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Dinner suggestion for Oakland/Berkeley for Saturday evening?

My aunt is in town this weekend and wants to go somewhere GOOD but not necessarily fancy (since she'll be coming directly from the airport to dinner) for dinner Saturday night. Any ideas for good eats in the Oakland/Berkeley vicinity? We are considering Chez Panisse, but want to know what our other options are. Your feedback is much appreciated. Thanks!

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  1. If you don't have a reservation already, forget about Chez Panisse. And if she's coming driectly from the airport, you probably don't want to be tied to a particular time.

    What time is she scheduled to get in?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      she's scheduled to get in at 7...so i was figuring dinner at 8ish? last time she was in town we took her to go go cafe in sf, which was good, but i think she wants something a bit "nicer" this time...

      1. re: lj2899

        Sea Salt (recently expanded) and T-Rex are not too bad for walk-ins on busy nights.

        Some other ideas:

        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/323376

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Thanks for the great suggestions...do you think Sea Salt would be too long of a trek from the Oakland airport? And how is parking there?

          1. re: lj2899

            Parking's usually easy, they've got a lot in back plus street parking. It's a couple of miles closer to the airport than Chez Panisse.

      1. I'd take her to Olivia on Dwight near Sacramento. It's a really cute small room, and has really great food. Oliviaeats.com

        1. For an aunt when Chez Panisse is in the running, how about trying for Baywolf? Or JoJo on Piedmont? Or Oliveto's? All a bit less cafe-ish than Sea Salt or certainly T-Rex, which is, after all, barbecue. My aunts liked 'cue but never considered it a "nicer" option despite a sleek setting as found at T-Rex.

          2 Replies
          1. re: lintygmom

            Go Go Cafe is a cheap Chinese hole in the wall. Sea Salt is definitely nicer, though also not fancy.

            Baywolf, Jojo, and Oliveto are three of the fanciest restaurants in the area, and walking in on a Saturday night without a reservation might mean a long wait.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Jojo isn't that fancy, and it also isn't as busy as Baywolf -- I've called on Friday night at 7 and gotten reservations for 7:30 there before.

              It's also much better than Baywolf, at least in my experience.

          2. Some other places to consider: (if you're talking fancy) how about Citron on College next to A Cote? I also second the mention of Bay Wolf, although it might help to have a reservation. As a last resort, Garibaldi's on College also has a nice room but I can't vouch for the food since I haven't been there for awhile.