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Diablo Dish: March

Check out what's happening this month in food news.


It’s burger mania, as two beloved California chains are adding new locations in the East Bay. Popular Los Angeles–based Umami Burger finally confirmed a new location in Uptown Oakland. It’ll be at 2100 Franklin Street, a stone’s throw from foodie favorites such as Ozumo, Plum, and Bakesale Betty. Expect a late 2012 opening. In Pleasanton, Santa Barbara–based Habit Burger Grill is capitalizing on the success of its superpopular Walnut Creek restaurant and opening another location in the Gateway Center at Bernal and Valley avenues. Look for that in early spring.

Also this spring, Sauced, a bar and barbecue joint, will replace Sapphire Lounge in Livermore.  Already open in the Tri-Valley: Yamato Japanese and Double Barrel Wine Bar in Livermore; Yi Ping Restaurant in San Ramon; Santorini Mediterranean in Danville; and Grape Times Wine Bar & Bistro in Pleasanton.

Speaking of Bakesale Betty, owner Alison Barakat is expanding hours at her Uptown location, previously only open on Tuesdays. Starting in March, the shop will serve its famous fried-chicken sandwiches for lunch Tues.–Fri. And if you’re craving a weekend sandwich, San Francisco favorite Ike’s Lair debuted a few doors down and is open seven days a week. Choose from more than 80 options, including the Al Davis: spicy roast beef with bacon, horseradish, and Jack cheese.

There’s a new farm-to-table café coming to downtown Walnut Creek. Or is there? Rumors persist about a new café replacing Erawan on North Main Street, but as of press time, the popular Thai restaurant was still serving pad Thai. Stay tuned for more.

More Walnut Creek news … Sean Canavan, formerly of Roland Passot’s Left Bank Brasserie and renowned Greek restaurant Kokkari, is taking over as executive chef at Tender Greens. Dragon’s Pond, a Hunan-style Mandarin Chinese restaurant, replaced Da Lat on Locust Street while Nothing Bundt Cakes opened its second East Bay location near Sunrise Bistro. And the anticipated Corners Tavern project replacing Bing Crosby’s looks set for an early April opening.

Also planning an April debut is Back to the Table cooking school in Lafayette. Sis-
ters Lisa Evaristo and Leslie Pease hope to start classes (which range from French and Sri Lankan cuisine, to basic techniques, to cooking tips for college kids) by April 15. Kitchen on Fire opened its second cooking school, this one in West Berkeley.

Need wine with those recipes? Don’t miss the Berkeley Wine Festival. It kicks off with a grand opening reception at the Claremont Hotel Club & Spa (featuring more than 45 wineries) on March 2, followed by special single-vineyard wine dinners hosted by the Claremont’s Meritage restaurant and chef Josh Thomsen every Wednesday for the next two months. Go to berkeleywinefestival.com for details. 

Hot Italian (no, not Sophia Loren) is expanding to Emeryville Public Market. Debuting in Sacramento three years ago to rave reviews, the restaurant focuses on salads, panini, calzones, and wood-fired thin-crust pizzas from co-owner, and Italian pizzaiolo, Fabrizio Cercatore. Look for an April debut. Down the Bay, developers are switching strategies at the long-delayed Jack London Market project, where they hope to draw artisanal food producers who will actually make the goods on-site.

Got Dish? E-mail us at dish@maildiablo.com. Follow us online at diablomag.com/dish.

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