“Can you recommend a new place to eat?” That’s the question Nosh contributors get the most, and it’s a good one — while we all have our beloved standbys, exploring a new restaurant is one of life’s great pleasures. Watch this space every week for the newest restaurants to try in Berkeley, Oakland and the rest of the East Bay. As always, tips and recommendations are welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Berkeley gets its much-anticipated second location for Boichik Bagels on Friday, opening to doubtlessly long, eager lines at 7:30 a.m. The enormous new bagel plant, cafe and retail space features at its heart, as Eater described it, a “robot bagel maker,” aka owner Emily Winston’s beautifully designed new mechanical dough line, yet another innovation improving our new bagel reality here on the West Coast. Said Winston herself in her newsletter to Boichik fans, “in celebrating Women’s History Month, this may very well be the first woman-built and-owned bagel factory ever! (Cursory googling; I can’t find any others.)” Expect a similar menu to Boichik’s other locations, plus some additional treats. Boichik Bagels, 1225 Sixth St. (between Gilman and Harrison streets), Berkeley
As noted in this week’s Nosh closings, Hesher’s Pizza — and yes, that is a nod to our area’s metal rock history — has taken over the reins at Crooked City Cider Tap House, effective immediately, and as the transition occurs, the notable Jack London Square bar and restaurant will remain open daily. New owner is Zak “Coffin” McCune, founder of Hesher’s Pizza, a Crooked City subtenant since 2002. McCune said he plans to maintain the spot’s cider, mead and kombucha program, adding a larger selection of beer and wine as things develop. Pizza here is among the area’s top underground favorites — Sicilian pan pies, deep and rich, sometimes featuring a kick. For more information and a sense of the vibe, please see Hesher’s Instagram account. Welcome to headline billing, Hesher’s. Hesher’s Pizza & Tap House, 206 Broadway (between 2nd and 3rd streets), Oakland
As advertised, Shake Shack opened Mar. 16 on Bay Street, sandwiched among waves of hot-ticket new openings at the Emeryville shopping center, with a grand opening scheduled for the Bay Break Terrace updated dining area on Mar. 25. Expect a solid uptick in Bay Street crowds, as the opening of a Shake Shack alone brings them in droves. This, coupled with recent new destinations Uchiwa Ramen and Tipsy Putt, and upcoming newcomers such as Pippal (from San Francisco’s Rooh team), Arthur Mac’s Little Snack and Fogo de Chao promise a range of crowd-pleasing new options for shoppers — and maybe just diners — on Bay Street. Shake Shack, 5614 Bay St., Suite 240, Emeryville
This one’s exciting: Downtown Berkeley just welcomed a big, beautiful, stylish new woman-owned pizzeria from award-winning pizzaiola and Berkeley resident Laura Meyer, inside the former Passione Caffe. Meyer is a 20-year veteran of Tony Gemignani’s famed restaurants including Tony’s Pizza Napoletana and Capo’s in San Francisco’s North Beach, as well as his chef-hub, the International School of Pizza. She launched a focaccia-based pop-up during the pandemic, the business of which prompted this move into her own pizza restaurant. It’s open for dinner now (dine-in and takeout); hours will eventually expand into weekday slice service, too. See you there. Pizzeria da Laura, 91 Shattuck Sq. (at Addison St.), Berkeley
Signal now has a jewel box of a second cafe in Alameda, on Central Avenue near Park Street, joining the west Alameda flagship across the island on Webster Street. The new location marks the fourth overall for the growing local coffee chain from partners and co-owners Brendan Doherty and Rebecca Brown. Signal is known for its rich, locally roasted coffee and stylish yet approachable atmosphere, both of which have notably charmed Berkeley since opening there last September. Now lucky Alameda gets a double shot. Signal Coffee, 2318a Central Ave. (between Park and Oak streets), Alameda
Cafe Buenos Aires West Berkeley
Argentinian empanada purveyor Cafe Buenos Aires has opened a third location, joining the original South Berkeley location and its more recent opening on Powell St. in Emeryville. The new West Berkeley branch is a welcoming little counter-service spot on Tenth Street, with warm tile, floor-to-ceiling glass windows and outdoor cafe seating. The small menu includes fresh empanadas (corn, ham and cheese, “pumpkin pie”), pastries and coffee drinks available weekdays. Cafe Buenos Aires, 2530 Tenth St. (between Parker Street and Dwight Way), Berkeley
As noted by What NowSF, chef Booli Huerta’s pop-up Fish and Bonez has a new HQ at the commercial kitchens at 2701 Eighth St. in Berkeley, joining an eclectic array of local industry players. Look for fresh local collaborations and pop-ups; fingers crossed we’ll eventually have the chance to pick-up the chef’s flavorful boards, tacos and other colorful specials (as seen at Korner, Slug Bar, Rare Barrel, De La Creamery and others) direct from the space. For now, follow them here for weekly pop-up events around the Bay, including Friday at Hammerling Wines. Fish and Bonez (commercial kitchen HQ), 2701 Eighth St., Berkeley
Lucky for us, Oaklander and Michelin-starred chef James Syhabout (his destination restaurant Commis has not one but two stars, and is the only East Bay restaurant to claim any) is equally comfortable slinging comforting street food for the people: His fast-casual, Thai-inspired eatery Hawking Bird reopens its indoor dining room this week, after restricting service to takeout since the pandemic began.
On offer are accessible, flavorful dishes with a focus on chicken — khao mun ghai, sticky marinated fried and barbecued chicken bowls, curries, salads, hefty sandwiches and a range of soul-satisfying options for many diets. The Temescal restaurant is all the more sought after now that Syhabout has closed all locations of his more upscale-casual Lao restaurant Hawker Fare. Hawking Bird’s indoor dining reopens Mar. 14. Hawking Bird, 4901 Telegraph Ave. (at 49th St.), Oakland
Purple Kow Berkeley
Students! After a few days’ delay, the opening date for Purple Kow’s fresh, pretty new digs on Channing St. at the base of The Den student apartment complex is Mar. 17. Head there to find all those boba drinks and tasty snacks you might recall from the Center St. location, now closed after 10 years of service. Purple Kow, 2508 Channing Wy. (near Telegraph Avenue), Berkeley
Berkeley’s Elmwood neighborhood is about to get even more festive with Tuesday’s grand opening of 5 Tacos & Beers, in the former Shen Hua restaurant space on College Ave. For those who have not visited the original 5 Tacos & Beers in Albany, trust — this restaurant from Lito Saldaña (Los Moles) is known for its fun, easy sophistication.
The lively taqueria features an appealing menu of craft beers and taco flights, and pleases friends, families, groups and dates with equal charm. As at the Albany location, a nice amount of outdoor seating is on offer. 5 Tacos & Beers, 2914 College Ave. (between Ashby Avenue and Russell Street), Berkeley
Coffee lovers PSA: Highwire has opened a new downtown Oakland cafe at 1111 Broadway, replacing a pandemic-related casualty Peet’s that closed last May. The Emeryville-based roastery with the lovely marketing serves up rich drinks at some of the East Bay’s more handsome locations, from Albany’s Flowerland to Alameda’s Park Street to Oakland’s Market Hall in Rockridge.
This spacious, tony, light-filled new corporate-district shop is no exception. Also on offer are Highwire’s 4Track brand teas, chai, retail coffee products and a curated list of locally made pastries. The downtown Oakland Highwire opened Feb. 13. Highwire Coffee Roasters, 1111 Broadway (between 11th and 12th streets), Oakland
Shake Shack Walnut Creek
The Bay Area’s tenth and newest Shake Shack burger chain location had the Creek quaking last weekend, as lines snaked around the block at least an hour before the eatery had even opened. As fans know well, the widespread North American franchise began as a single hot dog stand in New York City in 2001, and now boasts a long menu of specialty burgers as well as chicken sandwiches, various topped fries, milkshakes and frozen custard. (And yes, there is still a hot dog on the menu.) Shake Shack, 1604 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Walnut Creek
Brian Wood’s Starter Bakery, well known since 2010 for breads and pastries delivered wholesale to Bay Area specialty shops, restaurants and cafes, has opened its first stand-alone storefront in lucky Rockridge; Nosh readers can find all the details from Eve Batey here.
Fresh croissants, brioche, bread loaves and quickbreads, quiches, pies, cookies and those sought-after kouign amanns, along with some new dedicated treats made just for the new shop, are turned out from on-site ovens in the warm, pleasant cafe space.
While the Rockridge retail shop ramps up, the public-facing online store operating out of Starter’s Gilman Street production site is temporarily paused (though its wholesale operations will continue) — all the more reason to head over to College Avenue and test the wares there, where sandwiches, coffee drinks and other refreshments are also available. Tip: Order ahead to avoid the opening lines, which were deliciously long last weekend. Starter Bakery, 5804 College Ave. (between Chabot Road and Birch Court, Oakland