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TOP 5 RESTAURANTS IN BERKELEY FOR UNDER TEN DOLLARS

Hi everyone, I am new to the board and wanted to just say how much my eating life has changed since I discovered Chowhound, thanks to all of you! With that said, I looked at older posts and found no specific thread where posters rate their top 5 restaurants by price point and type of meal in Berkeley. So now I was hoping I could get that kind of thread started to see what's on everyone else's radar, and to fill in some gaps in my eating schedule.I plan on doing more threads like this with higher pricing points.When getting to dinner, I was drawing blanks, hopefully Chowhounders will be up to the task to enlighten.
Rate your TOP 5 RESTAURANTS IN BERKELEY FOR UNDER TEN DOLLARS, not including drinks, tax and tip.
Here is mine: (in no order of hierarchy)

BREAKFAST
900 Grayson
Bette's Oceanview Diner
Homemade Cafe
Venus
Cafe Fanny

Lunch
Ryowa Ramen
Gregoire
Vik's Chaat
900 Grayson
Cheeseboard

Dinner
Naan N Curry
Brazil Cafe
Saigon Restaurant
Cha- Ya
Lucky House Thai

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  1. I like your thread! Here are mine:

    BREAKFAST:
    Bette's Oceanview Diner
    Homemade Cafe
    Cafe Fanny
    Chester's Bay View Cafe
    Meal Ticket

    LUNCH:
    Picante
    Cheeseboard
    Tacubaya
    Brazil Cafe
    Cancun

    DINNER:
    King Tsin
    Cheeseboard
    Picante
    Tacubaya
    Cancun

    1. Have you tried my usual favorite is TAIWAN restaurant on Shattuck and Univ and you definitely can get out for less than $10. Search my previous posts for the SPECIFIC dishes and specific TIMES for the specials. Many of their dishes are unique and seldom found elsewhere. The south style peddler noodle soup (clear soup) is the best version I had in Bay Area - only available during weekend lunch. The clear soup had good flavor probably from the minced pork. The noodle is toothsome and the added chives and bean sprouts give it added boost. Topped it off with a nice soy-simmered egg gave this dish a mark of 9 possibly 10 for a home style soup. Have not had this for a year or so because we were able to duplicate it at home and surpassed it. The place had other gem dishes as well - check the board. One of them used to be the pork roll with the outer skin made of tofu sheets - deep fried. The pork filling is infused with the 5 spice (ngo-hiang). A side sweet sauce with sliced of cucumbers is provided. Sadly, it was not as great as before the last time I had it. A bit soggy. But the noodle dish was still great as ever was.

      And of course, JAYAKARTA is favorite of many hounds on this board for Indonesian food. Again, check for the specific dishes. If you like Asian food, many dishes here will surprise and delight any hounds.

      How about TOP DOG ? You can buy their 1/2 dozen frozen dogs for less than $10 with the buns and make it yourself at home without the wait.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Han

        I forgot about Top Dog, and will try Taiwan and Jayakarta. Thanks for the recs!

        1. re: oscarm

          Please report your finds in return !- fresh reports always interesting to know. Places have gone downhill sometimes and we need to know that from users like you. But Jayakarta still flying high last I heard.

          You can also reward the rest of us by trying out a new interesting dish that have not been tried by the hounds.

        2. The only places I regularly spend under $10 for something other than a slice of pizza are Vik's, Udupi Palace, and Ryowa Ramen.

          I like 900 Grayson, Cha-Ya, Naan 'n' Curry, and Venus, but I spend more than $10.

          Cafe Fanny and Gregoire are good but some of the most expensive takeout in town.

          Picante, Tacubaya, and Cancun are lame. There's no good Mexican food in Berkeley.

          14 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            I've had good food at Picante, Tacubaya, and Cancun. Agreeably, not everything is excellent, but many things I've had from each place have been well above average. Cancun has some very good salsas and their carne asada is tender and flavorful as are the carnitas.

            I like Picante's tortillas soup, a giant portion with just the right amount of spiciness.

            I recently went to Tacubaya and had some of the best enchiladas I've ever tasted (and I grew up in SoCal where good Mexican food is prevalent). The sauce was rich and very flavorful and I could taste that the tortillas were handmade. My husband and I were both very impressed. It was only the second time we've been there in two years, but that meal convinced us that we need to go back.

            So, my question is, why do you call those places "lame"?

            1. re: chemchef

              Lame based on what I've had there and compared with what I've had at my favorite places, Taqueria San Jose and El Huarache Azteca, where the food's as good or better than what I get on my regular visits to Guadalajara.

              1. re: chemchef

                I'm not a fan of everything at Tacubaya. However, they do a great menudo on the weekends. I'll have to try enchiladas. When Tacubaya hits it is great. When it misses it is good but not very memorable.

                While I wouldn't say the food at the some of the Berkeley Mexican restaurants is lame, it is a different category ... Cal-Mex ... sort of the current generation of Mexican-American.

                Old-style Mex-American appealed to a broad American audiance at that time. The Cal-Mex do the same. The ingrediants are fresh and often organic. It continues to please popular tastes. It is seldom scary or challenging. It misses the soul of good Mexican food. Even Fonda which is probably one of my favorite restaurants ... I forget it is supposed to be Mexican. I think of it just another good California-style restaurant.

                So I agree with both you and Robert in a sense. The food is good but it's not really Mexican.

                1. re: rworange

                  I basically agree.

                  I love traditional Mexican food. When it's adapted for Berkeley palates and prejudices I usually find it bland and boring.

                  1. re: rworange

                    I agree whole-heartedly! Thanks for putting that in perspective. I hate bland food and love spicy. However, I do try to eat a little healthier these days, so I appreciate restaurants that can use quality ingredients and keep it flavorful and exciting. I know that is not the heart of down home Mexican cooking, but I like it when its done well.

                    I also agree about Tacubaya. Not everything I've had there was awesome. Likewise for Picante etc. The point was that I have had some items that were well above the bar. And, for a decent price. I know where to go when I want to spend a lot of money, but its the places that are relatively inexpensive, but do a good job that are sometimes harder to find.

                  2. re: chemchef

                    Ryowa's is nothing special but okay since there is nothing better in this area. But for value minded folks, I think Manpuku is also a viable choice. Manpuku serves up huge, Korean sized bowls of ramen with plenty of toppings and you can also get budget sushi and various kinds of bento as well. You're much more likely to get out of Manpuku for under $10 than Ryowa, esp if you're a big eater like me. That said, Ryowa has a decent lunch special for around $8.

                    1. re: choctastic

                      Have you ordered the special noodles at Ryowa? Those are great. The regular ramen are nothing special.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        which ones are the special noodles again? I've ordered just about everything on the menu since I live nearby. overall, i feel like the noodles are kind of flabby and the soup is nothing special.

                        1. re: choctastic

                          Just ask for "special noodles." Adds $1 to the price of any order.

                          I think they accidentally left them off when they redid the menu, but they've always had them when I've gone.

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              Ah I need to listen to KK more often. Do they have special broth for $1 extra as well? I thought it was kind of weak, compared to a place like Santouka.

                                1. re: choctastic

                                  Ryowa makes several stocks, some better than others. Which ones have you tried?

                    2. The original comment has been removed
                      1. I was at Juan's place the other night, which largely serves Cali-Tex-Mex-anglo-ized food (in the old school tradition) EXCEPT the specials. My buddy got birria which was excellent and I got two fish tacos - full fillet in each taco (2) w/ the usual rice and beans. For $10 bucks the two fish fillets would be worth it, the birria was $11. There's also Mario's La Fiesta on Telegraph and Haste - top 5...probably not but a solid, solid value and you can most certainly eat for under $10. I'd go to either w/o hesitation -- compares well to any Cali-Tex-Mex I've had in SoCal as a kid.