ETA: Bites in Uptown is canceled for tonight, Friday, March 7. Hester only notes, by way of explanation, that "due to circumstances beyond our control, (red tape, bureaucracy, scarcity mentality, lack of solidarity), Bites In Uptown has been cancelled tonight." Stay tuned to see if the situation is resolved in time for next month's First Friday festivities.
Food trucks have long been a prominent feature of Oakland First Fridays, even in the popular street festival’s earlier, more loosely organized incarnations. But, as they say, variety is the spice of life, and next week a major player is launching a new food truck event, adding as many as eight mobile food vendors to an already booming First Friday street food scene.
Bites in Uptown will set up shop in a private parking lot at 478 25th Street, outside a currently unused warehouse, from 6-10 p.m. on Friday, March 7 — and, if all goes well, on every First Friday thereafter. The monthly food truck gathering will be curated by events coordinator Karen Hester, who also organizes Bites Off Broadway, a similar event.
Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our roundup of East Bay food news.
1) The San Francisco Business Times reports that the San Francisco-based chocolate maker Tcho is moving to Berkeley, having signed a twelve-year lease on a space in the old Marchant Building at 3100 San Pablo Avenue. According to the SFBT article, Tcho outgrew its current production facility and wasn’t able to find a suitable new spot in San Francisco.
On a quiet East Oakland street corner, a Burmese chef and a local designer are collaborating on a project that they say will reinvent the neighborhood bodega — a place where the community can gather, enjoy authentic Southeast Asian dishes, and purchase healthy herbs and vegetables rather than soda and cigarettes.
Grocery Cafe (2248 10th Ave., at E. 23rd St.) is an ambitious, multi-faceted food business that’s coming to a neighborhood that is largely bereft of restaurants and supermarkets. (The popular Laotian restaurant Champa Garden, located a couple blocks away, is one of the only outliers.) The business will double as a Burmese cafe and a grocery store specializing in Asian produce.
Anyone who’s braved the weekend brunch rush at Aunt Mary’s Cafe (4307 Telegraph Ave.) can attest that the place isn’t exactly hurting for business. The Guy Fieri-approved restaurant has been packing in crowds since it opened in 2008 — back before Oakland’s big foodie boom had really hit that stretch of lower Temescal. Still, despite the restaurant’s successes, co-owner Jack Stewart is planning big changes. The Southern-inspired brunch spot relaunched dinner service this past weekend (having put it on hold for the past several years), and, thanks to a recently acquired liquor license, it has added beer and wine (and mimosas, naturally) to the menu as well.
Perhaps most significantly, Aunt Mary’s is moving — albeit just down the street, to the former Clausen House Thrift Shop location at 4640 Telegraph Avenue, next door to the old Hooper’s Chocolates building.
1) Those who have followed the progress of Cholita Linda (4923 Telegraph Ave., Oakland) will be happy to know that the popular farmers’ market vendor (and purveyor of much-raved-about Baja-style fish tacos) has — finally! — softly opened its long-awaited brick-and-mortar restaurant in Temescal. Co-owner Murat Sozeri, whose wife Vanessa Chavez is the chef, told What the Fork that the restaurant opened last week with a limited menu consisting of just the four tacos that they sell at farmers’ markets. Chavez plans to add a couple of new dishes each week — first up, starting this past weekend, was picadillo, a dish featuring seasoned ground beef, olives, and raisins.
Initially, Cholita Linda was mostly only open for lunch, but the restaurant just expanded its hours to include dinner service. Current hours are Tuesday to Thursday 11 a.m-3 p.m. and 5:30-9 p.m., Friday 5:30-10 p.m., and Saturday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and 5:30-10 p.m.
Once upon a time, when I was a wide-eyed college freshman, I thought going a day without French fries was the pinnacle of healthy eating, and my most ambitious cooking projects revolved around creative applications of instant ramen. I certainly never shopped at farmers’ markets.
But times they are a-changin’ — or at least they are if you attend UC Berkeley, where undergrads rub shoulders with Michael Pollan and make unlimited trips to the dining hall’s organic salad bar. What’s more, for the past few years, Cal students have also been able to buy budget-priced, farmers’-market-quality fruits and vegetables at a student-run grocery store, at a weekly outdoor produce stand, and, most recently, by way of a campus version of a CSA box.
With the recent openings of Hog’s Apothecary and the new super-sized Blue Bottle coffee shop, plus a New Orleans-inspired wi-fi cafe and an outpost of Trueburger on the way, the Mosswood/Lower Temescal neighborhood continues to be an area of rapid growth in North Oakland’s burgeoning food scene. The latest newcomer is Monster Pho, a Vietnamese restaurant that's opening in a former printing services shop at 3905 Broadway.
Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our roundup of East Bay food news.
1) As previously reported, the Jack London Square-based bagelry Authentic Bagel Company (463 2nd St.) are working on a significant expansion into the space next door to their current (tiny) production facility, and owners Jason and Mark Scott have now shared additional details about their plans — namely, that the extra space will allow them to add a cafe area with indoor seating, increase their storage capacity, and broaden their menu to include things like espresso drinks and cold-pressed juices. The Scott brothers had initially hoped to add a second location in downtown Oakland, but it looks like they’ve scrapped those plans for now to focus on expanding their current shop. There’s a Kickstarter campaign if you care to chip in.
In these late days of the Bay Area’s coffee revolution, the so-called “third wave,” with its emphasis on lighter roasts and direct relationships with coffee growers, is so entrenched that it’s rare to find a place doing something truly new. I was excited, then, to pay my first visit to Artis (1717B Fourth St., Berkeley), a new cafe and coffee retailer whose owners say their distinctive “live roasting” approach is poised to usher the coffee movement into the future.
At Artis, instead of having a separate roasting facility, green coffee is roasted right at the cafe, in exceptionally small batches — often just a single pound at a time — in one of three hot-air roasters, where you can watch the beans rattle around like popcorn kernels until they reach the customer’s desired level of brownness. The whole process is computer-controlled, takes about six minutes to complete, and, most revolutionary of all, allows coffee buyers to customize each batch to his or her own preferred roast point — a level of personalization previously only available to the ambitious home-roast hobbyist.
SF Beer Week kicks off tomorrow and will include a wide variety of events offering — but not strictly limited to — delicious beer. From February 7-16, local breweries, tap rooms, and restaurants will offer both classic and little-known brews from all over California, as well as the opportunity to explore food and beer pairings and meet expert brewers.
There are so many events in the East Bay that choosing which ones to attend is no easy task. It really depends on what kind of beer enthusiast you are. But whether you love beer and food, beer and bikes, beer and music, or just beer and more beer, there’s something for you. Here are our top picks: