Duende goes dark for now; Arthur Mac’s free pizza Sundays; Bartavelle Cafe is back

Plus, Enssaro and Kinja are temporarily closed; Chop Bar’s next pig roast; Gourmet Puff now at Forage Kitchen and more East Bay food news.

Duende in Uptown Oakland. As of Aug. 1., the restaurant has decided to temporarily close. Photo: Duende
Duende in Uptown Oakland. As of Aug. 1., the restaurant has decided to temporarily close. Photo: Duende

Duende says goodbye for now

On Sunday, chef-owner Paul Canales closed the doors at his eight-year-old Uptown Oakland Spanish restaurant Duende (468 19th St.). Canales explained in a newsletter and on social media, that the restaurant is taking a pause due to the “emotional and financial roller-coaster” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. With no date in sight for when restaurants will be able to reopen for indoor dining, Canales decided taking a break was his best option. While Canales has not given a timeframe for Duende’s return, he does seem hopeful for the future. In his goodbye announcement, Canales writes, “We will come back strong. We are thinking of each and every one of you and looking forward to the other side when we can all hug each other again.”

Free pizza every Sunday, beer garden reopens at Arthur Mac’s

Every Sunday in August, starting at noon, Arthur Mac’s Tap & Snack in Oakland is giving out 200 slices of pizza on a first-come, first-served basis. Although Arthur Mac owners, the Farm League Restaurant Group, say their goal is to feed those struggling most during the pandemic, anyone wearing a face covering can claim a free slice at the Longfellow neighborhood pizza and beer spot. “With all the illness, depression and social unrest of the current times, our small team at Arty’s has decided that the best thing we can do for our community is feed them, for free. We believe that positive energy, like negativity, is contagious and few things create good vibes better than a tasty slice of pizza,” Farm League partner Joel DiGiorgio said in a press release shared with Nosh.

Other big news at the Tap & Snack — its beer garden is back open. While it was one of the first restaurants in the area to close for on-site dining, Arthur Mac’s has taken its time to reopen its popular outdoor dining area to install new pandemic safety measures. Replacing its communal picnic tables are lounge chairs and private booths separated by physical dividers. The restaurant also has a new touchless outdoor handwashing station. Arthur Mac’s Tap and Snack, 4006 MLK Jr. Way (at 40th Street), Oakland

Enssaro in Oakland has closed for good. Photo: Joanna Della Penna
Enssaro and Kinja on Grand Avenue in Oakland are both closed due to a fire that broke out at the sushi restaurant in April. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

Enssaro temporarily closed

Enssaro — the well-loved Ethiopian eatery at 357-A Grand Ave. in Oakland’s Adams Point neighborhood — is currently closed, but the good news is it’s not another COVID-related casualty. Customers who call the restaurant hoping to order takeout may speak directly to owner Solomon Tamirue, who’s been letting hungry callers know Enssaro has been closed since April, when a fire broke out at Kinja, the sushi restaurant next door. Fortunately, Enssaro will reopen, Tamirue reassured us, but not for another few months. In the meantime, he recommends those craving his restaurant’s food to try another spot — Ethiopia Restaurant in Berkeley (2955 Telegraph Ave.). As for Kinja, it too aims to return, but for now, its fans will need to travel to its Concord location for takeout.


Bartavelle Cafe is now serving takeout out of its annex location at 1601 San Pablo Ave. Photo: Bartavelle Coffee and Wine Bar
Bartavelle Cafe is now serving takeout out of its annex location at 1601 San Pablo Ave. Photo: Bartavelle Coffee and Wine Bar

Bartavelle Cafe reopens at the annex

Last Friday and Saturday, after four months of being closed, Berkeley’s Bartavelle Cafe reopened for coffee, pastries and a limited breakfast menu. Operating for takeout only — handing orders through the cute turquoise Dutch door at its annex location — Bartavelle will expand service to three days this week (8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday through Saturday). Along with light morning eats, Bartavelle also continues to sell pantry items, coffee beans, beer and wines for pickup (check the online menu for what’s currently available). As for outdoor seating — it’s still on hold. Bartavelle owners Suzanne Drexhage and Sam Sobolewski hope to offer some kind of parklet or standing bar option in the future, but say they are in no hurry as “it’s not looking like it’s the safest thing to do anytime soon.” Bartavelle Cafe at the annex, 1601 San Pablo Ave., (at Cedar Street), Berkeley

Chop Bar’s pandemic pig roast

After a successful outdoor pig roast in June on the Chop Bar patio, Chris Pastena and Lev Delany are ready to host another, this one just in time to celebrate their first anniversary at the new location in Jack London Square. This Saturday, they’ll offer plates of roasted pork with all the trimmings ($25 per person) for pickup, delivery or socially distanced outdoor dining (tables on the patio are first come, first served). Chop Bar will start taking orders at 10 a.m., but doors open at noon and the pork will be ready by 1 p.m. Chop Bar, 190 Fourth St. (at Jackson), Oakland

A variety pack box of Gourmet Puff puff-puffs.
Gourmet Puff’s Nigerian puff-puffs can now be ordered on-site at Forage Kitchen in Oakland. Photo: Sarah Han

Gourmet Puff finds a home at Forage Kitchen

Nigerian pastry business Gourmet Puff has taken residence at Oakland’s incubator and commissary kitchen, Forage Kitchen. Founder Chidera Anyanwu had previously been baking puff-puffs out of her home kitchen, which is licensed for cottage food operation, and delivering them to customers’ homes. With the new location, Gourmet Puff still offers delivery, but it now has a storefront where customers can order puff-puffs on site. We recommend getting a pack of puff-puffs to eat for dessert after enjoying some savory Jordanian street food from Forage Kitchen’s other vendor, Shawarmaji. Gourmet Puff is open 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Gourmet Puff, Forage Kitchen, 478 25th Street, Oakland

Local Food Adventures pays tribute to Oakland’s Rocky Road

With its food tours currently on hold, Oakland’s Local Food Adventures has gotten a bit creative with its offerings. One of its most popular events is its Rockridge Ice Cream and Gelato Tour, where guests would visit several scoop shops and other venues in the neighborhood, and learn (and taste) a bit of history along the way. One fact you’d learn on the tour is that the Rocky Road flavor was invented in Oakland by Dreyer’s Ice Cream (The company was founded in 1928 and headquartered in Oakland. Last year, it closed its Rockridge ice cream parlor, and in Dec. 2019, Dreyer’s was sold by parent company Nestlé to UK-based ice cream maker, Froneri Ltd.). To commemorate that sweet piece of Oakland history, Local Food Adventures offers a DIY Rocky Road kit called the Sweets & Smiles Ice Cream Gift Box, which contains lux-versions of the components you need to make your own version of the chunky ice cream flavor at home. The box comes with a voucher for a pint of Chocolate Ganache ice cream from the Rockridge location of Smitten Ice Cream, Spicy Lemon Almonds from Urban Remedy, Barlovento vanilla mini marshmallows and an ice cream scooper. A few other extras come inside, like a $15 gift certificate for any Local Food Adventures food tour (which may begin again this fall) and online access to Local Food Adventure’s cookbook. The Sweet & Smiles Ice Cream Gift Box is $39 (including shipping).