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moving to Berkeley

r
Rachelhope Jul 4, 1998 07:29 PM

I've been dreading this moment, but it's time to post
the question: where are good eats in Berkeley/Oakland?
You see, I'm leaving NYC -- my born and bred home --
for a PhD program (min. 6 years) at Berkeley. All my
hard-earned restaurant knowledge will be for nought as
I step forth, like a babe, onto untread territory!
During a weeklong house-scouting excursion last month I
stumbled into a lot of great restaurants, reassuring me
about the potential for great eating. Besides Chez
Panisse, can anyone offer any tips? I eat everything,
everything, everything, everything.

Thanks.

  1. m
    Michael Yu Oct 13, 1999 01:34 PM

    Rachel,

    I went to Cal eons ago, and as is evident with everyone's postings, there are great places to eat, and best of all they tended not to be pricey.

    Now, my personal favorite is this place near the intersection of Shattuck and University called Sun Hong Kong. This restaurant is right out of bustling Hong Kong. The dishes should not look familiar to the normal eye. It didn't to me, but all those "over-rice" dishes seemed as if they were concocted to assuage home-sick foreign students from Hong Kong. I don't know if I ever ordered the main dishes at all during the thousands of time I was there at 2 in the morning. My favorite was the Beef and Egg over rice.

    There also used to be three Korean places: Sarangbang in Northside, Bogul Bogul on Telegraph, Steve's Barbecue on Durant and a place on Telegraph past the border with Oakland called Koryo. The last is probably the most pricey but also the best. Steve's is OK for cheap eats, but I would not try the others. One note, this is data from "eons", i.e.6 years ago... The places in SF are probably a lot better.

    The other real attraction in Berkeley was Thai food: Sweet Basil? And Cha-ams.

    Also, there was a Chinese-Korean restaurant (see thread in General Topics message board) on Shattuck called, I kid you not, King Dong. They had the best bowl of jjambong this side of the Pacific and beyond. Jjambong is a fiery, hearty seafood soup with noodles and all sorts of seafood and bits of beef. It is a meal by itself and should cost you less than $10.

    Hope that helps, and excuse the nostalgia trip.

    Michael Yu

    1. n
      Nate Jun 20, 1999 12:24 AM

      The best pizza in Berkeley, in my opinion, is at
      Zachary's on Solano Ave in the Thousand Oaks area. I
      haven't been to the other one in Oakland, so I don't
      know if it's as good.

      1. k
        Ken Berger Jul 25, 1998 12:12 PM

        OK, I didn't want to broadcast this too loudly but what
        the heck:

        *Rivoli Restaurant on Solano Ave. in Berkeley may be
        the best restaurant in America...and besides there's a
        live animal show in the garden every night (raccoons,
        skunks, and possums entertain nightly)Zagat says: "Chez
        Panisse at half the price"

        *A chowhound classic, Vik's King of Chaat (Indian
        snacks) is like being in the food stalls of Bombay.
        Allston between 4th and 5th.

        *Vi's on Webster in downtown Oakland is simply
        sensational Vietnamese (with a duck noodle soup to die
        for)

        *Jimmy Bean's on Gilman and 6th has great quesadillas

        *Another chowhound classic: the pizza at the Cheese
        Board on Shattuck opposite Chez Panisse. The Best
        Pizza! And I mean the best!

        *Another vote for the rajas tacos/burritos/platos at
        Picante Tacqueria. Also the chicken machamentales
        (sp?) is also good.

        1. j
          Jeremy Osner Jul 6, 1998 07:54 AM

          It's been a long time but I used to love The Blue Nile
          (Ethiopian) when I was a kid. I believe its on
          Telegraph but that's just a guess.

          If you're looking for fast food the place to be is
          upper Telegraph near the UC. Great pizza -- The Fat
          Slice is the best, Mexican (I can't remember the
          restaurant's name but it's really good, you'll find it
          pretty quickly if you just walk down Telly from the
          campus). But stay away from the little cafes clustered
          right around the entrance to the campus.

          Jeremy

          1. j
            jonathan gold Jul 5, 1998 11:42 AM

            Berkeley, as its residents never tire of
            telling you, is probably pound-for-pound
            the best place to eat in America...except
            really, for chowhound-type places.

            Anyway, I'm sure these places will be
            imparted to you within minutes of arriving
            on campus, and mark me as a hopeless yup,
            but:

            Panini, on Shattuck, has essential
            Italian sandwiches on essential seeded
            rolls from Semifreddi Bakery. (The sand-
            wiches at Ultra Lucca, on Telegraph at
            40th in Oakland, are not to be sneered at
            either. Or the pizza at the Cheese Board.)

            Picante Taqueria, on 6th, is a little twee,
            but the rajas tacos are undeniable.

            Cafe Fanny, on San Pablo at Cedar, is
            the breakfast place of the CP empire,
            with cafe au lait textured like velvet,
            egg-salad sandwiches so good they'll make
            you weep and millet muffins that redefine
            the genre. Surprisingly inexpensive. (Acme,
            next door, is the best bread bakery in the
            U.S., though the Cheese Board has better
            baguettes; Kermit Lynch, also next door, is my
            favorite wine shop anywhere, and actually
            specializes in great $8 wines from Southern
            France.)

            Oliveto, which you won't be able to afford,
            is an astonishing Urban Rustic outpost in
            Rockridge, whose chef, Paul Bertolli, was
            the best chef at Chez Panisse, and who does
            things like cure his own proscuitto and age
            his own balsamic. The cafe downstairs is
            cheaper, great for a glass of wine and a
            few bites of roast rabbit.

            Everett & Jones, on San Pablo at University,
            does ribs so much better than anything you
            may have tasted in NY that you may well fall
            to your knees.

            You will probably come to the conclusion
            that one or another of the many bits of
            Berkeley Asian exotica is exemplary, and
            you will be wrong--imagine Leff's theory
            of Zagatization applied to restaurants that
            never had many native customers to begin
            with--but Oakland's Chinatown is great,
            fairly bursting with Burmese, Vietnamese
            and Chiu Chow places to explore.

            4 Replies
            1. re: jonathan gold
              j
              jim leff Jul 5, 1998 01:24 PM

              "imagine Leff's theory of Zagatization applied to
              restaurants that never had many native customers to
              begin with"

              Jonathan, that's actually not a reapplication of
              what I was saying...it's just the logical
              extension. Formerly authentic places get Zagatized,
              learn to water down the cooking and ratchet up the
              prices, meet with resounding success, and scads of
              cynical upstarts follow suit, attracting outsiders
              with jive, inferior food right out of the gate.

              Eventually the good places that never received the
              mainstream seal of approval (usually because
              they're more than a block from the subway, as
              Sietsema points out)--and never added neon,
              publicists, etc, to get that exposure--wither. Even
              the local paisanos eventually shun them...they're
              not jazzy enough, not modern enough.

              In ten years, even Popeye will be eating in Red
              Lobster (thank God we're chowhounds...we find
              deliciousness regardless of what insanity the
              mainstream propagates)

              On the Berkeley bbq front: while it's slightly
              unfair to compare them since I had Everett and
              Jones about 2 years and it's been almost a decade
              since I hit Flynt's, I prefer the latter
              (especially their sausage).
              ciao

              1. re: jim leff
                b
                Bob Jul 5, 1998 02:44 PM

                I haven't been by there to verify, but have recently
                heard that Flint's is now history. Both phone numbers
                (San Leandro & Berkeley) are disconnected. Doug's
                Barbecue on San Pablo in Emeryville is up there with
                Everett & Jones.

                1. re: Bob
                  j
                  jonathan gold Jul 6, 1998 02:14 PM

                  Ahhh...the old Flint's vs. Everett & Jones debate.
                  A taste of the good old days. (I was always an
                  E&J man myself--I was also partial to the
                  late Do City across the bay in the Western Addition
                  --though I would never exactly turn down the offer
                  of a small-end dinner at Flint's).

                  Bob is right: Doug's is awfully good, if not in
                  a neighborhood you would ordinarily find yourself
                  visiting.

                  1. re: jonathan gold
                    b
                    Bob Sep 20, 1998 03:04 AM

                    Not true, Jonathan... It's right on the corner of San
                    Pablo Avenue off the San Pablo Avenue exit of I-580
                    West on the Oakland/Emeryville border (look for the
                    billowing smoke)... just three blocks from the East Bay
                    Bridge shopping complex which houses the Home Depot,
                    CompUSA, and OfficeMax. It seems like I'm always
                    finding myself in that neighborhood!

                    Also, the Cheese Board folks have opened a bakery on
                    Lakeshore Avenue in Oakland (on the other side of I-580
                    from Lake Merritt). Haven't checked it out yet, but it
                    supposedly serves the same great pizzas.

            2. f
              Frank Language Jul 5, 1998 12:34 AM

              Psst, Rachel: I've forwarded your plea to a friend of
              mine who lives in Berkeley - and loves it. She'll help
              you out, and if she doesn't, I'll bug her again.

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