Diablo Dish: June
What's happening in food news this month.
Sauced BBQ & Spirits
Photo by Sheila Grace L. // Yelp.com
Openings, openings, openings: Some highly anticipated eateries have made their debuts recently. That includes Sauced BBQ & Spirits in Livermore, which has literally been unable to smoke enough meat to meet demand: Owners are looking to make or buy another smoker before they open for lunch. “We figured it was going to be busy, but it’s just been completely jammed from the get-go,” said co-owner Barrett Gomes. “But it’s a good problem to have.”
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse has been similarly packed since it opened in Dublin’s Fallon Gateway, while there have also been lines out the door at Krispy Kreme, which reopened in Concord. District, the sister location to the popular San Francisco wine bar, opened in Old Oakland with a similar menu of craft wines and small plates, plus a full liquor list, with an emphasis on small-batch whiskeys. Finally, Comal, a new Mexican restaurant dishing out regional fare with a focus on Oaxaca, debuted in downtown Berkeley. First-time restaurateur John Paluska, ex-band manager of Phish, brought in Delfina chef Matt Gandin to run the kitchen.
There’s plenty of action over at Blackhawk Plaza, too, in addition to Rodney Worth’s Italian concept Ferrari’s set to replace Stomp Wine Lounge early this month. Philip Yang, proprietor of Blue Gingko, Sasa, and Roti8, says he is still targeting a late June debut for his Blue Gingko in Blackhawk. And Blackhawk Grille finally closed for renovations: Expect a new menu, updated “American tavern” look, and expanded bar and patio when it reopens, likely in early June.
Two big chains shut down in the Tri-Valley: TGIF is AWOL in Pleasanton while Maca-roni Grill closed in Dublin. No word yet on replacements. In San Ramon, Firehouse No. 37, a family-friendly bar and grill replacing El Balazo, is set to open by July, with a little something for the kids (a video arcade area) and adults (40 craft beers on tap).
More Tri-Valley news: Cabana Dave’s catering opened a café on Dublin Boulevard while new Cali-Mediterranean restaurant Lokanta replaced Agora Bistro on Main Street in Pleasanton. Tri-Valley–based Schubros Brewery is still hoping to debut its Nico American Wheat beer by June (with its 680 IPA to follow), and the popular grocer Gene’s Fine Foods was taken over by Central Valley–based Mar-Val Food Stores.
Speaking of grocers, Sprouts is set to open its Walnut Creek location on Geary Road by this September. Opening next door is Freebirds Burritos. Chick-fil-A expects to debut in Walnut Creek a month later as part of the 24 Hour Fitness project on North Main Street. Also on North Main, Havana’s new café and catering headquarters is set to open in early June. Corners Tavern is open for lunch; Neiman Marcus café will stay open for dinner, offering a changing $30 three-course prix fixe menu; Harvest Market reopened with an expanded menu on Bonanza Street; and rumors persist of an upscale ice cream spot headed for Erawan’s former downtown spot.
Hopscotch is opening in Uptown Oakland, dishing out creative versions of “regional American fare with a Japanese bend” from ex-Yoshi’s chef Kyle Itani. Downtown, Chop Bar’s Chris Pastena is planning a new bar and grill concept for late 2012 on the ground floor of the Tribune Tower. Finally, ex-Oliveto chef Paul Canales has named and defined the food for his new restaurant opening next to Flora later this fall: Duende will dish out Spanish tapas–style fare, with plenty of creative flexibility.