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Diablo Dish: Martinez Adds Some Buzz

Total Wine and More heads to Pleasant Hill; Peruvian restaurant set for Lafayette; and a whiskey fundraiser on Thursday at the Lafayette Park Hotel and Spa.


Bar Cava

A Boost for Downtown Martinez

Residual Sugar wine guru Nate Houston will liven up sometimes-sleepy downtown Martinez when Bar Cava opens in mid-November. Houston is partnering with mother-son team Pat and Corey Katz to bring the wine bar and restaurant to life. 

Naturally, there will be wines, and in this case, wines that only, well, wine gurus know about, and they will be served in an ambiance that combines the prestige of Napa Valley with Old World charm. There will also be an array of carefully selected international beers available.

And let’s not forget the food. Bar Cava will offer Spanish-inspired fare (echoing where many of the wines come from) for brunch, lunch, and dinner.

I’ve always liked the vibe of downtown Martinez—it reminds me of what Contra Costa County was like when my family first moved here many decades ago—and Bar Cava will give me a very good reason to visit again.


Berkeley Bids Adieu to The Advocate

The Advocate in Berkeley’s historic Elmwood neighborhood is permanently closing next Thursday, October 27, after just 14 months of business. The closure isn’t expected to have any impact on the sister restaurant, Comal.

Owners John Paluska and Andrew Hoffman announced the news on Facebook, saying they decided to close their restaurant because they were never able to achieve the level of business necessary to make it sustainable.

The Advocate opened last August and quickly became popular for its rustic Northern California cuisine with Mediterranean influences. But the restaurant had three different chefs in its short time period—most recently losing Michelin-starred chef Joseph Humphrey, who left to helm the kitchen at the new Limewood Bar and Restaurant—which made it more difficult to maintain consistency. Rising labor costs and competition were other reasons cited for the closure, according to an article in Berkeleyside.   

In their closing statement, Paluska and Hoffman said: “A restaurant is the sum of so many efforts. To that end, we are grateful to the many people who helped make The Advocate a reality, from our hard-working, dedicated staff that put so much love and care into every dinner service, to our fantastic landlords, to all the artisans, vendors, designers, farmers and of course to our investors.”

They are selling the restaurant and the business—we’ll keep you posted on what to expect next.


Total Wine and More

Another Spirited Biz Opening in Pleasant Hill

Total Wine and More—America’s largest independent retailer of fine wine, spirits, and beer—is opening its first outlet in Contra Costa County in Pleasant Hill. The new store is slated to open next Thursday, October 27, in the Buskirk Avenue mall, which is also home to Best Buy and Buy Buy Baby.

The Pleasant Hill store will be the 147th location for Total Wine and More, and its 17th California location. Shoppers can expect more than 8,000 wines, 3,000 spirits, and 2,500 beers.

Early adopters also have the opportunity to give back to the Lesher Center For The Arts, as Total Wine and More will donate 10 percent of all wine sales during the grand opening weekend.

What better reason do you need to stock up before the holidays?



A Taste of Peru is Coming to Lafayette

The former Baja Fresh space on Mt. Diablo Boulevard in Lafayette could be dark for a while, but it will eventually be home to a Peruvian restaurant. The new spot will be a sister restaurant to the popular Parada in Pleasant Hill, La Costanera in Half Moon Bay, and Mochica and Piqueo’s in San Francisco.

The opening has been delayed because chef/owner Carlos Altamirano welcomed his second child this year. (Who would think a new baby would take up so much time?) Lafayette diners can now expect the latest Altamirano restaurant to open in mid-2017, but it might take a little longer than that.

After all, there are a lot of diapers to change …



The Park Bistro and Bar

You Will Beam at the Flavors of Fall—and Help the Food Bank

Head to The Park Bistro and Bar at the Lafayette Park Hotel and Spa tomorrow, October 20, for Jim Beam cocktails and hors d’oeuvres during the Taste the Flavors of Fall event.

While attendees are sure to have fun, the real beneficiary will be the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. Guests must pay $10 to attend, and they are encouraged to bring along canned goods to donate. The party starts at 5:30 p.m.

What better way to ease into the holiday season?



2016 Bay Area Beer and Slider Fest

Concord Will Be Hopping Saturday—and Helping the Food Bank

The burgeoning beer scene in Concord gets a showcase this Saturday during the 2016 Bay Area Beer and Slider Fest. Taking place at the Crowne Plaza Concord from 1 to 4 p.m., the festival helps raise money for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano.

Among the many breweries offering their wares will be Black Diamond Brewing, Epidemic Ales, E.J. Phair Brewing Company, and Eight Bridges Brewing. Local food purveyors, including Maverick’s BBQ Catering and Tower Grille, will be serving up goodies to pair with the beers.

Tickets cost $25, but organizers recognize the need for safety on the road, so a $15 ticket is available for food only. (For once, the designated driver gets break…)


The Escape Lounge

In Brief

A takeoff at the Oakland Airport: Oakland chef/owner Chris Pastena (Lungomare, Calavera, Chop Bar) will open The Escape Lounge, a fee-based airport lounge in early November. For $40, travelers get unlimited food, drinks (there’s a full bar), WiFi, newspapers, and magazines. If you can’t afford first-class on the plane, now you can go for it in the airport.


A new nest for Mockingbird: The popular Oakland restaurant will reopen in January on 13th Street, near the 12th Street BART station. San Francisco food veterans William Johnson and Melissa Axelrod are sure to bring even more talent to the burgeoning Uptown scene.

Got Dish? Send an email to dish@maildiablo.com. Or follow me on Twitter @DiabloDish.

Happy Hour Bar & Bites at
The Cooperage

Monday through Friday
3pm – 5:30pm


This isn’t your typical happy hour. This quintessential neighborhood spot offers high-quality craft cocktails on tap and tasty bites. Menu features: $10 cocktails on tap, $5 select beer & wine, $1 oysters, $7 bacon cheeseburger sliders, $7 crispy beer battered shrimp sliders, $9 sashimi-grade ahi tuna tartare. 

32 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette
​Reservations: www.thecooperagelafayette.com or 925.298.5915

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