Restaurant Week’s return; East Brother’s Black Is Beautiful beer; a Mexi-terranean pop-up

Plus, Standard Fare brings back lunch service; MudLab hosts a zero-waste grand opening party and lots more of the latest East Bay food news.

Itani Ramen in Uptown is participating in the late summer edition of Oakland Restaurant Week. The ORW special includes a bowl of ramen and a side of gyoza, along with choice of negi chashu mini donburi or small salad and a non-alcoholic drink for $25. Photo: Pete Rosos

Restaurant Week redux

You may recall that Oakland Restaurant Week and Berkeley Restaurant Week already happened earlier this year. The annual dining events are hosted by the cities’ tourism organizations, and normally, they’re held in January after holiday season has ended — a notoriously slow time of the year for the industry. But with COVID-19, that slow time has been painfully extended — and deepened — for restaurants over the past few months. According to Mark Everton, CEO of Visit Oakland, restaurants are down 30% to 50% of their regular revenue, and Nosh has heard from some local restaurateurs who are suffering even worse. Oakland Restaurant Week (taking place now through Sept. 13) and Berkeley Restaurant Week To-Go (Sept. 15-30) is an opportunity for us food lovers to help out our favorite local spots open for takeout, delivery, and/or outdoor dining.

While restaurants won’t be able to offer deeply discounted meals for this event, several spots in Oakland (Berkeley details are yet to be announced) are offering specials, including Pomella, Luka’s Taproom, Soi 4, The Star on Grand, Cactus Taqueria, Itani Ramen, Roux and Vine, Bird and Buffalo and the brand new Kitchen at Rocky’s Market. Check out the Oakland and Berkeley Restaurant Week websites for details, and choose a few eateries to support this month, with hopes they’ll all be around to participate in future Restaurant Weeks to come.

Lunch is back at Standard Fare

One of many things we miss when dining out during the pandemic: the pop in. You know — when you suddenly have a craving and you can reliably stop in at your favorite spot to satiate the sudden urge. These days, many eateries have irregular hours or require advance ordering for takeout, which makes popping in a lot harder to do. So we were excited to hear that last month, walk-up lunch service returned to Standard Fare in West Berkeley. Now open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, chef Kelsie Kerr’s casual California-cuisine cafe serves sandwiches and salads, along with drinks and pastries, that can be ordered on-site for takeout (Advance orders can also be made online).

If you’ve never had a Standard Fare sandwich, head over to the Berkeley Kitchens complex pronto, you’re in for a treat. Kerr offers one meat and one vegetarian option daily, both served on sliced focaccia and topped with the freshest ingredients she can source. Both options often feature interesting combinations of flavors. Today’s sandwiches, for instance, are a roasted sweet potato and black bean purée sandwich with garlicky broccolini, white onions with lime, cilantro-sorrel pesto and arugula ($6.50 half/$12.75 whole) and a roast chicken sandwich with lemony cucumber salad, eggplant purée, fresh scallions, aioli, and mizuna ($6.75 half/$13.50 whole). Kerr said she hopes to be open for breakfast and espresso in a month or so. Standard Fare, 2701 Eighth St., (at Carleton), Berkeley


East Brother’s Black is Beautiful beer

In May, Richmond’s East Brother Beer Co. launched Pride and Purpose, a special release Belgian pale ale, to raise money for the Richmond Rapid Response Fund, an initiative helping locals in need during the pandemic. The brewery raised about $3,000 for the cause. Last week, East Brother launched a second brew in its “beers that give back series.” Black Is Beautiful, an imperial stout, is a collaboration with a worldwide collaborative effort amongst the brewing community to bring awareness to racial injustice and raise money for local funds and legal defenses for Black and brown communities. All proceeds from sales of East Brother’s Black Is Beautiful beer — available by the half-pint at East Brother’s taproom and in to-go growlers — will go to Safe Return Project (SRP), a Richmond-based organization working to empower formerly incarcerated individuals.

In addition, East Brother is hosting its second Pride & Purpose Community Forum series. The event takes place online (viewable on East Brother’s Facebook page) at 5 p.m., Sept. 4., and will feature a discussion with Safe Return Project executive director Tamisha Walker Torres and several individuals who’ve worked with SRP about the criminal justice system and reintegrating formerly incarcerated individuals in the community. East Brother Beer, 1001 Canal Blvd., Unit C-2 (at Wharf Street), Richmond

Wilde Brothers Coffee Shop update

A reader asked us to check in with Wilde Brothers Coffee Shop, located next door to the Grand Lake Theater, which has been closed since March 17 and quiet on social media since April. Nosh reached co-owner Sarah Wilde by email, who had some hopeful news: the cafe plans to reopen, however, its return is tied to the reopening of the theater. “We are following the guidelines of the theater — mainly because we are attached to them,” Wilde wrote. “As soon as the theater is able to reopen, we will do so as well.” Fingers crossed that both businesses can re-emerge when it’s safe to do so. In the meantime, Wilde Brothers customers can still donate to the Wilde Brothers GoFundMe campaign supporting its furloughed baristas.

Free Third Culture mochi donut at 1951 Coffee Company

1951 Coffee Company’s last remaining cafe in Berkeley is offering a special promotion, today through Sunday. The first 30 customers to purchase a beverage will get a free chocolate mochi donut from Berkeley’s Third Culture Bakery. The cafe is open 7 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. Guests can also order in advance online. 1951 Coffee Company, 2140 Channing Way (near Fulton Street), Berkeley

La Farine on College Avenue is temporarily closed

Over the weekend, La Farine Bakery announced that its location at 6323 College Ave. is temporarily closed “due to possible COVID-19 exposure” among its staff. La Farine said it will sanitize the affected bakery, have team members tested and will reopen once it is safe to do so. We hope the staff is safe and healthy, and look forward to seeing the bakery reopen soon.


Chef Itztli De La Torre's Peruvian ceviche features poached prawns, scorched avocado, potato puree, tostadita and togarashi. Photo: Itztli De La Torre
Chef Itztli De La Torre’s Peruvian ceviche features poached prawns, scorched avocado, potato puree, tostadita and togarashi. Photo: Itztli De La Torre

Mexi-terranean snacks at Prima Materia

Chef Itztli De La Torre describes himself as a “fun chef trying to do fun and creative pop-ups.” He dabbles in bold flavors from around the world, using ingredients like Morita chiles, jerk spices and miso to create “tapas-like things with new world inspiration.” This Saturday and Sunday, from 1-5 p.m., the chef will serve what he’s calling “Mexi-terranean snacks” at Prima Materia in Temescal Alley. De La Torre describes the eats this way: Think about it like if Dionysus was tasked with throwing a kickback for Quetzalcoatl in the barrio.” Not sure what that means? Expect dishes like Peruvian ceviche ($16); a sophisticated vegan crudite with tea-smoked tomatoes, roasted eggplant, blistered peppers and herb and citrus-marinated stonefruit ($15); lamb meatballs with harissa romesco and roasted corn and amaranth ($17); and a charcuterie board with achiote spiced pork rillete and chimichurri jerky ($18). Wines from Prima Materia will go swimmingly well with all the eats. And yes, social distancing guidelines will be in effect — don’t forget your mask. Prima Materia Tasting Room, 482-B 49th St. (near Telegraph Ave.), Oakland 

Upcoming Temescal eats

Eagle-eyed reader Jake Decker alerted Nosh to two new restaurants coming soon to Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood. First up, Marigold Indian Eats, next door to Mountain Mike’s, has had a sign in the window since early July that it would be “opening soon” at 4860 Telegraph Ave. Nosh has been unable to reach anyone at the business for more details. And at recently closed KangNam Pho at 4419 Telegraph Ave., an ABC application to sell beer and wine notes that a new restaurant called Izza aims to open in the space.

MudLab’s socially distanced, zero-waste grand opening party

Zero-waste cafe and grocery store MudLab (and its nonprofit zero-waste consulting wing For Here, Please) celebrates its new digs at the former Perch Cafe, opened earlier this summer in Adams Point, with a socially distanced grand opening party. The celebration takes place at two locations — the cafe on Grand Avenue and at Empowerment Park across the street — on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Stop by the park for a pop-up from Re-Up Refill Shop and music, while the cafe will host lots more waste-free food and drinks, including coffee drinks from Proyecto Diaz coffee, two ice cream flavors (guava and salted caramel) from Koolfi Creamery and more. MudLab, 440 Grand Ave. (at Bellevue Avenue) Oakland; Empowerment Park, 462 Bellevue Ave. (at Grand Avenue), Oakland

Joanna Della Penna contributed reporting.

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