East Bay restaurant openings and closings in March and April

A list of food businesses that opened just prior to or during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order, and those spots that have shuttered permanently.

The King of Swords pizza from new vegan Italian restaurant, The King's Feet.
The King of Swords pizza from new vegan Italian restaurant, The King’s Feet. Photo: The King’s Feet

Since the beginning of March, an unprecedented number of East Bay restaurants and bars have temporarily closed due to coronavirus concerns. For those still in regular or modified operation, Nosh continues to update its list of food businesses offering contactless pickup and in-house delivery as a community resource.

The following lists the East Bay restaurants that opened just prior to, or during, the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order, and those spots that have shuttered permanently. If you know of others, please let us know in the comments or by emailing tips@berkeleyside.com.

Berkeley

Open

THE KING’S FEET As reported back in December (a lifetime ago), two of Berkeley’s more popular outposts have combined forces to marry Italian flavors with 100% plant-based cuisine. Muscling through the unfortunate timing, Peter Fikaris and Christina Stobing, sibling owners of The Butcher’s Son, and Elliot Harrison, owner of now-closed Pizza Moda, opened vegan-Italian restaurant The King’s Feet in the former Pizza Moda location April 25. Expect vegan versions of Neapolitan pizzas, pasta dishes and even a “calamari” appetizer made from fried king trumpet mushrooms and banana blossoms, as well as salads and dessert. The University Avenue restaurant serves dinner to-go (delivery to come), and is notably blessed with a roomy parking lot for curbside pickup. Call 510-841-5200 or order online. (Pro tip: Foot-averse? Careful when Googling the name.) The King’s Feet, 1401 University Ave. (at Acton Street), Berkeley

LAS CABAÑAS MEXICAN GRILL & TAQUERIA A tipster alerted us that Las Cabañas has opened in the former Baiano space (see Closed, below) in the Berkeley Plaza, and offers classic burritos, fajitas, tacos and other plates for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Mexican eatery, unaffiliated with other spots called Las Cabañas, is barely two weeks old, but has already garnered positive reviews on social media. Look for the entrance ramp on Berkeley Way, across from the parking for Trader Joe’s, to access the free, upper-level parking lot for customers. Takeout orders are placed inside the restaurant or by calling 510-845-9303; delivery is through third-party services. Las Cabañas Mexican Grill & Taqueria, 1916 Martin Luther King Jr. Way (between Berkeley Way and Hearst), Berkeley


Hainan curry noodle soup from Noodles Fresh in Berkeley.
Hainan curry noodle soup is available for takeout at Noodles Fresh in Berkeley. Photo: Noodles Fresh

NOODLES FRESH This El Cerrito standby has done a brisk business in Chinese noodle and rice dishes since 2015, enough to launch its second branch in Berkeley on March 1 — just in time for both locations to then weather the lockdown. Luckily, Noodles Fresh offers quick, serviceable takeout and third-party delivery of appetizers, soups and mains, including many vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Find the menu here and call 510-906-8800 for contactless takeout from the Berkeley location. Noodles Fresh, 2430 Shattuck Ave. (between Haste Avenue and Channing Way), Berkeley

YUMMY HOUSE As noted in Bites last month, the former hot dog shack on Milvia Street, known for housing many an optimistic small food business, relaunched under new owners as Yummy House. It opened February 28, but by mid-March, its owners re-boarded-over the tiny ordering window due to COVID-19. However, as of April 28, they are tentatively reopening with a cheerful mix of savory snacks, from noodles to musubi, offal (duck feet, chicken feet, tripe) and tea. Orders are to-go only from the window, or by calling 415-812-5273. Good luck Yummy House! Yummy House, 2109 Milvia St. (between Addison Street and Center Street), Berkeley

Closed

Allegro Coffee Bar at the Whole Foods on Gilman Street has closed. Photo: Emilie Raguso

ALLEGRO COFFEE BAR Way back on March 4, Allegro Coffee announced the upcoming closure of its roastery and café operating inside the Whole Foods on Gilman Street. (Whole Foods is also Allegro Coffee’s parent company, having acquired the Boulder-based coffee company in 1997.) Nosh contributor Brandon Yung had the foresight to link the shutter and repurposing of the roomy café space within the grocery store to growing pandemic concerns, including a fast-moving prioritization of grocery storage and delivery over coffee-shop socializing. Allegro Coffee Bar was at 1025 Gilman St. in Berkeley.

BAIANO PIZZERIA Brazilian pizzeria Baiano, with two locations in San Francisco, chose these uncertain times to bow out of the Berkeley Plaza after a little more than two years. We are sorry to see them go (though can’t say the same about their fliers). Baiano Pizzeria was at 1916 Martin Luther King Junior Way in Berkeley.

LALIME’S This one hurts. A beloved Berkeley destination for more than 35 years, upscale French restaurant Lalime’s bid us adieu this month, to the sadness and disbelief of many locals. Husband-and-wife owners Haig Krikorian and Cindy Lalime Krikorian had already been contemplating retirement, and the forced temporary shutdown of their dining room around coronavirus concerns sped up their decision. Read Nosh contributor Amalya Dubrovsky’s story for a deeper look into the history of Lalime’s, the Krikorians’ decision and their enduring local restaurant legacy. Lalime’s was at 1329 Gilman St. in Berkeley.

Tartine Bakery opened a Berkeley location at the Graduate hotel on Sept. 16.
After just 7 months, Tartine Berkeley has closed. Photo: Sarah Han

TARTINE BERKELEY Pandemic aside, it was always a bit of a gamble bringing legendary San Francisco-born bakery Tartine to Berkeley’s Southside neighborhood, where it opened just seven months ago inside a converted flower shop at the foot of the Graduate Hotel. Despite initial long lines for pastries and bread and strong local buzz (“Tartine in Berkeley!”), questions remained about the comfort and practicality of the space, as well as the mix of sophisticated pricing and mainly student foot-traffic. When it closed permanently last week, Berkeleyside co-founder Frances Dinkelspiel also described how Tartine shuttered the still-nascent Berkeley location just as staff were mounting efforts to unionize. Tartine Berkeley was at 2600 Durant Ave. in Berkeley.

THREE TWINS Petaluma-based Three Twins Ice Cream ceased operations this month after, as founding twin Neal Gottlieb describes in his poignant farewell letter, 15 years and two days. As Three Twins staffers seek new employment, so, too, their scoop shops seek new tenants, including the location at 1809-A Fourth St. in Berkeley. Farewell, Three Twins.

Oakland

Open

FRIENDS AND FAMILY Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed we already reported this cocktail bar opened back in December. Just kidding! The amiably named Friends and Family came just shy of opening, and then quietly retreated, and decided to make things extra interesting by actually opening to the public in the thick of the COVID-19 lockdown. For now, the group serves the community bottled cocktails to-go, with a menu of snacks and treats that posts weekly, available for pickup from 12:30-5 p.m., Friday through Sunday. We recommend you support your Friends and Family right now by treating yourself. Friends and Family, 468 25th St. (between Telegraph Avenue and Broadway), Oakland

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken opened its first Bay Area location this month.
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken opened its first Bay Area location this month. Photo: Gus’s Fried Chicken

GUS’S WORLD FAMOUS FRIED CHICKEN Memphis is having a moment with the April opening of Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken (perhaps giving one of Oakland’s hottest openings of the new year a little competition?). Expect Southern-style spice, sides and a deep, crisp fry from this nationally growing fast-food fried chicken chain based in Tennessee, with orders to-go only. Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, 1430 Broadway (between 14th and 15th streets), Oakland

LA GRANA FISH FRUITVALE Eater SF’s Luke Tsai first reported the news that La Grana Fish taco truck was moving from its former location outside a relative’s shop on 50th Avenue, which it had decamped before the pandemic began, to a new, permanent spot outside the Aloha Club in Oakland’s Fruitvale District. Good luck, La Grana team! La Grana Fish, 952 Fruitvale Ave. (at E. 10th Street), Oakland


Chef Kyle Itani opens Nikkei Sushi, a takeout-only sushi restaurant out of Itani Ramen in Uptown Oakland.
Chef Kyle Itani opened Nikkei Sushi, a takeout-only sushi concept out of Itani Ramen in Uptown Oakland. Photo: Erin Euser

NIKKEI SUSHI Kyle Itani, chef-owner of Hopscotch and Itani Ramen, has pivoted with the pandemic to launch a takeout- and delivery-only sushi restaurant called Nikkei (meaning “Japanese outside of Japan”), in operation out of Itani Ramen. Itani has notably staffed the new sushi concept with industry folks forced out of other jobs because of restaurant shutdowns. Call 510-788-7489 for pickup at Itani Ramen; delivery is through Caviar (scroll down). Nikkei Sushi at Itani Ramen, 1736 Telegraph Ave. (between 17th and 19th streets), Oakland

PHOSHO DOUGH A little shout out to Phosho Dough that opened March 2, replacing Mai Banh Mi on Telegraph Avenue. As mentioned in Bites, the eatery briefly tempted neighborhood locals with its appealing menu of banh mi, vermicelli bowls and rice plates, before being forced to close temporarily only a couple of weeks later due to the pandemic. We wish it luck for the duration and look forward to its reopening. Phosho Dough, 6601 Telegraph Ave. (at 66th Street), Oakland

POMELLA With a great big smile (under her face mask), chef-owner Mica Talmor opened the doors to Pomella March 24. The eatery, offering takeout only for now, is her first solo project since co-owning Piedmont Avenue’s now-closed fast-casual Israeli restaurant Ba-Bite, and she’s ready to rock the lockdown. Talmor’s menu of California-Israeli appetizers, soups and prepared salads, mains and desserts (including rugelach and chocolate babka!), pantry items, including frozen prepared foods, boxes of produce, beer and cider, is available for delivery or curbside pickup from 3-6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. Go, Pomella, go! Pomella, 3770 Piedmont Ave. (between Macarthur Boulevard and Yosemite Avenue), Oakland

RED PLANET COFFEE & KITCHEN With so many cafés closed, it’s nice to report on an opening, even if it is to-go: Red Planet Coffee & Kitchen (Orbit Coffee and Doughnut’s roaster) serves Red Planet coffee drinks, beignets, sandwiches, burritos, burgers and other prepared meals, fresh-squeezed juices and more, all for takeout. Red Planet Coffee & Kitchen, 308 14th St. (at Harrison Street), Oakland

Oakmore neighborhood market Rocky's opened a second Oakland location in Brooklyn Basin.
Oakmore neighborhood market Rocky’s opened a second Oakland location in Brooklyn Basin. Photo: Rocky’s Market Brooklyn Basin

ROCKY’S MARKET BROOKLYN BASIN Oakmore-based Rocky’s Market has launched a second location, this time on the waterfront in Jack London Square’s Brooklyn Basin neighborhood. The softly opened Rocky’s Market Brooklyn Basin features fresh, organic produce, fine cheeses and other dairy, wines and other artisanal and pantry goods, with excellent social distancing and other safety precautions in place. The shop also plans to feature prepared foods from Rocky’s catering company, Two Local Girls, among other plans. Rocky’s Market Brooklyn Basin, 288 Ninth Ave. (between Brooklyn Basin Way and Clinton Lane), Oakland

SOBRE MESA Delivery (through Doordash) and curbside pickup of cocktails and tapas are now available from this new-yet-temporarily-closed cocktail bar from alaMar chef-owner Nelson German, opened March 5, just before the lockdown. Call 510-858-7544 to pick up Sobre Mesa menu items from sister restaurant alaMar. Hang in there, Sobre Mesa! Sobre Mesa, 1618 Franklin St. (between 15th and 17th streets), Oakland

Closed

BENCHMARK OAKLAND There were high hopes when Kensington Neapolitan pizza and pasta favorite Benchmark Pizzeria opened a second, dressy location in Old Oakland in October 2018. Less than two years later, the restaurant has closed. Fans will be relieved to hear that Benchmark in Kensington remains open and healthy thanks to its strong takeout program and family of neighborhood regulars. Benchmark Oakland was at 499 Ninth St.

After nearly 10 years, Bica Coffee in Rockridge served its last coffee drinks March 16, but closed for good April 7. Photo: Emile Raguso

BICA COFFEEHOUSE Coronavirus-related coffee shop casualties are piling up, depleting us not only of fine coffee drinks, but also of the communities built by the good people who own and operate each café. Diminutive Bica Coffeehouse was a well-loved, arts-friendly spot near Rockridge BART, featuring a rotating selection of high-end, small-batch coffees and locally made pastries and sandwiches. Bica was forced to temporarily close March 16, and, as Hoodline first reported, the café’s near-10-year run came to a sad, permanent halt April 7. Bica Coffeehouse was at 5701 College Ave.

BLACK SPRING COFFEE COMPANY Black Spring Coffee, dubbed by one well-traveled Yelp reviewer as, “One of the best coffee shops in the world,” closed this month. According to a Facebook post from owner Ryan Stark, “The landlord has a different vision for the space that doesn’t involve us. After a long and arduous back and forth with the landlord we have come to an agreement and are going to move on.” (Recent nighttime tenant Bizzy’s Dry Bar’s possible future location also remains unclear for now.) The good news is, the roastery is staying in business. Take care, Black Spring Coffee team. Black Spring Coffee was at 2930 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland.

BUONGIORNO GOURMET EXPRESS It may have been a hole-in-the-wall, but this long-loved, affordable, commuter-favored deli and coffee shop near 12th Street BART had been open for nearly 30 years when it closed this month, putting trendier spots to shame. Buona notte, Buongiorno, and thanks for the friendly service. Buongiorno Gourmet Express was at 1226 Broadway in Oakland.

CAMBURGER Opened in 2015, burger and beer enclave Camburger closed up shop in mid-March, though truth be told it had been getting somewhat shaky reviews long before COVID-19 began. Camburger was at 430 13th St.

GAYLORD’S CAFFE ESPRESSO Opened in 1976, Gaylord’s on Piedmont Avenue was funky, fun, open wonderfully late and epitomized the no-frills café experience with its coffee drinks, wooden tables and classic breakfast and lunch café fare. It gave Piedmont Avenue a large part of its old-school charm, and will be missed by decades of regulars. Gaylord’s Caffe Espresso was at 4150 Piedmont Ave.

Grocery Café, which served Burmese cuisine, like paratha with chicken curry sauce, seen here, closed in early March, after two years in Jack London Square. Photo: Sarah Han

GROCERY CAFÉ Burmese restaurant Grocery Café shuttered the first week in March, apparently due to a rent dispute. The media-lauded restaurant, just recently named one of the East Bay’s Essential Restaurants by Eater SF, has weathered troubles before. Its first location opened in East Oakland in 2014, and was shuttered by the health department after two years, leading to the move and 2017 reopening in Jack London Square. Something tells us this won’t be the last we see of Grocery Café’s famed tea leaf salad (we could sure use some right now). Grocery Café was at 90 Franklin St.

LA CASITA Specializing in pozole, menudo, birria and other savory soups, along with a large menu of burritos, tacos and other favorites, East Oakland’s La Casita has sadly called it quits. La Casita was at 3659 Foothill Blvd. in Oakland.

La Guerrera’s Kitchen has moved on from the Aloha Club and is now operating as a pop-up at Ale Industries. Photo: Tracey Taylor

LA GUERRERA’S KITCHEN The Aloha Club welcomed La Grana Fish taco truck to its property this month, but in March said good-bye to tenant La Guerrera’s Kitchen. Please note: The mother-daughter tamale business is still open, but has moved on from the Fruitvale dive bar’s kitchen and takeout window. The duo now sells homemade tamales via a pop-up (noon-4 p.m., Friday through Sunday) out of Ale Industries down the street. The former brick-and-mortar La Guerrera’s Kitchen was inside the Aloha Club at 952 Fruitvale Ave.

LUNGOMARE As reported in Bites back in March, Lungomare is no more. The spacious Jack London Square dining room, formerly owned by Chris Pastena and site of many a special gathering, Easter brunch and after-work cocktail, closed Feb. 29 after seven years. First reports show that the Joie de Vivre-owned boutique Waterfront Hotel above the restaurant has acquired the space and may morph it once it reopens. For now, of course, all hotel-related business is on hold. Lungomare was at One Broadway.

MAI BANH MI The grand opening sign on this friendly, tiny Vietnamese banh mi shop never quite came down, even after five years. When Mai Banh Mi closed in February, its replacement Phosho Dough (see Openings, above) followed suit, before being forced to temporarily close for the pandemic. Let’s hope they leave the sign up as an homage. Mai Banh Mi was at 6601 Telegraph Ave.

MOMO & CURRY Originally opened under parent company name The Everest Momo in 2019, Momo & Curry served fast-casual Nepalese and Indo-Chinese dishes. Despite its business model of mainly takeout, the eatery closed up shop in April due to pandemic-based financial concerns. Momo & Curry was at 2212 Broadway in Oakland.

PIETISSERIE (SHOP) The bakery is still active, but PieTisserie’s five-year-old brick-and-mortar shop’s last day is today. For future orders of sweet or savory pies and quiches for delivery only, visit PieTisserie’s website. The PieTisserie shop was at 1605 Seconnd Ave.

TERTULIA COFFEE Uptown café Tertulia closed April 12. The coffee shop was spacious, contemporary, comfortable and beautifully lit, and perhaps best known for dovetailing as a sizeable art gallery, showcasing work from many local artists over its four years of business. Tertulia was at 1951 Telegraph Ave.

Beyond

Closed

A toast to five good years, Cleophus Quealy! You’ll be missed. Photo: Cleophus Quealy/Facebook

CLEOPHUS QUEALY BEER COMPANY A toast to this five-year-old brewery and tasting room, born from a tech friendship and treasured for its small-batch, rustic ales and fruit-fermented sours especially. It was one of the first businesses to announce permanent closure as the pandemic began, and the company sold the last of its growlers this week. Cheers, folks, you will be missed by many. Cleophus Quealy Beer Company was at 448 Hester St. in San Leandro.