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Apr 20, 2007 08:47 AM

Worth a trip to Alameda?

What in Alameda is worth a trip from Berkeley / Oakland?

Speisekammer is for sure--probably the best German food in the Bay Area, and we don't have any on the mainland.

Anyplace else?

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  1. Hanger One? I've heard the tasting room is a lot of fun.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Chris Rising

      Sushi House serves some of the worst sushi I've ever had the displeasure to taste, and the service is indifferent at best. It's not cheap, either. I have no idea why it's so popular.

      Angelfish, on the other hand, is worth the trip. There is no comparison between the two.

      Toomie's Thai serves a wicked plate of pad khee mao, and the other lunch specials are really good too -- except the pad thai, which is nothing special. Get something else.

      The best deli sandwiches on the island come out of the Scalise and Sons meat counter in the pleasingly retro Encinal Shopping Center at Encinal and High. The meat and cheese selection is stunning. Unfortunately it's take-out only.

      Domenico's on Webster is a close second place. The sandwiches are just as good, but the selection of meats and cheeses isn't as broad as Scalise and Sons. However, you can actually sit down and drink a Stewart's with your meal.

      Baron's Meats and JP Seafood, in the Alameda Marketplace, are worth a shopping trip. Both are staffed by extremely helpful people and stock the best quality meat and fish.

      I don't think there's any Mexican food in Alameda worth making the trip from Oakland, except *maybe* the tequila lime chicken at La Pinata.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          ooh...I didn't know they opened one in Berkeley too. I know the owner, but haven't seen him in ages.

          1. re: nicedragonboy

            Ye I was surprised when I suddenly saw some faces I recognised in Star grocery a few weeks ago. Its defentily a different feel from The Market Place but Star grocery has a certain something about it that makes it an appealling place to shop.

        2. re: Hollow Leg

          La Pinata's spicy chicken soup is worth a drive from anywhere. Great roasted chipotle taste, more food than you can eat (the avocado floating in the hot soup --- yum).

          Beers at Lucky 13.

        3. An interesting question. Regarding Speisekammer, what dishes do you recommend? I am particularly enthralled with their potato pancakes, which are roesti-like in quality- greaseless and perfectly crisp on the outside; creamy yet firm-textured on the inside- indicating that Speisekammer's kitchen knows how to fry.

          Chef Fate's Southern fried chicken, sporadically available at Season To
          Taste in the Alameda Marketplace, is worth special efforts to obtain. It undergoes
          some sort of mysterious marination that imparts a subtle yet complex spiciness/heat
          to the meat, while the crust stays light and crispy. The best fried chicken in Alameda
          since the demise of the ancient Lola's.

          The warm roasted eggplant sandwich at Mona's Table is a relatively healthy yet
          satisfying way to satisfy one's eggplant Parmigiana yearnings, and worth a trip to the East end. It contains a prodigious amount of Fontina as well as basil pesto and sun-dried tomatoes, on a sweetish whole-wheat roll. The whole effect is texturally and flavorfully sublime.

          Many folks consider Sushi House to be a destination spot, and there are those who will
          traverse from near and far to visit Jim's, Ole's, La Pinata, Kamakura, East Ocean and Acapulco.

          IMHO, Alameda's most memorable, worth-while destination spot was Chef Lucien Vigney's Beau Rivage, which burned down in the 1980s. He did a spectacular flaming
          spinach salad (!) a very toothsome Beef Wellington and some fine veal dishes.

          Thanks Robert for suggesting this topic.

          6 Replies
          1. re: alameda fats

            alameda fats's recs are good.

            though I don't think Sushi House has been worth the trip for some time now. The food just isn't as good as it used to be and the service and wait time are at times horrendous (orders forgotten, plain rudeness and finding unedible objects in the food!.) Same goes for Ole's unfortunately, at least in my experience, but people still seem to go there simply because it's an institution of its own.

            For me, I like the new Otaez (though some of the dishes are hit or miss), La Pinata, Alameda Taqueria, Kai's, Kamakura (owner is real nice if she knows it's your first visit), East Ocean, Jim's Coffeehouse.

            There's a nice butcher in the Alameda Marketplace with a good selection of fresh sausages.

            I have yet to try the new Vietnamese place on Webster, Cafe Le or Speisekammer, but they are on my list.

            1. re: nicedragonboy

              I like La Piñata for late-night Mexican cravings (open till 3), but before 8pm (10pm Fri.-Sat.) I'd go to El Huarache Azteca.

              1. re: nicedragonboy

                We gave Oatez another try this weekend. Rice and beans are still awful but the carnitas was very good and the small pozole was also good, loaded with pork, nice warm but not ultra spicy broth, starchy hominy and a little plate of ad ins, Mexican pho! A bargain and more than enough for 2 meals ~

                1. re: foodfan

                  I never eat rice and beans (except at Araujo's on Park, which has the best refried beans I've ever tasted) so I never noticed they were bad at Otaez. The carnitas and the pozole have been consistently pretty good, but people should be aware they're only available on the weekends.

              2. re: alameda fats

                What I like most at Speisekammer is the German section of the wine list, particularly the reasonable prices on older rieslings and hard-to-find reds.


                Some dishes I've enjoyed:

                Poached Bread Dumplings with Mushroom Sauce
                Large Combination salad
                Grilled Smoked Pork Chop with Sauerkraut and Mashed Potatoes
                Sautéed Pork loin in Mushroom Sauce served with Spätzle and mixed Salad
                roast goose around Christmastime

                Big sausage etc. platter for two isn't on the online menu, not sure if they still do that.

                Oh man, now I'm hungry.

                1. re: alameda fats

                  Best thing I've had at Spiesekammer is the Gebratene Garnele in Tomaten-Kapernsosse (Sautéed Shrimp in a Tomato-Caper Sauce). Sop up all the sauce with bread! All the entrees have been kind of "blah."

                2. The Alameda Taqueria is good, unfortunately it is presently closed for renovation. On the other hand Pampered Pup is know finally back open and great for a quick snack walking home from Dan's Produce - best fruit and veg on the island, and also these days selling sushi to go and a lot of other great stuff.

                  Had a fantastic chicken soup from Season To Taste a while ago - really good.

                  Never understood the fasination with Ole's those long lines confuse me every weekend. If you want a decent brunch head to The New Zealander at the weeekend - or a great burger if its later in the day. Don't really get what people see with Speisekammer either (overpriced average food in my view - nothing that you can't replecate at home for a lot less money)

                  Kamakara is a good old fashioned Japenese place - not sure if Faith is back in charge yet, but its still a great place.

                  Bacci's deli on Lincoln is your best bet for a decent deli, but the Sandwich Board does a pretty mean turkey sandwich.

                  Might be trying out Dragon Rouge this weekend, we'll have to see.

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: rob133

                    Probably not worth a trip, but anyone tried the new Everett & Jones in Alameda?

                    1. re: rworange

                      There is an Everett & Jones in Alameda? If this is true that sounds worth checking out. But I actually like going to the one in Jack London - the irregular (ofte slow) service is wrth it for the food IMO.

                      1. re: rob133

                        Just had a quick lunch there, one of those first & last time visits. This is the 3rd E&J have tried and I have been underwhelmed at each (but for different reasons) Today I ordered a lunch special of a brisket sandwich, $6.25, which included potato salad. I also tried a side of the greens, $2. Meat was very skimpy (2 or 3 wafer thin slices) on a soft cold white loafette roll, so little that I took the meat off one side and ate it all on the other. The meat was good, smoky, fairly tender but overwlmed by the blahness of bread. I asked for both mild & hot sauce to taste and was charged an extra $1.50 for extra sauce (they must have been to Bo's!). No big differences that I could taste ~ so similar that maybe I got two of the same? Kind of zippy, nice dipping consistency for the sponge bread. The potato salad had a nice texture but was totally over pickled. Greens were ok, several chunks of bone but no deep cooked taste (I really like Nellie's and am comparing to that) Counter service was fine, polite workers. Small place, maybe 6 tables. My lunch, and I ate it all to fill up, was $9.75, too much for what I got in my opinion.

                        1. re: foodfan

                          Where abouts is this E&J in Alameda? I tried a search and found no information about it?

                          Brisket sandwich? SO this sounds like it has a slightly different menu than the Jack London location. I've only ever seen the wheat wonder bread, never an actuall roll.

                          One note on the sauce, it sounds like you definetly ended up with mild sauce. the hot one is so good but I've never had it anything other than full of chilli flakes and spicy hot.

                          1. re: rob133

                            Down by the College of Alameda, other side of the street at Atlantic & Main at the t stop before the base entrance. Where a place that used to sell indifferent Mexican was, something with garlic in the name. By a donut place, you have to double back to park in small front lot.

                            1. re: foodfan

                              Thanks, I managed to track an address soon as I read 'donut' I know exactly where it is - bit of an odd location I have to say?

                              Anway from what I hear it is a take out place not so much a sit down one? Wahever it is changed the lunch plans for Saturday, got to have my EJ fix know I'm thinking about it.

                    2. re: rob133

                      I think I may have asked you this before, but what's good at Alameda Taqueria? I've had two or three things from there that were mediocre-to-bad. People also like Ramirez Taqueria, and I've had the same experience there.

                      Araujo's is much better for almost anything, but it's not open for dinner anymore.

                      No one has mentioned Angelfish.

                      There's supposed to be a Cuban Taverna opening in the old Emerald Garden space, which if it's any good at all should make it a destination (since there's such a dearth of Cuban food of any quality in the area). Last I heard they'd gotten their permits in order, so hopefully they'll be opening sooner rather than later. The Vietnamese vegetarian place has never opened, although it's looked ready to open for six months now.

                      East Ocean is worth going to Alameda just to avoid dealing with the rather chaotic dim sum scene in Oakland Chinatown. Brunch at Pappo may be worth the trip over the bridge, too.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          I haven't ever had a full dinner at East Ocean (which reminds me, we were going to have chowdown there after the one at Chef's Wok down the street). Melanie did have a mostly positive report on dinner there with her family. I think if you know how to order (that is, know what to ignore on the typically huge Chinese restaurant menu) you can do well there, because they use decent quality ingredients.


                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            I'd be up for a chowdown there, especially for a week day lunch since it is close to my office and I would like to try more items to give it a fair shake. Or dim sum would be good tasting experience as well ~

                          2. re: Robert Lauriston

                            I've had dinner there several times with big family groups and have been very pleased each time. The personal service and waitstaff is much better than most chinese places. You do need to know what to order though, and it helps to set the menu with the kitchen before you get there to avoid the longer preparation time for some of the items. I am a particular fan of a BBQ Sea Bass that they prepare.

                            If anyone is planning a chowdown, I'd love to attend. It's been a few months since I've been there.

                          3. re: Ruth Lafler

                            haha. yes, you did ask before. I personally like the super stuffed quesadilla with pollo or carnitas, which is easily shareable. Tacos are great too, both soft and crunchy, though I preferred the crunchy. One of these will fill me up and I usually get either the carne asada or the ground beef (molina?)

                            I've been seeing some new signs on the windows saying that they will be reopenning soon. I sure hope so.

                            I'm not a big fan of Ramirez Taqueria either. I've been a few times years past, but then I discovered Alameda Taqueria and never went back.

                            I'm very intrigued by this Cuban Taverna that will be openning. I've been looking for Cuban for a while now. I'm hoping whatever takes over that spot is better than Emerald, which isn't really all that hard.

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              Just a note that when I walked by the restaurant formerly known as Emerald Garden there was evidence of constuction (plywood on some of the windows and the architect's sign on the front window).

                              Also, Gold Coast Grill is indeed still open. Maybe I'll get there some day!

                          4. Not really food, but I have on good authority that Forbidden Island is a great place to get your buzz on some Sunday afternoon. I have friends to head over from San Francisco specifically for it.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Chowsmurf

                              I really enjoyed my tiki drinks at Forbidden Island -- some different ones. however, I've heard the bar food is rather bad. If I had to go tiki, I would say it is worth crossing the bridge/tunnel.

                              1. re: The Dive

                                Oh, yeah. Great tiki drinks there! We had a really fun party there for a friend's birthday -- they let us bring in our own food (sushi platters). The Missionary's Downfall was delicious. Actually, I had a very good mojito-style drink at Ching Hua, which makes Alameda the only place I've ever had a mint-based cocktail I really enjoyed.

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  I hear the Burmese place up Park St also serves a good Mojito.

                                  1. re: nicedragonboy

                                    I didn't realize Hinn Tha had a full liquor license -- or is it based on something like sake?

                              2. re: Chowsmurf

                                I finally got around to following up on the recommendations for Forbidden Island. Had a Mai Tai and tasted a Nui Nui, both delicious. I don't usually like sweet cocktails but in these the sweetness was restrained and balanced by fresh citrus juice and bitter elements. Crab rangoon was OK, spring rolls were not. I'll definitely go back to try more drinks.

                                Forbidden Island
                                1304 Lincoln Ave, Alameda, CA

                              3. What about Pappo? I friend liked it and I think about it from time to time. We don't get to Alameda much and when we go out, I often forget about it. The menu looks pretty good though.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Cheesy Oysters

                                  We had a great meal at Pappo last May, but I don't it's special enough to warrant a trip from Oakland/Berkeley and leave the similar, but better, options there.

                                  1. re: The Dive

                                    Exactly. Thus, although it's good, it's not a destination.

                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                      I'd beg to differ; we've only been to Pappo once (we're Oaklanders), but would happily cross the bridge to Alameda again for a meal there. (Pappo is not better than its peers in Oakland/Berkeley, but on a par.)