Firemen's finest: Nearly 20 years after brothers Robin and Chris Sorenson, both former firefighters, went into the sandwich business in Jacksonville, Fla., the 700-plus Firehouse Subs chain is finally making its way West. The first NorCal location opened Friday in Fremont, and the inspired decor -- it's all firefighter memorabilia -- comes from the Fremont Fire Department. There's also a mural depicting a firefighter responding to a call at the local landmark, Mission San Jose. The company walks the talk, too: Its Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation raises money for equipment and training for first responders, with customers encouraged to "round up" their purchase for a donation. The sandwich focus, naturally, is on hot combos -- with an array of hot sauces if you like yours spicy. The top-selling Hook & Ladder sub is a melty amalgamation of smoked turkey, honey ham and Monterey Jack; the Smokehouse tops brisket with cheddar and barbecue sauce; and the New York Steamer combines corned beef and pastrami.
Details: Open daily from 10:30 a.m. at Pacific Commons, 43344 Boscell Road, Fremont. www.firehousesubs.com.
Chestnut festival: If you think the roasting of chestnuts happens only in holiday song, then get yourself over to the Lakeside Cafe at Mountain View's Shoreline Lake. Owner Christina Ferrari is presenting the third annual Winter Chestnut Fest, with bags of just-roasted chestnuts, bowls of chestnut and celery root soup and other holiday fare. Roasting times are 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on weekends (Sunday and Dec. 21-22) and 12:30 p.m. Dec. 19-20. Details: 3160 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View. 650-965-1745; http://shorelinelake.com.
Finger food: The dining scene in Oakland's Uptown continues to flourish and expand. Next up is alaMar Kitchen & Bar, a sustainable seafood eatery that will open early next year. It's the brainchild of New York chef Nelson German -- you may remember his name from Supperclub San Francisco -- who wants you to get your hands dirty.
"In my travels to the Mediterranean, I was inspired by the sheer simplicity of seafood served with a flavorful sauce and a slice of perfectly grilled bread," German says. "You experience a different feeling when you're eating with your hands. You're more in harmony with the food."
Think Dungeness Crab with Ginger Scallion Butter and Crawfish with Meyer Lemon Romesco, crustacean boils, rustic sandwiches, and one-bite starters and sweets. The restaurant, at 100 Grand Ave., will be open daily, with an all-day Sunday brunch. Keep tabs on the progress at Facebook.com/alamaroak.
Seven fishes: It's not just Italian-Americans who get excited about the Feast of the Seven Fishes. This multiple-course Christmas Eve tradition is a seafood lover's dream. In San Francisco, A16 executive chef Christopher Thompson is hosting an Italian-style Feast of the Seven Fishes on Dec. 24 with yellow tail crudo and octopus stew ($80 for five courses; www.a16sf.com). Across the bay at A16 Rockridge, Rocky Maselli is doing squid ink tonarelli with Dungeness crab and Mount Lassen trout ($75; www.a16rockridge.com).
At Lungomare in Oakland's Jack London Square, executive chef Craig DiFonzo's five-course Christmas Eve spread includes risotto with Dungeness crab and Meyer lemon, and monkfish with Umbrian lentils ($55; www.lungomareoakland.com). And the Italian-inspired feast gets a Pan-Pacific twist at nearby Bocanova, where exec chef John Jackson is using Peruvian flavors to inspire his three-course, seven-fish menu, which includes salt-cured ahi tuna, sea bass yucatan soup and swordfish with a Dungeness crab salad. The prix fixe menu is $68 (children ages 6 to 12 are $28, and tots are free); www.bocanova.com.