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A mezze platter from Lulu Berkeley with a mix of house-baked breads, dips, spreads, and shareable items including Za’atar Fried Eggs, Fried Halloumi, Labneh, Baba Ganoush, Shakshuka, Za’atar Mana’eesh, seasonal fruit, and more. Lulu Berkeley

The Hottest New Restaurants in the East Bay, September 2021

The most exciting new restaurants in Oakland, Berkeley, and beyond

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Despite the challenges of the past year and a half, the East Bay has seen an influx of exciting new restaurants — mostly unfussy, relatively affordable places that show off the breadth and depth of the region’s varied cuisines. Newer additions include a sunny spot for a mezze brunch and an American brasserie embedded in historic digs. Read on for 12 of the East Bay’s most exciting new restaurants.

The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Lulu

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1019 Camelia St
Berkeley, CA 94710
(510) 529-4300
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Breakfast and lunch get an infusion of Palestinian flavor at Lulu, the debut restaurant from Palestinian-American chef Mona Leena, formerly executive chef at Dyafa. At Lulu she brings forth a menu of sweet and savory pastries — including her popular mana’eesh — and takes deviled eggs to the Middle East with whipped labneh yolks and a za’atar rim. On weekends, mezze brunch means a family-style spread of hummus, labneh, and more in a bright space with hot pink neon accents and a healthy number of plants. 

The interior of the restaurant with white walls and chairs, wooden tables, and plants throughout the space. Lulu Berkeley

2. Sunday Bakeshop

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5931 College Ave
Oakland, CA 94618
(510) 599-8550
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Rockridge has a new crown jewel in Sunday Bakeshop, a bakery using French techniques and Asian American flavors to create craveable, flaky pastries. For example, the aloha croissant combines sweet pineapple pork sausage, green onions, furikake, aged parmesan, and house-made kimchee spiced salt, while a dim sum cookie incorporates sesame tahini, roasted sesame seeds, and sweetened red bean paste. Order ahead or stop by to ogle them all, in person.

Aloha Croissant
Sunday Bakeshop

3. Snail Bar

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4935 Shattuck Ave
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 879-7678
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Hard to say whether it’s the charm of the space — with its sunny interior and checkered floors — or the selection of brightly hued natural wines or the menu of always-rotating chalkboard menu of small plates that’s captivated the attention of Bay Area diners. But in any case, Snail Bar is ready to serve interested parties delicate crudos, colorful crudites, and, naturally, plates of escargots. Chef and owner Andres Giraldo Florez brings experience at Michelin-starred restaurants including Saison and WD-50 in New York to the endeavor.

4. Yilan Foods

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4066 Piedmont Ave
Oakland, CA 94611

The East Bay’s buzziest pop-up of the moment is this Taiwanese beef noodle soup specialist, whose Sunday pickup slots tend to sell out within an hour after they’re posted for online preordering (every Wednesday at noon). The enthusiasm is understandable: The East Bay’s Taiwanese food scene has long been fairly thin, which means there aren’t many places where you can score even a half-decent version of hong shao (red-braised) beef noodle soup or lu rou fan (braised pork belly rice) — Yilan Foods’ two signature dishes. Of course, Yilan’s version aims to be much better than half-decent: The rich broth for the soup is cooked overnight; the lu rou fan is made exclusively with hand-cut pork belly, unlike more Americanized spots, which tend to temper the dish’s inherent, glorious fattiness with leaner cuts.

5. Palmetto

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1900 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 817-4002
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This tropical-inspired steakhouse from the team behind Kon-Tiki first opened in May 2020 for takeout, but eventually closed to wait out the pandemic. Now it’s back open in the heart of Uptown Oakland in all it’s neon-pastel glory, bringing dishes like steak tartare with salsa verde aioli and totopos, and shrimp cocktail with tomatillo sauce and cilantro oil to the waiting masses. Cocktails match the vibe, leaning into the team’s tiki pedigree.

Tarik Kazaleh

6. Sobre Mesa

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1618 Franklin St
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 858-7544
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After serving patrons for only nine days ahead of last March’s lockdown, buzzy Afro-Latino cocktail bar and restaurant Sobre Mesa is back. Chef Nelson German (currently a competitor on Season 18 of Top Chef) has revived his menu of dishes like tostones with salchichon n’duja, steak and cheese empanadas, and jerk mussels. Tropical cocktails are on order, including Nina’s Spell with cognac, peach liqueur, ginger, lime, yuzu, and Angostura. Indoor dining and seats on the heated outdoor parklet are available by reservation, with limited space for walk-ins.

Another view of the main bar at Sobre Mesa
The bar at Sobre Mesa
Thomas Kuoh

7. Tribune

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401 13th St
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 285-6499
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Downtown Oaklands’ historic Tribune Tower (formerly the home of the Oakland Tribune newspaper) now houses an American brasserie from the team behind Town Revival. Here partners Omri Aflalo, John Cahill, and Darrin Ballon give familiar classics like steak tartare and a chopped salad a slight refresh and offer up cocktails like the Rumble In The Jungle made with both dark and pineapple rum, Campari, and lime juice. 

Herb crusted pork tenderloin Adahlia Cole/Tribune

8. Dela Curo/Sundo

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907 Washington St
Oakland, CA 94607

Chikara Ono, chef-owner of B-Dama, has flipped the former izakaya-style kiosk at Swan’s Market into a two-for-one special with the opening of Dela Curo and Sundo. Dela Curo centers around rich, black Japanese curry that’s made by caramelizing each component of the curry before combining them. Sundo, meanwhile, is all about sandwiches served on fluffy milk bread that Ono imports from Japan.

Fried chicken curry Chikara Ono

9. Understory Oakland

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Ohlone Territory, 528 8th St
Oakland, CA 94607

Understory opened in March as a worker-led restaurant and bar serving food inspired by the backgrounds of the workers running the kitchen. That includes Moroccan, Filipino, and Mexican influences in the form of snacks like ukoy fritters, small plates like cauliflower baja tacos, and sliders, with fillings like kefta lamb or chicken tocino. There are a few cocktails on offer, as well as dessert. Almost everything is vegan, or can be made vegan, too.

10. Jo's Modern Thai

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3725 MacArthur Blvd
Oakland, CA 94619
(510) 479-3167
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Former Kin Khao chef Intu-on Kornnawong, who’s eponymous pop-up was one of the highlights of Bay Area dining in 2020, partnered with local owner Kao Saelee to bring pork laab burgers and splashy cocktails to Oakland at Jo’s Modern Thai. Kornnawong’s uncompromising flavors are inspired by her Issan roots and shaped by the flavors of northern California, which means dishes like pad Thai come crowned with lobster or soft shell crab while spicy pad kee mao will showcase brisket sourced from Oakland’s Smokin’ Woods BBQ. Paired with tropical cocktails from Tayler Sampson (Starline Social Club) on the restaurant’s beachy back patio, Jo’s makes escapism easy. 

11. The Bussdown

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2353 E 12th St
Oakland, CA 94601

The Bussdown is weaving in Jamaican, West-African, and Nigerian flavors into its takeout- and delivery-only offerings, liked smoked sofrito seafood, Jamaican beef patties, and more. The duo behind it, chefs Solomon Johnson and Mike Woods, are also working on a new concept, that they’re previewing in a series of monthly supper club dinners. Grab a ticket to OKO for an eight-course tasting menu built to highlight the African and Afro-Latino diaspora at a loft space in Oakland, with plans for a fine dining restaurant down the line. More details and tickets can be found here.

12. Red Bay Coffee Roasters - Headquarters & Cafe

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3136 International Blvd
Oakland, CA 94601
(510) 399-2441
Visit Website

Red Bay’s new HQ is both a roastery and cafe, though right now the majority of food offerings are excellent pastries, with a large offering of coffee and teas. Eventually African hand pies and empanadas will join the menu. For now, swing by to check out Red Bay’s beautiful new space in the heart of Fruitvale.

1. Lulu

1019 Camelia St, Berkeley, CA 94710
The interior of the restaurant with white walls and chairs, wooden tables, and plants throughout the space. Lulu Berkeley

Breakfast and lunch get an infusion of Palestinian flavor at Lulu, the debut restaurant from Palestinian-American chef Mona Leena, formerly executive chef at Dyafa. At Lulu she brings forth a menu of sweet and savory pastries — including her popular mana’eesh — and takes deviled eggs to the Middle East with whipped labneh yolks and a za’atar rim. On weekends, mezze brunch means a family-style spread of hummus, labneh, and more in a bright space with hot pink neon accents and a healthy number of plants. 

1019 Camelia St
Berkeley, CA 94710

2. Sunday Bakeshop

5931 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618
Aloha Croissant
Sunday Bakeshop

Rockridge has a new crown jewel in Sunday Bakeshop, a bakery using French techniques and Asian American flavors to create craveable, flaky pastries. For example, the aloha croissant combines sweet pineapple pork sausage, green onions, furikake, aged parmesan, and house-made kimchee spiced salt, while a dim sum cookie incorporates sesame tahini, roasted sesame seeds, and sweetened red bean paste. Order ahead or stop by to ogle them all, in person.

5931 College Ave
Oakland, CA 94618

3. Snail Bar

4935 Shattuck Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

Hard to say whether it’s the charm of the space — with its sunny interior and checkered floors — or the selection of brightly hued natural wines or the menu of always-rotating chalkboard menu of small plates that’s captivated the attention of Bay Area diners. But in any case, Snail Bar is ready to serve interested parties delicate crudos, colorful crudites, and, naturally, plates of escargots. Chef and owner Andres Giraldo Florez brings experience at Michelin-starred restaurants including Saison and WD-50 in New York to the endeavor.

4935 Shattuck Ave
Oakland, CA 94609

4. Yilan Foods

4066 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

The East Bay’s buzziest pop-up of the moment is this Taiwanese beef noodle soup specialist, whose Sunday pickup slots tend to sell out within an hour after they’re posted for online preordering (every Wednesday at noon). The enthusiasm is understandable: The East Bay’s Taiwanese food scene has long been fairly thin, which means there aren’t many places where you can score even a half-decent version of hong shao (red-braised) beef noodle soup or lu rou fan (braised pork belly rice) — Yilan Foods’ two signature dishes. Of course, Yilan’s version aims to be much better than half-decent: The rich broth for the soup is cooked overnight; the lu rou fan is made exclusively with hand-cut pork belly, unlike more Americanized spots, which tend to temper the dish’s inherent, glorious fattiness with leaner cuts.

4066 Piedmont Ave
Oakland, CA 94611

5. Palmetto

1900 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612
Tarik Kazaleh

This tropical-inspired steakhouse from the team behind Kon-Tiki first opened in May 2020 for takeout, but eventually closed to wait out the pandemic. Now it’s back open in the heart of Uptown Oakland in all it’s neon-pastel glory, bringing dishes like steak tartare with salsa verde aioli and totopos, and shrimp cocktail with tomatillo sauce and cilantro oil to the waiting masses. Cocktails match the vibe, leaning into the team’s tiki pedigree.

1900 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94612

6. Sobre Mesa

1618 Franklin St, Oakland, CA 94612
Another view of the main bar at Sobre Mesa
The bar at Sobre Mesa
Thomas Kuoh

After serving patrons for only nine days ahead of last March’s lockdown, buzzy Afro-Latino cocktail bar and restaurant Sobre Mesa is back. Chef Nelson German (currently a competitor on Season 18 of Top Chef) has revived his menu of dishes like tostones with salchichon n’duja, steak and cheese empanadas, and jerk mussels. Tropical cocktails are on order, including Nina’s Spell with cognac, peach liqueur, ginger, lime, yuzu, and Angostura. Indoor dining and seats on the heated outdoor parklet are available by reservation, with limited space for walk-ins.

1618 Franklin St
Oakland, CA 94612

7. Tribune

401 13th St, Oakland, CA 94612
Herb crusted pork tenderloin Adahlia Cole/Tribune

Downtown Oaklands’ historic Tribune Tower (formerly the home of the Oakland Tribune newspaper) now houses an American brasserie from the team behind Town Revival. Here partners Omri Aflalo, John Cahill, and Darrin Ballon give familiar classics like steak tartare and a chopped salad a slight refresh and offer up cocktails like the Rumble In The Jungle made with both dark and pineapple rum, Campari, and lime juice. 

401 13th St
Oakland, CA 94612

8. Dela Curo/Sundo

907 Washington St, Oakland, CA 94607
Fried chicken curry Chikara Ono

Chikara Ono, chef-owner of B-Dama, has flipped the former izakaya-style kiosk at Swan’s Market into a two-for-one special with the opening of Dela Curo and Sundo. Dela Curo centers around rich, black Japanese curry that’s made by caramelizing each component of the curry before combining them. Sundo, meanwhile, is all about sandwiches served on fluffy milk bread that Ono imports from Japan.

907 Washington St
Oakland, CA 94607

9. Understory Oakland

Ohlone Territory, 528 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607

Understory opened in March as a worker-led restaurant and bar serving food inspired by the backgrounds of the workers running the kitchen. That includes Moroccan, Filipino, and Mexican influences in the form of snacks like ukoy fritters, small plates like cauliflower baja tacos, and sliders, with fillings like kefta lamb or chicken tocino. There are a few cocktails on offer, as well as dessert. Almost everything is vegan, or can be made vegan, too.

Ohlone Territory, 528 8th St
Oakland, CA 94607

10. Jo's Modern Thai

3725 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94619

Former Kin Khao chef Intu-on Kornnawong, who’s eponymous pop-up was one of the highlights of Bay Area dining in 2020, partnered with local owner Kao Saelee to bring pork laab burgers and splashy cocktails to Oakland at Jo’s Modern Thai. Kornnawong’s uncompromising flavors are inspired by her Issan roots and shaped by the flavors of northern California, which means dishes like pad Thai come crowned with lobster or soft shell crab while spicy pad kee mao will showcase brisket sourced from Oakland’s Smokin’ Woods BBQ. Paired with tropical cocktails from Tayler Sampson (Starline Social Club) on the restaurant’s beachy back patio, Jo’s makes escapism easy. 

3725 MacArthur Blvd
Oakland, CA 94619

11. The Bussdown

2353 E 12th St, Oakland, CA 94601

The Bussdown is weaving in Jamaican, West-African, and Nigerian flavors into its takeout- and delivery-only offerings, liked smoked sofrito seafood, Jamaican beef patties, and more. The duo behind it, chefs Solomon Johnson and Mike Woods, are also working on a new concept, that they’re previewing in a series of monthly supper club dinners. Grab a ticket to OKO for an eight-course tasting menu built to highlight the African and Afro-Latino diaspora at a loft space in Oakland, with plans for a fine dining restaurant down the line. More details and tickets can be found here.

2353 E 12th St
Oakland, CA 94601

12. Red Bay Coffee Roasters - Headquarters & Cafe

3136 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601

Red Bay’s new HQ is both a roastery and cafe, though right now the majority of food offerings are excellent pastries, with a large offering of coffee and teas. Eventually African hand pies and empanadas will join the menu. For now, swing by to check out Red Bay’s beautiful new space in the heart of Fruitvale.

3136 International Blvd
Oakland, CA 94601

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