March 4, 2021

suspensionespresso

Cooking is a hobby

Which East Bay restaurants opened or closed in January 2021

Owner Lex Gopnik-Lewinski at the recently relocated Augie’s Montreal Deli. Photo: Sarah Han

Berkeley

Open

AUGIE’S MONTREAL DELI Reopened Jan. 13 in the former Brennan’s space is Augie’s Montreal Deli, purveyor of poutine, “smoke meat,” Fin du Monde and all good things French-Canadian — just ask the grateful Quebecois in line. Fans of the nearly three-year-old deli may not be able to gather in the new dining room to watch ice hockey just yet, but the location, already a well-loved space in the Berkeley community, is a bit more foot-traffic-friendly for takeout than the old spot on Potter Street. Curbside service for online orders is available by driving up to the Stomper statue out front and calling the restaurant. (Pro tip: Parking on Sundays under the University Avenue overpass is free.) Bienvenue, Augie’s! Augie’s Montreal Deli, 700 Essex Way (at University Avenue), Berkeley

BANH MI & ROLLS FACTORY Northside’s former Hummingbird Cafe has reopened as Banh Mi & Rolls Factory, featuring full-sized and mini Vietnamese sandwiches and a variety of spring rolls at appealing prices. Drinks include Vietnamese coffee, smoothies, juices and dessert drinks. Owner Khoi Xa also owns two San Francisco eateries, The Pho and Banh Mi & Rolls. Banh Mi & Rolls Factory, 1814 Euclid Ave. (at Ridge Road), Berkeley

Califas greens co-owners Zeiri Guzman and her husband Margarito Gallardo, and staffer Brandon Garcia Flores. Photo: Joanna Della Penna
Califas Greens co-owners Zeiri Guzman and her husband Margarito Gallardo, and staffer Brandon Garcia Flores. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

CALIFAS GREENS First-time restaurateur Zeiri Guzman, her husband and co-owner Margarito Gallardo, and sister and co-owner Annia Guzman, have opened Califas Greens in the former La Capilla space. Though originally from Mexico City, Guzman’s menu skews Californian (“Califas” is slang for California), with an emphasis on fresh produce and seasonal flavors. So far, the friendly spot ticks all the right neighborhood cafe boxes, with healthful-yet-tasty fare for breakfast and lunch, such as fresh toasts, bowls, juices and soups, as well as heartier selections such as chicken, steak or roasted pork sandwiches (and for those craving a bit more indulgence, garlic fries and jalapeño ranch on the side). Open daily for takeout; third-party delivery is available. Califas Greens, 1106 University Ave. (between Curtis Street and San Pablo Avenue), Berkeley

TONY’S STYLE Look for student-friendly eats at Tony’s Style, opened in the Northside neighborhood in December, including hand-tossed wings, full-sized pizza pies and personal baguette pizzas topped with ingredients such as brisket and caramelized mushrooms, shrimp, crab and veggies. Open for dinner nightly. Tony’s Style, 2503 Hearst Ave. (near Euclid Avenue), Berkeley


Closed

ISLICE BERKELEY This slice shop near campus in the old Sunrise Deli space seemed to have real legs, but unfortunately… the pandemic. Luckily, all three other iSlice locations — one in Albany and two in Concord — are still going strong. iSlice Berkeley was at 2456 Bancroft Way, and will soon become a new spot called Momo House.

PIZZAHHH Has closed. Pizzahhh was at 2503 Hearst Ave., now occupied by Tony’s Style (see Open).

Oakland

Open

Lop Chong Fried Rice with Chinese sausage and shrimp from Bamboo in Oakland. Photo: Bamboo
Lop Chong Fried Rice with Chinese sausage and shrimp from Bamboo in Oakland. Photo: Bamboo

BAMBOO Offering “Asian tapas, dumplings and wok specialties” for daily takeout is Bamboo, taking over from now-closed China Garlic Restaurant on Piedmont Avenue. The Chinese-influenced menu is long— from soup dumplings and potstickers to coconut shrimp and garlic ribs, soups, salads and wok-tossed vegetables, with varying levels of heat. There are also noodle and fried rice dishes, including the Big Boss Fried Rice, featuring chicken, shrimp, pork, wood-ear mushrooms and silk noodles. Bamboo, 3766 Piedmont Ave. (between W. MacArthur Boulevard and Yosemite Avenue), Oakland

BLYTHE COFFEE AT BLK GIRLS GREEN HOUSE Black-owned, woman-owned, glamorous coffee pop-up Blythe Coffee has been operating out of Black-owned, woman-owned, glamorous sanctuary Blk Girls Green House, an upscale West Oakland retail space for plants and home goods, since August 2019. (Readers may have spotted the businesses in Forbes or Bon Appetit). What’s new is that the Blk Girls Green House has recently moved (in November) from 3261 Martin Luther King, Jr. Wy., to 1700 Center St. in Oakland. Customers can book an appointment to browse the new space and order off Blythe owner-barista Natalia Carrera’s coffee menu, that includes lattes with flavors such as peppermint and rosemary honey. Blythe Coffee pop-up at Blk Girls Green House, 1700 Center St. (at 17th Street), Oakland

GYU-KAKU JAPANESE BBQ This Japanese-style barbecue chain with locations throughout North America (including locally in San Francisco, Cupertino and a temporarily closed shop in San Mateo) has arrived in Oakland. Though the real fun of Gyu-Kaku’s yakiniku (Japanese barbecue) is in its communal aspect — gathering socially around a smokeless table-top grill — the restaurant chain is finding a way to please customers in Covid with steak, chicken, shrimp and pork grilled to order for takeout or delivery. There is also a kid’s menu, as well as noodle dishes, bowls and plenty of vegetable sides. Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ, 459 Eighth St. (between Broadway and Washington Street), Oakland

HUANGCHENG NOODLE HOUSE Oakland is thrilled to have this Shanxi knife-cut noodle house back in a new Old Oakland location, after a fire took the original Chinatown restaurant. According to Eater SF, the community-assisted reopening of Huangcheng in the former Rosamunde’s in Swan’s Market features one significant progression — noodles razored by machine rather than by hand — allowing for more noodles faster, though everything else is done by hand, and texture and consistency remain as fresh and springy as ever. Huangcheng Noodle House, 911 Washington St. (between Ninth and 10th streets), Oakland

LUCKY CHEF CHEN We missed this switch back in November — Lucky Chef Chen now operates in the former Frannie Express space, offering a similar menu of Chinese fast food for takeout. Expect dishes such as orange chicken, beef with broccoli — simple favorites in generous portions. Lucky Chef Chen, 3542 International Blvd. (between 35th and 36th avenues), Oakland

Monkey King on Piedmont Avenue. Photo: Joanna Della Penna
Monkey King’s new Oakland outpost is on Piedmont Avenue. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

MONKEY KING OAKLAND Now open on Piedmont Avenue in the former Itaba restaurant space is the first Oakland location of Alameda favorite Monkey King. Specializing in addictive dishes such as boneless wings, loaded fries, noodles, and plates of ribs, fried rice and pork chops, the eatery’s full-flavored takeout options are not only bountiful, they bridge the gap between “family-friendly” and “pairs well with beer.” Monkey King Oakland, 3920 Piedmont Ave. (between Montell Street and Monte Vista Avenue), Oakland

NAMASTEY PATIO The former La Boulangerie Oakland space in Rockridge has a new occupant called Namastey Patio, just opened yesterday, offering Indian and Nepalese cuisine for lunch and dinner takeout, delivery and catering. We spoke with co-owner Kailash Thapa, who said he and his two business partners are first-time restaurant owners, but they all have worked in the industry for years. Namastey Patio’s menu features a wide range of offerings, including tandoori, biryani, vegetarian dishes, and Nepalese fare like choila, sekuwa, momo, Himalayan noodle soup and khasi (goat curry). Namastey Patio hours are 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; 5-9:30 p.m., daily. Call 510-922-9014 for orders. Namastey Patio, 5500 College Ave. (near Lawton Avenue), Oakland 

ROASTED AND RAW The plant-based food uprising continues with this intriguing new fast-casual curbside window in Jack London Square, throwing its hat in with not only a great name, but giant vegan burgers, wraps, pasta dishes (holy moly), heaping bowls and other vegan treats. Open for lunch and dinner takeout Tuesday through Saturday. Roasted and Raw, 247 Fourth St. (between Alice and Jackson streets), Oakland

Roasted and Raw's Greek Freek Crispy Falafel Bowl. Photo: Roasted and Raw
Roasted and Raw’s Greek Freek Crispy Falafel Bowl. Photo: Roasted and Raw

SEÑOR SISIG OAKLAND After months of parking the Señor Sisig food truck outside the former Spice Monkey space (including at the time that restaurant team departed), this long-loved Filipino-fusion street food outfit has moved in. As noted in Bites, Señor Sisig’s second brick and mortar (its flagship is in San Francisco) is doubly special, as it boasts the group’s original menu plus its Señor Sisig Vegano menu, a new, plant-based group of flavorful Filipino fusion options. Señor Sisig’s food trucks can be tracked here; the new Oakland space features a to-go-only window for now. Señor Sisig Oakland, 1628 Webster St. (at 17th Street), Oakland

STATES COFFEE X BREAD Nothing but lines and kind words for States Coffee’s two new Oakland cafes, featuring coffee and fresh-baked goods, the first at 4008 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way that opened in November, and its newest at 419 40th St., that opened on Jan. 17. Reminder: States and sister company Farm and Flour, responsible for the cafe’s house-made breads and other treats, also have eyes on a Berkeley opening, now scheduled for the spring in the former Country Cheese Co. on San Pablo Avenue. States Coffee X Bread (40th Street), 419 40th St. (at Webster Street), Oakland

Ayesha Curry's new retail store Sweet July has its own coffee bar inside. Photo: Joanna Della Penna
Ayesha Curry’s new Oakland retail store Sweet July has its own coffee bar inside. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

SWEET JULY Ayesha Curry’s new retail space inside the base of the Rasa Apartment complex includes a sweet little upscale coffee counter with drip and iced coffee, tea, some bottled drinks and other fare. The spacious, soothing shop mainly features retail products, books and decor evocative of Curry’s Sweet July lifestyle magazine. Sweet July, 455 23rd St. (at Valley Street), Oakland

Closed

BOOMBOX’S PIZZA Witness with us Boombox’s Pizza, one of the many small food enterprises within the Jingletown Eats ghost kitchen community. The independent pizza outfit started off with moxy in October with Chicago and Detroit-style slices and pies, and then shuttered all too soon. Boombox’s Pizza was at 2353 E 12th St. in Oakland.

CHINA GARLIC CHINESE RESTAURANT It never won awards, but China Garlic provided Piedmont Avenue with a budget-friendly option and serviceable Chinese food for two impressive decades. China Garlic was at 3766 Piedmont Ave.

COLOSO COFFEE Nosh learned that Coloso Coffee’s Old Oakland cafe at 917 Washington St. is changing hands, and will become a fourth location of Berkeley-based Souvenir Coffee Co. Coloso owners Jose Posadas and Renzo Gianella will be collaborating with Souvenir at the new space to help with the transition. Coloso’s anticipated Berkeley cafe at the Higby Apartments on San Pablo Avenue is also no longer happening.

FRANNIE EXPRESS This hole-in-the-wall Chinese fast food eatery is now named Lucky Chef Chen, though the food seems mostly unchanged. Frannie Express was at 3542 International Blvd.

HUNAN YUAN Thanks to a kind reader, Nosh learned that longtime Oakland Hills staple Hunan Yuan in the Lincoln Square Shopping Center closed permanently mid-pandemic, purportedly after a rent hike. The Chinese restaurant was a go-to for many and will be missed. Hunan Yuan was at 4100 Redwood Rd.

R'Noodles in Chinatown has closed for good. Photo: Sarah Han
R’Noodles — known for its Guilin-style noodle soups — in Chinatown has closed for good. Photo: Sarah Han

R’ NOODLES Soleil Ho’s list of notable closures this month includes this short-lived Guilin-style rice noodle shop in Oakland’s Chinatown, spotlit for its snail soup. R’ Noodles was at 930 Webster St.

Beyond

Open

Sachi Sushi's omakase set. Photo: Sachi Sushi
Sachi Sushi’s omakase set. Photo: Sachi Sushi

SACHI SUSHI Alameda’s S.A.G.A. Kitchen, launched in November, has added a fourth restaurant to its communal business that also includes Wok Chi, Koharu and Yue Club. Sachi Sushi’s menu includes sashimi, specialty rolls and nicely presented omakase. Sachi Sushi at S.A.G.A. Kitchen, 1707 Lincoln Ave. (between Grand and Minturn streets), Alameda

SHANGRI-LA VEGAN Taking over the former Mangia Mangia restaurant in Albany is a new location for Shangri-La Vegan, a macrobiotic restaurant with a plant-based, organic and healthful menu, that already has two branches in North Oakland (on Telegraph Avenue and on Linden Street). Shangri-La’s arrival in Albany is well-timed, as the city’s macrobiotic go-to, Potala Organic Cafe (which was founded by a Shangri-La Vegan veteran chef) has been closed due to the pandemic. According to a reader, Potala fans will find lots to like at the new restaurant. Shangri-La Vegan, 755 San Pablo Ave., (at Washington Avenue), Albany

SUSHI & MORE Alameda has another new place for sushi and… more. The Japanese fast-casual eatery features bento boxes, bowls, boba, udon and ramen, along with sushi rolls and sashimi, and is getting enthusiastic reviews so far. Open daily for takeout. Sushi & More, 1245 Park St. (between Encinal and San Antonio avenues), Alameda

Closed

EL CHARRO MEXICAN DINING Lafayette’s beloved El Charro closed on New Year’s Day, taking with it one of the area’s most comfortable, convivial Mexican dining rooms and outdoor patios. The restaurant was known for its festive, family-friendly appeal, and featured standard Mexican fare — and sought-after blue cheese dip. It opened in 1947. El Charro was at 3339 Mt. Diablo Blvd. in Lafayette.

JOE & THE JUICE Despite mostly favorable reviews, Danish coffee and juice chain Joe & The Juice has closed its Lafayette location. The shop at City Center Bishop Ranch in San Ramon remains open, as well as several in San Francisco. Joe & the Juice was at 998 Moraga Rd. in Lafayette.

MADE PHO YOU This friendly Vietnamese enclave shuttered after just one year, and Alamedans are sad about it. Sushi & More has opened in the space (see Open). Made Pho You was at 1245 Park St. in Alameda

The Original Mels in Concord is no longer. Photo: Original Mels Concord/Facebook
Four-year-old Original Mels in Concord closed on Jan. 4. Photo: Original Mels Concord/Facebook

THE ORIGINAL MELS CONCORD The Concord location of Original Mels closed on Jan. 4 after four years, part of the nostalgic, diner-style chain meant to evoke the all-American Mels Drive-Ins that first opened in San Francisco in the 1940s, and gained enormous fame in the movie “American Graffiti.” Fun fact: There are actually two separate Mels restaurant groups — eight Mels Drive-Ins in northern and southern California, and now 17 Original Mels eateries in Northern California and Nevada — and not a single apostrophe among them. (Maybe it saves on neon signage?) Original Mels Concord was at 4391 Treat Blvd. in Concord.

Temporarily closed

FONDA A note on this popular Solano Avenue tapas restaurant’s website announces a months-long temporary closure until outdoor dining is allowed to resume (perhaps it will reopen soon?). Fonda is at 1501 Solano Ave. in Albany.

The Chronic, a fresh juice at Hip Hop Juice Box in Emeryville.
Hip Hop Juice Box plans to reopen in early February. Photo: Hip Hop Juice Box

HIP HOP JUICE BOX This heartfelt, throwback Emeryville hangout has been temporarily closed since December, but owner Eric Turner told Nosh he plans to reopen the cafe during the first week of February. Hip Hop Juice Box is at 3960 Adeline St. in Emeryville.

LE BATEAU IVRE Look to this Nosh piece by contributor Cirrus Wood for an update on near-50-year-old Berkeley favorite Le Bateau Ivre. The charming, French-inspired restaurant, that shares a name with a poem by Arthur Rimbaud, is temporarily closed for now. Le Bateau Ivre is at 2629 Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley.

MAGO As of Jan. 1, Mago announced a “temporary winter pause” that might last a few weeks. Check the restaurant’s website and Instagram for updates. Mago is at 3762 Piedmont Ave. in Oakland

MASABAGA Masabaga temporarily closed during the post-holiday surge in Covid cases, and hoped to use the break to update the eatery’s bar. Masabaga is at 2022 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland.

ORCHIDS THAI Back in July of 2019, Bites reported on the health department’s temporary closure of Orchids Thai on Piedmont Avenue. The restaurant eventually reopened, but after another routine inspection in December 2020, it has once again been temporarily closed due to a series of violations, including poor cleaning of surfaces and food handling. Hmm. Orchids Thai is at 4133 Piedmont Ave. in Oakland.

Nosh Editor Sarah Han contributed reporting.