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SF

Guide

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

Whether you’re looking for takeout or delivery, The Hit List is here to help you find a great new spot to support.

27 Spots
Launch Map
27 Spots
Launch Map
Updated April 16th, 2021

It’s already been a tough year for restaurants and bars. But if recent days have taught us anything, it’s that East Bay establishments are resilient and resourceful - they’ve been pivoting, popping up, collaborating, and banding together to support their communities since the shutdown first hit last year.

Supporting these spots is more important than ever, which is why we’ve brought back The Hit List - our guide to the best new food and drink experiences in Oakland, Berkeley, and beyond. We track new openings across 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 checked out.

Our goal is for this list to be as diverse as the East Bay 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 sanfrancisco@theinfatuation.com.

New to the Hit List (4/16): Sobre Mesa, Square Pie Guys, Red Bay Coffee.

THE SPOTS

Dana Plucinski

Sobre Mesa

$$$$ 1618 Franklin St

“The cocktail lounge in Downtown Oakland opened a year ago, shut down when the pandemic hit, and recently returned, which means... time to finally enjoy their lush, lounge-y vibes and experience one of the most memorable evenings you’ll have in awhile. A night here will include choosing one - or several - of their impressive, well-made cocktails: passion fruit palomas, mojitos, Mai Tais, and aguardiente with apricot, honey, and lime. It will also feature plenty of tapas-style small plates reflecting the flavors of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora - incredible plantains stuffed with Impossible meat ragu and olives on top of a creamy avocado purée; gulf shrimp with a rich garlic and nit’ir qibe-spiced butter sauce; and crispy beef empanadas. Sobre Mesa inside is a tropical escape with plants and plush booths. And out on the sidewalk patio, live music will keep the good time going into the night - or, at least, until your table’s time limit is up. When you head here, be sure to make a reservation in advance.”

- Lani Conway, Senior Editor

Albert Law

Square Pie Guys

$$$$ 499 9th St

“Listen up, Oakland: The SF-based Square Pie Guys launched their first East Bay outpost last month, so I kindly urge you to drop what you’re doing and order a pizza from them now. Their Detroit-style pies are incredible, and one of the best rectangular-shaped pizzas you will ever have. Each one is small (6-inch by 8-inch, serves 1 to 2 people) yet mighty. You will love the thick but light-tasting crust with cheddar baked on the outside. You will enjoy the cheesy crunch of every bite. And you will appreciate the small pepperoni cups and other toppings like garlic ricotta cream and hot honey. Did I mention, you should order from them now? Like the SF location, the Old Oakland spot also serves chicken wings, salads, and fries, and is open for takeout and delivery. Look for them to start outdoor dining in the near future.”

- LC

Krescent Carasso

Red Bay Coffee

$$$$
$$$$ 3098 E 10th St

“There are now four locations to get your fix of Red Bay Coffee’s exceptional espresso drinks - a coffee ‘box’ on Broadway, a van at Lake Merritt, a large warehouse in Fruitvale, and, as of earlier this week, a massive 1920s bank at the corner of International and Fruitvale. Red Bay Coffee’s new East Oakland headquarters is stunning. A high ceiling, big windows, and hanging plants give the space an airy feel. And the long, sleek coffee bar and lounge chairs make me excited to catch up with friends over pastries and charcoal lattes soon. The SF Chronicle reports that the spot will serve as a 'community hub cultivating Black and brown entrepreneurs' and also host events and operate as a production studio for Red Bay Coffee’s YouTube videos.”

- LC

Julia Chen

La Perla

$$$$ 3409 Fruitvale Ave.

“La Perla used to operate out of Two Star Market in the Dimond District, but they recently opened up a brick-and-mortar in a larger space around the corner - and I’ve been excited about checking out the Bay Area’s only standalone Puerto Rican restaurant ever since. On my way home, the bag full of mofongo and tostones only exacerbated my excitement, filling my car with a scent I wish I could bottle up and hang on my rearview mirror. Everything else I got, from the steak and shrimp mofongos to the beef empanadas, was delicious - but my personal favorite dish was the perfectly-fried chicharrones de pollo, served with rice and crispy, thin tostones. La Perla also has specials on weekends, like slow-roasted pork shoulder and lobster tail, which I’ll definitely be back for soon.”

- Julia Chen, SF Staff Writer

Lani Conway

Huangcheng Noodle House

$$$$ 911 Washington St

“Last fall, Chinatown’s Huangcheng Noodle House was completely destroyed by a fire. And with the help of community members and local organizations like Good Good Eatz, who directed donations to Save Our Chinatowns, Huangcheng Noodle House was able to move into the old Rosamunde Sausage space in Swan’s Market and reopen in January. If you were a fan of their Shanxi-style knife-cut noodles before, you still will be: the menu is mostly the same, with the chewy noodles served in a variety of ways - sautéed alongside pork and green peppers, or in a spicy broth, like their popular Chongqing Street Noodles.”

- LC

Lani Conway

Carbona

$$$$
$$$$ 2042 MacArthur Blvd.

Open for takeout and delivery

“In the midst of everything, Grand Lake Kitchen, the popular Oakland brunch spot, launched a takeout pizza concept called Carbona. They operate out of GLK’s Dimond District location and specialize in Detroit-style pies, which are, for lack of a better phrase, works of art. So what makes their pizzas even more stunning than the Mono Lake poster I have hanging on the wall in my kitchen? For starters, they’re fluffy and thick, like sheet cake thick or brick thick (in the best way possible), and have chewy crusts with crispy, darkened edges. The pizzas are then covered in marinara sauce and cheese, before getting finished with a range of topping combinations (there are 11 pizzas on the menu). On my first visit, I ordered the Thick Pepperoni, a classic pie that was surprisingly pillowy and light considering it literally has the word ‘thick’ in its name.”

- LC

Lani Conway

Las Delicias Salvadoran Restaurant

$$$$
$$$$ 2037 Shattuck Ave

Open for takeout and delivery

“There aren’t many important dates I remember these days thanks to [Insert Some Hackneyed Pandemic “What Is Time” Joke Here]. But one that will always stand out is when Las Delicias Salvadoran Restaurant opened in November. Thanks to this Downtown Berkeley spot, I now have another place to add to my growing list of new Berkeley lunch options, which also includes Cali Alley and Mise En Place. But let me cut to the chase - Las Delicias features Salvadoran classics like pupusas, corn tamales, yucca frita, and incredibly light pastelitos de carne (empanadas stuffed with minced meat and veggies). They also have Mexican staples like tacos and burritos, too. Everything I’ve had here is great, and reasonably priced for the large portions. I love them for their hearty pupusas with fresh curtido, and the churrasco salvadoreño, a massive mixed plate that includes grilled flank steak, a delicious chorizo, casamiento (rice and beans), and two super thick corn tortillas. Whatever you order, don’t leave without getting their empanadas de plátano de leche - fried mashed plantain balls filled with milk, sugar, and cinnamon.”

- LC

Julia Chen

Friends and Family

$$$$
$$$$ 468 25th St

Open for takeout and outdoor dining

“This new-ish, women-owned and operated cocktail bar in Oakland was set to officially open last March, but the date was pushed back for obvious, pandemic-related reasons. In late April, they started offering a limited takeout menu with cocktails, meal kits, and desserts to go, and even added outdoor dining in the summer. Logistics aside, now that I’ve finally checked out Friends and Family, I can definitively say they’re a really, really great spot that you should head to immediately, especially if you want to have the best carrot cake you’ve ever tasted in your life. The menu changes occasionally, but based on what I ordered recently - an incredible grilled cheese with mozzarella, spicy sopressata, honey, and balsamic roasted tomatoes, and a bright, herby little gem salad - anything here is bound to be fantastic. I’m also a certified sucker for floral flavors, so it’s no surprise that I absolutely love their Mom’s Rosy Cheeks cocktail, made with vodka, lime, rose, and Peychaud’s.”

- JC

Lani Conway

Malibu's Burgers

$$$$
$$$$ 3905 Piedmont Ave

Open for takeout

“Malibu’s Burgers in Oakland launched as a food truck last year and briefly popped up at The Libertine and Timeless Coffee before eventually opening a brick-and-mortar last December. Wherever they’ve gone, crowds have followed - thanks in no small part to their excellent vegan fast food-style burgers and fried chicken sandwiches. Get the classic Malibu burger (comes in a single or double) stacked with Impossible patties, Follow Your Heart American Cheese, a light aioli, and all usual burger fixings presented neatly on a golden-brown brioche bun. There’s even a burger with bbq sauce and onion rings I’ll be trying next. Whatever you get, do not leave without ordering tater tots. These perfectly crispy nuggets are some of the best tots I’ve had ever.”

- LC

Julia Chen and her sideways desk

Banh Mi & Rolls Factory

$$$$
$$$$ 1812 Euclid Ave

Open for takeout

“The banh mi GPS that’s affixed to my frontal lobe recently led me to this new spot in Berkeley, which has now earned a place at the top of my ever-growing, very official Best Banh Mi List. All of their rolls are made fresh in-house, and stuffed with a generous amount of carrots, daikon, green onions, cucumbers, cilantro, and tender, flavorful meat. I went with the lemongrass grilled pork, but you can choose from 14 different fillings, ranging from five-spice chicken to sardines with tomato sauce. The sandwiches are pretty massive, but don’t let that stop you from getting a side of crunchy spring rolls and a Vietnamese iced coffee. Can’t wait to see where my pursuit of the perfect banh mi leads me next, but for now, you can find me at Banh Mi & Rolls Factory at lunch time, probably weekly.”

- JC

Lani Conway

Nick's Pizza

$$$$
PizzaDeli  in  Bushrod
$$$$ 6400 Shattuck Ave

Open for takeout

“The North Oakland pizza spot specializes in damn good thin-crust sourdough pies. So I was looking forward to once again getting their classic pepperoni when they finally reopened in their newer, bigger space just up the street from their original location. After checking them out, I’m happy to report that Nick’s is still one of my favorite East Bay pizzas. And now, you can also order them in two different sizes (12 and 16 inches) and build your own with toppings like home-made pork sausage and pickled cherry peppers. Other welcomed surprises that will keep me coming back: Nick’s expanded their house-made bread offerings, and also joined in on the great Bay Area Sandwich Pivot - they’re now making veggie, prosciutto, mortadella, and other deli sandwiches from 11am-4pm.”

- LC

Lani Conway

La Guerrera's Kitchen

$$$$
$$$$ 468 8th St

Open for takeout

“La Guerrera’s Kitchen closed their restaurant in Oakland’s Fruitvale last spring, and reopened in Old Oakland in December. I’m glad they did because what comes out of their kitchen is incredible. They make everything from a delicious chicken pozole verde and slow-cooked beef barbacoa to chile-rubbed pork tacos topped with a tangy-sweet pineapple salsa. But knowing what makes La Guerrera’s so great means experiencing their flavorful and super tender tamales - pork in salsa roja, chicken in mole, and cheese with rajas, which was a creamy, gooey delight when I took my first bite. To get some of these tamales, you’ll have to walk up to order (online tamale orders are by the dozen only, and must be placed a day in advance).”

- LC

Julia Chen

Alley & Vine

$$$$
American  in  Alameda
$$$$ 1332 Park St STE D

Open for takeout and outdoor dining

“It’s hard to make an occasion feel special these days. Time has blurred into one long, hellish amorphous blob, and sometimes I un-pot and re-pot all of my plants just to feel something. But Alley & Vine, a new restaurant in Alameda, is exactly where I’ll order from the next time I need to make a night in feel a little more celebratory. Their menu changes depending on what’s in season, but expect to see things like tender braised short rib or toasted garlic bread with burrata, both of which are excellent and a far cheerier dinner choice than a Kind bar and a handful of blueberries. And the Dungeness crab and bacon mac and cheese, made with huge, thick-cut chunks of bacon and topped with a crispy, lacy piece of griddled cheese, is reason enough to celebrate. They’ve also got a pretty extensive wine list and great seasonal cocktails, which I’m happy to enjoy at home until I can sit down in their spacious dining room.”

- JC

Jeremy Chen

Twins Halal House & Bakery

$$$$
$$$$ 2608 Market St

Open for takeout and delivery

“If there’s one thing that gets me out of my sweats and out the door, it’s the promise of seasoned, thinly-sliced meat swaddled in bread. So when I heard gyro wraps were on the menu at Twins Halal Bakery in West Oakland, I rolled up to the small takeout window and got one for myself. Inside the lovingly tin-foiled soft pita was lamb, lettuce, and tomatoes, slathered in a garlicky yogurt sauce. Those pitas are the reason this family-run Afghan place is one of my favorite new restaurants of the year. If you like the idea of unboxing perfect vegetable bolanis, meat-filled mantus, qabuli palows, and crispy waffles fries at your table like you’re some sort of influencer, something tells me you’re going to feel the same way.”

- LC

Masabaga

Masabaga

$$$$
$$$$ 2022 Telegraph Ave

Open for takeout and delivery

“Perhaps one of the best things that happened to me during this godforsaken year was Masabaga opening up five minutes from my apartment. Their deep-fried toro burger, made with a cut of yellowfin tuna that’s breaded and deep-fried until flaky, juicy, and tender, is the star of the show at this new takeout-only sandwich spot in Oakland. The golden-brown piece of fish is topped with a tangy yuzu kosho aioli and a mix of pickled onions, mint, and greens, all layered in between a soft roll. It’s undoubtedly the best sandwich I’ve had all year, which is why I insisted on having one on my birthday (also because their massive, airy black sesame tapioca crackers make regular appearances in my dreams).”

- JC

Julia Chen

Daughter's Diner

$$$$
Diner  in  Oakland
$$$$ 326 23rd St Ste D

Open for takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining

“The second I wake up, I seriously contemplate skipping my morning meetings so I can drive over to Daughter’s Diner in Uptown Oakland for a Beast Mode bagel sandwich, which comes with incredible house-made sausage, arugula, pickled onions, and brie on a fresh Boichik bagel. Shortly after, like clockwork, my mind wanders to the princess pancakes. If it were pancake week on The Great British Bake Off, I’d bet money that this bright purple masterpiece would receive a Paul Hollywood handshake thanks to its sweet raspberry jam layers, melty almond marzipan, and dusting of powdered sugar. I’d eat these pancakes any time of the day - which, luckily, I can, because the whole menu is served until 9pm.”

- JC

Lani Conway

El Garage

$$$$
$$$$ 1428 Macdonald Ave

Open for takeout

“El Garage, the quesabirria pop-up, opened their first brick and mortar in Richmond. And when I found out, I immediately wanted to hop on I-80 for the reddish tacos stuffed with beef. But I had to go through a specific pre-ordering process (which I ended up writing an entire explainer on) - order on this day, at this time, and pick up on this date. As someone who hates pre-plannining her personal schedule, the undertaking felt cumbersome. But I went through it and have never questioned the process again, especially now that ordering like this is so ubiquitous. The tacos were perfect - stuffed with tender beer and oozing with cheese. I loved opening each one to meticulously add onions and cilantro. Then there was the spicy, meaty consomé I dipped each taco in before experiencing the satisfying crunch in every bite.”

- LC

Julia Chen

Shawarmaji

$$$$
$$$$ 2123 Franklin St

Open for takeout and delivery

“Anyone who knows me knows I f*cking love garlic. The smell of it wafting through the air is a permanent fixture in my kitchen, and I have, on multiple occasions, considered getting a bulb tattooed on my left rib. So it’s no surprise that I’m a huge fan of the garlic toum from Shawarmaji, a new Jordan-style shawarma spot in Uptown Oakland that got its start last year as a pop-up. The thick, pungent toum is made with canola oil, lemon juice, and what tastes like an Olympic pool-sized amount of garlic. Toum aside, their chicken shawarma wrap - which is thinner and longer (like, forearm-length long) than most wraps you’d find in the Bay - is also fantastic. It’s made with leg meat marinated in yogurt and spices, which is then slow-roasted on a vertical spit until juicy and crispy on the outside. Then it’s wrapped up in a tortilla with toum, cucumber pickles, and fries if you want (you do), and griddled on both sides until golden-brown. This wrap has been the only thing on my mind since I ate it.”

- JC

Lani Conway

Cali Alley

$$$$
$$$$ 1012 Grayson St

Open for takeout and delivery

“Cali Alley is a takeout window in West Berkeley from a team who runs a local catering company. They focus on dishes that hit the Lenny Kravitz-in-an-oversized-scarf level of comfort, like mac ’n cheese, tofu rice bowls, and barbacoa plates. But their sandwiches are what make me feel like someone dropped a 90-pound blanket fresh out of the dryer on me and quelled my anxieties with a gentle whisper: “Hush, everything will be OK.” Take their basketball-size fried chicken sandwich. It’s one of the best fried chicken sandwiches with a crispy buttermilk chicken breast, sweet marinated peppers, and fried shallots. And the Cali Alley Burger - a juicy, ground brisket and short rib patty with garlic aioli and all the fixings - keeps me coming back whenever I need something better than therapy.”

- LC

Julia Chen

Horn Barbecue

$$$$
BBQ  in  West Oakland
$$$$ 2534 Mandela Parkway

Open for takeout

“Every weekend after Horn Barbecue’s grand opening, I drove by and saw lines stretching down and around the block - some people even brought lawn chairs for the wait. The sight caused me to have a stress dream in which I waited three hours for brisket and got attacked by a squirrel. But I digress. When I finally braved the line (no squirrels in sight, thank god), I had high expectations. And after trying the brisket, spareribs, beef ribs, hot links - all cut to order - and pulled pork, I can definitively say that Matt Horn’s barbecue is the best I’ve had in the Bay. The gigantic beef rib was more tender than an episode of Full Bloom. And the pulled pork, which I smothered in their sweet, tangy barbecue sauce, was unbelievably juicy and smoky. In terms of sides, you can’t really go wrong, but the mac and cheese and coleslaw are something special. If you don’t want to wait in the line, Horn is now taking pre-orders for meat by the pound (there’s a three-pound minimum for brisket, so it can get pricey). If you want smaller portions, you can still walk up and order.”

- JC

Lani Conway

Cocobreeze

$$$$
$$$$ 2370 High St

Open for takeout and outdoor dining

“This winter has felt darker and colder than usual, so I’m extra appreciative of places like Cocobreeze. The new Trinidadian restaurant on High Street in Oakland run by Annabelle Goodridge and her daughter is a literal bright spot: The first time I rolled up to it one December evening, tinsel garlands and icicle lights decorated the boxy building, which was topped with huge blow-up Santas and cone Christmas trees. Warm, heart-tugging joy was also infused into every dish I ordered - pholourie (fried split pea dough and turmeric) with a side of chunky tamarind dip, a thick chicken roti stuffed with chickpeas and potatoes, and an herby, life-changing jerk chicken that slowly built heat on the tongue. You can bet you’ll find me here even after the holiday decorations come down.”

- LC

Julia Chen

Bicycle Pies

$$$$
$$$$

Open for takeout

“This year, a lot of chefs have started takeout and delivery operations out of their homes (something we’re calling at-home pop-ups). And one at-home pop-up I can’t stop thinking about is Bicycle Pies in Oakland. When I picked up my box of savory and sweet hand pies, they were still warm and fresh out of the oven. I hustled home and unboxed them with the same level of excitement I had when I bought myself a hand-crocheted cloud hat (DM me for details). I got four, including a chicken pot pie, brown butter apple, and one with persimmon, ginger, and candied pecans. But my favorite was the roasted kabocha squash, turnip, garlic, and bacon, which was folded into a golden-brown, flaky pastry, and tasted like a hug and the very essence of autumn. If you live in the East Bay, owner Michael Barrett will even deliver the pies to you on the titular bicycle, something I’ll definitely take him up on next time.”

- JC

Lydia Daniller

Pomella

$$$$ 3770 Piedmont Ave

Open for takeout and delivery

“Pomella, the new-ish Israeli restaurant on Oakland’s Piedmont Avenue, opened just weeks after the shelter-in-place order in March. The cold mezzes, beet salads, and chicken tagines hold up well in transit, and are perfect whenever I need quick, fresh - and tasty - brain food to get me through another Day In Pandemic Chaos. Owner Mica Tamor - who was behind the now-closed fast-casual spot Ba-Bite - also makes the creamiest hummus ever. The dishes are priced slightly higher for delivery, so order by phone and pick up in-person (Pomella’s located in the back of the building it shares with Doña Tomás).”

- LC

Julia Chen

Lion Dance Cafe

$$$$ 380 17th St

Open for takeout

“I did a little happy dance around my room when I placed my first online order at Lion Dance Cafe, a vegan Singaporean spot in Downtown Oakland - because every other time I remembered to check the pre-order site, they were always already sold out. And I carried this giddy energy with me through the end of the week, when I finally picked up my bowl of laksa, A.S.S. cookies (almond, sesame, and shallot, of course), and the definitive star of the show: the shaobing sandwich. What goes in the sandwiches changes weekly, but the one I got was stuffed with thick slices of hoisin-braised tofu, garlic charred cabbage, fermented chilies, mint, and cilantro - and packed with tons of flavor and texture. But what really makes the sandwich special is the shaobing: a nutty, sesame-covered flatbread with a chewy inside and a golden-brown exterior. I almost shed a tear when I ate the last bite and realized I had no more left. But I’ve already set an indefinitely recurring “ORDER LDC” alarm for every Wednesday at noon (when pre-orders open).”

- JC

Lani Conway

Mise En Place Kitchen

$$$$
$$$$ 2020 Kittredge St

Open for takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining

“One thing I miss about pre-COVID days is spending hours in a cafe, reading, and feeling like a college student prepping for an 11am class. Which is why the first time I stepped inside the Downtown Berkeley breakfast and lunch spot, nostalgia hit me. The aroma of fresh pulled espresso and buttery pastries filled the air. Beautiful house plants lined the window sills. And the menu has the comforting morsels I would have enjoyed in between sips of my double capp: bagels, hashes, soups, and sandwiches. Thankfully, there’s takeout. My first trip there I grabbed a latte and a tomato tartine with balsamic caviar and whipped feta on a savory pao de queijo-like waffle. And when I got home I recreated the coffee shop feels with this video. Though pretending isn’t the same as hanging out at a new Downtown Berkeley hotspot, enjoying their great coffee and delicious food in my kitchen is a welcomed alternative.”

- LC

Smish Smash

Smish Smash Burgers

$$$$
Burgers  in  Alameda
$$$$ 630 Central Ave

Open for takeout

“It’s no secret that I love Smish Smash, a new smashburger pop-up that’s currently operating out of Neptune’s in Alameda. They make some of the best burgers I’ve had in recent memory, with crispy, caramelized beef patties smashed super thin and sandwiched between soft potato rolls. Smish Smash also drops creative weekly specials on their Instagram - like an uni burger topped with yuzukosho and ponzu aioli, or the pho-inspired Dac Biet with jalapeño and bean sprouts. If you spun around ten times and threw a dart at the menu it would always land on something great - but when in doubt, get the Signature with two beef patties, house sauce, cheese, pickles, and grilled onions. If the specials are Andre 3000, the Signature is Big Boi - less flashy, but equally brilliant. Note that Smish Smash recently started taking same-day pre-orders, and has hit pause on walk-up orders for now.”

- JC

Lani Conway

Donut Savant

$$$$
$$$$ 3000 38th Ave

Order in-person

“There are a lot of tough decisions I’ve made lately: Wear the black or cream turtleneck? Wash my hair after a week or let it ride for an extra three days? Thankfully, choosing which perfectly fried mini donut to get from Donut Savant in Oakland’s Allendale isn’t one of them. That’s because all the donuts, from the cinnamon rolls and apple fritters to vanilla-glazed bars are unbelievably priced - the mini donuts are 50 cents to $1. So, get one of each and don’t think twice. One decision that may trip you up - which of the delicious donut-croissant hybrids (which they technically call ‘cron’ts’) to get. If you’re unsure, salted maple all the way.”

- LC

SF

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