The Hit List: New East Bay Restaurants To Try Right Now

We checked out these new restaurants in Oakland, Berkeley, and beyond—and loved them.
Table spread at The Salty Pearl in Oakland.

photo credit: The Salty Pearl

When new restaurants open, we check them out. This means that we subject our stomachs and social lives to the good, the bad, and more often than not, the perfectly fine. And every once in a while, a new spot makes us feel like experiencing the first ray of sunshine after a month of straight fog. When that happens, we add it here, to the Hit List.

The Hit List is where you’ll find all of the best new restaurants in Oakland, Berkeley, and beyond. As long as it opened within the past several months and we’re still talking about it, it’s on this guide. The latest addition might be a buzzy New York-style slice shop, or a new bagel hotspot we can't stop talking about. Or maybe it’s even a restaurant with caviar priced by the bump.

Keep tabs on the Hit List and you will always know just which new restaurants you should be eating at right now.

New to the Hit List (5/7): Tanzie's


photo credit: Julia Chen



$$$$Perfect For:LunchBrunchBreakfast
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Tanzie’s is a Northern Thai spot that’s a jolt of energy for brunch-goers in Berkeley. The airy restaurant specializes in lava eggs, a softly scrambled egg laid over a mound of rice with your protein of choice. Go for the strips of caramelized pork jowl or the housemade sausage that get charred to a deep brown crisp on the sides, and pair it all with fluffy Thai beignets dunked in condensed milk. Eating here will also motivate you to turn your phone face-down and spend an hour soaking in natural light from the charming, living room-like space—there’s a little nook tucked away in the corner, and even a fireplace. 

No offense to the Noah’s on Solano, but Albany’s bagel scene just got a lot more exciting. Former pop-up Hella Bagels has landed in a breezy space complete with bagel-shaped lamps, ample seating, and even a fireplace—just where you want to spend quality time with one of their fantastic bagels. They’re so plump and fluffy they’re practically spherical, and have extra crunchy bottoms. The lox sandwich with juicy tomatoes and a tangle of dill is a winner, but you also can’t go wrong with any of their housemade cream cheeses on a well-seasoned everything bagel.

The Salty Pearl makes the case that every day should be a casual wine and oyster day (though, they’re only open three days a week). This seafood spot (previously named Rocky Island Oyster Co.) used to be located on the waterfront in Richmond. At this new Jack London location, you’ll eat oysters that are fresh as hell, crudo covered in citrusy, herb-infused olive oil, and clams casino overflowing with bacon. There’s also a great cold lobster roll that’s extra meat-packed, and a burger dripping with cheese. Still, you’re coming here for those bivalves and crudo, and to spend time with some pet nat in a space that feels like a tasteful nautical clubhouse, complete with a smooth playlist and lots of natural light.

The team behind dumpling all-stars Dumpling Home is on a quest to spread the word about their miraculously sheer, broth-packed xiao long bao—there are now four related restaurants across SF and the East Bay. Dumpling Hours in Oakland’s Lakeshore is the latest edition, and cranks out a variety of perfect steamed, boiled, and pan-fried pouches made to order. The menu's long, but we'll make things easy: order the pork soup dumplings and pork buns, paired with the crispiest cucumber salad around. This casual place (no reservations taken) is the answer to any call for a no-fuss, dough-fueled meal.

The Bay Area isn’t nationally recognized for its BBQ. We’re secretly OK with that—if it means we get to keep gems like Fikscue to ourselves. But of course, we’re going to stand on an apple crate and shout about this tiny, part-Texas-style BBQ, part-Indonesian restaurant in Alameda. It’s a smoked meat paradise, full of beef back ribs and peppery brisket by the pound as well as smoked sausage filled with cheese. The Indonesian specials, like the nasi goreng, bowls of soto padang, and brisket rendang rice plates with coconut milk-soaked greens, are worth the wait in the line that forms on Saturday and Sunday mornings (they're open weekends only). Arrive early since they will sell out.

Burdell is a fantastic soul food restaurant in Temescal that feels like you’ve stepped back in time. Family photos hang by the host stand, vintage ovens are next to pews and cane-backed chairs, and groovy hits from the ‘60s and ‘70s play. Dinner is like getting dropped into an intimate family meal, but here, the chef cares a lot more about fancy presentation. There’s a decadent chicken liver mousse spread over a wonderfully crispy cornmeal waffle, balanced and vinegary greens, and an impressive roast pork neck topped with honeynut squash that cuts like a knife through butter. Service can be slow but embrace it, especially since you’re spending quality time with your table mate over a bottle of wine.

photo credit: Julia Chen

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight Dinner

Anyone who chooses to hydrate with tonkotsu broth instead of water, we have excellent news. Mensho, the legendary SF ramen spot, has sent their phenomenally rich and creamy soups across the Bay Bridge to Oakland. It’s a more laidback outpost that’s roughly triple the size of the Tenderloin location. And instead of having to spend an hour waiting for a coveted seat, you can walk right in for a bowl full of velvety broth, chewy noodles, and fall-apart chashu. The GKO (Garlic Knock Out) is a glorious (and breath-ruining) hit with three types of fried garlic and black garlic oil. And the slow-burning spicy miso lamb ramen is umami in a bowl. Get here for casual weeknight dinners, or when the predictably tepid Bay Area weather requires you to warm your body with hot soup. 

A new Cellarmaker could open every day, in a different neighborhood, for a year, and we’d still get excited. This San Francisco-based brewery and pizzeria is always a good time, so we embrace its third iteration, now in Oakland’s Jack London. The Detroit-style pizzas are superb, bordering on decadent, with crisp cheesy bottoms and sides, while the snacks, like the polenta fries and briny pickled okra, are also very good (though not as epic). This warehouse-like space (an expansion of Blue Bottle’s former home) has plenty of room inside, on the sidewalk, and street-side deck—so bring a well-behaved dog or a stroller, and don't forget to grab a pint.

Ever since former pop-up Popoca opened their brick-and-mortar in Old Oakland, it's been easier than ever to get their we-can’t-stop-talking-about-it Salvadoran food. This place focuses on traditional Salvadoran dishes, with fresh and seasonal takes. The vibe is date night with sultry mood lighting, plants, and stained glass windows everywhere. It’s the perfect setting to eat perfect wood-fired pupusas made on a beautiful wood-fired hearth. They come with three fillings that change up depending on the day, like sweet potato, hog trotters, and classic beans and cheese. Each one is a master class in masa that's the perfect mix of meltiness to crispiness. The yuca con chicharrón with the softest chicharrón on record and the pollo en chicha with a tangy fermented pineapple sauce also need to be on your table. 

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From bánh mì institutions and casual sushi joints to New York-style slice shops, this is where you should eat in Oakland.

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