Suds Meet Bunzas

Dora’s, a Berkeley biergarten, puts beers, pies, and sandwiches front and center.



Customer Kimberly Simon tries a gluten-free beer at Dora’s where the outdoor rose garden is vibrant and the food is adventurous.

Photo by Lori Eanes

History has proven three things: East Bayites love beer, especially craft beer. East Bayites love pie, especially classic house-made pie. And East Bayites love sandwiches, especially exotic foreign sandwiches.

Those are three reasons why Dora’s—a Berkeley biergarten serving sweet pies and savory pastry-pocket bunzas—is a good idea.

Chef/manager Christopher Blue, whose Chocolatier Blue shop stands next door, grew up in Nebraska eating bunzas, close cousins to German bierock sandwiches and Russian pirozhkis.

“In my elementary school home economics class, we were taught to make these sandwiches from scratch,” Blue said. At Dora’s, they’re made with brioche dough.

“I love that there is no end in sight on how adventurous they can be.

“The East Bay customer is so perfect for the bunza. We love Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian ... and within those cuisines are multitudes of regional cuisines. The vast diversity of phenomenal food in the East Bay creates a knowledgeable customer and allows us to experiment with all of the cuisines and that type of diversity on our menu will be seen changing on a regular basis.”

Having opened earlier this year in the space formerly occupied by A Dora Pies, Dora’s sports 12 taps—pouring such brews as Henhouse Beer, Berryessa Brewing Co., and Altamont Beer Works, among others—and opens in front onto busy University Avenue and, in back, onto a sunny, serene, competition-level rose garden.

Inside the restaurant, counter panels made of wood reclaimed from an 1822 railroad tunnel exude a rustic-country ambience that is further amplified by quaint black-and-white floor tiles. Vintage kitchen tools festoon the walls.

“We wanted to focus on beers that aren’t carried by distributors,” Blue explained. These days, “it’s getting hard to tell what’s made by Budweiser and what’s truly a craft beer. The local undistributed beers that we carry are insanely fresh, small-batch, and continuously rotating.”

Which brewski pairs best with chicken-korma or Vietnamese-pork bunzas? And which pairs best with Dora’s selection of old-school sweet pies such as apple, blueberry, chocolate-silk, and Key lime?

That’s entirely up to you.

Dora’s, 1966 University Ave., Berkeley, 510-705-8800.

 

Published online on June 2, 2017 at 8:00 a.m.​

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