Oakland news and notes 2018

Now that Tanya Holland has closed her West Oakland brunch destination Brown Sugar Kitchen and her new restaurants are still in the works, there isn’t anywhere to eat her distinctive soul food. That changes next week. On Thursday, November 8, fans will be able to eat Holland’s dishes at a Whole Foods, of all places.

Specifically, Holland created a new food menu for the Oakland Floodcraft Taproom inside the Whole Foods by Lake Merritt, at 230 Bay Place.


He’s hoping to open in February, 2019.

Armstead hopes to add rotating specials, too, like smoked lamb and oxtails. He envisions Crave BBQ as part of Oakland’s burgeoning barbecue revival, drawing crowds from all over the Bay Area alongside Smokin’ Woods BBQ and Horn Barbecue.

In the 1930s and ‘40s, the hotel featured legendary blues and jazz musicians like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Duke Ellington, but it closed in 1971 and fell into disrepair. The East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation has renovated the building with low-income housing, a community garden, and on-site social services. Now, the organization — along with the San Pablo Area Revitalization Collaborative — is also transforming the hotel and its surrounding area into a cultural, arts, and music campus. It’s the new home to Grammy winner Fantastic Negrito’s studio as well as the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music, which will also collaborate with Armstead for a separate blues cafe. Details are scarce on that, but it’s expected to open at the end of 2018.

Crave BBQ

3501 San Pablo Ave
Oakland, CA 94608

hoping to open in February, 2019.

Visit Website

Sweet Maria’s continues to be one of the (if not THE) premiere sources for green beans in North America. There, I said it.

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We visited a bunch of the 'tenangos when I was a young protoHound as well (Chichi, Chimal, Huehue, Chichicas, and others I have forgotten). What an amazing part of the world it was all those years ago! I don’t remember the food so much as the people, who were kind and open even not speaking much Spanish as many didn’t back then. Large numbers of folks also sported traditional garb which was pretty darn cool. I wonder what it would be like to go back… I hope I get the chance.

And PS thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread. It is invaluable!


While kabobs may be the most popular choices, I was equally enamored with the Afghan appetizers. The mantu, which were made fresh in-house, came stuffed with flavorful, spiced ground beef and topped with yogurt, lentils, and dried mint. However, the wrappers were a little soft for my liking and tended to fall apart. But the potato bolani received perfect marks: a crisp, stuffed flatbread served piping hot, with a thin layer of creamy potato for richness and green onions for sharp contrast. The bread was fried until golden and crisp, and the oil added flavor without excess grease. The bolani came with a cool yogurt sauce and a cilantro-based spicy chutney, both of which complemented the bolani well. While potato is currently the only option, Bakhtary said he also plans to offer squash bolani and leek bolani soon.

Yummy Grill Afghan Kabob House
4300 International Blvd., Oakland
Hours: Mon.-Sun. 11:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
Cash, all major credit cards

Sample Menu
Quabili pallow … $14.99
Chapli kabob … $12.99
Mantu … $7.99
Bolani … $6.99
Eggplant … $8.99
Ferni …$2.00

LOL. Sometimes I thought no one here read these kinds of posts…!

The food largely depends on the cooking skills of the family that houses the travelers, if one goes the homestay route. I had classmate who stayed with families who put emphasis in cooking (but unfortunately didn’t have space for me), and the food seemed delicious from their descriptions. Unfortunately I got the other spectrum. My homestay family didn’t really focus on food. It was beans, tortillas, eggs every meal, and the kitchen was infested. After a week of eating the same stuff and getting the prerequisite gastroenteritis that everyone warned me about, let’s just say for a period I unfortunately acquainted myself quite well with El Pollo Loco. (The rationale- frying at high temp has to kill all the bugs!)

As in much of developing world, restaurant dining seems to cater to gringo travellers. Or there’s fast food, where some locals go on special occasion because the food is so different. Its easier to find a restaurant serving pasta than a restaurant serving good traditional Guatemalan food. That was my pre-foodie days, I didn’t especially go look for Guatemalan food, but I don’t remember seeing many options.

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Agreed! I’ve been buying green beans from them for years, and they’re conveniently located by Ghost Town Brewing for those able to pick up their orders at Sweet Maria’s


Chefs Duncan Kwitkor and Andrew Greene are the creative force behind Abstract Table, a permanent pop-up inside Oakland’s casual eatery The Gastropig in Uptown. During the day, The Gastropig serves up breakfast sandwiches and meaty fare, and on Friday and Saturday nights Kwitkor and Greene take over to present a five- or seven-course tasting menu ($50 and $70 respectively).

Greene said that concepts they learned in art school come into play in their cooking. “Composition is of the upmost importance,” he said. “It’s all art to us. It’s just a different environment and a much different pace.”

Hojicha pannacotta, persimmon, white chocolate tuile, pomegranate granita.
Photo by Benjamin Seto

Abstract Table
at The Gastropig
2123 Franklin St. (between 21st and 22nd)


“Permanent Pop-Up” Double Speak?images:grinning:


The full-service restaurant will be more casual than Co Nam’s original location on Polk Street in San Francisco. It’s modeled after Vietnam’s quan nhau , which owner Trung Nguyen likens to Japanese izakayas.

Head chef and co-owner Vy Lieou, who is also Nguyen’s wife, will have creative control over a rotating menu inspired by the south Vietnamese street food of the couple’s youth — jalapeño-glazed chicken hearts, fried octopus, build-your-own rice bowls, pho and even a burger.

Co Nam
3936 Telegraph Ave. (near MacArthur BART station)

soft opening this weekend
fully open on Tuesday from 5-10 p.m.

It’ll be closed on Thanksgiving, but going forward, it will be open Tuesday through Sunday from 5-10 p.m., and eventually for lunch as well.


Aside from blini, the menu also features several regional specialties. Doren said the pelmeni — stuffed meat dumplings — originated in Siberia. The pelmeni are served with a cabbage-jalapeño slaw. Although jalapeño isn’t traditionally Russian, Doren said it serves as a locally available substitute for the spicy peppers you’d find in Russia. There’s also plov, a Southern Russian dish of spiced chicken and rice. As the weather cools down, Doren also plans to offer Georgian and Armenian stews.

Kolobok will be at Snow Park on Nov. 28, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; at San Lorenzo Street Eats on Nov. 29, from 5-9 p.m.; at the Oakland Museum on Nov. 30, from 5 p.m.-9 p.m.; and at Alameda South Shore Center on Dec. 1, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. For more scheduled dates, follow Kolobok on Facebook or on Instagram @kolobokfood.

to open at
420 40th St.
on Dec. 6

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Another popular traditional favorite is the steak with prahok sauce. Here, slices of grilled steak are served with prahok sauce, made of lime, baby eggplant, fermented fish, and red radish to create what Bun describes as a sour taste. The proper way to eat it, according to Bun, is to wrap the steak in lettuce leaves along with slices of cucumber, then dip the wrap into the prahok sauce. There are even some traditional snacks. One enticing option is the pickled fruit. Here, pickled baby grapes, guavas, and mangoes are served with a dip of sea salt and Thai chili peppers.

Cambodian Street Food
2045 Foothill Blvd., Suite B.
Hours are 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Wed.-Mon.
currently accepts cash only


Tacos Oscar is soft opening today from 5-10 and will be open the rest of the weekend.
(via https://www.instagram.com/p/BqtZjJBB3DM/)

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A post was split to a new topic: [Oakland, Temescal] Tacos Oscar

I don’t think you’ll find too many arguments on that. Not just the great selection of beans & roasting/coffee accessories, but the educational material (articles, podcasts, videos, etc) they share openly really adds some needed ‘lift’ to the hobbyists and even just the curious…

Peter Kane in SFWeekly:

Kitchen Aides: How the Next Generation of Collaborative Spaces May Save Food Culture

Whether the Alice Collective, BiteUnite, or Forage Kitchen call themselves ‘incubators’ or not, they’re making a once-opaque domain hospitable to newcomers.



But as the underlying economics of dining push almost everything into two categories — fast-casual or ultra-luxe — some entrepreneurs have taken to reinventing the kitchen altogether. Rather than places of ostentatious aggression and an almost performative manliness, they’re egalitarian sites of collaboration where diners may even be invited in. Ten years after the Great Recession drove tens of thousands of newly unemployed Americans to go into business for themselves, the tug of self-employment remains strong. But even culinary geniuses with brilliant ideas need assistance with the basics: invoices, purveyors, recipe feedback, the dreaded task of scrubbing pots and pans. As the costs of opening a restaurant grow exponentially, a new breed of incubator spaces has emerged to keep things dynamic, making it possible for people to turn daydreams into day-jobs.

Oakland North: Shrimp Falafel Mix: how one family-run food truck thrives in Oakland


At 11:30 pm on a Saturday, Sayed El Hamaki and his brother-in-law Mamdouh Hassan prepare for their second rush of the night. As Hamaki grills the chicken shawarma, the aroma of cumin, turmeric, paprika and Egyptian spices disperses along Telegraph Avenue, luring passersby to the food truck. A speaker with a neon light border is propped against the side of the food truck. “Habibi, habibi, habibi,”—the chorus from a popular electro shaabi song blares from the speaker as the neon lights spin.

“The theater will let out any minute,” says Hassan, referring to the Fox Theater at the corner of Telegraph and 19th Street. And he’s right, by midnight, a crowd of 50 people are in line at Shrimp Falafel Mix, with no sign of slowing down. By the time they close at 3:00 am, Shrimp Falafel will have served over 500 more people.

It’s no wonder that the brothers-in-law, who separately immigrated to the Bay Area from Egypt in the 1990’s, operate a food truck. Food trucks often serve as a low-cost and low-barrier way for immigrant business owners to maintain a bond with their culture through food, while also making a living. For Hamaki and Hassan, that means selling Egyptian and Mediterranean food, with their own twist on traditional family recipes and street food. Their namesake shrimp falafel is a take on a shrimp and rice dish Hamaki’s mother used to make when they lived in Mansoura, along the Nile’s delta region. He’s redesigned it to combine falafel, which is made of fava beans, and shrimp by grilling the two together after cooking. Some of their best-selling dishes are different versions of this: plates that combine rice with chicken, beef, lamb, shrimp, shish kebab, gyro, or all of the above, with their signature white tzatziki sauce, into what looks like a mixed bowl.

Oakland North is a news project of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

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