Our picks for Alameda Restaurant Week 2020, Jan. 16-26

We’ve chosen our favorites from the nearly 40 participating restaurants, bars and cafés offering discounts and freebies for lunch, dinner, drinks and dessert during the third annual event.

Cabbage soup and borscht are offered for lunch or dinner at Mama Papa Lithuania.
Choose between cabbage soup or borscht (and other delicious eats) for the lunch or dinner specials at Mama Papa Lithuania during Alameda Restaurant Week. Photo: Mama Papa Lithuania

Hot on the heels of Oakland Restaurant Week is the third annual Alameda Restaurant Week, taking place Jan. 16-26. Compared to the Oakland event, this sister Restaurant Week is smaller (read: less overwhelming) and a little looser in how restaurants participate and price their offerings. Still, there are plenty of specials to check out for lunch, dinner, drinks or dessert — and many are affordable and family friendly.

This year, about 40 restaurants are participating in Alameda Restaurant Week. After looking at over the menus, we’ve chosen our top picks from the list.

A few things to note: Not all participating restaurants have posted their deals online as of press time, so be sure to check the Alameda Restaurant Week website before you choose your spots. Unless noted, tax and tip aren’t included in the price.

Lastly, Alameda Restaurant Week kicks off this Thursday with a special ticketed event featuring a cocktail competition, where seven local bartenders go head to head for the title of Alameda’s Master Mixologist 2020. Guests (21+ only) will sample each drink and vote on their favorites; they’ll also try samples from several restaurants participating in Alameda Restaurant Week. Proceeds from each ticket go to the Alameda Food Bank. Tickets are $20-$25.

ASENA RESTAURANT Opened in 1996, this family-owned restaurant is known by locals for its quaint atmosphere, friendly service and fresh, well-executed Mediterranean cuisine. During Alameda Restaurant Week, Asena offers a $38 prix-fixe dinner, featuring an arugula salad with citrus and Turkish feta, choice of entree (lamb-filled phyllo dough pastry, Scottish salmon filet or wild mushroom ravioli) and panna cotta with caramel for dessert. Asena Restaurant, 2508 Santa Clara Ave. (at Everett Street), Alameda

EAST END Another Alameda gem is East End, which makes dependably good wood-fired pizzas and other comforting eats. (Recently highlighted in East Bay Cooks, author Carolyn Jung told Nosh that East End is one of her favorites.) During Alameda Restaurant Week, East End has three specials: The $32 meal includes mixed green salad, Calabrian grilled chicken wings and a choice of Margherita or Bianca pizza; the $35 option features mixed green salad, grilled broccolini and seasonal mushroom risotto; and the $50 choice serves mixed green salad, oysters Rockefeller and pork belly cassoulet. No bad choices here. East End, 1650 Park St. A (at Buena Vista Avenue), Alameda     

FORBIDDEN ISLAND TIKI LOUNGE Lovers of kitsch — and boozy, fruity tropical cocktails — will want to head to this Alameda institution. But be sure to bring at least two or three other friends with you, if you want to order the $30 Scorpion Bowl. The flaming drink — a Forbidden Island classic — is made with rum, sparkling wine, brandy and fresh-squeezed citrus. Forbidden Island, 1304 Lincoln Ave. (at Sherman Street), Alameda

JULIE’S COFFEE AND TEA GARDEN The original location of Julie’s in Alameda is a sweet oasis to sip on beverages and nosh on nourishing, healthful café fare. During Alameda Restaurant Week, Julie’s offers a $15 prix-fixe special featuring choice of coffee or tea; pickled vegetables; fennel, carrot and cabbage slaw; and line-caught tuna (or a vegan option) on mixed greens or on a ciabatta roll with cheddar cheese. Julie’s Coffee and Tea Garden, 1223 Park St. (at San Antonio Avenue), Alameda

MAMA PAPA LITHUANIA This homey, family-owned restaurant specializing in Lithuanian foods is offering a $12 lunch ($19, at dinner). Choose between two options: a bowl of red borscht served with a slice of rye bread and two types of dumplings; or cabbage soup with a slice of rye bread and chicken goulash with fresh cucumber and yogurt salad. Not sure which to choose? Watch Nosh’s video of chef Danute Sukiene making the restaurant’s dumplings by hand and you’ll likely choose the dumplings! Mama Papa Lithuania, 1241 Park St. (near San Antonio Avenue), Alameda 

Thai-style rolled ice cream at Roll & Bowl.
Thai-style rolled ice cream at Roll & Bowl. Photo: Roll & Bowl

ROLL & BOWL Thai-style rolled ice cream is the main attraction at Roll & Bowl, but diners will also find a fairly large selection of affordable rice plates and wok-fired noodle dishes that will hit the spot if you’re craving nothing-fancy Chinese take-out-style fare. During Alameda Restaurant Week, Roll & Bowl offers 50% off ice cream or a free appetizer with the purchase of an entree. Roll & Bowl, 2302 Encinal Ave. (at Oak Street), Alameda 

SPEISEKAMMER Longtime Alameda favorite Speisekammer German restaurant offers a two-course lunch ($17) and a three-course dinner ($35) during Restaurant Week. In the afternoon, choose from split pea soup or green bean salad for the first course and a variety of sandwiches for the main. In the evening, choose between crispy roasted pork belly or pretzel dumplings as a first course, meatloaf, turkey breast wiener schnitzel or fischeintopf (seafood stew) for the main entree, and enjoy apple strudel for dessert. Speisekammer, 2424 Lincoln Ave. (between Park and Everett streets), Alameda

Spinning Bones in Alameda will offer Rotisserie Ramen as a the special during Alameda Restaurant Week.
Spinning Bones in Alameda will offer Rotisserie Ramen as a the special during Alameda Restaurant Week. Photo: Doug Ng

SPINNING BONES New to downtown Alameda is Mike Yakura and Danny Sterling’s fast-casual restaurant specializing in Asian-style rotisserie chicken, pork, beef and seafood. For Alameda Restaurant Week, the spot is offering an intriguing $20 Rotisserie Ramen, featuring a broth made from roasted chicken and pork and slices of rotisserie charsui pork. The bowl is topped with a soy sauce-marinated egg, and sides of steamed edamame and sweet potato korroke (croquette) complete the meal. Spinning Bones, 1205 Park St. (at San Jose Avenue), Alameda

TUCKER’S SUPER CREAMED ICE CREAM Alameda’s old-school ice cream shop has been scooping up frozen treats for locals since 1941. Tucker’s features 34 flavors, along with seasonal specialties, most recently Zinfandel, Chocolate Pretzel Stout and Frosé. For Alameda Restaurant Week, Tucker’s offers a special mini Tucker‘s sampler flight for $10, featuring smaller versions of three of the brand’s novelty treats: Cho-Cho (chocolate malt ice cream in a cup with a stick), Tommy Tucker cones (vanilla ice cream in a sugar cone and dipped in chocolate) and frozen bananas dipped in chocolate. Tucker’s sampler flights are limited, so if sold out, the shop will offer a three-junior scoop sampler, also for $10. Tucker’s Super Creamed Ice Cream, 1349 Park St. (near Central Avenue), Alameda

Sarah Han is Nosh editor at Berkeleyside. Email: sarah@berkeleyside.com.