New bar opens in iconic Mexicali Rose space

“Can you recommend a new place to eat?” It’s the question Nosh contributors get the most, and it’s a good one – while we all have our beloved expectations, exploring a new restaurant is one of life’s great pleasures. Watch this space weekly for new restaurants to try in Berkeley, Oakland and the rest of the East Bay. As always, advice and recommendations are welcome at [email protected]

El Cerrito welcomed another watering hole after the pandemic hibernation with the reopening of the 514 Lounge cocktail bar on San Pablo Avenue. The bar opened in 2019 and was forced, like so many indoor bars, to shut down the following year. Hats off to The Factory Bar and the Richmond Standard for helping spread news of its late October relaunch. Lounge 51411236 San Pablo Ave (between Madison and Potrero Ave), El Cerrito

Inside Champion’s Curry in Berkeley. Credit: Champion’s Curry/Facebook

The wait for this Japanese curry shop is over for Berkeley locals, as Champion’s Curry celebrated its grand opening on November 1. , with a rich Japanese curry menu over rice, katsu sandwiches, sides such as salads and fries, and, according to early customers, some really hot and spicy curry options. Champion’s Curry is based in Kanazawa, Japan, and has been in business since 1961; this is the outfit’s third location in the United States, with a fourth planned for Pasadena soon. Champion’s Curry, 2506 Channing Way (at Telegraph Avenue), Berkeley

The Lavraki at Elia. Credit: Elia/Facebook

Elegant Pleasanton-based Elia Greek Restaurant has opened a second restaurant in downtown Walnut Creek. The expansion was first mentioned in June by Beyond The Creek, which also had news of the opening this week. Elia serves fresh, seasonal Greek flavors – delicious dips, salads, seafood, lamb – with an upscale twist. Elia Walnut Creek1520 Locust St. (between Bonanza St. and Civic Drive), Walnut Creek

Many people still miss Mexicali Rose, the Old Oakland family landmark that nurtured the community for 91 years before closing in 2018. Chris Rachal, an Oakland native and restaurateur (Liège, M2), is among those nostalgic, that’s why its new restaurant and gathering place in the former Mexicali Rose location seeks to preserve and expand on the property’s history, including its pink exterior and interior murals.

Check out this profile from Nosh contributor Brandy Collins to learn more about the new restaurant and community gathering place, which celebrated its grand opening on Halloween. For culture701 Clay St. (at Seventh Street), Oakland

Singapore’s special rice noodle chef. Credit: Noodle Dynasty

For those of us who crave hot, nutritious noodles, soups and other fare, now is the perfect time for the new Chinese restaurant Noodle Dynasty to open on Telegraph Avenue, taking over the old Thai Noodle II. The restaurant is already praised by students and locals alike for its large but well-done menu, generous portions, and affordable, above-average Chinese cuisine for both sit-down and take-out. Noodle Dynasty2426 Telegraph Ave. (between Haste Street and Channing Way), Berkeley

As quietly as West Coast Pizza closed its doors recently, newcomer Nova’s Pizza has tiptoed into its place. Parents, students, teenagers — expect equally sweet prices for pizzas such as tomato and ricotta pesto, or “meat heaven,” with pepperoni, sausage, beef and bacon — and throw away a look at the cheese bread. Note: Despite the remaining phone number and music on hold from the old company, these are new recipes from new owners (with new friendly staff). With hours until 1:00 a.m., it looks like late-night pizza meals are still alive and well in Berkeley. Nova’s Pizza, 1706 University Ave (at McGee Ave), Berkeley

Comfortable, casual and stylish, the Sons of Liberty Alehouse, established in San Leandro since 2016, now has a second location in Livermore. On the restaurant menu are rich sea bass bites such as burrata salad made with fried Brussels sprouts and bacon; crispy ribs glazed with orange and soy; burgers; Risotto; buttermilk fried chicken sandwiches and other gastropubby dishes, with selections for a range of diets (and a brunch menu on Sundays). There are around 15 rotating beers and ciders on tap, plus a cocktail and wine menu. Kudos to Diablo Dish for reporting on the opening. Sons of Liberty Alehouse Livermore2327 First St. (between McLeod Street and S. Livermore Avenue), Livermore

The Xocolate bar. Credit: The Xocolate Bar/Facebook

The 16-year-old jewelry box at a Solano Avenue chocolate factory reopened for in-person customers after a pandemic dormancy, and celebrated its new beginning with a Dia de los Muertos party on Oct. 30. Xocolate sells (and also crafts) gorgeous, artisanal and organic chocolate confectionery, and the only words on their menu are a delight: chocolate bars, candies, truffles, drinking chocolate, chocolate bark, tasting squares, chocolate bars, chocolate covered fruits and nuts. Go or be square, and don’t miss the custom boxes. The Xocolate bar1709 Solano Ave. (between Ensenada and Tacoma Avenues), Berkeley

Featured Image: Muralists Matthew Hurd, Dillion Keene and Francisco are working on paintings that will transform the exterior of the former Mexicali Rose – now called For The Culture – while nodding to its heritage. 1 credit

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