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Boston hound relocating to Berkeley

Sharmin Sep 10, 2005 04:45 AM

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. g
    Gordon Wing RE: Sharmin Sep 10, 2005 09:04 AM

    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 RE: Gordon Wing Sep 11, 2005 12:38 AM

      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 RE: Gordon Wing Sep 14, 2005 07:18 PM

        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. j
        Joel Teller RE: Sharmin Sep 10, 2005 12:40 PM

        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.

        Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

        1 Reply
        1. re: Joel Teller
          Robert Lauriston RE: Joel Teller Sep 10, 2005 12:46 PM

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

        2. m
          Miss Fluff RE: Sharmin Sep 10, 2005 01:04 PM

          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
            Shep RE: Miss Fluff Sep 12, 2005 01:38 PM

            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!

          2. r
            Robert Lauriston RE: Sharmin Sep 10, 2005 01:09 PM

            My favorite cheap food on southside is Naan 'n' Curry.

            Telegraph / University near UC Berkeley:

            late night:



            general / misc.:

            1. m
              Morton the Mousse RE: Sharmin Sep 10, 2005 02:54 PM

              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 RE: Morton the Mousse Sep 10, 2005 06:12 PM

                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 RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 10, 2005 06:49 PM

                  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 RE: Morton the Mousse Sep 11, 2005 09:20 AM

                    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
                    rworange RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 10, 2005 07:19 PM

                    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.

                2. a
                  andy RE: Sharmin Sep 10, 2005 09:08 PM

                  down the street from naan n curry on telegraph is an awesome salad/ sandwich shop called cafe intermizzo. there's always a line out the door but it goes by pretty quickly. their salads aren't special by any means but it's just fresh and they give you a huge serving for the $6 price (or half salad and half sandwich combo) w/ their delicious honey wheat bread. yum!!

                  1. o
                    oakjoan RE: Sharmin Sep 11, 2005 01:30 AM

                    Viks Chaat Corner is tops. Best on weekends when they have masala dhosa!!!

                    I think Tandoor (is that what it's called) on the corner of Blake and Telegraph has fantastic tandoori lamb chops. They are really cheap and we tried them after they were written up in the Chron or East Bay Express. Fabulous..the rest of the food is just okay and the mango lhassis are pretty good.

                    Btw, the East Bay Express is a good source for local food recs. It's a free (in boxes on the street)weekly with a good food column.

                    1. r
                      rworange RE: Sharmin Sep 11, 2005 12:50 PM

                      Not within walkin distance, but you can take a bus ... Solano Avenue.

                      For an upscale three course dinner for $13 there is Bendeens. Hours are restricted to 5-6 pm. However, if you ordered from their regular menu the entree alone would cost $15-$20.

                      Also on Solano is Fonda where there is a bargain in the opposite direction timewise - After 9 pm you can get small plates (reaaly small) and drinks for $5.

                      A good bang for your buck place is Britt-Marie's. The prices are reasonable and the portions are huge, so you can really split a dinner. Many people do.

                      For regular eating, there is Indus Village on San Pablo near University. You'd have to take a bus, but I've been really impressed with their food.

                      Hope you will report back with your finds.

                      24 Replies
                      1. re: rworange
                        Robert Lauriston RE: rworange Sep 11, 2005 02:09 PM

                        Indus Village is good, but to my taste it's not enough better than Naan 'n' Curry to be worth a bus ride.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                          rworange RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 11, 2005 02:22 PM

                          Robert, I hope you went back and your opinion is not based on the opening night buffet. Using a term you seem fond of, Naan and Curry is crappy. The naan being the exception which is the only reason to go there.

                          It is everything bad about Indian food the only advantage being it is cheap ... not cheap enough for me. I've been through most of their menu at most locations and ... crappy, crappy, crappy.

                          Maybe a high ration of sauce to meat is authentic, but I prefer not to rescue my chicken from drowning in the sauce. Also, it all tastes the same. There is no complexity to the spices. One dish tastes just like another. I still remember one spinach dish as one of the worst dishes of any cuisine. It was burned beyond recognition.

                          Before anyone comes to the defense of Naan and Curry, I challenge you to try Indus Village first. If you go back to Naan and Curry except for convenience, well, everyone has different tastes, eh?

                          1. re: rworange
                            Robert Lauriston RE: rworange Sep 11, 2005 02:40 PM

                            I had dinner at Indus Village the other day and finished the leftovers last night.

                            They have some interesting dishes Naan 'n' Curry doesn't (goat curry, beef pureed with lentis), but what they have in common seemed pretty similar to me, including the huge amount of sauce in the chicken masala. I prefer Naan 'n' Curry's version of chana masala.

                            I don't think either is as good as Shan in SF. Or as what I can make at home if I've got a day to spend cooking.

                            1. re: rworange
                              Caitlin McGrath RE: rworange Sep 11, 2005 06:45 PM

                              Which Naan 'n Curry locations have you tried? I've not tried any, not having been in the Bay Area much until very recently, but consensus seems to be that in Berkeley, the College Ave location is far superior to the Telegraph one. Granted, Elmwood isn't as as handy to someone living southside, but it's still quite close by.

                              And, to Sharmin, for Indo-Pak near home, I do know several people who think fairly highly of Tandor Kitchen (Telegraph and Parker), especially for grilled meats.

                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                rworange RE: Caitlin McGrath Sep 12, 2005 02:34 AM

                                Tried all the SF locations (I think) and only the Telegraph one on this side of the Bay. I keep reading the good posts, but it just doesn't do a thing for me. If it wasn't for the naan, probably wouldn't have kept trying. I'm not big on Indian food in general though for the same reason that most of it is all sauce and similar tastes. Indian and Thai ... just not for me. Not that I don't try every now and then and there are a few things I like at certain places.

                                1. re: rworange
                                  ericf RE: rworange Sep 12, 2005 04:32 AM

                                  Naan n' Curry, College Avenue

                                  I have been here 4 or 5 times in the last month or two and like it a lot. I haven't been to any of the others.

                                  I especially like the okra dish, dry-sauteed okra with onions and spices, yellow from turmeric. It has a really nice,deep spiciness that I could eat every day. Superior to the version at Priya that was often served at their buffet. You can get versions with meat, but I don't think it's quite as good. I'd order this separately and get a different meat curry to go with.

                                  Also, mushroom masala. Western white mushrooms sauteed in a moderate amount of red curry.

                                  Seekh kabob. $2 for two ground beef kabobs, intensely, deliciously spiced. About half the time came out perfectly juicy; the other times a little drier but still delicious. I gather these are traditionally lamb, but the lamb ones are $4. The first time I ordered these I was with a friend who doesn't eat lamb; the beef ones were so good I haven't bothered to try the others.

                                  Naan here has been uniformly crispy-chewy, that is crispy with bits of char on the bottom without being dried out. Still most and chewy. I find the garlic version a bit harsh, but like the plain and the onion.

                                  I agree that the chicken tikka masala is drowning in indifferent sauce and consists of rather dry white meat chicken. Not my favorite, but my friend insists every time. I went to Indus Village once and had the Masala Combo; one of the items was tikka masala and it was really nice in terms of sauce. Thicker, less creamy, more tomatoey and deeply spiced and in better proportion to the chicken. Also in the combo was beef jalafrezi, also good. I should go back and try some more.

                                  Baingan bartha was of the smooth, creamy kind. I found this vaguely disappointing, but it had good flavor. I prefer chunkier south asian eggplant curries, but find the nomenclature confusing, and it's a bit of a crapshoot for me.

                                  $1 basmati rice is perfectly cooked and seasoned.

                                  Aloo gobi is a good version.

                                  1. re: rworange
                                    Ruth Lafler RE: rworange Sep 12, 2005 02:22 PM

                                    Good Indian or Thai food shouldn't taste all the same -- although I agree that at many places it often does.

                                    You could say the same thing about most restaurants that serve ethnic foods (or most restaurants for that matter, since many chefs have a preferred style or flavor palate). The red sauce Italian food I've had in the Bay Area all tastes the same to me, but I'd be wrong to generalize from that that the whole cuisine tastes the same. Same with "cantina" Mexican food.

                                    1. re: rworange
                                      Morton the Mousse RE: rworange Sep 12, 2005 02:38 PM

                                      "most of it is all sauce and similar tastes"

                                      This may be true of cheap/crappy Indian where you tend to see the same, tired dishes playing over and over again, but it is nor an accurate description of Indian cuisine.

                                      RW, have you tried Ajanta on Solano? Very interesting, seasonal dishes in addition to the classics. I love the corn on this month's menu and it's unlike any other Indian dish I've had (although as waspy as they come, I've been eating Indian food ever since I was a little kid). The tandoori portabello mushroom is also unique and delicious. Ajanta's not very expensive if you stick to the A La Carte menu. The Mrs. and I can eat a full dinner there and keep the bill under $40, tax and tip inclusive.

                                      Naan N Curry is a chain. Probably the worst Indian food I've ever tasted in my life. I will never return.

                                      1. re: Morton the Mousse
                                        Robert Lauriston RE: Morton the Mousse Sep 12, 2005 03:01 PM

                                        I've eaten at Naan 'n' Curry many times at several branches, as well as at a number of similar Pakistani places including Shan and several branches of Shalimar. I find the food at all of them similar. Which is to be expected since Naan 'n' Curry started on Shalimar's overflow, and Shan's owner used to cook at Shalimar. If people have had awful food at NnC, I think the kitchen must have been having an off day.

                                        The only really disapointing Indian meal I've had in Berkeley was at Ajanta. Kabana and Priya are OK but not as good as other places. Breads of India is OK but why wait in line or pay those prices with Mehak right across the street?

                                        One really good Indian restaurant near UCB is Udupi Palace on University near MLK. Vegetarian, very different food from the above.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                          rworange RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 12, 2005 04:24 PM

                                          Sorry OP to hijack a part of your post. Cafe Raj is on Solano, but way, way down near San Pablo Avenue. However it is an interesting area to check out on a week-end trek. For drinks, Club Mallard has an outdoor tiki bar. There's Jodie's for breakfast which is an interesting hole in the wall. The college group might not be interested in tea, but check out Teance if you are in the area. Nice cinema next door that usually has interesting movies.

                                          OK, now that I feel less guilty about the hijack ...

                                          So what do you guys think of Cafe Raj on Solano. It is always packed. It has a number of positive posts on Chowhound sort of being compared to a downscale Ajanta. Someone recommened their Rose lassi.

                                          Yeah, what can I say Robert. I'm slowly working my way up and down Solano Avenue. Probably will try Ajanta since I have a fondness for upscale ethic cuisine that charges too much. Thanks for the recs Morton. Will try to catch that corn.

                                          That is a good point Ruth about other ethnic cuisine like Italian and Mexican being nothing be variations on the same ingrediants. I guess I don't like the taste of the generic Indian dish. I guess if the only Mexican I tried was Taco Bell and the only Italian ... ok heck, I just like anything Italian ... I know Mr. Pizza Man (I can tolerate Dominos).

                                          That being said, there are a few things that just open my eyes in Indian cuisine where I think there must be better. Curry corner in Hayward and Indus where each dish did not taste like the other. That chicken sandwich at Tandoorin USA is a winner for me. There are some of those sweets in a place in Mountain View that were different and a decent chat place, Lovely Sweets, in Sunnyvale (haven't tried Vik's yet). And I've just become intruigued by Indian ice cream like kulfi. Those little pistachio and cardemom popsicles are quite tasty. Bombay Ice cream is high on my list for my next treck into SF or Pleasanton.

                                          The first Indian food I ever had was at a business lunch at Gaylord in SF. Like yuck. Well, not so much yuck as the only difference was the color of each dish.

                                          Yeah, I'll concede that the burnt spinach I had at one Naan and Curry location was a kitchen mistake, but the rest of it is just not my style. Do love the naan though. It is actually the only naan that I've ever liked.

                                          1. re: rworange
                                            Robert Lauriston RE: rworange Sep 12, 2005 04:50 PM

                                            I tried Raj when they first opened. Good but kind of expensive. Unusual samosas. If I lived nearby I'd probably eat there often.

                                            1. re: rworange
                                              janet of reno RE: rworange Sep 12, 2005 05:35 PM

                                              I've had some service issues at Ajanta. It was ok foodwise, but for the prices they could at least fill your water glass once in awhile. To the OP: I was about to say that the whole argument here is pointless, as there is no reason to go anywhere but Vik's for good Indian. But I realize that there is a reason: Vik's is not open for dinner. Still, it is a must visit, and one cannot talk about Indian food in Berkeley without using it as a comparison. Just don't expect fancy. Do expect cheap. For an evening meal, my choice would probably be Udipi Palace. I've only eaten at the branch in Sunnyvale (or somewhere down there) but it was very good and I do like Southern Indian food.

                                              1. re: janet of reno
                                                Robert Lauriston RE: janet of reno Sep 12, 2005 06:01 PM

                                                Bad service was one reason I didn't like Ajanta. The server didn't warn us that two of the dishes we ordered were despite their dissimilar names almost identical.

                                                Vik's doesn't have a tandoor oven, that's one reason to go somewhere else.

                                                Udupi Palace makes really good sag paneer. Though at dinner I usually get the thali. For lunch I like the chile and onion uttapam.

                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                  janet of reno RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 12, 2005 08:09 PM

                                                  Both of you make good points about Vik's not having a tandoor oven (although they do serve a few meat items). The truth is that when I eat Indian food I almost always go vegetarian, so tandoori-cooked food is not something that is in my usual realm of thinking when considering Indian restaurants. I WILL tell you that there are dozens of places in the Bay Area where you can get decent tandoori-style meals, but there is only one Vik's. And that's why I like it so much: it is so unique and the food served there is so different (and better!) than that served at other Indian restaurants. Most local Indian restaurants serve Northern Indian food, which is my least favorite style. To whoever commented on Indian food all tasting the same: Northern Indian food all tastes the same to me too! Vik's is the closest I've seen to the delicious dishes I've had in India and in the homes of my Indian (Gujarti) inlaws.

                                                  1. re: janet of reno
                                                    Melanie Wong RE: janet of reno Sep 12, 2005 09:06 PM

                                                    I was about to challenge MtM's characterization of Vik's as a "South Indian chaat house", but wanted to check my own definition first. A search turned up an abstract of a case study of Vik's (linked below) which pigeonholes it as a uniquely American version of "global cosmopolitan cuisine". (g)

                                                    Link: http://www.ltc.arizona.edu/VAF/papers...

                                                    1. re: janet of reno
                                                      Morton the Mousse RE: janet of reno Sep 12, 2005 09:18 PM

                                                      OK, maybe my memory on this is a bit fuzzy, I haven't been to Viks for a while, but isn't Vik's primarily a South Indian chaat house? I remember having lots of fried finger foods, Indian crepes a few legume curries that were served with the breads, and chutney. What I don't remember are any of the North Indian curries that I love such as Baingan Bharta, Navrattan Korma and Saag Paneer (maybe there was some saag).

                                                      There are hundreds of different cuisines throughout India but in American restaurants they tend to be grouped into Southern and Northern Indian. I loved North Indian food for years before I ever trying a South Indian restaurant and I was shocked by the dishes we had. Personally, I have a slight preference for North Indian, although I love them both.

                                                      As for North Indian food all tasting the same, that is not true of any cuisine. There is a lot of bad Indian food out there. Lots of lukewarm buffets serving exactly what people are describing: different colored sludge.

                                                      The last time I went to Ajanta with a large group we ordered about ten different dishes, each one was unique and delicious. It helps to be familiar with the cuisine so that you can order a meal with balanced flavors, but that is true with all ethnic food.

                                                      North Indian is just as vegetarian friendly as South Indian. My parents are both vegetarian, which is why I was raised eating North Indian food. Janet, if you're not interested in tandoori oven because you're a veg, you must try the tandoori portabello at Ajanta. You just might have a tandoori epiphany.

                                                      Between the family and friends who I've taken to Ajanta, we've been to Indian restaurants all over California, on the East Coast, in London and in India. Every single one of them loved it. It is by no means the upscale, four star Indian food that you can only find in New York and London. But, by California standards, it is excellent.

                                                      Price wise, Southern Indian tends to be cheaper than Northern Indian. There are almost no sit down South Indian restaurants. Ajanta's prices are quite reasonable by North Indian standards, especially when you consider ingredient quality.

                                                      Link: http://www.ajantarestaurant.com

                                                      1. re: Morton the Mousse
                                                        Robert Lauriston RE: Morton the Mousse Sep 12, 2005 10:23 PM

                                                        Vik's is primarily South Indian but they've got some items from other regions plus the occasional cross-regional fusion (common in India too, from what I read).

                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                          janet of reno RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 12, 2005 11:02 PM

                                                          Actually, remember too that the entire concept of chaat was mostly developed in Mumbai (where it was street food). I don't consider that Southern India. Vik's does have good southern Indian specials (such as dosa) but most of them are only served on weekends. Many of the items I like best at Vik's are NOT southern Indian, but more Mumbai-style (such as pav bhaji, sev puri and the dhokla.) But I'm hardly an expert on Indian food. I *do* have a goal to eventually try everything on the menu at Vik's. It might take awhile, since I live 200 miles away.

                                                          1. re: janet of reno
                                                            Melanie Wong RE: janet of reno Sep 13, 2005 01:55 AM

                                                            Yes, the chaat menu at Vik's is mostly of the Mumbai (Bombay) style with some Delhi favorites too.

                                                            Link: http://www.vikdistributors.com/chaat/...

                                                          2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                            Limster RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 12, 2005 11:09 PM

                                                            The dosas and much of the fried stuff are Tamil.

                                                    2. re: janet of reno
                                                      Morton the Mousse RE: janet of reno Sep 12, 2005 06:50 PM

                                                      Vik's is a Southern Indian Chaat House. When I want chaat, I go to Vik's. But if I want North Indian dishes (tandoori meats or a wide selection of curries), Vik's doesn't fit the bill. Comparing Ajanta to Vik's is kind of like comparing Dona Tomas to a taco stand in Fruitvale. Yes, they're both Mexican, but they have little else in common.

                                                      I've tried the Udupi Palace on University. It's OK, but the quality doesn't compare to Ajanta. Ajanta is one of the only Indian places in town using organic meats and seasonal produce (which is a large part of why their prices are a bit high) Although if you order off of the a la carte menu the prices are quite reasonable, much lower than Indian Oven in San Francisco or Amber Indian in Mountain View.

                                                      The main reason I mentioned Ajanta on this thread is because the OP mentioned that he likes Indian and was looking for a few "splurge" restaurants. Ajanta is an appropriately priced student budget splurge (no more than $25 per person, tops.)

                                                      As for service problems at Ajanta, I've never had them, but judging by complaints on this board I seem to be immune from service problems.

                                                      1. re: janet of reno
                                                        Melanie Wong RE: janet of reno Sep 12, 2005 09:15 PM

                                                        Haven't tried the Udupi Palace in Berkeley, but I'm told it's inferior to the ones in Sunnyvale and Newark.

                                              2. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                Robert Lauriston RE: Caitlin McGrath Sep 12, 2005 12:48 PM

                                                I've been to Naan 'n' Curry on College, Telegraph, and the Tenderloin, the food was similar at all of them. My favorites are the okra, tandoori chicken, lamb kebab, and naan.

                                                The College location is the nicest room of any of the NnC / Shalimar / Shan-type places. It had been decorated nicely by the previous tenants and they haven't worked too hard on spoiling the decor.

                                          2. re: rworange
                                            Morton the Mousse RE: rworange Sep 11, 2005 07:10 PM

                                            Indus Village is actually pretty easy to access by bus. You can catch the 51 on College and take it all the way to University and San Pablo.

                                            Solano, otoh, is a huge pain to get to by bus.

                                          3. e
                                            ericf RE: Sharmin Sep 12, 2005 04:53 AM

                                            I finally tried Lanesplitters Pizza on Telegraph this week. Working on Labor Day I stopped off for a quick lunch. The "7/10 Split" is a combo that consists of two (large) slices with a pint of beer for $7 tax inclusive. Slices include choice of 1 topping. A really great deal, especially considering the quality of their pizza- the default is "Neapolitan," which here means thin crust, crispy/some char on the bottom, while retaining moisture and chewiness. The sauce has good flavor and there's not too much cheese. The standard salad comes in several sizes, but I found them indifferent, though it's nice when you need that extra fiber. I haven't tried any of their lasagna or calzones.

                                            My problem with your average CA pizza is too much cheese/ too thick a crust. Cheeseboard and Arizmendi are ok, but the uniform lack of tomato sauce annoys me and a lot of te combos I find overly precious. Also the crust is just a little too and bready and chewy. Zachary's deep-dish I find tolerable, but the chunky sauce is too soupy. Count me out for the lines, but I'll eat it if it's there. I liked Dopo a lot (excellent flavor, top notch ingredients and combinations) but every time, the crust has been soggy at the center.

                                            Now, I am probably not the best guy to ask about pizza, since until this week I have rarely gone out for it in the bay area. Hopefully my reference points will be helpful to some, though perhaps not the original poster. However, after lunch Monday, I also had dinner Wednesday; dinner Thursday (at Berkeley San Pablo location, where the crust was slightly less done, to its detriment); and dinner yesterday at Telegraph when I noticed that they are now open until 1 or 1:30 am most days (according to a chalkboard sign above the bar). Call for details, as I did not take careful note, and am not certain that pizza is available all that time.

                                            1. c
                                              costaverde RE: Sharmin Sep 12, 2005 06:28 PM

                                              Welcome to Berkeley!

                                              I work on campus and some of my frequent spots include:

                                              Mexican--Cancun Taqueria at 2134 Allston Way

                                              Breakfast/Brunch/Lunch--La Note at 2377 Shattuck Avenue and Venus at 2327 Shattuck Avenue

                                              Thai: Tuk-Tuk Thai Cafe at 2468 Shattuck Avenue

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: costaverde
                                                Robert Lauriston RE: costaverde Sep 12, 2005 09:17 PM

                                                Isn't there any Thai better than Tuk-Tuk near campus? We only go there late at night when there's not much choice.

                                              2. c
                                                Cyrus Farivar RE: Sharmin Sep 14, 2005 07:22 PM

                                                Fortunately for you, Berkeley is a chow paradise. I did my ugrad there, and have returned back after a year away in NYC for grad school. I now live in North Oakland, near Rockridge.

                                                I'll do my best to address your questions:

                                                -Breakfast/lunch/brunch options
                                                La Note on Shattuck

                                                -Ethnic food places: Chinese/Indian/Thai/Mexican/other
                                                Head to Fruitvale if you have time on BART for great, cheap burritos. Otherwise, Cancun is good.

                                                Bread Garden on Domingo (near Claremont Hotel), Cheese Board on the northern end of Shattuck, La Farine on Claremont/College Ave. in Oakland

                                                Pick one. There's about 800. My favorite is Strada or A Cuppa Tea down a bit on College Ave.

                                                Yogurt Park on Durant.

                                                -Really worthwhile upscale restaurants for occassional splurge
                                                Uh, besides Chez Panisse? Otherwise Venezia on University Ave.

                                                Hope that helps. :)

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