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Quick bite in El Cerrito?

rjf Mar 15, 2007 11:26 AM

I have about 1/2 hour to grab dinner in El Cerrito and don't know the area very well. I'll be in the vicinity of San Pablo Ave between El Cerrito Plaza and Central Ave. Any suggestions? I know there is a Trader Joe's in the plaza and would rather not pick something up there. Thanks!

  1. J T Mar 15, 2007 11:48 AM

    Half an hour limits choices. There's Chef's Chinese, Louisiana Fried Chicken, and Rubio's Mexican in El Cerrito Plaza. There's also Waikiki Hawaiian BBQ across the street (San Pablo) from Pier One Imports.

    1. g
      gordon wing Mar 15, 2007 11:57 AM

      you could grab a tasty and cheap bahn mi (vietnamese sandwich) or a bowl of noodles from Ba Le just a block North from Central Ave - on San Pablo Ave. - in the Peppermint Mini Mall. they have one or two small tables but it's mainly take out....or there is a Nation's Hamburger right on Central & San Pablo - strawberry pies might be coming in right now?

      1 Reply
      1. re: gordon wing
        Glencora Mar 15, 2007 12:24 PM

        I really like the bahn mi from Ba Le but I think the place closes at six. I was going suggest the Junket in the plaza, but I see that it closes at six too. (El Cerrito is such a happening place.) I'd probably get fish tacos at Rubio's.

      2. Food Smith Mar 15, 2007 12:03 PM

        In the mall there is also a lovely Panda Express or Macaroni Grill - both chains, of course. For true dining experience in one-half hour I don't think you will find too much. You can also go into Albertsons and select from their deli section. I think the most interesting suggestion so far has been the Waikiki Hawaiian Barbecue.

        1. l
          liujenny Mar 15, 2007 01:16 PM

          Why not grab something at the Pacific East Plaza which is at Central and Pierce (towards the freeway and bay)... It's relatively fast and good food at almost any one of the restaurants you choose.

          1. rworange Mar 15, 2007 01:28 PM

            Up the street from the Plaza is FatApples. great American diner food ... a little wine and a nice bakery. In the El Cerrito Plaza go to StoneCold Creamery ... take a right on that street and follow it to the end. (maybe 8 blocks). There is FatApples.

            There's a counter or you can do take-out.

            The Junket is a little German Deli in the Plaza but they close early ... 5 or 6. You can get a great German beer served in the correct beer glass and a sandwich or nice German frankfurters with potato salad. You can even get a glass of that green german beer.

            I would choose Big Al's Burgers over Nation's. Big Al's is on the corner of the block the plaza is in a half a block from Wells Fargo Bank.

            That Louisiana chicken can be merely ok or really, really bad. The Rubio's is one of the worst I've ever been to ... but it has been a few years and I refuse to darken their door again.

            Instead of Panda Express the better (tho not great either) Chinese option is Chef's Chinese. I'd pick FatApples over Macaroni Grill which is mediocre and pricy at best.

            The Junket and Chef's Chinese are near Trader Joe's in the plaza.

            I haven't been, but someone whose food opinion I respect really likes Waikiki Hawaiian BBQ

            2 Replies
            1. re: rworange
              chemchef Mar 15, 2007 02:25 PM

              I agree with most of your suggestions... but I would also add Pasta Pomodoro. I know its a chain, but I feel that that particular location has great service and the food's always been decent when my husband and I have gone. Good value.

              1. re: chemchef
                rworange Mar 15, 2007 04:13 PM

                Yeah, I agree. Out of all the chains in that plaza, pasta pomedoro is the best option. I like it.

            2. k
              kc72 Mar 15, 2007 02:29 PM

              will you have a car? 30mins doesn't leave you w/ alot of options.

              1. J T Mar 15, 2007 03:02 PM

                Looking at the other recs here add... Al's Big Burger, can't believe I didn't remember. Good burgers. Ba Le is another option if sandwich is ok for dinner, really good Vietnamese sandwiches (cheap too). The steam tables at 99 Ranch Market is another option. I haven't tried the Sushi place near Trader Joe's but may be another option. Macaroni, Pasta Pom, FatApples would probably take too long.

                1 Reply
                1. re: J T
                  josquared Mar 15, 2007 03:31 PM

                  I'd go with Ba Le too with all the provisos listed above (OK with a sandwich for dinner (heck, make it two - they're cheap enough!); get there before closing time of 6 pm; literally 30 minutes or less to shop & eat)

                2. c
                  Carnitas Mar 15, 2007 09:21 PM

                  Has anyone tried Yummy sushi at the end or the row of stores by Trader Joes at EC Plaza?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Carnitas
                    choctastic Mar 16, 2007 11:19 AM

                    I have been there a couple of times. Korean owned. best thing i can say is that it's cheap and filling. fish is about average for an inexpensive type of sushi joint like this.

                    1. re: Carnitas
                      Scrapironchef Mar 16, 2007 12:06 PM

                      Completely unremarkable.

                    2. m
                      mzsnowhite Mar 16, 2007 07:49 AM

                      Kasuga on San Pablo Ave in Albany is fantastic! It's just a little ways down the road from El Cerrito but worth the 5 minute drive. Fresh fresh sushi.

                      1. p
                        ptrichmondmike Mar 16, 2007 09:02 AM

                        I've been the the EC Plaza Rubio's once about six months ago, but never again. I lived in San Diego for ten years and always enjoyed munching at the many Rubio's outlets, where the chow was consistently fresh and tasty. Now, Rubio's fish tacos always tend to start falling apart while you are eating them -- at this location, they never got it together in the first place. Very sloppy presentation which I needed to eat with my little plastic knife and fork. The fish was very overcooked and dry, and more thanhalf of the cabbage/condiments were in the serving basket, not on the taco. The salsa bar was a filthy mess and loooked like it hadn't been wiped clean in weeks. And the counter staff were sullen brats who had trouble making change even though the cash registers explicitly state the amount.

                        Who needs that?

                        I was so annoyed that I emailed Rubio's HQ to complain about the disservice this location was doing to their reputation.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: ptrichmondmike
                          choctastic Mar 16, 2007 11:24 AM

                          Hmm, that sucks. I've been to Rubio's all over the state and I've been to the EC one about 6 times in the last year and I thought it was about the same as the others. The manager gave a friend a bunch of coupons for free tacos when they screwed up his order once. also, the salsa bar was pretty clean when i was there last week.

                          I don't expect much from fast food here though. For instance, I was shocked at how bad the Taco Bells are up here. In Orange County the Taco Bells are way better and a lot cleaner.

                          1. re: ptrichmondmike
                            rworange Mar 17, 2007 11:19 AM

                            I guess the best thing you can say of that particular Rubio's is that it is consistant ... my 2002 post ... sounds like not much changed

                            So, where did you go, rjf ... & how was it? That's ok ... you can fess up if you went to Burger King.

                          2. r
                            rightstar Mar 17, 2007 08:06 AM

                            Yes I don't like Rubio's in EC either. Very filthy, tacos mushy and staff unhelpful/inefficient. Better to go next door to Panda Express.

                            1. Chuckles the Clone Mar 17, 2007 10:42 AM

                              The loco moco at Waikiki Hawaiian BBQ across San P from the Plaza
                              is huge, cheap, and delicious. I always leave feeling like a Samoan god.

                              loco moco: http://whatscookingamerica.net/Histor...

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