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Diablo Dish: Social Bird Takes Flight

Esin spinoff goes live in Lafayette and Diablo’s top dining recommendations for 2020 in the last Dish of the year.


Plucked Chicken and Beer / Leonel Calara

Social Bird Kitchen and Bar Finishes its Nest in Lafayette

The long-awaited opening of Curtis and Esin deCarion’s Social Bird Kitchen and Bar beat the New Year by a couple days, as lunch and dinner are now being served in the former Yankee Pier location on Mt. Diablo Boulevard.

The menu is very 2020, mixing and matching tastes and cooking styles from around the world, with plenty of opportunities to share. And, of course, there are craft cocktails, beer on tap, and a wide-ranging wine list.




Diablo’s Staff Makes Eating Out Easy

You’ve heard it before—in fact, you’ve read it here more than once—but for those who love to eat out, there’s an unsettling, if not depressing, truth: There are so many restaurants, and just so little time.

So, as always, Diablo Dish is here to help, and our food-loving staff has risked overcrowding their favorite spots by letting all our faithful readers know the one restaurant they would recommend trying in 2020.

Not surprisingly, the recommendations are all over the map, and all over the price range, but unlike Yelp, these ratings don’t come from friends of the owner or people who love to complain—they’re from the heart and are great for the taste buds.


Iyasare: Editorial Director Deborah Kirk loves Iyasare on Fourth Street in Berkeley, but it’s closed for remodeling until Jan. 31—so her fallback for Japanese food enthusiasts is Kakui Sushi in Montclair. Iyasare, when it reopens, is the perfect way to end a day of shopping and strolling on Fourth Street, and Kirk flat out says Kakui’s sushi is “world class.”


Riggers Loft: I have to confess this was a new one for me, but Executive Editor Virginia Shannon is a fan of Richmond’s Riggers Loft, which specializes in wine and cider. It once was a ship-building factory during World War II, and the unique industrial space has “striking views of San Francisco, the Bay, and the El Cerrito hills” to go along with top-shelf drinks and food from a rotating roster of East Bay pop-up chefs.


Plucked Chicken and Beer: Senior Editor Rachel Orvino greatly enjoys this offshoot from the Sauced restaurant tree, and not surprisingly, the San Ramon and Pleasanton locations specialize in chicken and beer. There are other options, from salad to tacos to a chicken and waffle sandwich and self-service beer taps that make it easy to sample several selections.


Tacos Oscar: Food Editor Ethan Fletcher loves Tacos Oscar for its hip but not pretentious atmosphere, casual but welcoming service, and of course, for its creative and tasty tacos. “It’s the perfect example of what a ‘new Oakland’ restaurant should be,” he says.


Courtesy of Buffalo Bill's Brewery

Buffalo Bill’s Brewery: Who knew? Hayward’s Buffalo Bill’s Brewery claims to have been the first brewpub in America and was founded by noted photojournalist Bill Owens, whose 1972 book “Suburbia” featured iconic images of East Bay people and the new kinds of cities they inhabited. When brewpubs became legally possible in 1983, Owens quickly opened Buffalo Bill’s, and Associate Editor Emilie White recommends the pretzel bun Bill’s Burger and the “relaxing laid-back atmosphere that makes it feel like a gathering place for the community.”


Courtesy of Locanda Positano

Locanda Positano: Visiting Lafayette’s Locanda Positano reminds Managing Editor Gabby Vanacore of places in Italian cliffside villages along the Amalfi coast, which makes it a perfect spot for a romantic evening. And if the lobster ravioli is available, she describes it as “heavenly.”


Rêve Bistro: Maybe it’s not exactly saving the best for last, but Maggi and I dearly love Rêve Bistro in Lafayette. Even though it’s in an anonymous strip mall on Moraga Road, once inside, it’s easy to dream you’re in France (especially after a couple French 75s from the bar). The food is great, and the people are friendly, so it’s definitely a restaurant to put on your list for 2020.


Happy New Year from the Diablo team!


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