Diablo Dish: Berkeley’s Turn for Meal Deals
Berkeley Restaurant Week arrives; Mexican replacing Mexican in Blackhawk; Fish and Bird Sousaku Izakaya puts a modern twist on Japanese dishes; Livermore winery strikes Gold; a booze-free bar in Oakland; Chardonnay and crab feed at Wente Vineyards; and more Dish.
Berkeley Restaurant Week / Pollara Pizza
Berkeley’s Up Next
In fact, Berkeley Restaurant Week has already begun (it started Tuesday, January 21), but don’t worry—like all the other cities holding January dining specials—this one is longer than the seven-day week we’re all sort of used to by now. Berkeley’s opportunity to get prix-fixe meals at nearly 40 restaurants will run through January 31.
The prix-fixe prices are $25, $30, or $40, and there’s a wide variety of restaurants to choose from, as one would expect in Berkeley, which has a wide variety of pretty much everything.
Choza Tacos Y Cantina to Fill the Void in Blackhawk Plaza
Blackhawk Plaza visitors won’t have to wait too long before they can once again fulfill their margarita and Mexican food cravings, as Choza Tacos Y Cantina will move into the spot vacated by the Prickly Pear Cantina.
There’s one other Choza Tacos, in Tigard, Oregon, but when chef Jorge Hernandez first came to the United States, he settled in San Francisco, so the Bay Area move makes sense. There’s no firm date for the opening, but you should expect margaritas to be available to fight off the Blackhawk heat by this summer.
Fish and Bird Sousaku Izakaya Gets Creative in Berkeley
“Sousaku” means “creative cuisine” in Japanese, and that’s exactly what the newly opened Fish and Bird Sousaku Izakaya is aiming for.
The Shattuck Avenue restaurant (at the corner of Haste, where Saha used to be) will feature a more modern, local take on Japanese dishes than in the traditional izakaya spots. In fact, don’t be surprised if some French and Italian elements creep in.
And given the number of Japanese restaurants in the East Bay, going in a slightly different direction makes a lot of sense.
Livermore’s Wood Family Vineyards Nabs Chronicle Honor
The 2020 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition was a good one for Wood Family Vineyards, as its 2017 Malbec was Best of Class. The Livermore winery also earned double golds for its 2017 El Loco Rojo red blend and the 2017 Big Wood Zinfandel.
And while we’re on the subject of Wood Family Vineyards and honors, Wine Enthusiast picked the 2017 Petit Verdot and 2017 GSM as Editor’s Choices.
Here’s a Way to Drink and Not Get Drunk
Oakland is known for being progressive, so it’s no surprise that the city now has its first “dry bar”—that is, a hangout that looks like a bar and feels like a bar, but skips the alcohol part.
Bizzy’s Dry Bar shares a space with Black Spring Coffee Company (29th and Telegraph Avenue), taking over in the evening when Black Spring steps aside from its coffee, tea, and vegan pastries. The idea is not just to serve Shirley Temples, but to use non-alcoholic gins, whiskeys, and wines to get the alcohol flavor without the alcohol buzz.
Chardonnay and Crab? Wente Vineyards Senses a Winning Combination
The combination of fresh crab and crisp chardonnay is hard to resist, so Wente Vineyards is hosting a Chardonnay and Crab Feed the night of January 25 in the Cresta Blanca Event Center. There will be a “bubbly” reception (we can all guess), live music, and of course, plenty of crab.
It all starts at 5:30 p.m. out on Arroyo Road.
Pomella Joins the Fun on Piedmont Avenue
What used to be the slow end of Oakland’s Piedmont Avenue is shifting gears, as Doña and Mägo have already kicked it up a notch—and now Pomella is set to open in the near future.
Pomella’s predecessor, Ba-Bite, had a three-year run that ended in August 2018 because of a rent dispute. Fans of the Israeli restaurant have been eagerly awaiting the reappearance of Mica Talmor’s Mediterranean menu, and they will add to the crowds that are already shifting the gravity of Piedmont Avenue toward MacArthur Boulevard.
Also on tap is Nokni Upstairs, a lunch and dinner spot that, not surprisingly, will occupy the upstairs’ spot in the same building. Expect rice bowls, noodles, and soups with a Korean-California mix, but not until summer.
Changes Keep Coming at Henry’s in Berkeley
Old Blue landmark Henry’s has been undergoing some shifts in recent years, as what was once the Hotel Durant is now the Graduate Berkeley, and the dining room and bar have a different look. Now, however, there’s been a move in the kitchen with Daniel Westfall taking over for Chris Kronner and a menu that’s more focused on comfort food than before.
We’re guessing, though, that regardless of any changes, it will still be a great place to watch Cal football.
Two More Restaurants are Riding the Vegan Wave
People’s Cafe in downtown Berkeley has removed all meat products (except lox) from its menu, but there are still many options on Shattuck Square, from waffles to ramen to vegan eggs (regular eggs are also available). And of course, there are a bunch of gluten-free choices as well.
Down in the Grand Lake District in Oakland, Malibu’s Burgers will set up its food truck in Eastlake Park (next to Lake Merritt), offering four different meatless burgers Wednesday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. And the shakes are made from Mr. Dewie’s cashew-based ice cream.