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Sep 10, 2005 04:45 AM

Boston hound relocating to Berkeley

  • s

After spending three very happy chow-years in Boston, I just moved to Berkeley to start graduate school. Need to find reliable food places in my new neighborhood (southside of campus, and can walk/take bus/BART to any point) within my student budget.

Would greatly appreciate suggestions for:

-Breakfast/lunch/brunch options
-Ethnic food places: Chinese/Indian/Thai/Mexican/other
-Really worthwhile upscale restaurants for occassional splurge

Also, any noteworthy place on Telegraph, Bancroft, Shattuck and in the vicinity?

Direction to any previous link will also be appreciated.


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  1. late night munchies at
    KingPin Donuts
    2521 Durant Avenue
    Berkeley, CA 94704

    (510) 843-6688

    They are coming out of the fryer by 10:30 or 11pm - a long time favorite.
    Call to confirm the frying schedule or maybe someone else will chime in.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Gordon Wing
      janet of reno

      They've been around forever (Kingpin donuts, that is)...heck, my mom worked there when my dad was a graduate student in the early 50s!!! She said never eat the jelly donuts....(something about a dirty machine....). But I am disappointed: so far no mention of Vik's: the best place in Berkeley for cheap ethnic food, IMHO. (Chaat) You'll have to drive or take a bus (Its on Allston way near 4th st) or take a long walk, but its worth it......Lots of mention of Vik's on this board, so try a search for recommendations on what to order. Open afternoons only.

      1. re: Gordon Wing
        Cyrus Farivar

        I've generally found that their night batch is around 9-10 pm. Just get whatever's hot. That's the rule of thumb there.

      2. Since you are without a car, and you want to focus on places near campus, below is a link to a recent thread for downtown Berkeley.

        Closer to campus:
        There have been good reports of Tandoor (I think that's the name) on Telegraph and Blake. Also a few places on Telegraph just south of Blake: Finfine (good Ethiopian), Norikonoko (good, unusual homestyle Japanese), and a Vietnamese place next door. Blue Nile across Telegraph, also Ethiopian, which is a good first date place (mingle your fingers in the food). Unicorn is a more upscale pan-Asian place in that area. On Telegraph near Channing is Slurp, a noodle place (hand-pulled noodles, Korean-Chinese style) open only for lunch.

        At greater distances are:
        the Gourmet Ghetto (Chez Panisse (and the upstairs cafe), Gregoire, Cheeseboard etc -- Shattuck near Cedar, on the other side of campus from where you are.

        Fourth Street (O Chame, etc)

        Korean places on Telegraph (starting about three miles south of campus, access by bus)

        However, by the time you schlep to these places, you could hop on BART and be in SF.


        1 Reply
        1. re: Joel Teller
          Robert Lauriston

          I think some of those places have gotten pretty negative reports.

        2. Had a delicious lunch at Fanny's Cafe a few weeks ago. And the Acme Bakery is right next door.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Miss Fluff

            Which would be located at Cedar and San Pablo. Take the bus down University to San Pablo, walk three blocks north, brunch at Cafe Fanny and browse the wines at Kermit Lynch. Then walk west on Cedar to Fourth, turn left and south a couple blocks to Sketch, between Delaware and Hearst, for very good sorbet and granita. Two blocks further south and under the freeway for Brennan's, where an Irish coffee or two will get you prepped for the bus ride back to campus.

            September is prime brunch-lunch and wandering around weather, so enjoy!

            1. m
              Morton the Mousse

              The Southside/Downtown area of Berkeley is easily the weakest dining scene. You should either get a bike or become AC Transit savvy.
              The one place I do like on Southside is The Patio: A no frills burger and beer joint. The burgers are well priced and well prepared, though none of the fancy "grass fed beef" that you find elsewhere in Berkeley. The Patio has an incredible beer selection that you'd expect to find on the East Coast but is, sadly, a rarity in Berkeley. It's located on Dwight, just West of Telegraph, next to People's Park. King Pin is also worth a late night sugar rush visit. I don't think anything else in the area is worth a visit.

              My favorite place for eating in Berkeley is the Gourmet Ghetto on Shattuck between Cedar and Rose. It's walking distance from North Gate, or you can take the bus down Shattuck. Gregoire serves excellent Gourmet French take out. The lunch is an incredible deal with top notch sandwiches ranging from $6 to $8. Try the potato puff, sort of like a deep fried mash potato, they're addictive. Dinners are expensive for take out ($14-$18) but an excellent value considering ingredient quality.
              I also love the Cheeseeboard cheese shop/bakery and pizzaria. The cheese shop/bakery is jaw-dropping awesome: an incredible selection and a friendly, knowledgable staff that will let you try everything. The pizzaria is also good, very different from the pizza you get on the East Coast.
              In October, they'll be opening a high end food court across the street from Cheeseboard with a ton of shops and restaurants. Watch the board for details.

              The 4th street yuppie district is worth a trip for delicious, pricier dining. You can take the 51 down University most of the way. Cafe Rouge has the best hamburger in the city. They only list the burger on the lunch menu but it's avaialable all day. CR also has a good bar. Sketch has the best ice cream on the planet.
              You can also take the 51 to Vik's Chaat, an incredible South Indian warehouse open for lunch with a ton of tasty, well priced snacks.

              As far as upscale restaurants for an occasional splurge. Well, it depends on your idea of a splurge, considering that you're on a student budget I'd consider:

              Cafe at Chez Panisse
              Cafe Rouge (for something pricier than the burger)
              A Cote

              These aren't four star, hundred dollar a person places but they're beyond the standard student budget and they serve excellent food at a good value.

              References (most of these sites include sample menus):

              4 Replies
              1. re: Morton the Mousse
                Robert Lauriston

                Cheese Board Pizza is great and cheap. The crappy bakery, on the other hand, would have gone out of business long ago if it weren't located in the best cheese shop on the West Coast.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  Morton the Mousse

                  Although the bakery has its weak points, it is good for certain things, and I think that it's harsh to call it crappy. It's the best place in town for savory pastries: zampano, focaccia, and the cheese english muffin. The Cheese Onion Curry bread is excellent. The baguettes are good. The scone du jour is hit or miss, but I love the chocolate coconut. I agree that Acme does a better loaf, and La Farine does better sweet pastries and croissants, but they are both located far away from campus.
                  Cheeseboard is certainly better than Virginia Bakery and The Bake Shop. There are no bakeries in Downtown or South Side (until you hit the Oakland border) except for Nabalom, which is not good. Cheeseboard is the best bakery in walking distance from campus, although Masse's does better sweet pastries.

                  1. re: Morton the Mousse
                    Robert Lauriston

                    I think the baguettes and focaccia are awful. Some of the pastries would be passable but they let the customers paw through them.

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I really can't think of one crappy thing they make. There are things I don't care for because of my taste. I'm not a cornmeal fan, so I don't like the cherry cornmeal scones.

                    What do you consider crappy about it? Given the fact that Arizmundi is successful without the cheese shop attached, I am confused about the statement. They are just the Cheeseboard bakery without cheese.