Bites: La Guerrera’s Kitchen at the Aloha Club, Lucky Lager is back in the Bay

Two moles on a plate from mother-daughter operation, La Guerrera's Kitchen.
Tamales from La Guerrera’s Kitchen. Photo: La Guerrera’s Kitchen/Instagram

ALOHA, TAMALES! The Aloha Club, the Fruitvale dive bar with “the longest bar and coldest beer in town” can now add another boast to its claim: it’s now home to La Guerrera’s Kitchen, a mother-daughter tamale outfit run by Ofelia Barajas and Reyna Maldonado. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Barajas got her start in the Bay Area food world as an undocumented street vendor, selling tamales in San Francisco’s Mission District for 15 years. Eventually, Maldonado joined her mom, and together, they applied to La Cocina’s incubator program, where they became an above-board operation. Aloha Club is the duo’s first brick-and-mortar location, where, since May 1, they offer a variety of tamales, pozole, ceviche and other specialties from their hometown, Guerrero, Mexico, from the bar’s takeout window. Regular hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.

This Saturday, from 1-3 p.m., La Guerrera’s Kitchen is hosting its first monthly mezcal tasting and mole brunch, featuring three different mole (one chicken, two vegan options), arroz Mexicano, agua fresca, four mezcales and two mezcal margaritas. Tickets are $45. La Guerrera’s Kitchen, 954 Fruitvale Ave. (at E. 10th), Oakland

The eggs Benedict at Mockingbird in Downtown Oakland.
The eggs Benedict is served on grilled levain with anchovy butter, Canadian bacon and griddled tomato with a side of “Magic Potatoes,” at Mockingbird in Downtown Oakland. Photo: Sarah Han

MORE BRUNCH Weekend brunch warriors have two new options in the East Bay:

As noted in Monday’s feature on Boot & Shoe Service, the Grand Avenue restaurant is launching brunch this Saturday. The menu will feature sweet and savory options like sesame coffee cake with crème anglaise and roasted strawberries; buckwheat waffles with cherries and kombucha crème fraîche; an omelet with crème fraîche and smoked salmon bottarga; personal breakfast pizzas and several brunch-exclusive cocktails. Brunch hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. Boot & Shoe Service, 3308 Grand Ave. (between Mandana and Santa Clara), Oakland


Saturday is now brunch day at Mockingbird. Starting this weekend, the Downtown Oakland bistro will offer breakfasty dishes like crème brûlée French toast with strawberry-rhubarb compote and citrus; chicken hash with chermoula and harissa vinaigrette; broken farro porridge with coconut milk, fruit and almonds; and eggs Benedict with Escoffier hollandaise; along with a new cocktail menu and Mockingbird signature dishes like its crispy Brussels sprouts and house ground cheeseburger. For now, Mockingbird does not offer brunch on Sundays (So don’t try to take your mom there on Mother’s Day), but plans to start Sunday holiday and special event brunch service starting on Father’s Day. Mockingbird, 416 13th St. (between Broadway and Franklin), Oakland

CURE FOR CURIOSITY Literary food lovers may be tickled by Flora Restaurant and Bar’s new book club dinner series. Starting on May 15, and held on a monthly basis, the restaurant chooses a book and then creates a custom cocktail and four-course meal inspired by the work. For the first meeting, chef Rebecca Boice has chosen a few stories, essays and poems from The Portable Dorothy Parker. Attendees will first meet at 6 p.m., at Flora’s next-door bar, Fauna, for sips of the Dorothy Parker Special, before heading to the restaurant where they’ll discuss the book and dine on the following: popovers with celery and ham; a gem salad with asparagus and pimento dressing; sirloin steak with tomatoes, mushrooms and summer squash; and chocolate cream eclair. Future book club selections will include Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold, The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith, There There by Tommy Orange and Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion. Tickets are $55. Optional wine pairings or gin and scotch highball pairings are available for $25 extra. Reservations can be made by calling (510) 286-0100. Flora Restaurant and Bar, 1900 Telegraph Ave. (at 19th), Oakland

[Updated 3 p.m.] EAST BAY GETS LUCKY In 1934, San Francisco-based General Brewing Company introduced its first beer — Lucky Lager. This light, pale, easy-drinking brew quickly became a bestseller in California, and by the ’60s expanded operations along the West Coast. After changing hands several times, Lucky Lager’s West Coast breweries all closed and operations moved entirely to Canada. The last cans of Lucky were seen in U.S. stores in the late ’90s. In 2008, Lucky Lager became an AB InBev property under the Pabst Brewing Company, which takes us to the present day.

On Monday, Pabst announced that it has tapped 21st Amendment Brewery to help it bring Lucky Lager back to the Bay Area. The 4.2% ABV beer is now brewed and canned (yes, cans, not bottles, so no rebus puzzles) at 21st Amendment’s San Leandro facilities. In a statement sent to Nosh, 21st Amendment co-founder Nico Freccia said about the arrangement, “After building a world-class production brewery in San Leandro, we are always on the lookout for great brands that we can partner with for a co-packing arrangement. We are super excited to be able to work with Pabst to brew this San Francisco local classic.”

According to the Lucky Lager website, the beer is now available in stores, but that might be jumping the gun. When Nosh called a number of liquor and grocery stores around the East Bay, none of the purveyors had heard the news of the beer’s comeback and had no information about when they’d have it on shelves. (After publication, a Lucky Lager representative said that the website will have a beer finder by next week). So, Lucky fans are in luck, but not quite yet.

EASTERLY PROMISES Downtown Berkeley’s new Chinese restaurant, Easterly is now open. Taking the place of short-lived China Center, this sister restaurant to Easterly locations in Santa Clara, Cupertino and Fremont offers a large menu of cold dishes, stir-fried dishes, noodles, noodle soups and more that will pique the interest of diners seeking a wide variety of Hunan fare. The menu boasts dishes like stinky tofu (called “fried strong smelling tofu” on the menu), griddled bullfrog with pickled pepper, steamed pork chops with taro, and smashed green pepper, Chinese eggplant and preserved egg. Easterly also has an “Asian fusion” section of its menu, which are more like American-Chinese favorites, like broccoli beef, walnut shrimp and lo mein (But really, why bother?). Easterly, 2142 Center St. (near Oxford), Berkeley

A sign for M.Y. Coffee Roastery at 2080 MLK Jr. Way in Berkeley.
M.Y. Coffee Roastery is opening at 2080 MLK Jr. Way in Berkeley. Photo: Sean Rouse

FAREWELL CHLOE, HELLO COFFEE Chloe Café, the Taiwanese bento spot found in the storybook stone cottage at 2080 MLK Jr. Way in Berkeley, has closed after less than one year in business. We’re not sure when the husband-wife-run eatery shuttered (At time of publication, Yelp still listed it as open), but tipster Sean Rouse spotted a sign up on the building for the business that will be taking its place: M.Y. Coffee Roastery. We were unable to reach the owners of either Chloe Café or M.Y. Coffee Roastery for more information, but we did confirm that the new business is of no relation to Australian restaurant-café, M.Y. Roasting Cafe.


Beef Stew at Thai Table in West Berkeley. Photo: Thai Table
Beef stew noodle soup at Thai Table in West Berkeley. Photo: Thai Table

TABLE FOR THAI Thai Table opened in West Berkeley on May 1 in the former Brittany Crepes space. Operated by Tumi Supanee and her husband Andrew McGee, the restaurant specializes in “homestyle” Thai salads, soups, stir-fried rice dishes and noodles and curries. This is the couple’s first restaurant, although Supanee is listed as a partner at Oakland’s Orchids Thai on Piedmont Avenue, and the couple has operated Thai Rice Spoon Catering for the last four years. So far, reviewers on Yelp are praising the flavors, prices, portion sizes, ambiance and friendly service here. Thai Table is open daily for lunch and dinner, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 4:30-9 p.m. Thai Table, 913 University Ave. (between Seventh and Eighth), Berkeley

Garlic lobster tail noodles at nZone in Oakland.
Garlic lobster tail noodles at nZone in Oakland. Photo: nZone

PAN ASIAN SPORTS BAR EATS Taking over the former Camber in Uptown is nZone, a sports bar-restaurant specializing in East Asian cuisine, with a heavy leaning toward Laotian fare. Using family recipes that have been adapted and “curated for the city,”nZone uses fresh, and whenever possible, locally sourced ingredients to create offerings that are “much more than your typical kitchen and bar,” according to a restaurant representative. The menu offers starters like spicy wings, fresh rolls and a signature Lao sausage; noodle dishes like stir-fried garlic lobster tail noodles; along with heftier entrees to be enjoyed with the bar’s craft beer on tap, and spirits, with a focus on whiskey and cognac. For those who don’t eat meat, nZone offers a vegan menu. N-Zone Uptown, 1707 Telegraph Ave. (at 17th), Oakland

Nikko Sushi is a new Japanese restaurant in downtown Berkeley.
Nikko Sushi takes over the restaurant formerly known as Nanayiro/Sushi Express. Photo: Sarah Han

THIRD TIME’S A CHARM? Last year, to the disappointment of its longtime customers, Berkeley Japanese restaurant Nanayiro changed formats and names, becoming Sushi Express, a take-out spot. Recently, the restaurant changed again, this time under new ownership, with a new name and going back to a dine-in restaurant. New owner Gana Nasan, who previously managed Shimizu on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland for eight years, says she took over about a month ago. Nikko’s focus is sushi, with nigiri and rolls making up a large part of the menu, but there are also many cooked dishes, including bento boxes, teriyaki and katsu entrees, donburi and udon. Nasan says the kitchen staff from Nanayiro/Sushi Express have remained on board and she’s kept some of the previous restaurant’s most popular rolls, but she said diners who were disappointed with Sushi Express’ portion sizes and food presentation will get a better bang for their buck at Nikko. “I want [customers] to feel full after they complete the meal. If they take [leftover food] to go, I would be happy. That’s my mission,” Nasan said. Nikko Sushi is open 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday. Nikko Sushi, 2399 Shattuck Ave. (at Channing), Berkeley

NEW CHEF AT OLIVETO Over in Rockridge, Oliveto has a new chef at the helm. Following the departure of longtime executive chef Jonah Rhodehamel, Brian Griffith has stepped up into the position after serving as sous chef at the restaurant for the past two years (previously, he was at Table 6 in Denver; Carlyle in Portland; and 2-Michelin Starred restaurant, Kadeau in Copenhagen). It’s been a few weeks since the Tennessee native took over, but Griffith’s already got a new menu for spring, and the restaurant is excited about the changes afoot, including expanded (and modernized) pasta offerings, using more heritage breed meats and more produce from local regenerative farms. Oliveto, 5655 College Ave. (at Shafter), Oakland