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Photo by Hardy Wilson, Courtesy ACRE Restaurant

The Hottest New Restaurants in the East Bay, January 2023

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

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The East Bay is in the thrust of a food renaissance as a new crop of restaurants continues to widen the electrifying mix of dining experiences and cuisine, which includes the opening of a new cafe and restaurant taking over the Oliveto spot in Oakland, a Portland-based brewery opening a taproom in Berkeley, and a new coffee and wine bar (with a bonus art gallery in the back). Read on for 21 of the East Bay’s most exciting new places.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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The Backyard

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This family-friendly restaurant in Richmond opened in November, readying an outdoor space perfect for lawn games, music, and movie nights — with a crowd-pleasing menu to boot. Breakfast sandwiches are served all day, along with burgers, and tartines; vegans, vegetarians, and those looking for gluten-free options won’t be left out, as well, with the option to sub ingredients to make a dish perfect. Get the sausage and egg sandwich, but swap in an Acme croissant for extra oomph.

Delirama

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Pastrami has its cult of fans, but not enough places that make it right. However, Delirama is one of the good ones. Slices of pastrami are the star, and you can get your fix early with the breakfast menu featuring pastrami stacked onto house-made bagels or bialys. Or stick around for a more classic lunch option at about 11 a.m. when the rye bread comes out of the oven and makes a perfect vessel for Delirama’s pastrami goodness. If you’re allergic to lunch lines, head in early and pick up a breakfast sandwich to start your day.

Masa Ramen Bistro

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Masa Ramen Bistro is a new ramen spot taking cues from Hawaii. Order one of five types of ramen — there’s an oxtail ramen version if you’re a fan of that cut — or dive into a Loco Loco Moco served with a Japanese-style potato salad. And if you’re too full after your meal, take a spam musubi to-go and enjoy it at home later.

Cafe Ohlone

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The world’s first Ohlone restaurant has re-opened in our own backyard of Berkeley, serving highly seasonal dishes that reflect the Ohlone culture and the local wonders of Indigenous Bay Area ingredients in a beautiful outdoor patio setting. The menu will rotate as the seasons change but expect both a meal of East Bay Ohlone favorites, as well as history and cultural lessons to boot. For now, the restaurant hosts reservation-only tea hour and lunches, with the expectation of expanding to dinner and brunch in the months to come.

Great Notion Brewing - Berkeley

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Portland, Oregon’s Great Notion Brewing has made the leap to opening a taproom in California, taking over the former Torpedo Room on Fourth Street in Berkeley. There are 16 beers on tap, a mix of Great Notion’s core beers, including smoothie beers and sours in rotation and in 16-ounce cans available to go. Go for the hazy IPAs, and as a PSA: outside food, children, and (well-behaved and leashed) dogs are welcome.

State Flour Pizza Company

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East Bay PizzaHacker fans will be pleased to know that an alum has opened a Berkeley pizza shop of his own: State Flour Pizza Company on College Avenue is the newest addition to the Berkeley pizza scene. The roster of options will rotate, but already the pizzas have gotten some good buzz from other pizzamakers. Stop in for the BLTCEA while it’s around; it’s a white-sauced pizza topped with bacon, arugula (which is standing in for the lettuce), cherry tomatoes, corn, a farm egg, garlic, avocado dressing, mozzarella and grano padano cheese.

KAOKAO Grill

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KaoKao Grill is a new addition to the East Bay barbecue scene, proclaiming its food is “reinventing American-style BBQ with Asian-influenced flavors.” The KaoKao chicken and char siu meats are smoked in-house, and as far as we know, no one else in the area is offering a bacon, egg, and cheese that swaps char siu for bacon, in what has to be the best reboot of the classic BEC in recent history.

ACRE Kitchen and Bar

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Many were saddened to see Oliveto’s 35-year tenure in the Market Hall building come to an end, but in its place is the new Acre, looking to fill out the two-story space with a cafe and restaurant. If you’re more in the mood for the feel of a “European-style” cafe, park yourself downstairs and pick out some sardines or garlic shrimp with a glass of wine. If you’d rather have bigger dishes for a dinner at night (with a cocktail), head upstairs for the heftier plates, such as a whole roasted branzino or a rotisserie chicken.

Photo by Hardy Wilson, Courtesy ACRERestaurant

The Calypso Rose

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Verna McGowan has had many careers in her lifetime — including seven years as author Alice Walker’s personal chef — but now she is showcasing her cooking talents to the public at her new Emeryville spot, Calypso Rose. McGowan serves a mix of Caribbean, Guayanese, and Puerto Rican dishes at the Emeryville Public Market; if you’re hungry, try the oxtail-laden pepperpot dish.

Calypso Rose

The Rendez-Vous

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If you are in need of a Paris-like outing for the night, the Rendez-Vous has French vibes to spare. Lose yourself in the interiors — designed by co-owner Johnelle Mancha who operates the spot with her husband Brian Hill, as well as running her business Mignonne Decor, Berkeleyside writes — but don’t forget about the equally compelling food and drink menu. Slurp Miyagi oysters or try beet-cured halibut with pickled watermelon from chef Nate Berrigan-Dunlop, while sipping on a glass of French wine or dipping into a stronger cocktail, such as the ginger julep.

The Sunday

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However you feel about the word “fusion” in reference to food, what the Sunday is doing with its selection of breakfast and Korean dishes is really just playful and tasty. Go feast on bulgogi benedicts, carbonara ddokbokki, or kimchi soft tofu au gratin outside of brunch hours at this all-day Emeryville spot.

Ok's Deli

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The long-awaited storefront from pandemic pop-up favorite Ok’s Deli opened September 1 to much fanfare and long lines. Still, don’t let the (potentially long) wait deter you — the sandwiches are still in fine form, including the Taiwanese-style fried chicken sandwich and the egg salad option. Don’t skip the potato chip selection while you’re at it, the Ok’s group specifically picked American and Asian favorites to round out your meal.

Hoang Le

Owner David Liu is continuing his family’s sushi legacy — his mother has run Kyoto Sushi in Berkeley for 25 years, and now Liu has opened a new takeout sushi spot with Ebiko on Piedmont Avenue. Inside the shop you’ll find a beautiful array of to-go sushi, including sushi rolls, omakase nigiri and changing daily specials that are worth a glance. Pick up some snacks and drinks while you’re there, such as the Calbee shrimp chips and Hojicha iced tea, and you’re all set for a sushi picnic or lunch at home.

Ebiko

Calabash

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Calabash is a new project from Kingston 11’s Nigel Jones and Komaaj’s Hanif Sadr. It’s an all-day spot that serves both Afro-Caribbean dishes and Northern Iranian cuisine, taking diners from day to night. There are egg dishes and tahini and jam toast for breakfast, while heartier dishes like roasted chicken or platters of sumac-laden labneh dip go from lunch until the evening. There’s also a cocktail bar with specialty drinks and a separate wine bar featuring local wines to keep the party going in this multi-functional spot.

Patricia Chang

Kinfolx

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After holding a few events that gave customers a sneak peek at the space in late 2022, Kinfolx is officially open, serving coffee, wine, and a space to gather. Grab a Kinfolx latte if you’re there to work on your laptop at one of the tables, and when you’re ready to clock out, switch over to the wine selection and peruse the newly installed wine shelves toward the back gallery.

Maria C. Hunt

Yonsei Handrolls

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The hand roll craze continues on, and now Oakland has a brand-new hand roll spot thanks to veteran chef Kyle Itani. Yonsei Handrolls opens next door to Itani’s other restaurant, Itani Ramen, and features tasty, nontraditional hand rolls such as a seared albacore hand roll with a torched, black garlic compound butter. Don’t skip out on the drinks, if you imbibe: much like Itani Ramen, this new spot will also feature a number of strong cocktails Roku Negroni, or a sake flight to sip alongside your meal.

Ed Anderson

OKO at Tribune

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Chefs Solomon Johnson and Mike Woods took over the Tribune location in Oakland this October, bringing their OKO supper club pop-up to downtown. Expect refined dishes that center pan-African and Creole cuisine as Johnson and Woods envision it, all in the historic Tribune building. The residency is set to last for at least one year, so get there fast.

Adahlia Cole

Noka Ramen

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Noka Ramen’s photo-worthy Oakland space will get plenty of acclaim from those who enjoyed the similar aesthetics at chef-owner Kasem Saengsawang’s other restaurants, Son & Garden and Farmhouse Kitchen Thai. But there’s also a serious (and fun) food element going for the restaurant. Luxuriate in the rich tonkotsu broth of the ramen, including a classic ramen, a spicy miso version, or a black garlic option — all loaded with soft-boiled eggs, bamboo shoots, beansprouts, and more. There’s a veggie-based broth for those who prefer it, as well as more audacious styles incorporating lobster or short ribs with dry-style Japanese noodles. And if you partake, don’t miss the colorful and playful drink menu while you’re at it.

Crumble & Whisk

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Charles Farrier has sold his popular cheesecakes and treats at farmer’s markets since 2016, but the La Cocina incubator alum opened his own space in Oakland’s Laurel District in December. Now, those who know Farrier for his sweets — the personal-sized cheesecakes are perfect for when you just want a sweet little something — can buy them at his permanent bakery, and sample more of Farrier’s food with the inclusion of breakfast and lunch.

Tacos El Ultimo Baile

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Much of Oakland, nay the East Bay, might already know chef Dominic Prado’s food at Tacos El Último Baile from its time as a popular food truck, but now Prado is serving up his street-style tacos at his new, permanent restaurant in Fruitvale. Go for anything rotating on the trompo, but also make sure to check out the specials while you’re at it — they’re usually limited and in high demand (not to mention, delicious). And now that the food isn’t served out of a truck, kick back and enjoy the cantina vibes while you sip on a beer alongside your tacos.

Tacos El Último Baile

Charlie May Coffee and Tea House

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Charlie May made a name for itself as a coffee shop staple at pop-ups and markets, but now sisters Arianna and Analyssa Cruz have opened a permanent location in Oakland. Try the champorado or latiya cold brew, two drinks for which the shop is known.

The Backyard

This family-friendly restaurant in Richmond opened in November, readying an outdoor space perfect for lawn games, music, and movie nights — with a crowd-pleasing menu to boot. Breakfast sandwiches are served all day, along with burgers, and tartines; vegans, vegetarians, and those looking for gluten-free options won’t be left out, as well, with the option to sub ingredients to make a dish perfect. Get the sausage and egg sandwich, but swap in an Acme croissant for extra oomph.

Delirama

Pastrami has its cult of fans, but not enough places that make it right. However, Delirama is one of the good ones. Slices of pastrami are the star, and you can get your fix early with the breakfast menu featuring pastrami stacked onto house-made bagels or bialys. Or stick around for a more classic lunch option at about 11 a.m. when the rye bread comes out of the oven and makes a perfect vessel for Delirama’s pastrami goodness. If you’re allergic to lunch lines, head in early and pick up a breakfast sandwich to start your day.

Masa Ramen Bistro

Masa Ramen Bistro is a new ramen spot taking cues from Hawaii. Order one of five types of ramen — there’s an oxtail ramen version if you’re a fan of that cut — or dive into a Loco Loco Moco served with a Japanese-style potato salad. And if you’re too full after your meal, take a spam musubi to-go and enjoy it at home later.

Cafe Ohlone

The world’s first Ohlone restaurant has re-opened in our own backyard of Berkeley, serving highly seasonal dishes that reflect the Ohlone culture and the local wonders of Indigenous Bay Area ingredients in a beautiful outdoor patio setting. The menu will rotate as the seasons change but expect both a meal of East Bay Ohlone favorites, as well as history and cultural lessons to boot. For now, the restaurant hosts reservation-only tea hour and lunches, with the expectation of expanding to dinner and brunch in the months to come.

Great Notion Brewing - Berkeley

Portland, Oregon’s Great Notion Brewing has made the leap to opening a taproom in California, taking over the former Torpedo Room on Fourth Street in Berkeley. There are 16 beers on tap, a mix of Great Notion’s core beers, including smoothie beers and sours in rotation and in 16-ounce cans available to go. Go for the hazy IPAs, and as a PSA: outside food, children, and (well-behaved and leashed) dogs are welcome.

State Flour Pizza Company

East Bay PizzaHacker fans will be pleased to know that an alum has opened a Berkeley pizza shop of his own: State Flour Pizza Company on College Avenue is the newest addition to the Berkeley pizza scene. The roster of options will rotate, but already the pizzas have gotten some good buzz from other pizzamakers. Stop in for the BLTCEA while it’s around; it’s a white-sauced pizza topped with bacon, arugula (which is standing in for the lettuce), cherry tomatoes, corn, a farm egg, garlic, avocado dressing, mozzarella and grano padano cheese.

KAOKAO Grill

KaoKao Grill is a new addition to the East Bay barbecue scene, proclaiming its food is “reinventing American-style BBQ with Asian-influenced flavors.” The KaoKao chicken and char siu meats are smoked in-house, and as far as we know, no one else in the area is offering a bacon, egg, and cheese that swaps char siu for bacon, in what has to be the best reboot of the classic BEC in recent history.

ACRE Kitchen and Bar

Many were saddened to see Oliveto’s 35-year tenure in the Market Hall building come to an end, but in its place is the new Acre, looking to fill out the two-story space with a cafe and restaurant. If you’re more in the mood for the feel of a “European-style” cafe, park yourself downstairs and pick out some sardines or garlic shrimp with a glass of wine. If you’d rather have bigger dishes for a dinner at night (with a cocktail), head upstairs for the heftier plates, such as a whole roasted branzino or a rotisserie chicken.

Photo by Hardy Wilson, Courtesy ACRERestaurant

The Calypso Rose

Verna McGowan has had many careers in her lifetime — including seven years as author Alice Walker’s personal chef — but now she is showcasing her cooking talents to the public at her new Emeryville spot, Calypso Rose. McGowan serves a mix of Caribbean, Guayanese, and Puerto Rican dishes at the Emeryville Public Market; if you’re hungry, try the oxtail-laden pepperpot dish.

Calypso Rose

The Rendez-Vous

If you are in need of a Paris-like outing for the night, the Rendez-Vous has French vibes to spare. Lose yourself in the interiors — designed by co-owner Johnelle Mancha who operates the spot with her husband Brian Hill, as well as running her business Mignonne Decor, Berkeleyside writes — but don’t forget about the equally compelling food and drink menu. Slurp Miyagi oysters or try beet-cured halibut with pickled watermelon from chef Nate Berrigan-Dunlop, while sipping on a glass of French wine or dipping into a stronger cocktail, such as the ginger julep.

The Sunday

However you feel about the word “fusion” in reference to food, what the Sunday is doing with its selection of breakfast and Korean dishes is really just playful and tasty. Go feast on bulgogi benedicts, carbonara ddokbokki, or kimchi soft tofu au gratin outside of brunch hours at this all-day Emeryville spot.

Ok's Deli

The long-awaited storefront from pandemic pop-up favorite Ok’s Deli opened September 1 to much fanfare and long lines. Still, don’t let the (potentially long) wait deter you — the sandwiches are still in fine form, including the Taiwanese-style fried chicken sandwich and the egg salad option. Don’t skip the potato chip selection while you’re at it, the Ok’s group specifically picked American and Asian favorites to round out your meal.

Hoang Le

Ebiko

Owner David Liu is continuing his family’s sushi legacy — his mother has run Kyoto Sushi in Berkeley for 25 years, and now Liu has opened a new takeout sushi spot with Ebiko on Piedmont Avenue. Inside the shop you’ll find a beautiful array of to-go sushi, including sushi rolls, omakase nigiri and changing daily specials that are worth a glance. Pick up some snacks and drinks while you’re there, such as the Calbee shrimp chips and Hojicha iced tea, and you’re all set for a sushi picnic or lunch at home.

Ebiko

Calabash

Calabash is a new project from Kingston 11’s Nigel Jones and Komaaj’s Hanif Sadr. It’s an all-day spot that serves both Afro-Caribbean dishes and Northern Iranian cuisine, taking diners from day to night. There are egg dishes and tahini and jam toast for breakfast, while heartier dishes like roasted chicken or platters of sumac-laden labneh dip go from lunch until the evening. There’s also a cocktail bar with specialty drinks and a separate wine bar featuring local wines to keep the party going in this multi-functional spot.

Patricia Chang

Kinfolx

After holding a few events that gave customers a sneak peek at the space in late 2022, Kinfolx is officially open, serving coffee, wine, and a space to gather. Grab a Kinfolx latte if you’re there to work on your laptop at one of the tables, and when you’re ready to clock out, switch over to the wine selection and peruse the newly installed wine shelves toward the back gallery.

Maria C. Hunt

Related Maps

Yonsei Handrolls

The hand roll craze continues on, and now Oakland has a brand-new hand roll spot thanks to veteran chef Kyle Itani. Yonsei Handrolls opens next door to Itani’s other restaurant, Itani Ramen, and features tasty, nontraditional hand rolls such as a seared albacore hand roll with a torched, black garlic compound butter. Don’t skip out on the drinks, if you imbibe: much like Itani Ramen, this new spot will also feature a number of strong cocktails Roku Negroni, or a sake flight to sip alongside your meal.

Ed Anderson

OKO at Tribune

Chefs Solomon Johnson and Mike Woods took over the Tribune location in Oakland this October, bringing their OKO supper club pop-up to downtown. Expect refined dishes that center pan-African and Creole cuisine as Johnson and Woods envision it, all in the historic Tribune building. The residency is set to last for at least one year, so get there fast.

Adahlia Cole

Noka Ramen

Noka Ramen’s photo-worthy Oakland space will get plenty of acclaim from those who enjoyed the similar aesthetics at chef-owner Kasem Saengsawang’s other restaurants, Son & Garden and Farmhouse Kitchen Thai. But there’s also a serious (and fun) food element going for the restaurant. Luxuriate in the rich tonkotsu broth of the ramen, including a classic ramen, a spicy miso version, or a black garlic option — all loaded with soft-boiled eggs, bamboo shoots, beansprouts, and more. There’s a veggie-based broth for those who prefer it, as well as more audacious styles incorporating lobster or short ribs with dry-style Japanese noodles. And if you partake, don’t miss the colorful and playful drink menu while you’re at it.

Crumble & Whisk

Charles Farrier has sold his popular cheesecakes and treats at farmer’s markets since 2016, but the La Cocina incubator alum opened his own space in Oakland’s Laurel District in December. Now, those who know Farrier for his sweets — the personal-sized cheesecakes are perfect for when you just want a sweet little something — can buy them at his permanent bakery, and sample more of Farrier’s food with the inclusion of breakfast and lunch.

Tacos El Ultimo Baile

Much of Oakland, nay the East Bay, might already know chef Dominic Prado’s food at Tacos El Último Baile from its time as a popular food truck, but now Prado is serving up his street-style tacos at his new, permanent restaurant in Fruitvale. Go for anything rotating on the trompo, but also make sure to check out the specials while you’re at it — they’re usually limited and in high demand (not to mention, delicious). And now that the food isn’t served out of a truck, kick back and enjoy the cantina vibes while you sip on a beer alongside your tacos.

Tacos El Último Baile

Charlie May Coffee and Tea House

Charlie May made a name for itself as a coffee shop staple at pop-ups and markets, but now sisters Arianna and Analyssa Cruz have opened a permanent location in Oakland. Try the champorado or latiya cold brew, two drinks for which the shop is known.

Related Maps