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East Bay Restaurants: please help me expand my eating ways

Hello Chowhound,

Although this is my second time living in the East Bay, I can't seem to do much more than go to the same few places over and over! I live in North Oakland but am not opposed to driving for good food.

Here's where I've been a lot:
Pizzaiolo, Dona Tomas, Tacubaya, Cafe Gratitude, Chez Panisse, 900 Grayson, Vik's, Kirala, the Indian place on the upper most South side of Solano, O Chame, Sea Salt, Lalimes, Gioia, and Oliveto.

I'm looking for places off the beaten track, nothing too expensive or spicy. Mostly I just need help discovering new menus, new locations, new tastes. I go in these same circles over and over and I know there's more ground to cover than this.

Good BBQ?

Any help you can offer much appreciated!

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  1. Your eating companions have lost track of you! Do join us again at the table, sign up for the East Bay Chowdown group here,
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ebchowd...
    for the mailing list. Open to any and all chowhounds who are interested in helping organize eating events.

    Get thee to Fruitvale and International Blvd.

    1. Based on that list, you might like Montaro's on Solano. More of a great Mexican breakfast place with California sensibilities.

      It is take-out, but have you been to Lola's on Solano for the roast chicken? The other reason I mention it is because they have some of the finest baked goods in the Bay Area. Classic American stuff. They can have some amazing jellies & marmelades like the bergamot. The only place I know that matched some of the baked goods was at, uh, Poulet ... maybe even better .. evil giggle ... seriously though ... really as good so that means GOOD!!! Donna does the baked goods. Neither John or Donna are talkers, but if you show a sincere interest.

      Vanessas on Solano is also wonderful.

      Have you been to T-Rex for BBQ. If you go at happy hour they have some wonderful riblets for $5. I still can't believe I'm recommending T-Rex. They had such a rocky start. They have a great brunch but it is pricy. Speaking of that group have you been to Fonda (skip the desserts). After 9 pm they have a reduced price menu for apps and drinks.

      I like La Calaca Loca near Bakesale Betty's better than Tacubaya. Next door is Cafe Pippo. They don't do everyhing great, but they have some nice antipasta type salads and the pastry chef is supposed to be good. Haven't tried them yet.

      There's a Chinese Place on Solano that is interesting, Anna's Place. Kind of a California, organic bent.

      How about Rivoli and Ajanta? At the corner of Solano and San Pablo is Nizza La Bella ... lovely pizza ... some of the other stuff is hit and miss ... great ... GREAT cocktails ... especially the violet one.

      I really like Kennsington Bistro for breakfast. The scones on Sunday are perfect. They have a new dinner service I haven't tried but the chef once worked in some capacity at Guy Savoy.
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/376496

      Worth a trip for breakfast is Hidden City Cafe in Point Richond. Former Chez Panisse alum.

      You gotta go to Phoenix Pastifico for the olive bread if you haven't been.

      I keep meaning to try Rick and Ann's, but never seem to get there. The Bread Garden is an interesting bakery. It is kind of old-style European, but some of their stuff is tops in that category.

      Of course, Gregoire if you've never been. Lunch is the better deal and search the board for what they do best. The potato puffs and fries are great. Excellent burgers when they have them. It is tiny and geared to take-out but best eaten ASAP. Besides, eating at the counter is fun.

      Now if you are willing to talk interesting dives ... let me know.

      9 Replies
      1. re: rworange

        I really like Rick and Ann's for a nice homey breakfast. Also good is Bette's Oceanview Diner and the Homestyle Cafe (must get the whole wheat pecan waffles w/ cinnamon).

        As rworange said, the Bread Garden (next to Rick and Ann's) has some good stuff. I particularly like their garlic cheese baguettes. When I was here interning several years ago, I used to get one of those baguettes and some chicken salad from Whole Foods and have a picnic. You can't beat it for quick and cheap.

        1. re: rworange

          "You gotta go to Phoenix Pastifico for the olive bread if you haven't been."

          Where can I get it? Their storefront on Shattuck closed about a year ago. Is there some other outlet?

          1. re: Kitchen Imp

            The relocated to Addison in Berkeley and sell at various farmers markets
            http://www.chow.com/digest/2395

            1. re: Kitchen Imp

              They're at all three Berkeley farmers markets and at Grand Lake on Saturday.

              http://www.shopinberkeley.com/p/phoen...

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                They're also at the Temescal farmer's market on Sundays.

                1. re: JasmineG

                  They also have it at Farmer Joes at Montana and Fruitvale in Oaktown and I think I saw it at the Berkeley Bowl last time I was there, but I'm not sure.

            2. re: rworange

              I second Montero's for breakfast, but disagree with skipping the desserts entirely at Fonda. The (milk) chocolate mousse w/ bunueolos and dark chocolate sauce and the mangos in rum, while not the fanciest desserts, are quite good.

              1. re: adrienne156

                Fonda's mango slices with lime are also delicious. I order them as a salad rather than a dessert.

              2. re: rworange

                Hey RW, I went to Fonda last night and they added the most delicious chorizo mini-burger on a brioche roll to the happy hour menu for $6. The sweet potato chips that came on the side weren't worth the calories, but that burger... Waay better than the beef patty everyone was raving about at Gregoire.

                I hear you talking about the happy hour menu whenever you mention Fonda, so I figured you could appreciate it if no one else. :o)

                Oh, and I now understand what you guys mean about the noise. Happy, drunk people - what're you gonna do?

              3. Adding a few on the same lines as the above: try A Cote (on College), Dopo, Jojo, Cesar (all on Piedmont), Wood Tavern (on College), Zax Tavern (on Telegraph). You should also try Soi 4 on College if you like Thai, Cactus Tacqeria (on the cheap side, eat in or take out), Christopher's Burgers (also on College), Lanesplitter for pizza (a few locations), and check out T-Rex for barbeque (not universally loved, but I've always had great meals there).

                2 Replies
                1. re: JasmineG

                  Has Christopher's Burgers gotten better again? We stopped going there after several overcooked burgers with not so great fries.

                  Since Luka's opened, however, we don't miss Christoper's so much.

                  1. re: oakjoan

                    Christopher's is better, though I still don't love it (though I have friends who are big fans). The burgers are pretty good for takeout burgers, but I agree with you on the fries. It's a few minutes from my house, though, so I go there more often than I would if it was farther away.

                2. We seem to enjoy a lot of the same places. My "standards" that aren't on your list are: Dopo, Gregoire, Imperial Tea Court, Wood Tavern (for lunch), Eccolo (for brunch), Ajanta, Andy & Cindy's Thai (Tues and Sat Berk Farmers' Market & Sun Temescal FM) & Cheeseboard Pizza.

                  1. Good list. Check out this topic for a few more:

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

                    T-Rex is upscale but currently has the only great shortribs I know in the area. Everett & Jones has good hot links, ribs are so-so.

                    Look for reports on:

                    Champa Garden
                    Cesar (the one on Piedmont is better)
                    El Huarache Azteca
                    Great China
                    China Village
                    Daimo
                    Pie in the Sky
                    Lanesplitter
                    Ohgane
                    Shanghai
                    Battambang
                    Binh Minh Quan
                    Spices!3
                    Vik's
                    Udupi Palace