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Mar 7, 2007 07:13 AM

Friday foodie tour in Berkeley

So, I am going to poke around Berkeley with my wife on Friday. We'll get there around 10AM, so we'll be there for lunch and probably dinner, too. I'm trying to put together the foodie agenda and here are some options I've come up with so far… (Keep in mind that we're talking about a Lenten Friday, so I sadly will have to avoid the meat… Berkeley seems like a tasty place to adhere to my Lenten responsibilities)

Cheeseboard for cheese to take home
Vik's for some chaat
Ajanta for nicer Indian
Berkeley Bowl
Pizzaiolo for an early dinner
Chez Panisse Café (or am I just too late to the game to get in?)

What else am I missing for a foodie tour of Berkeley?

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  1. Scharffen Berger Factory Tour?

    Have not gone myself (yet) but I've heard it's good. You didn't give up chocolate for Lent, did you?

    1. 900 Grayson for breakfast. Great vegetarian options.
      June Taylor's still room is open Fridays from 12:30-4 in West Berkeley. Some of the best jam in the world, period. You must check it out.
      Scharffem Berger Tour is a must. If it's too late to make a res online, show up first thing in the morning and put your name on the list. You will get in.
      Sketch Ice Cream on 4th St. has some of the best desserts in the Bay. 4th St is a fun place to walk around with lots of foodie shops in a small area.
      Cheeseboard cheese - absolutely! Let them know it's your first time, and sample a lot.
      Gregoire for a snack of potato puffs. Just down the street from Cheeseboard.
      You can try to get in to Chez Panisse Cafe, but Pizzaiolo is an excellent backup. I actually prefer the food and ambiance at Pizzaiolo to Chez, and the price point is far more reasonable.
      Not sure about Ajanta and Viks in the same day. I prefer the food at Ajanta, but Viks is fun too.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Morton the Mousse

        On second thought, I'd pick Vik's over Ajanta for lunch. The food at Vik's is much easier to make a light snack of, so you'll still have room for everything else. Plus, you'll be right down the street from 4th St, June Taylor and Scharffen Berger.

        1. re: Morton the Mousse

          You've got to get a masala dhosa at Vik's - a fabulous crispy rice flour pancake wrapped around spicy potatoes. Get their green sauce to drizzle over.

          June Taylor is a great suggestion. She has some unusual jams and marmalades (grapefruit, lime, etc.)

          Ditto Sea Salt - a delightful restaurant with great food - all seafood.

      2. Wow Morton, major tip about June Taylor's Still Room
        June Taylor Company
        The Still-Room
        2207 4th Street
        Berkeley, CA 94710


        If it is Lent, then there's always Sea Salt. Also, while not great for a lot, the hot cross buns at Hopkins Street Bakery. If you've never been to that area, you can drop in to Monterey Market for comparison to Berkeley Bowl.

        Oh, oh, I know, I know ... The Phoenix Pastifico for their great pasta and the exquisite olive bread hot from the oven (usually after 1pm).

        If you go to Fourth St where Sketch is located, stop by Teance for tea.

        4 Replies
        1. re: rworange

          I think Sea Salt is pretty Meh ambiance-wise, and the food is not special enough to make it a good pick over everywhere else on this list. If you are willing to try somewhere a bit more pricy, but comparable to 2/3 courses at Chez Pannisse upstairs, Commis in Oakland is great. If you go to Pizzaola, order a gin and tonic - they make their own tonic and it is wildly delicious.

          Sea Salt
          2512 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

          3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

          1. re: supergoldie

            You are responding to a 2007 post. The OP has long since took hsi food tour.

            In 2007, Commis wasn't even a twinkle in the ownern's eye.

            Since this post was resurrected, I will at least make come comments to my post just for accuracy sake.

            Sketch is long closed

            Hopkins Street Bakery has undergone an ownership changes and the hot cross buns aren't as good.

            If I was talking about Phonix Pacifico, the restaurant, that also has long closed and the pasta operation moved elsewhere. They still sell pasta, sauaces and bread at the 'new' (years old) location and lots of farmers markets.

            While Teance still has great tea, I find their pricing for tasting a bit too pricy these days.

            Even Sea Salt has remodeled since that post, though I still like both the food and ambiance. I can't think of a better seafood restaurant in the East Bay. Not that I don't love Commis, but if I'm looking for seafood, it will be Sea Salt.

            Sea Salt
            2512 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

            Hopkins Street Bakery
            1584 Hopkins St, Berkeley, CA

            2531B 9th St, Berkeley, CA

            3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

            1. re: rworange

              Teance coupon available. good for 1 year rw, plan ahead.

              2531B 9th St, Berkeley, CA

          2. re: rworange

            My favorite item at Hopkins Street Bakery is the Anzac cookies. Semi-sweet and coconutty, great soaked in milk or tea, and I've had a couple last for literally a year in the bag without any noticable change. Good with peanut butter, too (what isn't).

            Hopkins Street Bakery
            1584 Hopkins St, Berkeley, CA

          3. Seconding the Sea Salt recommendation, and if you're an oyster fan, you might want to hit it from 4-6 while they have the $1 oyster happy hour,but they're open every day from 11:30 to 11 (I think, I'm not positive when the closing time is). I love Pizzaiolo, but it's in Oakland, not Berkeley (not that they're that far away, but I didn't want you confused).

            I'd also drop by the Acme bakery (at San Pablo and Cedar) to get some bread to go along with your Cheeseboard cheese. You can get Acme bread in lots of places, but for the tour, it'll be fun to go by the bakery.

            3 Replies
            1. re: JasmineG

              Acme bread fresh from the bakery is the best in the area. Cheese Board's the best cheese shop but its bread is at best second-rate (which means better than you'll find most place in the U.S., but still).

              So stop by Acme and pick some up on your way to Cheese Board (it's a straight shot up Cedar) to ensure you're not tempted to settle.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I guess I'll have to do a back to back of Phoenix with Acme. Yes, Phoenix only has that one bread ... but ... damn ... it is great.

                The caveat is that both times I bought it recently it just came out of the oven ... as in ... hold the bag on the side because it is too hot to handle.

                1. re: rworange

                  Phoenix's olive bread is killer, but isn't a good pair with cheese, since the olive flavor is so strong.

                  Acme pain d'epis is ideal for a cheese picnic since it's easy to tear apart.

            2. I just did a mini-tour on Monday of places I hadn't been yet. I first went to La Farine (and loved it). I then went to check out Masse's. I tried to go to Cheeseboard, but they close very early on Monday, so I was too late. I actually have been there several times anyway. I made a pass through Epicurious Garden--not that I'm saying it's a must-see, but you might as well take a look if you're at Cheeseboard. I then walked around the corner and had the beef patty (don't say burger!) and potato puffs at Gregoire's.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Atomica

                Not only does Cheeseboard close early on Mondays, the cheese counter is closed all day. Tues-Fri are the days to go for cheese.

                1. re: Morton the Mousse

                  Correction: Tues-Sat are cheese counter days.