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Diablo Dish — May 2011

Beer, cuban food and hip new restaurants make the scene in May.


Good news, beer fans: Several new brew spots are on tap for summer. First up is Creek Monkey Taphouse, which owner Jim Blair aims to open in downtown Martinez by May. Creek Monkey—whose name is inspired by the local legend that Alhambra Creek was once populated by monkeys escaped from a circus troupe—will carry around 20 high-end craft beers (and wine on tap) to go with a menu of seasonal, locally sourced American fare. Blair also hopes to have his Excelsior Brewing Company opened across the street within a year. 

Livermore’s wine-centric Blacksmith Square will also have something for non–wine lovers. Tim Bryan hopes to open Tap 25, a craft beer tasting room next door to his Green Leaf BBQ shop, by late summer. (Oenophiles will be glad to know that nearby Swirl on the Square recently added a tasting room called Swirl on the Side.) 

Oakland Brewing Company beer can now be found on tap in suds-savvy bars across the Bay Area including Oakland’s The Trappist, Barclays, and Cato’s. Local brew industry vets James Costa and Steve McDaniel are contracting with local brewing facilities until they finish renovating their permanent HQ on Oakland’s waterfront. In El Cerrito, three former Pyramid Alehouse workers are shooting for a May opening for Elevation 66 Brewing Company brewpub on San Pablo Avenue.

Dig out that old Buena Vista Social Club CD: Three new Cuban eateries are coming to the East Bay. Caña Cuban Parlor & Café opened in Oakland’s Grand Lake neighborhood; Havana restaurant is opening up a more casual Havana Café and Catering in Walnut Creek; and ex-Peasant & the Pear manager Linda Swartz (with a little recipe help from her Cuban husband and sisters-in-law) hopes to be serving Cuban comfort food out of Cuba Linda Café in downtown Concord by late May.

More changes around the East Bay: Masood Kabiry opened Chianti’s Ristorante, replacing the shuttered Casa Madrid in Pleasanton; Sultan’s Kebabs is opening its second location in the former Huynh space in Walnut Creek; and down the street, Berkeley’s CU Sushi is debuting a second restaurant, replacing Persian eatery Bijan. A new California Pizza Kitchen is coming to Stoneridge Shopping Center by late summer: You can check out the upgraded Nordstrom Café while you wait. Red Chopsticks Chinese restaurant debuted in Moraga, Milano Joe’s Cucina Italiana is set to open in downtown Livermore, and Warren Anderson opened full-service Iron Horse Deli in Danville—look for an “authentic Italian sausage sandwich.”

The Oakland food scene remains hot. James Syhabout, from the Michelin-starred Commis, is opening Hawker Fare, a more casual Uptown eatery that focuses on Southeast Asian street food, specifically rice bowls for $10 or less. Charlie Hallowell of Pizzaiolo is taking over the café next door to his Boot & Shoe Service on Grand Avenue. And Umami Burger, voted best burger in the country by GQ, announced that it would open a new location in Oakland as soon as this summer.

Mark your calendars for the Livermore Wine Country Festival on April 30 and May 1, the Danville Wine and Chocolate Stroll on May 12, and Taste of Lafayette on May 17. And this entire month, all 11 Lark Creek restaurants are giving school employees $10 off the final tab for their Teacher Appreciation Month.

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

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