The East Bay restaurants that opened and closed in November

Vegan and gluten-free chocolate chip and vanilla caramel baked donuts from Superhero Desserts in Alameda. Photo: Superhero Desserts
The chocolate chip and vanilla caramel baked donuts from Superhero Desserts in Alameda are vegan and gluten-free. Photo: Superhero Desserts

Berkeley

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BOBA PANDA The prime Shattuck Avenue space left behind by Fertile Grounds Café in October has quickly morphed into Boba Panda, a softly-opened bubble tea shop, with plenty of seating and a menu of various fresh teas and smoothies. Boba Panda, 1796 Shattuck Ave. (between Delaware and Francisco streets), Berkeley

BOICHIK BAGELS Patience has paid off for New York-style bagel lovers, as this pop-up turned brick-and-mortar from new restaurateur and New Jersey expat Emily Winston will at long last open for business this Friday, starting at 7:30 a.m. Are Boichik’s bagels the Bay Area’s real hole-y grail? Line up with us outside her storied space on College Avenue and find out. Boichik Bagels, 3170 College Ave. (at Alcatraz Avenue), Berkeley

Friendly workers at Noah's New York Bagels in Berkeley.
Friendly workers at Noah’s Bagels at the Berkeley Way West building. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

NOAH’S BAGELS BERKELEY Speaking of bagels, whatever you believe about the legitimacy of Berkeley-founded, now-JAB-owned Noah’s Bagels, Berkeley is once again rich in them. A large, modern counter and eatery from the widespread bagel chain has softly opened within the Berkeley Way West building on Shattuck Avenue (Noah’s and Marugame flank the building’s main entrance), and is already gathering sizable morning crowds. Noah’s Bagels, 2121 Berkeley Way (on Shattuck Avenue), Berkeley

ORGANIC GREENS Solano Avenue has a healthful new option in Organic Greens, the Berkeley microchain that has additional locations downtown and in the Elmwood district. The fast-casual eatery with a handful of tables offers seasonal, organic fare for breakfast, lunch and early dinner for both vegetarians and carnivores. Expect salads, panini, pressed juices and smoothies, açaí bowls, cold sandwiches and larger dinner entrees. The Solano branch has been in soft opening mode for most of November, and may tweak the menu and hours going forward. Organic Greens, 1615 Solano Ave. (between Ordway Street and Ventura Avenue), Berkeley


PIZZAHHH The Daily Californian scooped the Nov. 21 reopening of long-closed Northside pizzeria Pizzahhh from new owner Sonam Ngodup and partner Lobsang Dorjee. (As Nosh reported back in July, former owner Dick Reimann (Top Dog) was confident Pizzahhh’s new owners would keep it a pizza counter; they even kept the name.) Ngodup and Dorjee spent 10 months renovating the space, and are now open for business, serving one style of pizza each day. Pizzahhh, 2503 Hearst Avenue (near Euclid Avenue), Berkeley

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Bacheesos in Berkeley closed in November 2019.
Longtime Berkeley Mediterranean restaurant Bacheesos, which moved to the former IHOP building in 2011, closed Nov. 4. Photo: Sarah Han

BACHEESOS Another Berkeley long-timer said good-bye this month (and there are more good-byes to come): Family-owned restaurant Bacheesos, known for its inexpensive Mediterranean fare and a somewhat funky, eclectic vibe, first opened in 2001 as Bacheesos Garden Bistro (and, briefly, “Bacheesos, The Taste of Europe”) at 2501 San Pablo Ave. In 2011, Bacheesos moved to the notable, angular building — an unmistakable, early-1960s IHOP — at 2650 Telegraph Ave. The restaurant made a good, if unconventional, fit in the peaked structure, that previously housed various short-lived diners and sushi spots after the IHOP franchise departed the property in 1988. Sadly, after nearly 10 years of budget-friendly breakfasts and lunch buffets, the building is set to be razed next year to make way for a mixed-use complex. Bacheesos fans should note that the popular Oakland Bacheesos location at 246 Grand Ave., that opened in 2009, remains open and active.

FAT SLICE After 34 years at 2375 Telegraph Ave., and countless quick slices served to students and locals, this no-frills pizza hang-out rightfully earned a pillowy slice of Berkeley’s heart. News of its departure this month led to many memories, shared stories and, as with too-hot cheese to the roof of the mouth, smiles through the pain. Sometimes it’s the simplest joints we’ll miss the most. Farewell, Fat Slice.

SMOKE’S POUTINERIE The Chronicle first reported that Smoke’s Poutinerie, an Ontario-based poutine franchise, has closed what was its first U.S. and last remaining California location at 2518 Durant Ave. The Canadian chain, known for unique versions of the heavy northern dish that is perhaps best enjoyed as a base layer before (or during) a night of Canadian-style imbibing, opened in America to plenty of media excitement in 2014. However, Smoke’s promised global poutine domination — including a projected 800 poutineries in the U.S. by 2020 — doesn’t seem to have quite materialized. Note: Smoke’s Poutinerie fans should find their way instead to Augie’s Montreal Deli, where the real Quebecois deal — french fries and cheese curds soaked, in Augie’s case, in the classic gravy from St. Hubert — can be enjoyed with an ice cold Labatt Blue, as is correct. Or take off, eh?

Oakland

Open

Uyghur laghman noodles at Eden Silk Road.
Uyghur laghman noodles at Eden Silk Road. Photo: Eden Silk Road

EDEN SILK ROAD This new, no-frills Chinatown eatery serves Uyghur (pronounced “wee-gur”) cuisine from western China, a literal Silk Road-inflected cultural mix of Chinese and Middle Eastern spices, meats, specialties and techniques. At Eden Silk Road, look for dry bowls and soups made with hand-pulled noodles, lamb and chicken dishes, dumplings and kebabs. Reviews of this branch of Eden Silk Road are mixed so far, but fans of Xinjiang regional cuisine seem happy to have a local option. (Though the area itself is currently experiencing unfortunate unrest.) Eden Silk Road also has locations in San Francisco, San Mateo and Fremont. Eden Silk Road, 374 Eighth St. (between Webster and Franklin streets), Oakland

FRESHII Canadian-owned fast-casual franchise Freshii has opened in Oakland City Center. The counter spot serves a range of “energizing” health bowls, salads, wraps, soups, burritos, smoothies and juices, and includes many choices for both vegetarians and meat eaters. Freshii inside Oakland City Center, 500 12th St. (between Broadway and Clay Street), Oakland

GAY4U Yay! What was Hella Vegan Eats is now Gay4U, a vegan pop-up newly sharing space with Oakland’s Garden House. This feature from KQED summarizes the new incarnation of this Oakland vegan favorite, and what the many fans of its previous incarnation at Classic Cars West can expect from the new menu. Gay4U, 380 15th St. (at Franklin Street), Oakland

Mellana Café in Longfellow, Oakland
Mellana Café in the Longfellow neighborhood of Oakland is named after a former Italian-owned grocery store that once thrived in the same space. Photo: Sarah Han

MELLANA CAFÉ Nosh had the scoop on small Mellana Café, a sweet, new, softly-opened spot serving fresh-pressed juices, coffee drinks, pastries and sandwiches in the Longfellow neighborhood. The name is an homage to an Italian-owned grocery that once thrived in the space (check out the fun, historic pics here). Mellana Café, 4539 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way (at 46th Street), Oakland

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DOÑA TOMÁS It was a brutal month for Oakland’s modern classic restaurants. Nov. 24 marked the last day (and a big farewell party) for Doña Tomás after 20 years as one of Temescal’s most popular anchors. The dining room, bar and festive patio from restaurateur Dona Savitsky at 5004 Telegraph Ave. had a lively appeal that paired well with its flavorful, upscale Mexican cuisine and notable cocktails. Though the memorable original will be missed, Savitsky is tempering the loss with the anticipated upcoming opening of Doña on Piedmont Avenue.

Flora and its adjoining bar Fauna closed Nov. 2019.
Uptown Oakland traiblazer Flora and its adjoining bar Fauna closed Nov. 9 after 13 years of service. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

FLORA Uptown lost two contemporary mainstays. Flora, at 1900 Telegraph Ave., with its Art Deco flower-shop history and convivial appeal, was known as one of the best restaurants in the area for 13 years. Its sister bar Fauna (see below) departed as well.

FAUNA BAR Flora’s cozy, sister cocktail bar Fauna, from then-owners Thomas Schnetz and Dona Savitsky, opened next door to the restaurant in 2012. (Savistsky has since moved on, and has her own Oakland closure happening in Doña Tomás, see above). Schnetz closed both Flora and Fauna after service Nov. 9, though in good news, has sold to Kon-Tiki co-owners — Christ Aivaliotis, a former Flora bar manager, and Matthew Reagan — who really know the neighborhood. The duo will reopen Flora as Palmetto and Fauna as The Kon-Tiki Room at Palmetto. Look for a possible February opening.

HAWK AND PONY This homey, spacious, welcoming Temescal cafe at 4210 Telegraph Ave. closed for good on Nov. 24, to heartfelt laments from the neighborhood and beyond. (Some may remember when the space was Arbor Café, before Hawk and Pony opened in 2017.)

HUTCH BAR & KITCHEN Despite being several months late, Nosh wanted to shine a little light on this Southern-inflected restaurant that quietly went dark earlier this year. Memphis native chef David King opened Hutch Bar & Kitchen at 2022 Telegraph Ave. in 2013. The restaurant and bar was known for Southern-style suppers — hush puppies, oysters and dishes such as bourbon-soaked salmon remoulade — often paired with flights of whisky. In a phone call with Nosh, King said the closure was due to an amicable split with his landlord who he called, “the best landlord he’s ever had, anywhere,” but who announced at the end of 2018 that he aimed to sell the choice Uptown property. The timing worked for King, who had been struggling with the industry’s typical troubles, namely labor, and after a few months of shortened hours, King shuttered the restaurant in the spring to spend a little time with his young family. Over the summer, King started a new Southern cooking enterprise, Hutch Fine Foods, and now brings his Southern regional specialties to events, farmers markets and festivals. (He jokingly calls his stand, “the gumbo shack.”) Contact information for catering can be found here.

Starbucks on Piedmont Avenue closed Nov. 2019. Photo: Sarah Han
Starbucks on Piedmont Avenue closed Nov. 1. Photo: Sarah Han

STARBUCKS PIEDMONT There is one fewer Starbucks in the world: Starbucks inside the corner space at 4098 Piedmont Ave. shuttered after service on the first of the month after more than a decade.

Beyond

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German-focused restaurant and biergarten Bierhaus opened a second location in Walnut Creek in November 2019. Photo: Bierhaus
German-focused restaurant and biergarten Bierhaus opened a second location in Walnut Creek this month. Photo: Allan Ezial

BIERHAUS WALNUT CREEK Bierhaus is on a tear. After moving to Oakland from Mountain View last year, the German-styled beer hall celebrated the grand opening of its second location in Walnut Creek on Nov. 14. The spacious bar, restaurant, enclosed biergarten (that seats 120) and bottle shop features rustic German food, 30 taps and a focus on German-style beers, wines and ciders, including flights. And yes, as in Oakland, dogs are most willkommen. Bierhaus Walnut Creek, 1360 Locust St. (between Cypress Street and Mt. Diablo Boulevard), Walnut Creek

DUO GRILL HOUSE As of Nov. 20, the former Ramen Kitchen space on Solano Avenue is now Duo Grill House. Reports are favorable so far for the small, sit-down restaurant’s new American fare. We look forward to checking it out (and bringing the kids). Duo Grill House, 1491 Solano Ave. (between Curtis Street and Santa Fe Avenue), Albany

A falafel and shawarma bowl from Sajj Mediterranean, a fast casual chain with a new location in San Ramon.
A falafel and shawarma bowl from Sajj Mediterranean, a fast casual chain with a new location in San Ramon. Photo: Sajj Mediterranean

SAJJ MEDITERRANEAN SAN RAMON November first saw yet another intriguing new eatery hit San Ramon’s Bishop Ranch complex. Sajj Mediterranean fast-casual (and fast growing) restaurant operation has 11 locations across California, but this marks its first foray into the East Bay. Food is billed as fresh, organic, locally sourced and hand-made, and includes customizable choices such as salads, wraps and bowls made with falafel, various shawarmas, Mediterranean sauces and other flavorful ingredients. Sajj Mediterranean, 164 Sunset Drive (near Bishop Drive), San Ramon

SAKANA SUSHI & ROLL Nothing but shimmering reviews so far for this tiny new Kensington sushi restaurant, softly opened Nov. 4 next to the Ace Hardware on Arlington Avenue, and already notable for its fresh fish and use of purple rice (also called black rice) instead of white. Neighborhood locals are primarily ordering their meals to-go, as only the luckiest manage to secure from among the 10 seats (four tables) inside. Sakana Sushi & Roll, 303 Arlington Ave. (at Boynton Avenue), Kensington

A meat platter from Spinning Bones in Alameda.
A “secret menu” meat platter from Spinning Bones in Alameda. Photo: Spinning Bones

SPINNING BONES The East Bay Express’s Katherine Hamilton checked out innovative new rotisserie Spinning Bones, opened Nov. 1 in Alameda. Highlights: Owners are Danny Sterling and chef Mike Yakura, co-owners of Dobbs Ferry and NoodleMe in San Francisco; meats are quality pork, chicken and beef; sides are a touch more sophisticated than the usual fare; and flavors skew Japanese and Hawaiian. Sounds well worth a spin. Spinning Bones, 1205 Park St. (near San Jose Avenue), Alameda

SUPERHERO DESSERTS Speaking of Alameda, the island has a new dessert spot from Calafia Taqueria as of Nov. 10, featuring everything from intricate, elaborate tarts and gateaux to homey, “grandma-style” cakes and cookies. Best of all, the friendly owners offer plenty of choices for all diets, including vegan, gluten-free and Keto. Superhero Desserts, 1449 Webster Ave. (between Taylor and Santa Clara avenues), Alameda

TACOS EL TUCÁN Richmond has a new Tijuana-style taqueria in Tacos El Tucán, opened Nov. 14, and people are lining up because… al pastor. The simple menu comprises handmade tortillas and four meats — al pastor adobada, carne asada, pollo asado and chorizo, and a veg option, and along with tacos and quesatacos (featuring crispy melted cheese) also includes burritos, quesadillas, mulitas (sandwiched tacos), bowls and loaded fries. The notable building, an adorable shack now painted red, was the Pup Hut for more than 40 years. Tacos El Tucán, 12505 San Pablo Ave. (at Clinton Avenue), Richmond

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Rachel Dunn Chocolates is closed, but you can still order the Giant Caramel Apples online. Photo: Rachel Dunn Chocolates
Oprah-endorsed Rachel Dunn Chocolates has closed, but you can still order its Giant Caramel Apples online. Photo: Rachel Dunn Chocolates

RACHEL DUNN CHOCOLATES A tipster kindly let us know that Rachel Dunn Chocolates at 1021 Detroit Ave. in Concord has closed. Chocolatiers Michael and Rachel Dunn’s fresh-made confections and enormous, three-pound, caramel, chocolate and roasted-almond covered apples were heralded for decades, garnering fame via celeb fans such as Rosie O’Donnell and Oprah. The shop’s fall closure left many bereft. However, in a kind of holiday miracle, Yelp reviewer V.C. has discovered that the apples are still available via this link. You’re welcome (and thank you V.C.).