it’s more Chicano kind of style from the menu.” The restaurant gets its name from Perez’s 1961 Chevy Impala, which he took him 15 years to build. Perez, who grew up in Berkeley, said “It feels good to be in your own backyard. We grew up here, we all grew up around the streets here as high school students. I used to grab a hot dog at Top Dog and never in a million years did I think I would be running a restaurant here.” Guacamole 61, 2142 Center St. (between Oxford and Shattuck), Berkeley.
IPPUDO Perhaps one of the most hyped ramen restaurants, Ippudo, opened its Berkeley location on July 28. The Japanese ramen chain, first founded by Shigemi Kawahara back in 1985, is best known for its Hakata tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen, but it also serves rice dishes, salads and starters like steamed buns stuffed with pork, chicken or a vegetable patty. Check out our story about our recent visit to Ippudo to find out more of what you’ll find here. Ippudo, 2011 Shattuck Ave. (at University), Berkeley.
MAKER’S COMMON From the owners of Mission Cheese in San Francisco comes this cheese shop, market and restaurant in downtown Berkeley. Maker’s Common opened on July 13 after a successful crowdfunding campaign that raised close to $600,000 via direct public offering. The space is divided into a market on the left, with a cheese counter and a small, curated selection of groceries, and the larger restaurant area, which also has a backyard patio. The menu at Maker’s Common focuses on what it knows best — domestic cheeses and charcuterie, with lighter fare like sandwiches, salads and sides, and bar snacks like olives, pickles and cheese curds. But its menu also includes a couple of substantial food offerings, entrees that are meant to be shared family-style. As for drinks, Maker’s Common offers 15 wines by the glass, 10 bottle-only wines, and eight taps pouring local craft beers. Maker’s Common, 1954 University Ave. (at Bonita Avenue), Berkeley
STREET BURGER Spats in downtown Berkeley has a new Los Angeles-by-way-of-Walnut-Creek burger restaurant popping up inside. Say what?! Let us explain: Street Burger is the pop-up spot by 310 Eatery, a burger restaurant in Walnut Creek that’s inspired by the street food from the City of Angels. Street Burger is serving a variety of burgers at the Berkeley bar, including its namesake, which is made with 1/3 pound all-beef patty, lettuce, onion, bacon jam and a fried egg. Street Burger, inside Spats, 1974 Shattuck Ave. (near University), Berkeley.
JOSHU-YA One of Berkeley’s first sushi restaurants has closed. As reported earlier this month, Joshu-Ya quietly transformed into Kyushu Ramen, which opened on July 6. Joshu-ya was founded in 1978 by chef Kazuo Negishi, but was sold to celebrated chef Jason Kwon in 2011, when it became Joshu-Ya Brasserie. Kwon sold the restaurant in 2015, leaving it to be run by its remaining chefs. Kyushu Ramen specializes in the Kyushu-style of the Japanese noodle soup, made with a rich and creamy tonkotsu (pork bone) and miso based broth. Kyushu also offers fried rice, tempura, karaage (fried chicken) and both traditional Japanese and non-Japanese dishes, including truffle parmesan fries, a tomato Caprese salad and some Korean-style rice bowls. Kyushu Ramen, 2441 Dwight Way (at Telegraph), Berkeley
PIEOLOGY The southside Berkeley location of California pizza chain, Pieology, closed this month. After three years at 2468 Telegraph Ave., it closed its doors on July 17. According to the Daily Cal, the custom-pie pizza restaurant’s last two years in business had been challenging due to constant construction on Telegraph Avenue. Pieology founder and CEO Carl Chang told the Daily Cal he hopes to reopen a new Berkeley location in the future.
CRAFT & SPOON Last year, Charleen Caabay won on Food Network’s cooking show, “Chopped.” After her win, the chef and owner of Oakland Filipino restaurant Kainbigan, decided to temporary close her restaurant and focus on a new project called Craft & Spoon. As reported by the East Bay Express, the new Uptown eatery is a “queer-run” business, operated by Caabay and partners Christine De La Rosa (Kainbigan), Aima Paule (Hey Bü Kombucha) and Michael Schlieker. Unlike Kainbigan, Craft & Spoon will not focus solely on Filipino food, but will offer salads, panini and grain bowls, some of which will have hints of Filipino flavors. After a soft launch earlier this month, Craft & Spoon had hoped to open in mid-July, but delays with the final health inspection (which just took place late last week) has held back its grand opening. If all goes well, Craft & Spoon will officially open any day now. Craft & Spoon, 1629 Broadway and second entrance on 1634 Telegraph, Oakland
IVY MOON Over this past weekend, this new restaurant in West Oakland celebrated its grand opening. According to its website, Ivy Moon serves “dishes created from recipes passed down for generations from our chef’s grandmother and mother” that have been influenced by the chef’s travels to the South and Las Vegas,”where everything has flair”). Their offerings include breakfast, lunch and dinner, including entrees like a fried fish sandwich, grilled shrimp and grits and seared scallops. Ivy Moon, 3112 Market St. (at 31st), Oakland.
EL MACHO A new Oaxacan restaurant has opened in the space once occupied by Nude Sushi on Telegraph Avenue. Signage for El Macho has been up since early summer, but it has never been open any of the times we’ve tried to visit (including as recently as last week when we noticed a “Grand Opening” sign outside). However, several area residents on Nextdoor report that it was finally open for business this past weekend and have posted photos of the menu, which includes offerings like tacos, burritos, fajitas, tostada salads, mole and specials of the day. A sign on the front of the restaurant says that El Macho is open for carry-out only (and closed on Sundays), but you can reportedly eat on the front patio. We’ll try visiting again soon, during its hours between 5pm til midnight. El Macho, 6228 Telegraph Ave. (at 63rd), Oakland
PERLE WINE BAR Montclair Village just got a new fine dining restaurant and wine bar. Taking the spot of Pour Wine Bar & Bistro, Perle has been opened by two San Francisco restaurant vets — chef Rob Lam (Butterfly) and sommelier Marcus Garcia (Fleur de Lys, Prima). According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Perle will focus on French and Mediterranean cuisine and host 300 to 350 bottles of wine, with most coming from France and other European origins. The menu will have plenty of small bites and plates, like charcuterie, cheeses, oysters and caviar service to enjoy with wine, but will also serve more substantial fare — such as seared abalone, smoked salmon toast, Pernod mussels and Angus onglet steak — for those who want to stay for a full meal. Perle Wine Bar, 2058 Mountain (near La Salle), Oakland
ROSES’ TAPROOM Husband-and-wife team Luke Janson and Hillary Rose Huffard opened their new brewery-taproom in Temescal on July 1. So far, reports from area beer lovers are positive about the taproom’s beers, which are made on-site. In addition to beer, Roses’ serves a menu of snacks featuring food made by local restaurants, including Pizzaiolo’s bread and Duende’s charcuterie, like its pork and wild fennel sausage and sobresada. Rose’s Taproom, 4930 Telegraph Ave. (at 49th), Oakland
SHINMAI The new izakaya and ramen restaurant from co-owners Yingji Huang and Andy Liu (Kakui) and executive chef Jerrod Doss (Aziza, Chef TJ, French Laundry) opened in Uptown on July 21. The menu features both traditional and new takes on Japanese bar foods, including dishes like ocean trout with piquillo, arimo sansho, red shiso, lime and sumac, and two types of ramen (with either a tonkotsu pork or vegetarian broth). Shinmai offers Japanese whisky, sake, beer and shochu, as well as cocktails flavored with Japanese ingredients like yuzu, toasted brown rice syrup, and miso. Shinmai, 1825 San Pablo Ave. (between 18th and 19th), Oakland
SUBROSA COFFEE Temescal’s Subrosa Coffee opened its second café in neighboring Longfellow on July 21. Just several blocks west of its 40th Street location, Subrosa #2 is about double the size of the original, which measures a tiny 220 sq. ft. Owner Catherine Macken, who lives just a few blocks from the new café, wanted to create a hangout for residents in the area so they “don’t have to go under the freeway and leave the neighborhood” to meet up for a cup of coffee. But instead of just recreating the Temescal café, she wanted this new spot to have a different feel and personality.”We are our own neighborhood,” she said of Longfellow. Rather than Four Barrel Coffee, as its 40th St. cafe offers, Subrosa in Longfellow prepares drinks using De La Paz and Linea beans, both of which are roasted in Oakland. Both roasters make a darker, more approachable and full-bodied coffee, compared to Four Barrel’s more acidic, bright roast. Subrosa serves Firebrand pastries and Pepples vegan donuts at both locations, but Macken said that she’s considering expanding the menu at the new locale. Another idea she’s toying with — a bus stop/ parklet out front that will add visibility and seating for passengers waiting for their next ride and patrons without taking away precious parking spaces, since it would be built in the red zoned bus stop. However, both of these plans are still in the making, and for now, Macken is just happy that her latest venture is up and going. The new Subrosa, located at the MacArthur Annex, will host its grand opening party from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Aug. 13, with a free photo booth, an art opening for Michael Milano and snacks from Tacos Oscar. NB: if you’re down for an extra-long hang, the Annex will be hosting its Second Sunday event, with live music, local food makers, artists and craft vendors, from noon to 5 p.m. that same day. Subrosa Coffee, 4008 Martin Luther King Jr Way (between 40th and 41st), Oakland
ENDGAME CAFÉ As we reported last week, EndGame Café at 921 Washington St. closed on July 9. EndGame, a game store at Swan’s Market in Old Oakland, opened its own café next door to its retail space last March, but could not sustain its business. In a notice posted on its doors before closing and on its website, it explained: “Plain and simple, our plans didn’t work as we hoped. We never had the evening adoption we’d hoped for, the neighborhood had a terribly slow convention season our first full year, and in the end, sales just didn’t meet whats necessary to keep the cafe open. Our model was super staff heavy, and our sales never caught up to that cost (with a few exceptionally good conventions). Ultimately, our plans were ambitious, and we as owners failed to make them work.”
CURRY UP NOW We’re a little late on this one, but last month, the San Mateo-based fast-casual Indian street food chain Curry Up Now opened its sixth brick and mortar location in Alameda. As with its other restaurants, the Alameda spot will serve its menu of inventive Indian-style fast food, like curry-laden burritos and deconstructed samosas. Curry Up Now, 2640 Fifth St. (between Marina Village Parkway and Willie Stargell), Alameda
WILD GINGER This restaurant specializes in “spicy street food from the western regions of China,” according to the tagline on its menu. Dishes here include spicy cumin lamb soup with noodles, pork dumpling in spicy and sour soup, rou jia mo (Chinese sliders) and for more adventurous eaters, spicy duck heads and feet. The restaurant is currently in soft opening. Wild Ginger, 1239 Park St. (between Encinal and San Antonio), Alameda