The East Bay restaurants that opened and closed in September

Pastries at Tartine Bakery in Berkeley.
Pastries at Tartine Bakery’s Berkeley outpost at the Graduate hotel. Photo: Sarah Han

Berkeley

Open

BERKELEY BOATHOUSE The aptly-named Berkeley Boathouse launched at the edge of the Berkeley Marina on Sept. 6, as part of an $8-million-dollar refresh of the DoubleTree by Hilton. The renovated hotel bar and restaurant (formerly the Bay Grille and Bar) with an outdoor patio and boat, bay and bridge views uses local, sustainable ingredients as much as possible; familiar local purveyors such as Fieldwork, Trumer, Anchor and Almare Gelato populate the menu. Though the setting is a good one for seafood — mains include seared scallops, grilled mahi-mahi and a lobster roll — chef Matthew Thomas (The Meritage and Limewood at The Claremont Hotel, Acquerello) is equally at home crafting meat-based, vegetarian, vegan and even gluten-free dishes. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and is available for group and private events. Berkeley Boathouse inside DoubleTree by Hilton Berkeley Marina, 200 Marina Blvd., Berkeley

FENG CHA TEAHOUSE This fast-growing, China-based boba tea franchise has boasted lines out the door since softly opening its first Berkeley location in early September. Feng Cha Teahouse offers tea drinks, cakes and other snacks in a good-sized space near Cal with plenty of seating for lounging. There is also a location in Newark. Feng Cha Teahouse, 2528A Durant Ave. (between Telegraph and Bowditch), Berkeley

Co-owner Andy Kellogg and his wife Asako Unome-Kellogg at the Hidden Café in Berkeley.
Co-owner Andy Kellogg and his wife Asako Unome-Kellogg at the Hidden Café in Berkeley. Photo: Sarah Han

HIDDEN CAFÉ Nosh editor Sarah Han peeked inside the new Hidden Café earlier this month, and it’s…not quite so hidden anymore. The sweet, pretty spot, with an unconventional, seasonal café menu (don’t miss the Italian sausage tacos!), and a chef who is also a poet, is tucked inside the Strawberry Creek Design Center, and hopes to draw the community with aspects both lively and serene. The Hidden Cafe, 1250 Addison St. (at Bonar), Suite 11, Berkeley

iSLICE Expect friendly service at this new Southside fast-casual pizza counter with a handful of seats, specializing in speedy, New York-style, thin-crust slices as well as calzones, salads and desserts. (Take the cannoli.) Locals may know iSlice from its established locations in Albany and Concord; the Berkeley location soft-opened in August in the former Sunrise Deli on Bancroft, and has since become a go-to for a quick, affordable bite near campus. Look for student specials and the daily deal (available to all) of two cheese slices and a soda for $7. iSlice, 2456 Bancroft Way (between Dana and Telegraph), Berkeley


The line on the first day of service at Marugame Udon in downtown Berkeley.
The line on the first day of service at Marugame Udon in downtown Berkeley. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

MARUGAME UDON Not even roasting, late-afternoon temperatures could deter the customers lined up outside this famous Japanese noodle chain’s soft opening on Sept. 24. Serving dinner only (starting at 4 p.m.) for now, Marugame hits Berkeley with a well-established Bay Area reputation thanks to its intensely popular Stonestown location. Service is cafeteria-style, keeping prices low, noodle dishes nicely customizable, and that long line moving quickly. The eatery features bowls of fresh, thick-cut noodles met with beef, curry, seasonal ingredients and a range of possible broths, toppings and extras — the bestseller is the Nikutama Udon, sweet-beef udon topped with a soft-boiled egg. Marugame also offers a nice variety of tempura and musubi sides. In a boon for Berkeley, this is only the brand’s ninth U.S. restaurant, though it operates more than a thousand shops worldwide. Marugame Udon, 1919 Shattuck Ave., Suite 103 (at Berkeley Way), Berkeley

NUTTIN’ BUTTER COOKIES Baker and entrepreneur Whitney Singletary’s years of hard work as a curbside and event-based pop-up have earned her the keys to an adorable new San Pablo Avenue storefront. Nuttin’ Butter Cookies the shop, located in the refreshed and repainted former Angelic of Berkeley retail store, celebrated its grand opening Sept. 9, and showcases Singletary’s fresh-baked, gourmet cookies crafted from nut butters. For now, the cookie shop is open weekdays beginning at 3 p.m. Nuttin’ Butter Cookies, 2521 San Pablo Ave. (at Dwight), Berkeley

Pizza al taglio at Pollara Pizzeria on Fourth Street in Berkeley.
Pizza al taglio at Pollara Pizzeria on Fourth Street in Berkeley. Photo: Sarah Han

POLLARA PIZZERIA This new Roman-style pizza shop from the owners of Dopo sells pizza al taglio, thick, square slices cut to order and sold by weight. Toppings are seasonal, high-quality and creative — one current style is topped with figs, mascarpone and rosemary, and another showcases Early Girl tomatoes with Prosciutto di Parma. Italophiles: Look for additional authentic Roman-style treats here — suppli, pizza bianca, crocchette — as well as Italian-style salads and tiramisù. Customers take a number, deli-style, and wait their turn to order at the long, attractive counter. Opened Sept. 3, Pollara occupies the space that was formerly Tacubaya before it moved. Pollara Pizzeria, 1788 Fourth St. (at Delaware), Berkeley

RICEFUL New onigiri shop Riceful celebrated its grand opening the weekend of Sept. 19. The eatery on Durant near Telegraph (near Yogurt Park) specializes in Okinanawan rice snacks, versions that are larger and heartier than their more typical Japanese brethren. Riceful’s fresh-made onigiri are layered with meaty ingredients such as tempura shrimp, fried egg, fish and Spam, offering busy students and locals a fast, filling meal at an affordable price. Look for special and seasonal onigiri (including vegetarian options) as the eatery progresses its menu. Riceful, 2435 Durant Ave. (near Telegraph), Berkeley

SAVORY KITCHEN Short-lived Juice Originz is now Savory Kitchen, a fast-casual counter offering omelets, soft-bun sandwiches (including for breakfast), breakfast burritos, and a small menu of flavorful choices for lunch and dinner such as garlic-basil chicken with rice and chicken tikka masala. Smoothies are also available; prices are very student friendly. Savory Kitchen, 2493 Telegraph Ave. (near Dwight), Berkeley

TAKE EAT EASY This new Southside Berkeley business at Sather Lane offers a variety of Japanese, Korean and Hong Kong  snacks and drinks. Shelves hold packages of sweet and salty offerings, from cookies, shrimp chips and mentaiko (spicy cod roe) flavored puffs to instant ramen. The refrigerator case currently offers pre-made sandwiches, salads and fresh-squeezed juices, but stay tuned for more, as the business plans to roll out Hong Kong street foods, like curry fish balls and BBQ pork buns. Take Eat Easy, at Sather Lane, 2433 G Durant Ave. (between Telegraph and Dana), Berkeley

TARTINE BERKELEY Perhaps this month’s biggest pearl-clutcher of an opening, on Sept. 16, the San Francisco-based, world-famous Tartine Bakery launched its first dedicated East Bay location inside a former flower shop attached to the Graduate Hotel. (It even opened in Seoul before crossing any Bay Area bridge, hence the anticipation.) The viennoiserie and bread counter features Tartine’s legendary morning buns and croissants proofed and baked on the premises; wood-fired breads baked offsite and delivered warm each morning; additional pastries such as teacakes, cookies, scones and tarts; and drinks made with coffee from the company’s own Coffee Manufactory roastery in Jack London Square. The shop adds a sunny touch of French-California sophistication to this area of Berkeley near Cal, with lines (and prices) to match; get there early, bring your wallet, and don’t be surprised if items sell out quickly. Note: There is a small area with seating found through the lobby of the hotel. Tartine Berkeley, 2600 Durant Ave. (at Bowditch), Berkeley

TASTE OF PAKISTAN Open since August in the former Tandoori Nite space is new Taste of Pakistan from first-time owner Waheed Murad, who has a combined 28 years of restaurant cooking experience in his native Pakistan and England. Murad explained to Nosh by phone that for a while he had ceased cooking, but many factors, including a recent heart attack, gifted him a “second life,” and the realization that “you must do what you like to do.” (Yes!) Murad is excited to bring his Pakistani cuisine to the Berkeley community, including meatier specialties such as beef haleem, goat curry and chicken biryani. The restaurant features a sit-down dining room and all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for $12, as well as daily specials. Taste of Pakistan, 2160 University Ave. (near Oxford), Berkeley

Closed

BAY GRILLE & BAR The former incarnation of the DoubleTree by Hilton’s hotel restaurant on the Berkeley Marina has shuttered to become the Berkeley Boathouse (see Openings).

BENTO CHEF There is a new “For Rent” sign in the window of this briefly-revived snack shack on Milvia near Addison, that was formerly Face To Face and in its way-past life, a hot dog stand. Looks like the kindly new owners have already abandoned the tiny outpost.

CHAAT CAFÉ Berkeley has lost yet one more affordable, family-owned eatery with the abrupt closure of 20-year-old Chaat Café in late August. The Indian eatery, opened by husband and wife Kiran and Narinder Mahal, was a University Avenue staple for fast-casual street food such as chaat, wraps, curries and tandoori dishes for dine-in or take-out. Though the Fremont Chaat Café remains open, and the owners have eyes on expanding their franchise program, Kiran Mahal tells Nosh they will not reopen in Berkeley.

MATIKI ISLAND BBQ & BREW A “help wanted” sign remained in the window of this otherwise totally vacated property at 1828 Euclid Ave. in late August, deserted abruptly by the Matiki Hawaiian barbecue franchise sometime mid-month, according to neighbors. No word yet on what’s next for this location, marked by promising foot traffic and cozy surrounding businesses.

RED DOOR EATS This sandwich spot near campus was considered fairly buzzworthy when it opened at 2282 Fulton St. in January; it has already folded up shop.

THE TANDOORI NITE The sit-down Indian dining room at the easternmost end of University said good-nite to Berkeley last month after five years. The restaurant was quickly reopened as Taste of Pakistan (see Openings).

Temp Closed

BBOX CAFE Bbox Cafe — the coffee service window with robotic baristas — has been temporarily closed for several months, and despite signage announcing an anticipated return with the fall semester, there is no word yet on its reopening. Stay tuned.

Oakland

Eternal is the new Jack London Square vegan restaurant from the Donut Farm folks.
Eternal is the new Jack London Square vegan restaurant from the Donut Farm folks. Photo: Eternal

Open

ETERNAL The good folks at North Oakland’s Pepples Donut Farm, known to many simply as Donut Farm, now serve their popular, all-vegan brunch fare at this new sit-down restaurant in the former Chop Bar in Jack London Square. Note: There are still rich, vegan donuts and strong coffee available at the shop on San Pablo Avenue, but the kitchen is closed. Meanwhile, fans can travel south to this new, larger space for full-service, vegan “chik’n” and waffles, pesto scrambles and breakfast burritos. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Eternal, 247 4th St. (near Alice), Oakland

Interior detail of the Hourglass Room.
Interior detail of the Hourglass Room. Photo: Heather Hauri

THE HOURGLASS ROOM There’s a new speakeasy inside Classic Cars West, so well hidden that it’s been open since June and, well, we missed it. The concept is as enticing as it sounds — a secret room, with a (very legal) cocktail bar and drink menu that changes weekly, late hours, a door person, an art-positive, tucked-away vibe, a… love of Seinfeld? To RSVP head here. The Hourglass Room, possibly located at 411 26th St. (between Broadway and Telegraph), Oakland

JAMES AND THE GIANT CUPCAKE (JACK LONDON) Eurydice Manning’s third Oakland cupcake shop opened at the tail end of August, feeding the kiddos (and adult kiddos) at a roomy counter shop with seating. Specialty cupcakes come in mini, regular and giant sizes in a menu of flavors that changes monthly, and are on offer every day but Monday beginning at 10:30 a.m. James and the Giant Cupcake, 465 2nd St. (between Washington and Broadway), Oakland

THE LEDE Though it is serving only take-out lunch for now, chef Cal Peternell’s long-awaited new counter-service restaurant and bar is open! Peternell is slinging a simple menu of veg-forward dishes — salads, soups, sandwiches, fritters and cookies — from inside this unique Oakland space, a hub for media types called Studiotobe. He has called his project, “…a kind of reporter’s bar that’s open to everyone,” and will begin serving affordable dinner fare in the coming weeks. Hat tip to Peternell, both chef  and media-type himself, for once again helping to nourish his community. The Lede, 906 Washington St. (at Ninth), Oakland

LONDON BAR & GRILL SpringHill Suites by Marriott near the Oakland Airport has a new full-service British (!) restaurant and bar called London Bar & Grill. Choices include bangers and mash and fish and chips, and cocktails are served at the “London-style” bar. London Bar & Grill inside SpringHill Suites by Marriott, 195 Hegenberger Rd. (near Pardee), Oakland

MELA BISTRO This month, Grand Avenue’s Ethiopian restaurant Anfilo was replaced by Mela Bistro. So far, locals are praising Mela for its solid flavors, thoughtful presentation of its food, friendly service and modern ambiance. Mela Bistro, 35 Grand Ave. (at Broadway), Oakland

Nido's Backyard in Oakland offers spacious outdoor dining and a cocktail lounge with an agave-focused drink menu.
Nido’s Backyard in Oakland offers spacious outdoor dining and a cocktail lounge with an agave-focused drink menu. Photo: Nido’s Backyard

NIDO’S BACKYARD Just in time for the sun-drenched days and warmer evenings of early fall, colorful, sprawling Nido’s Backyard has opened in the Jack London Square warehouse neighborhood, a few blocks from full-service Cal-Mexican restaurant Nido. Nosh first reported on this “upcoming” opening in 2016, but the long wait seems to have been rewarded with a spacious, convivial gathering spot built for groups, families (look for the cornhole area) and outdoor cocktail lounging from an agave-focused drink menu. To eat, Nido chef Jose Ramos has created a casual menu of tacos, tortas and other Mexican fare, including many shareable plates. Nido’s Backyard, 104 Oak St. (at Embarcadero West), Oakland

PINCHES TACOS  On the border of Oakland’s Allendale and Maxwell Park neighborhoods is Pinches Tacos, a small Mexican restaurant that takes the place of the former Egyptian eatery, Pyramids. Although the website listed on Yelp goes to an LA-based chain with the same name, this appears to be an unaffiliated mom-and-pop spot. Here, you’ll find burritos, tacos and quesadillas, along with hearty soups and stews (menudo, caldo de res and pozole) and seafood plates with whole-fried fish and grilled prawns. Pinches Tacos, 3100 High St. (at Virginia), Oakland

SAUCY Thriving, pan-Asian pop-up and catering company Saucy softly opened a brick-and-mortar location this weekend in the former Mediterranean Express/Pita Pocket location, at the busy intersection of Telegraph near 40th. Read more about the group’s history here, and, as their opening announcement email suggests, “We’d like for you to keep your mind open during this time as we all work to reach our standards.” We wish them all the best as they settle into their first permanent space. Saucy, 3932 Telegraph Ave. (near 40th), Oakland

TGI ONI SUSHI Longtime sushi spot Oni in Montclair Village has reopened under new ownership and with a new name — Tgi Oni Sushi. So far, locals are impressed with the updates, including a redone interior and a large, varied menu of Japanese eats. Along with raw fish, offered as nigiri, rolls and sashimi, there’s tempura and other deep-fried appetizers, donburi, udon and sukiyaki, as well as various combination meals. Tgi Oni Sushi, 6100 LaSalle Ave. (at Moraga), Oakland

The grilled hanger steak with roasted sun-chokes, poached torpedo onion, polenta fries and XO-chimchurri at Tribune Tavern in Downtown Oakland.
The grilled hanger steak with roasted sun-chokes, poached torpedo onion, polenta fries and XO-chimchurri at Tribune Tavern in Downtown Oakland. Photo: Tribune Tavern

TRIBUNE TAVERN It’s all happening for Chris Pastena, with newly moved Chop Bar humming along nicely, an upcoming Calavera location opening at the Oakland Airport later in the year, and this month, the reopening of Tribune Tavern, at the base of Oakland’s Tribune Tower building. This is, somewhat infamously, the second iteration of Tribune Tavern for Pastena, who walked away from the first project and related troubles in 2015. This time he co-owns the storied restaurant and bar with his wife, Jana; Dario Pantoja (A16, Wayfare Tavern, Calavera) is executive chef. Additional changes: A new raw bar, seasonal New American menu, impressive cocktail menu and short wine and craft beer list, including eight of each on tap. The big, comfortable dining room has room for 150, and boasts a bar, lounge and patio. The restaurant opened for dinner only on Sept. 12, and will feature lunch and brunch in the coming weeks. Tribune Tavern, 401 13th St. (at Franklin), Oakland

Closed

CYBELLE’S PIZZA (OAKLAND DOWNTOWN) The downtown Oakland Cybelle’s pizzeria at 1422 Broadway, open since 2015, has closed. Oakland has two remaining Cybelle’s pizza shops, in Fruitvale and Montclair, and there are also locations in San Francisco and Daly City. The local franchise has been in operation since 1978.

GRAMMIE’S DOWN-HOME CHICKEN & SEAFOOD Nosh was dismayed to report that this just-getting-started enterprise from chef Rashad Armstead was forced to close on Sept. 15 due to a disagreement with the landlord and previous business owner over equipment issues.

JJ BURGER This budget-friendly, family-owned burger eatery at 3415 Grand Ave. has closed after five years, and fans will dearly miss both its food and friendly service. Coming soon in the same spot: New ramen eatery Dozo Ramen.

KINCAID’S FISH, CHOP & STEAKHOUSE When Stanford’s Restaurant & Bar in Walnut Creek closed in July, alarm bells went off for the remaining members of the now-bankrupt Restaurants Unlimited group. As of this weekend the bell also tolls for Kincaid’s. As the Bay Area News Group reports, this once-lively harbor-front seafood restaurant closed quietly this weekend after 33 years.

TRAPPIST PROVISIONS As first reported by Nosh, Trappist Provisions at 6309 College Ave. closed on Sept. 17, to make way for a new taproom for burgeoning Fort Point Beer Company. The Fort Point taproom will open in November; the original Trappist remains open and fine.

Beyond

Open

BABY CAFÉ (EMERYVILLE) Fast-casual, Hong Kong-style entrees, snacks and boba drinks are now available at this new kiosk near the entrance to the Public Market Emeryville. Expect Canto-Western favorites from the local chain, such as curry chicken or black pepper beef, served with rice or spaghetti, popcorn chicken and a variety of fruit and milk teas and slushes. Baby Café, Public Market Emeryville, 5959 Shellmound St., Emeryville

Guido Mastrapaolo and Patrizia Pasqualetti's second Bay Area GIO Gelati gelateria opened this month at San Ramon’s City Center Bishop Ranch.
Guido Mastrapaolo and Patrizia Pasqualetti’s second Bay Area GIO Gelati opened this month at San Ramon’s City Center Bishop Ranch. Photo: GIO Gelati

GIO GELATI Owner Guido Mastrapaolo and business partner Patrizia Pasqualetti, of Italy’s Il Gelato di Pasqualetti, based in Orvieto, are doubling down on the success of their first Bay Area GIO Gelati gelateria on Union Street in San Francisco with a new location that opened this month at San Ramon’s City Center Bishop Ranch. The shop joins roughly 16 new or coming-soon adds to the complex, which has rapidly become a noteworthy food destination. GIO Gelati, City Center Bishop Ranch, 6000 Bollinger Canyon Rd., Ste 2650, San Ramon

INDIAN GRILL San Leandro welcomes a new Indian restaurant, which boasts a fairly large menu of tandoori, vegetarian, meat and seafood selections, available for lunch and dinner. But locals seem most excited by Indian Grill’s all-you-can-eat lunch-time buffet, offered seven days a week for $11.99. Buffet items are said to be fresh, varied (including many options for vegetarians) and replenished frequently. Indian Grill takes the place of Ploughman’s Restaurant, which closed last summer. Indian Grill, 1600 Washington St. (near Parrott), San Leandro

MAMA LAMEES The Public Market Emeryville once again has La Cocina to thank for an intriguing new kiosk. Mama Lamees, from chef Lamees Dahbour, has taken over the dormant Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement space (that business moved to a larger market space), and serves Middle Eastern specialties such as shawarma, falafel and kebab plates for lunch and dinner. Mama Lamees, Public Market Emeryville, 5959 Shellmound St., Emeryville

SUBWAY RICHMOND Nosh enjoyed this story describing full-time Oakland policewoman Kiesha Haggerty’s work towards opening her new Subway franchise location this month at 15501 San Pablo Ave. in Richmond. The shop, part of Subway’s new redesigned “Fresh Now” fleet, is the second store for the budding — and busy — entrepreneur in two years. Congratulations! Subway, 15501 San Pablo Ave., Suite H (near Queensland), Richmond

Closed

ALEX’S GIANT BURGER A reader reported that Alex’s Giant Burger in San Pablo has closed after five years. The well-loved, casual grill was owned by Alex and Hannah Yook, the former owners of also beloved Nibs in El Cerrito that was felled by a fire in 2013 (and is now H&J’s). Nosh hadn’t been able to reach the Yooks as of press time, but Vivian Wong of the San Pablo Economic Development Corporation said via email, “This is a favorite place of ours, having earned an honorable mention twice for San Pablo Small Biz of the Year. They have closed their doors permanently at that location; however, we anticipate they’ll be opening another venture.” Fingers crossed.

MANGOSTEEN BISTRO Sadly, Walnut Creek’s Mangosteen Bistro has closed after only one year.

RAMEN KITCHEN We were notified by a reader that Ramen Kitchen in Albany has closed. The dependable spot for affordable tonkotsu ramen and rice bowls, as well as chicken karaage and other Japanese small plates, opened in December 2017, after transitioning from Bo’s California Cuisine. Ramen Kitchen closed on Sept. 30.