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Diablo Dish — August '09


Fins on the Square was set for a July opening in Concord’s Todos Santos Plaza.

Co-owner Ray Johnson, who runs Tiki Tom’s, says his bar and grill will bring in fresh fish several times a week, and promises that you will “actually see the crab in our crab cakes.” Meanwhile, those who prefer burgers may soon be ordering a double-double at a new In-N-Out being considered for the nearby Pleasant Hill Shopping Center on Contra Costa Boulevard.

Also scheduled for a July opening was Fuz, a Japanese-French restaurant in Lafayette. Stephen Dill, who worked as an executive chef at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas and, most recently, Kanpai Sushi in Livermore, plans an eclectic menu. Also in Lafayette, Mike Roybal has taken over as chef at Knoxx. He brings ample Italian cooking expertise, having spent five years at Tra Vigne in St. Helena.

Danville’s Bergies Burger Stop is now The 202 Grill. New owner Vinay Patel has spiced up the burger menu with several Indian options, such as chicken tikka wraps. Ha’s Excellent Chinese, which left its Hartz Avenue location three years ago, has reopened in San Ramon near Crow Canyon Theater.

Walnut Creek got a new Thai place, with the late-spring opening of Do Sit Thai Cuisine in the Palos Verdes Mall, near Lunardi’s. Locals will also get a new Loard’s, though the popular ice-cream chain is hush-hush about when and where.

Stoneridge Shopping Center’s Singapore Kitchen & Noodle is now Thai Kitchen & Noodle, with a completely new menu, renovated interior, and full-service dining. The restaurant serves specialties such as crying tiger salad, with marinated beef charbroiled and served on green salad, with fresh lime juice dressing. Meanwhile, owners of Tracy’s Saigon Restaurant are opening a second spot in downtown Pleasanton, across from the new Farmer Restaurant on Main.

Opening in September in Uptown Oakland’s new Brick and Mortar Music Hall is a Creole/Caribbean restaurant called Hibiscus, featuring the crab and grits made famous by chef Sarah Kirnon while she was at The Front Porch. Hibiscus’ general manager is Omar White, who worked at Chez Panisse and Pizzaiolo. Speaking of which, Pizzaiolo owner Charlie Hallowell is opening up a second location this fall in Di Bartolo’s old spot on Grand. We’re told it will be a pared down version of the original, focusing on pizza and antipasto with a full bar. Nearby, the Grand Tavern opened on Grand Avenue. The hip restaurant/lounge serves up “international comfort food” along with gourmet cocktails. And Oakland isn’t done yet: Penelope, a new downtown lunch spot is kinda-sorta named after actress Penelope Cruz, says owner Tung Tran. It’ll serve pub food such as bangers and mash, and specialty cocktails such as the Penelope, made with tequila, fresh beets, apples, and pears.

Leaving Oakland? Before you fly out, try the new eateries at Oakland International Airport. Alameda’s Otaez Mexican Restaurant and longtime Oakland Chinatown faves Silver Dragon and Restaurant Peony are teaming with airport concessionaire HMS Host to open spots this summer.

Got Dish? E-mail us at dish@maildiablo.com.

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