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after one week in the east bay...came from LA

moved to berkeley a week ago from los angeles, and am in a bit of a state trying to find good mid-range restaurants. i feel like there aren't many places that fill the void between 'house of curries' and 'chez panisse' - but please correct me if i'm wrong. we're living in elmwood and college ave is our closest food destination. i have been very disappointed thus far. here is a list of where we have eaten (not only in elmwood) and my opinions:

cheeseboard pizza: my boyfriend loves it and i like it...it's good, and the ingredients are great, but it doesn't thrill me.
gregorie: had a delicious lunch here and ate way too many of the mashed potato balls. wish it wasn't just take out
ag ferrari: great option for lunch- like the panini, wish they had a broader cheese selection
barneys: lame- terrible service, mediocre food-
rivoli- went here on friday night and it was ...ehhh. that place was so crowded, people kept coming in and out like it was a clown car... my appetizer (scallops) was good, but the scallops weren't totally clean- had sand in them. my dinner (ravioli) was way too expensive for what it was, regardless of the price point on the menu.
la mediterranee: we were at a loss as to where to head for lunch today and had read some decent reviews of this place on chowhounds. it was beyond mediocre. i would never go back there- the service was terrible, the food was tasteless if not just plain bad.
t rex: went here for dinner tonight and sorry to say i was very disappointed. the cornbread was exceptional, but the rest of my dinner was totally average. i was shocked that there was no bbq chicken on the menu of smoked meats- just pork and beef- and my sonoma chicken was overcooked- my boyfriend said his ribs were junk- nice spices but undersmoked and not tender at all.
shen hua- we have eaten in and ordered out from this restaurant. we both have had delicious food, but once again, i wish there were more chicken options on the menu (sorry if it's not authentic, but i don't eat pork, so i wish there was a chicken potsticker or dumpling somewhere!) i am also missing my green onion pancakes from xian in LA- they don't have them at shen hua.
so, fyi, here is a list of places we liked to eat in LA- if anyone can give me suggestions of similar places in the east bay, i would love it.
we typically chose places that were mid-range in price but consistent in quality and service- we were lucky to have lots of those there.

for brunch:
toast- for the big menu, great service, but not the scene
rose cafe- venice
quality on 3rd
who's on 3rd- good menu and cheap cheap- not bad if everything else was packed
the griddle for absurdly large brunches and great pumpkin pancakes

for lunch:
axe- venice
poquito mas- sunset
newsroom
cube on la brea
abbots pizza

for dinner (fancy):
grace
table 8
jiraffe
koi- love that spicy tuna crunch
little door

for dinner (casual):
buddah's belly
gyu kaku
baby blues!!!! (PLEASE, WE ARE MISSING THIS AND NEED BBQ!!!)
yu
loteria grill at the farmer's market
xian in beverly hills (WHERE CAN I GET GREEN ONION PANCAKES LIKE THEIRS???)

so, to sum up- if you have any suggestions for us in elmwood, rockridge, berkeley, or anywhere in the east bay, we would appreciate it A LOT. my LA restaurant list is just intended to be a frame of reference, so feel free to throw any opinions or suggestions out there-

thank YOU!

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  1. here are my personal east bay favs.
    rockridge:
    cactus - super fresh burritos and tacos, personal fav is the fish burrito
    oliveto cafe and restaurant - go high end upstairs or eat at the cafe downstairs
    market hall - a great little food hall
    la farine - best baguette and morning buns in the bay area imho
    cole coffee - best coffeshop in the east bay, again imo.
    a cote - great drinks and small plates
    citron - i'd go for brunch on the weekend
    temescal:
    bakesale betty - love their oatmeal raisin cookies, blueberry pies, banana bread and fried chicken sandwich
    genoa deli - italian style sandwiches with all kinds of deli meat
    dona tomas - upscale cal/mexican food, great margaritas
    pizziola - great pizza and pasta but be prepared to wait
    sahn maru - not a korean bbq place but they make an awesome kim chee stew
    tofu house - bubbling tofu stews in the summer, naem myun
    mama's royal - great breakfast spot
    piedmont ave/downtown oakland/west oakland:
    dopo - may favorite place for homemade pasta
    gregoire - go for lunch here
    fentons - ridiculous sundaes
    nellies soul food - awesome fried chicken and fried pork chops, get there before 8pm or they won't let you in.
    pho 84 - i've been going here for the last 10 years for their yellow chicken curry
    la champa - home cooking thai laotian food
    also fruitvale and international blvd has some amazing and cheap mexican food.

    as far as elmwood, the only place i like is shen hua and gordo's. hope this list helps and happy eating.

    2 Replies
    1. re: lucymom

      Interesting list. Just a quibble, it's GenOVA delicatessen, not Genoa.

      I read the Express review of brunch at Citron and it sounded fabulous. Can you comment further?

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        they make a beautiful hollandaise sauce for the egg benedict dishes and their homemade scones are pretty spectacular. also their menu changes weekly. the last time i went i had a perfect soft shell crab sandwich - not exactly a brunch item but delicious nonetheless.

    2. The East Bay has some very good restaurants. If you keep looking, you will find stuff you like. My ideas for you:

      OAKLAND -- NON-ROCKRIDGE
      Luka's Taproom (burger, oysters)
      Shan Dong (dumplings)

      OAKLAND -- ROCKRIDGE
      Cactus Taqueria (acceptable carnitas/carne asada)

      BERKELEY -- CLAREMONT
      Rick and Ann's (breakfast)

      BERKELEY -- ELMWOOD
      Holy Land (Israeli/Middle Eastern)

      BERKELEY -- DOWNTOWN AND UNIVERSITY
      Pie in the Sky (pizza)
      Ryowa Ramen (ramen, gyoza)
      Pomegranate (Persian)

      WEST BERKELEY
      Vik's Chaat Corner (vegi Indian with meat-based specials on the weekends)
      900 Grayson (excellent breakfast; heard good things about lunch/dinner too)
      Indus Village (curries)
      Ruen Pair (Thai)

      BERKELEY - Gourmet Ghetto
      Lo Coco's (pasta, pizza)

      ALBANY
      China Village (claypot dishes)
      Nizza La Bella (pizza, Italian and French bistro)

      ALAMEDA
      Speisekammer (German)

      CHICKEN (since you're big on it)
      Lola's in Albany (takeout)
      Casa Orinda in Orinda (for fried chicken and biscuits)

      G

      1. Definitely agree on La Med. Elmwood is a bit barren, but I do like Holy Land. The falafel is really good, and I'm also fond of the combo salad. The mint lemonade is tasty as well.

        Not in Elmwood, but still good options w/in a 5-10 minute drive--

        For local mid-range (a bit "nicer" than tasty cheap ethnic) options I'd suggest:

        Dona Tomas on Telegraph (Mexican w/ good ingredients)
        Dopo on Piedmont Ave. (Italian)
        Luka's on Broadway (sort of gastro pub w/ great Belgian fries)
        Oliveto downstairs on College (Italian)
        Pizzaiolo on Telegraph (Italian)
        Soi 4 on College (Thai)

        Also worth noting, the upstairs cafe at Chez Panisse can be done at what I'd consider a mid-range price (around $30 for three courses if one starts w/ soup or salad, opts pasta or pizza for mains, and has dessert). For example, on Friday you could have had Frisée and Little Gems lettuce with anchovy, garlic, and Parmesan; Spaghetti alla Norma with roasted eggplant, tomato, basil, and ricotta salata; and Almond cake with Lucero Farm strawberries and crème Chantilly for $32.50 before tax and tip. Or what about Roasted tomato and fennel soup; Pizzetta with rocket salad with Russell's coppa; and Affogato: warm espresso over vanilla ice cream for $27.50? Strange as it may seem, Chez Panisse itself may fall into the void between House of curries and Chez Panisse.

        For great cheap to moderate tasty Ethnic:
        Cafe Colucci on Telegraph (Ethiopian)
        Cam Huong Deli on Webster (Vietnamese sandwiches)
        Great China on Kittredge (Chinese)
        Ohgane on Broadway (Korean, w/ grill at table)
        Sahn Maru on Telegraph (Korean, but more stew focused)
        Uzen on College (Japanese)
        Vik's on Allston (Indian chaat)

        1. thanks, these are all great suggestions. we're doing the chez panisse cafe soon, which i'm excited about. going back to two things: barbeque and green onion pancakes: has anyone been to everett and jones' bbq on san pablo? we passed it last night on the way back from t-rex and saw a packed house. any reviews? the boyfriend wants ribs that fall off the bone.
          thanks :) also, if anyone knows of a place with green onion pancakes that aren't 'crispy' - i don't know how to describe this but in beijing, the pancakes i had were just crispy enough, as if they are pan fried, but i've had some really bad ones in the us that are almost battered and fried. not looking for those.

          thanks !

          2 Replies
          1. re: j7essie

            Doug's makes acceptable beef ribs.

            I've been generally disappointed with East Bay barbecue. Here's a recent thread:

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

            G

            1. re: j7essie

              O Chame on 4th St in Berkeley has an excellent green onion pancake that is not 'crispy.' You can get some excellent ice cream and baked goods at Sketch, across the street. You should check out 4th st, lots of good chow there. Some of it is a bit expensive, but there are some good mid price places as well.

            2. oh and sorry for all of my posts, but i just thought of one more thing: dessert! we love gelato and also cupcakes. in la used to go to al gelato and buttercake bakery on pico for delicious cupcakes--especially the red velvet. does anyone know of a place that that does a great red velvet with buttercream frosting? also great gelato nearby? i saw that a place called ici is opening on college and i'm hoping that they do a nice ice cream!

              1 Reply
              1. re: j7essie

                sketch does better ice cream than al gelato, much better on fourth street in berekeley.