The East Bay restaurants that opened and closed in December

Our last roundup of 2019 tallies more than 20 new East Bay restaurants and 11 closures.

A spread of Mexican fare from Doña on Piedmont Avenue.
A spread of Mexican fare from Doña on Piedmont Avenue. Photo: Kristen Loken

Berkeley

Open

DORK’S TEC CAFÉ This techie community hangout has been around since last year, but started serving espresso drinks and pastries from nearby Patisserie Rotha in late October. Patrons can solicit computer repair services, drink coffee and chai and study. Owner Anthony Sturkey is a Long Beach native who began his career as a police officer, got a coding degree, and arrived in Berkeley by way of Silicon Valley. His business is Apple and PC certified. The cafe is open until midnight nightly. Dork’s Tec Café,  1475 San Pablo Ave. (between Jones and Page streets), Berkeley

Closed

FONDUE FRED Nosh contributor Kevin L. Jones first alerted readers to the uncertain future of this nebulously-aged fondue enclave, bubbling away within The Village on Telegraph Avenue since the late ‘70s. On Dec. 22, it was finally time to say a fond auf wiedersehen to the storied space and all the molten cheese, chocolate, second dates, family birthdays and boozy parties that went with it. A toast to Fondue Fred and its hard-working owner-operator for the last 20 years, Laleh Heravi Aryan. Fondue Fred was at 2556 Telegraph Ave.

JOHN’S ICE CREAM A treat in every respect, from the product to the price, affordable John’s Ice Cream was a quality Berkeley go-to that will be missed. It closed up shop at 2204 Shattuck Ave. on Nov. 26 after 10 years. Note: The Brentwood location remains open.

PIZZA MODA The current incarnation may have closed Dec. 7, but Pizza Moda’s story is about to get extra interesting — hold the cheese. Owner Elliot Harrison is teaming up with The Butcher’s Son sibling-owners Peter Fikaris and Christina Stobing to reopen in early 2020 as The King’s Feet, a vegan Italian restaurant. (Cue the lines.)


Oakland

Open

DOÑA Temescal’s former anchor sit-down Mexican restaurant has become Piedmont Avenue’s newest fast-casual Mexican destination now that Dona Savitsky has moved house and changed concepts. Her new counter-service eatery and full bar, opened Dec. 6, occupies half of the spacious lower level and patio of the building that formerly housed short-lived Chow Oakland. It serves a range of new and many fan-favorite dishes previously served at Doña Tomás for casual weekday breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, and brunch to come in 2020. Doña, 3770 Piedmont Ave. (near Yosemite Avenue), Oakland

Dozo Ramen in Oakland.
Dozo Ramen takes over the former JJ Burger space on Grand Avenue in Oakland. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

DOZO RAMEN Dozo Ramen has opened in the old JJ Burger space on Grand Avenue, in time to chase the winter chills with fast-casual bowls of Japanese ramen, rice dishes, curries and bento in a clean, cozy space with friendly service. Dozo Ramen, 3415 Grand Ave. (between Mandana Boulevard and Elwood Avenue), Oakland

FRIENDS AND FAMILY Explains Janelle Bitker of the Chronicle, Friends and Family is one of the year’s most intriguing openings, in particular for women who make their careers in the service industry. The project is headed by owner Blake Cole (Hopscotch) and Kimberly Rosselle (Trick Dog, Bon Voyage); chef is Christa Chase, former executive chef of Tartine Manufactory. On offer will be creative and classic cocktails; bar food that is “comforting and celebratory;” and a mood that aims to be positive, inclusive, safe and downright charming. If you’re reading this, then all went well with inspections and permits and Friends and Family has or will open this month. Friends and Family, 468 25th St. (between Telegraph Avenue and Broadway), Oakland

MAGPIE This bird is a fast flyer — announced only last month, Magpie, from owners Krista and Tony Granieri (Brotzeit Lokal) already softly opened last weekend inside the former Hog’s Apothecary. Magpie closed for the holidays, but the restaurant and bar will reopen for lunch and dinner Dec. 27 to celebrate its grand opening. Look for upscale-casual dishes such as pizzas, small plates (that pair well with libations and pizza), and salads for lunch and dinner, an upcoming brunch menu, and lots of good beer, ciders and wines on tap. The neighborhood welcomes the reanimation of this great corner space. Magpie, 375 40th St. (at Opal Street), Oakland


MODERN TIMES: THE HOUSE OF PERPETUAL REFRESHMENT SFGate broke the refreshing news that San Diego-based craft brewery Modern Times has opened its long-awaited Oakland taproom near Lake Merritt. Don’t expect food (feel free to bring outside food in), but do expect more than 30 taps of the brewing company’s specialty and seasonal ales. Modern Times: The House of Perpetual Refreshment, 2410 Valdez St. (near 24th Street), Oakland

POPOCA Classic Cars West Beer Garden now hosts a Salvadoran-inspired food pop-up called Popoca (the name means “emits smoke,” and can also mean “offering”), launched in October. The weekly pop-up (Thursday through Saturday) features wood-fire cooking from chef Anthony Salguero, whose Bay Area fine-dining experience includes stints at Plumed Horse, Quattro, Saison and Commonwealth, and locally as executive chef of the now-closed Michel Bistro and co-opening chef of Bardo Lounge. Though Classic Cars West is typically known as a vegan refuge, and Salguero crafts plenty of vegetable-based fare (often with Central American produce, grown locally), the new pop-up notably features pupusas and tamales made with wood-fired meats, and ceviche made with fire-kissed seafood. Popoca inside Classic Cars West Beer Garden, 411 26th St. (between Telegraph Avenue and Broadway), Oakland

SUGARSWEET COOKIE + CAKE STUDIO Pastry chef David Benton has opened this upscale Oakland confectionary, his first storefront, with an eye towards colorful, modern cake designs for weddings, showers, birthdays and other special occasions. The shop also offers tasty-looking and beautiful cupcakes, cookies and other handmade pastry fare. Sugarsweet Cookie + Cake Studio, 5855 Macarthur Blvd. (near Seminary Avenue), Oakland

The cashew chicken is one of the entrees on offer at Thai Corner Express.
The cashew chicken is one of the entrees on offer at Thai Corner Express. Photo: Thai Corner Express

THAI CORNER EXPRESS Thai Corner Express offers quick service and pre-made Thai entrees and sides, mostly to-go. It opened in Sweet Belly’s former location in late November. Thai Corner Express, 435 19th St. (at Broadway), Oakland

WORLD FAMOUS HOTBOYS As of press time, this hotly anticipated Nashville-style chicken and sandwich eatery is scheduled to open Dec. 30. For more on their particular brand of Southern spice, read this Nosh review by Kathryn Bowen. World Famous Hotboys, 1601 San Pablo Ave. (at 16th Street), Oakland

ZELLA’S SOULFUL KITCHEN This new spot from chef and La Cocina alum Dionne Knox (Zella’s is named for Knox’s grandmother) softly opened Dec. 2. Fans may know Knox from her years operating out of the Mandela Grocery Cooperative, which she left in March, and from her Southern-inflected, fresh California soul food catering and purveying at events. Her new storefront at Oakland City Center near the 12th Street BART features biscuits, omelet wedges, breakfast sandwiches and prepared to-go fare for now, and will amp up with heartier, made-to-order offerings shortly. Zella’s Soulful Kitchen, 499 14th St. (between Clay Street and Broadway), Oakland

Closed

West African restaurant and nightclub Bissap Baobab in Oakland will host one final dance party Dec. 28 before closing for good. Photo: Bissap Baobab/Facebook

BISSAP BAOBAB OAKLAND Folks were thrilled when West African food and dance venue Bissap Baobab at 381 15th Street reopened in May after a year’s dormancy while owner Marco Senghor worked through some legal issues and closed his San Francisco location of Bissap Baobab. But as first reported on Hoodline, Senghor announced on Facebook earlier this month that the Oakland venue was to shutter once again, this time for good. Senghor has chosen to focus his energy on his now one remaining property, Little Baobab in San Francisco. In the meantime, fans can help bid Bissap Baobab Oakland “au revoir” at the venue’s final dance party on Dec. 28.

ED’S CHEESESTEAK Hoodline got word that budget-friendly lunch spot Ed’s Cheesesteak at 300 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza closed in November after roughly a year in operation.

MI ZACATECAS Eater’s Luke Tsai first broke the news of tiny Mi Zacatecas’s exciting upcoming move to a larger dining room at 6633 Bancroft Ave., where chef Cecilia Chairez will continue to prepare homestyle dishes from her native Zacatecas region such as barbacoa and gorditas; she will also add Mexican breakfast. In anticipation of the relocation, the old spot at 9896 MacArthur Boulevard has closed. Chairez told Nosh her new location will open soon.

THE PAYBACK This bar closure slipped past us back in the fall; The Payback at 1618 Franklin St. in Uptown closed after exactly one year on Sept. 29.

TAMARINDO ANTOJERIA This 14-year-old Old Oakland favorite for regional Mexican cuisine announced on Facebook in late November that it expected to close by year’s end. Until it goes dark, December hours are limited mainly to private events and light bar service. Tamarindo Antojeria was at 468 Eighth St.

Beyond

Open

A selection of sustainable nigiri at Bamboo Sushi.
A selection of sustainable nigiri at Bamboo Sushi. Photo: Bamboo Sushi

BAMBOO SUSHI City Center Bishop Ranch in San Ramon continues to attract an appealing array of higher-end eateries, including the fifth (and only Bay Area) location of eco-minded Bamboo Sushi, known for being the first ever sustainable sushi restaurant, that also has properties in Seattle, Portland, Phoenix and Denver. Bamboo Sushi, 6000 Bollinger Canyon Rd. (at Camino Ramon), Suite 2201, San Ramon

BON MANGE Casual boba and snack shop Bon Mange features tea, sandwiches, macarons, bingsu and other lighter fare that skews both Asian and French. Bon Mange also opened a location this month in Hayward. Bon Mange, 857 Marina Village Parkway (at Bartlett Drive), Alameda

BURGER LOFT WALNUT CREEK Burger Loft has opened in downtown Walnut Creek, with a sizeable, family-friendly menu featuring everything from healthier salads, chicken, turkey and salmon burgers and sandwiches to indulgent milkshakes and, yes, hearty Niman Ranch burgers, all with table service. Burger Loft Walnut Creek, 1389 North Main St. (near Cypress Street), Walnut Creek

CAFÉ DE HEY HEY Taking over for Shabu House is Café de Hey Hey, a Hong Kong-style noodle house that opened in November in downtown San Leandro. Diners can choose from a variety of noodle types (wonton mein, rough mein, chow fun, lai fun, rice noodles and lo mein) to add to noodle soups, or order various Chinese side dishes (braised duck egg, crispy squid, fried chicken wings), half and whole chickens and ducks, and braised short ribs with radish served with rice or noodles. Café de Hey Hey, 1400 E 14th St. (at Joaquin Avenue), San Leandro

Baked eggplant with pomegranate at Chez Mansour in Albany.
Baked eggplant with pomegranate at Chez Mansour in Albany. Photo: Chez Mansour

CHEZ MANSOUR Reviews are appealing so far for new French-Lebanese enclave Chez Mansour, from chef-owner Ali Mansour (Beirut Restaurant), softly opened in the former Britt-Marie’s on Solano in mid November. The sit-down restaurant has kept Britt-Marie’s attractive bones, including the handsome bar area, and though wines are yet to come they will be a large focus. For now, expect fresh salads, kebabs and larger poultry and meat entrees, a wide selection of mezze and baked vegetable dishes, and a kid’s menu. Chez Mansour, 1369 Solano Ave. (between Ramona and Carmel), Albany

DE AFGHANAN KABOB HOUSE WALNUT CREEK Fremont-based De Afghanan also has locations in San Francisco, Livermore, and now Walnut Creek, featuring a similar menu of savory meat kebabs and Afghani sides such as bolani (stuffed bread), stuffed mantoo, sauteed eggplant with yogurt and mint, rice and vegetable dishes as at its other locations. De Afghanan Kabob House, 1372 Locust Street (near Cypress), Walnut Creek

DELAROSA SAN RAMON San Francisco-based Delarosa has joined the party at City Center Bishop Ranch in San Ramon, slinging Roman-style pizza, pasta dishes and salads to lucky diners at the upscale eatery’s communal tables. Delarosa San Ramon, 6000 Bolinger Canyon Rd. (at Camino Ramon), Suite 1600, San Ramon

Fire Wings in Alameda.
On Dec. 7 Fire Wings opened a new branch in Alameda. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

FIRE WINGS The rapidly-spreading Fire Wings chain, with locations in California and Texas, opened a roomy space on Park Street in Alameda on Dec. 7. The chicken-wing outfit is known for 20 flavors in a range of spice profiles as well as savory sides and a beer menu. Affordable options include combo meals and 70-cent boneless wings on Mondays and Tuesdays. Fire Wings, 1620 Park St. (at Pacific Avenue), Alameda

NUDORU RAMEN This small eatery inside the Marina Village Shopping Center, formerly Chinese restaurant Shanghai Cuisine, is now casual ramen and Japanese small-plates restaurant Nudoru Ramen. Nudoru Ramen, 825 Marina Village Parkway (between Bartlett Drive and Constitution Way), Alameda

TOYOSU Downtown Walnut Creek has a new sushi restaurant in Toyosu Sushi, softly opened in the former Kurumi space since mid-December, serving upscale Japanese lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Sunday. Toyosu, 1552 Locust St. (between Civic Drive and Bonanza Street), Walnut Creek

Closed

THE HAYWARD RANCH First reported by Peter Hegarty of the Bay Area News Group, the 71-year-old Hayward Ranch will shutter after service on New Year’s Eve. The old-fashioned dining room filled with antique tchotchkes, serving comforting, country-style food, has been owned by Christo Sarantakis and his family since 1998. It’s the last remaining location of the Ranch restaurant chain founded by restaurateur Leonard Perolo, that once numbered almost 30 throughout the East Bay. Among other reasons, the month-to-month lease was uncertain, and the family decided to close. Adios, old timer. The Hayward Ranch was at 22877 Mission Blvd. in Hayward.

INJERA RESTAURANT Thanks to a tipster we learned the sad news that Injera Restaurant closed back in October. The restaurant opened in 2015, from first-time chef-restaurateur Aron Haile, and was widely respected for its comfortable dining room, good service and generous portions of flavorful Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisine. Vegans and vegetarians, in particular, are feeling the loss. Nosh reached out to chef Haile for comment but had not heard back by print time. Injera was at 1305 Park St. in Alameda.

SPIN! NEAPOLITAN PIZZA Another Alameda closure, shared from the same much-appreciated tipster, was that of Spin! Neapolitan Pizza at 2670 Fifth St. The franchise restaurant’s Alameda Landing location had been open for exactly four years when it shuttered in August. Though the closure was unexpected, it seems perhaps part of a greater plan for the pizza outfit, as the remaining Spin! properties are mostly based in the middle of the country.

Before we go…

ARIZMENDI EMERYVILLE Construction is evident at this long-dormant bakery, closed by an errant driver a year ago this month. They will rebuild! Look for a 2020 reopening.

BOILEROOM The upcoming Chinese hotpot restaurant taking over the space last occupied by beloved Berkeley institution Caffe Med (2475 Telegraph Ave.) is nearly open. Berkeleyside contributor Ted Friedman witnessed staffers in training earlier this month, so an opening is likely coming soon.

IYASARE This standout Japanese restaurant at 1830 Fourth St. remains temporarily closed due to an October kitchen fire, but is set to reopen in early 2020. Hang tight!

JAZZCAFFÈ Owner Kristine Seinsch anticipates a spring 2020 reopening of the Jazzcaffè in Berkeley’s Arts District, closed since October due to a nasty flood. Meanwhile, Jazzcaffè soup, salad and panini fans, please note Seinsch’s catering business, A.C.T. Catering, remains open for larger events.

QUINCE Closed since February due to a small truck crashing through the wall of their kitchen (!), the answering machine message at Quince mentions an early 2020 reopening, and adds, “We thank you for your continued patronage, patience and support during this closure.” Those muffins are worth it. See you soon, Quince.

SMOKEHOUSE No one is more interested than Nosh in the reopening of this friendly burger shack, closed since Valentine’s Day due to a fire. Smokehouse is purported to reopen in spring 2020, and we will gently curse the giant billboard on Telegraph Avenue that says Fall 2019 every day until then.

That’s it for 2019. Happy New Year, everyone!