The East Bay Hit List: The Best New Restaurants In Oakland, Berkeley, & Beyond guide image


The East Bay Hit List: The Best New Restaurants In Oakland, Berkeley, & Beyond

We checked out these new restaurants in the East Bay—and loved them.

The Hit List is our guide to the best new food and drink experiences in the East Bay. We track new openings in the area, and then visit as many as we can. While the Hit List is by no means an exhaustive list of every good new spot, one thing you can always rely on is that we’ll only include places that we have genuinely checked out.

Our goal is for this list to be as diverse as the area itself—inclusive of a wide range of cuisines, price points, neighborhoods, chefs and owners of all backgrounds, and the multifaceted communities within the industry. If you think we missed a great new place, we want to hear about it. Shoot us an email at

New to the Hit List (3/16): Parche


photo credit: Parche

Parche review image



2295 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612, Oakland
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You’ll know you’re in for a fun night the moment you step inside Parche. Every square inch of the walls and ceiling at this upscale Colombian restaurant in Uptown Oakland is covered with colorful balays and Colombian prints. Bad Bunny pumps through the speakers. And a golden elephant head statue with candles is periodically carried over with ceremonial fanfare to anyone celebrating a birthday. Adding to the buzzy atmosphere are the just as exciting shareable dishes. Cola and panela-braised posta negra slides clean off the bone and pairs perfectly with the yuca coconut mash. And hand-smashed patacones are the crunchy base for the juiciest shredded beef and salsa criolla. The beef empanadas, however, are comically small (like, Airpods case-small), but you won’t be mad about the two bites you do get. Zingy ceviches and guanábana-spiked cocktails round out the meal you’ll be thinking back on for a while. 

photo credit: Taylor Gwin

Poppy Bagels imageoverride image

Poppy Bagels

Perfect For:Breakfast

We’ve been huge fans of Poppy Bagels and their plump golden-brown bagels since their pop-up and farmers market days—so the opening of their brick-and-mortar in Oakland Temescal was more exciting than the time we ran into Steve Kerr at Safeway. The bagels themselves embody every trait an outstanding bagel should have: a chewy interior, an even coating of toppings, and a crisp crust that’s satisfying to bite into. You can order by-the-bagel at this counter-service spot, but our preferred method is to go with one of the open-faced sandwiches. The Spicy & Sweet is two bagel halves smeared with thick layers of jalapeño cream cheese and drizzles of honey, while the Basic has sliced sweet tomatoes which make the whole thing taste like borderline dessert. Make getting either part of your new morning routine. 

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Spots for temaki, or hand rolls, are opening up faster than we can say, well, “hand rolls.” No complaints here, especially when places like Yonsei Handrolls exist. The Uptown Oakland spot feels like a relaxed bistro with high-top seating and neon lights. It’s an ideal setting to appreciate soy-cured ahi tuna, spicy scallops, king crab, and other sushi fish stuffed inside seaweed. Their versions are pretty straightforward (there isn’t any gold foil or speck of caviar in sight) but also playful, so you'll see one with kimchi fried rice and spam. The casualness here is part of its appeal, and why this place is well-suited for intimate yet lively group dinners. One option is to order hand rolls a la carte, but we prefer making life easy and going with one of the three sets (five hand rolls, $29-$52).

photo credit: Lani Conway

Calabash review image




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We already have plans to spend every waking hour at this Oakland spot near Uptown. For one, they're open all-day, serving breakfast lunch and dinner. They're also from the chefs behind the excellent Kingston 11 and Komaaj. They’re doing feel-good Afro-Caribbean and Iranian dishes, from sweet plantains with black bean sauce and roasted lamb leg salad to eggplant and sumac labneh mezzes, and serving in a plant-and-couch-heavy space that looks like a lounge crossed with a fancy, sun-filled cafeteria. Expect this place to be the backdrop for casual conversations, especially since it has two bars.

There are hearty lunch spots, and hearty lunch spots that’ll make you say, “f-ck me up now.” Ask for the latter and we’ll point you to The Sunday. The small, fusiony Korean American spot in Emeryville—in the former Patatas Kitchen space—makes hefty comfort dishes, like loco moco smothered in gravy, bulgogi bowls topped with two fried eggs, and lemon ricotta pancakes that wouldn’t be out of place at a county fair. We have no complaints, especially when their plump Korean-style wings with a perfectly sticky glaze hit the table and require you to re-up your napkins. Additionally, the prices are reasonable, dinner is an option (on some days), and we’re big fans of any spot with a hot sauce wall.

Champion’s Curry is the Berkeley outpost of a Japan-based curry chain—and you should fake a sick day to get their Kanazawa-style curry. Rich and slightly sweet, it's also a deeper brown and more gravy-like than other Japanese curries you might find in town. And while there are tons of meat and vegetable options from minced beef to fish katsu, go with the chicken katsu fried to ideal levels of crackliness. It won’t take long before this counter-service spot is your new go-to for quick lunches or nights when pulling out ingredients and cooking is out of the question.

From the restaurant team that made its brand aesthetic “too-many-faux tropical plants-and neon-lights” comes Noka Ramen. It’s located in Jack London Square, right around the corner from sister spot Farmhouse Kitchen. And while you can (and should) fill up on perfectly great bowls of tonkotsu ramen with the usual fixings, consider ordering the crispy brussels sprouts covered in sticky soy glaze, corn with spicy aioli, and a $56 dollar shio lobster ramen that’s large enough for two. As one might expect from a place that projects nature videos and anime on the wall, this place serves cocktails in Power Rangers mugs and cat copperware, and drinks garnished with salted caramel popcorn cones. 

Oakland-based Tacos El Último Baile was one of our favorite spots for Northern-style tacos on handmade flour tortillas when it was a roving food truck. So no shocker here: the Fruitvale brick-and-mortar is a winner. The al pastor is reason enough to ignore your responsibilities for the weekend and get to this spot. It’s caramelized and drips with smoky juices that soak into the tortillas. But even if you’re not an al pastor enthusiast with a trompo sticker on your water bottle, the carne asada is also worthy of your attention. And you should keep an eye on their Instagram, where specials like fish tacos with a craggy crust or fragrant pozole rojo, are announced. The space is a simple set-up—order at the window, then choose your own adventure at the salsa bar. From there, it’ll take approximately two minutes before you text all of your pinned contacts and make plans to return. 

Sure, this pizza spot in Berkeley’s Elmwood might not look like much, but their Neapolitan-ish pies are on another level. What sets State Flour Pizza's apart is the slightly tangy, slightly sweet tomato sauce and flavorful crust with a wonderful chewy texture—get the burrata pie to let those elements really shine. Their ever-evolving menu (they opened September 2022) also features the more hefty Cassanova topped with what feels like every kind of meat imaginable, and, because “California-inspired” is the trend of the decade, a white pie with bacon, arugula, squash, and cherry tomatoes. There are a few basic salads on the menu, too, but you can skip to save room for more perfect pizza, and beer or wine-by-the-glass. 

The long-running Ethiopian restaurant relocated to a beautiful new space in North Oakland, just a short drive away. Cafe Colucci’s newest iteration continues to rely on the same menu of crispy, beef-stuffed sambusas, garlicky buticha, and satisfying meat and vegetarian samplers with heaps of deeply spiced mitten shiro and gomen. The exciting change is that this fun, casual all-day spot now lives in a high-ceilinged space that’s over twice the size of the original. You can watch workers make spongy injera at the bar counter. There’s a full-on spice shop in front stocked with berbere, hop leaves, and alicha kimem from Cafe Colucci’s Brundo Spice Company. And the gorgeous outdoor patio is ideal for drinking ginger-lemon kombuchas or anything from their growing menu of house-made drinks.

photo credit: Lani Conway

Delirama review image


Perfect For:BreakfastLunch

This Berkeley deli plays up all the great things that can be done with well-seasoned, smoked meat. Classic reubens and deli sandwiches are an overstuffed dream between toasted rye bread. There are also hand-rolled bialys with pastrami and onion, housemade bagel breakfast sandwiches overflowing with thick pastrami slices, egg, and cheese, and huge pastrami-topped New York-style pizzas with beautiful charred crusts. This impressive world of pastrami carries into all the posters and framed illustrations covering Delirama’s walls. Wondering why there’s also an oversized pickle hanging above the cashier, a mini ship's wheel, and images of landscapes, dogs, and stags everywhere? Just go with it. You’re here to grab a sandwich, take a seat in the spacious dining room, and soak in this exciting pastrami fever dream.

Asian American sandwiches are the name of the game at Ok’s Deli—and why it’s the most exciting new lunch spot in the area. The takeout-only Oakland sandwich shop has a rotating menu of things like Italian combos and roast turkey sandwiches alongside ones filled with egg salad and spam. You’ll audibly gasp when you open the box containing the stunning Sichuan-spiced fried chicken sandwich with its huge juicy thigh, and swath of sweet sesame-ginger vinaigrette and honey mustard. Their equally stunning (and delicious) Vietnamese bánh mì is loaded with caramelized house spam, jalapeños, cilantro, cucumbers, and pickled daikon and carrots on an airy baguette. Sandwiches aside, their shelves are stocked with every type of fizzy drink, citrus juice, and potato chip imaginable. So grab some sweet corn Turtle Chips and a calamansi soda, and relish in the fact that you’ve made a very good midday decision.

Dumpling Time is breaking up the monotony of all the high-end home furnishing stores on Berkeley’s Fourth Street. The buzzy East Bay outpost of the San Francisco-based dumpling empire (which now has five locations) is serving a menu of dim sum hits in a cozy, sun-lit place. Zero in on the fluffy char siu bao, meaty pork dumplings doused in chili sauce, and a gingery pork belly-filled xiao long bao with bright beet wrappers. If you’re planning a trip to this area to shop for fancy lamps and bedsheets, Dumpling Time will satisfy even the faintest yearning for meat wrapped in dough. If you aren’t, you should still get here—and make sure the shrimp toast and seafood gyoza with spinach skins are on your table.

Snail Bar’s new gastropod-inspired natural wine bar, Slug, shines on its own—and yes, you can partly blame the rotating disco ball at the center of the cavernous space for that. The Downtown Oakland sister spot has a full-on DJ booth, shelves of books and tchotchkes, neon purple lights at night, and a French-focused wine list, with many glasses under $11. While the food menu shares some dishes with Snail Bar, like the ham and cheese sandwich, this place is doing its own thing to great effect. Herbs, chilis, purées, and stone fruits make for bright, deeply flavored dishes: tender char siu pork belly atop creamy figgy mustard and crispy flatbread, kombu-cured halibut covered in salsa matcha, and clams in Thai chili-laced green curry. Slug Bar has one of the best wine bar food menus right now. 

If you’ve ordered a mezcal margarita at any point in 2022, there’s a very good chance you’ll want to become a regular at Odin. The mezcalería near Oakland’s Jack London Square has an impressive 300+ collection of agave spirits, plus excellent cocktails, mezcal flights, and Happy Hour with a mezcal special of the day. Odin is a rebrand of the Mexican restaurant Nido, and now pop-up Tacos El Precioso is a permanent fixture here, serving light, bright Mexican dishes. Odin’s updated interiors are dark, and dare we say sexy, with slate-colored walls, hand-shaped chairs, and long church pews. It’s exactly where we want to be sitting while we drink chilled coupes filled with tequila, chilis, and orange bitters. And Mexican cheese plates, crispy mushroom tostadas, tender dry-aged beef tacos topped with smoky salsa, and spicy chicharrones and guacamole should absolutely be on the table when you inevitably ask your server for the backstories of the 27 bottles on the rare spirits section. 

Fantastic news for anyone who loves a quick dumpling dinner. Good To Eat Dumplings is serving elongated potstickers that are incredibly light and crispy in Emeryville. The small and growing menu at this Taiwanese spot (and former pop-up) involves noodles, fried meats, dumplings, and fresh Asian vegetables sourced from Radical Family Farms. Order at the counter, and nutty golden kimchi, cold wheat noodles bathing in frothy miso-soy milk, juicy fried popcorn chicken, and delicate pork-stuffed wontons will come to you in the dining room or out on the side patio. Each funky, tangy, and spicy dish comes out quickly, making this place our current go-to for solo dinners and meals with someone who knows exactly what brand of shampoo you use.

There’s been an explosion of fried chicken sandwiches in the Bay Area over the last couple years. And we’re not complaining, especially if it means Hotbird exists. The counter-service spot used to live in the Twitter building in SF, and recently moved to Uptown Oakland. Their Nashville-style hot chicken sandwiches are an ideal way to break up the monotony of a tedious weekday. The juicy chicken breast has a light breading that stays crisp under a mountain of coleslaw and creamy comeback sauce that oozes out with every bite. There are five spice levels that you can opt for based on personal preference, from mild to burnin (finish one of those and you’ll end up on the restaurant’s Burnin Wall of Fame). Though the fried chicken is the main event, don’t overlook the fish and chips (waffle fries here)—the beer-battered fish is flaky excellence. 

Korean Superette is the rare Berkeley restaurant that makes us want to drop in with a good book—or a daily affirmations journal—and chill all day. A lot of these feelings have to do with the stellar Korean comfort dishes. Think udon noodles in a hearty black soybean sauce, spicy gojuchang braised tteokbokki with thick fish cake ribbons, and the silkiest tofu stew overflowing with octopus, scallops, and shrimp. The fact that this spot doubles as a mini mart stocked with instant ramen and freezers full of the biggest frozen mandu ever is certainly an added plus. Order from the counter, make sure the creamy iced matcha latte is part of the mix, and head for a seat on the backyard patio—this place looks like an idyllic garden diorama with tons of flowering trees and bushes, and plenty of shade. 

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Suggested Reading

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