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Apr 27, 2007 10:51 AM

East Bay Burgers, Fries and Shakes

Boy did I make a mistake when I suggested to my wife that we take our young kids and find a nice clean place to enjoy some of America's favorite foods. We've been to all the affordable things in our area (Berkeley/Albany/ El Cerrito) and wanted to venture out a little further.

I checked your reports on Fenton's and not even a mention of the food!. That's not a good sign! The discussion about the their ice cream is disheartening. We have a Johnny Rockets budget so some of the alternative places mentioned aren't possible.

I would like to find a place that has the looks of a soda foundation, that's clean, affordable, serves fresh food, that's not a chain and has a history. It would appear that's to much to ask in the Claremont/Montclair/Oakland area?

I don't see anything on the Claremont Diner which means it must stink or its gone?

Should we just bag it and go to Fenton's anyway. I want it all but fear I must compromise. If we had the time and patience we'd BART it to SF.

Thanks Chowheads.

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  1. I've mentioned the food at Fenton's. It sucks. And anyway it looks more like a Denny's than a soda fountain.

    The only still-operating soda fountain I know of is Ozzie's in Berkeley.

    1. You can go to Val's in Hayward/Castro Valley.. but would be a little drive from the area you specified.

      2 Replies
      1. re: kc72

        Ozzie's in Berkeley or The Medicine Chest in Hayward 925 B St.510-538-9711.

        However, I don't think either of them serves burgers/fries

        1. re: kc72

          I agree - I think Val's in Hayward/Castro Valley fits your bill... The current owner (not the original) have been running the place for at least 17 years (that's when I first went). Baby burger is 1/3 lb, Mama is 1/2 lb and Papa is 1 lb. See your cardiologist the next day :)

          Stick with burgers, fries, onion rings and shakes. It's cash only. Closed Sunday and Monday. At the corner of Center, B St., and Kelly.

        2. I don't know if it's still operating (I think it is), but on my one visit to the Claremont Diner I was pleasantly surprised. Not destination, but it didn't suck. And your kids will like the model trains.

          The burgers aren't great (although they aren't bad if you can get them not to cook them to death), but the shakes at Barney's are very good in the get-the-glass-plus-the-metal-shaker school. I happen to like the fries, but that's matter of preferrence (I like steak-cut but some people only like thin-crispy). The deep fried veggies are addictive, and people who like curly fries (I don't) like theirs. The outdoor patios are a nice option in good weather, and there are lots of nonburger choices (their salads are insanely huge). It's a chain, but it's a local chain (there's at least one in LA now).

          2 Replies
          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Yes, the Claremont diner is still kicking. I think it fits the OP's request. Solid hamburgers, shakes, and friendly owner & servers. And yes, the train is cool too, especially for the kiddos.

          2. Christopher's on College Ave. in Oakland (near Broadway) has solid, though not amazing, burgers. They have a nice list of options, including blue chese, bacon, fried egg, etc. They also do a lamb burger w/ pear chutney, and a few other alternatives. Their fries (esp. the shoestring) are good. They also serve house made aioli. The strawberry lemonade is very tasty. No ice cream/soda fountain, but a decent, clean place for a family to have a good quality burger dinner.

            2 Replies
            1. re: lexdevil

              Christopher's does have shakes on the menu. I've had them a couple of times and have been pretty impressed. lexdevil is right about the strawberry lemonade though, its very good. And I've always been impressed with their burgers, they are a whole hell of a lot better than Barney's.

              1. re: ebonac

                I agree that thir burgers are good, I just wouldn't class them w/ Gregoire, Cafe Rouge, Zuni, and the best of the "yup-scale" burgers. They are, however, half the price of most of those (and much larger than those at Gregoire). They are our default setting for good quality burgers in North Oakland. Much better, in my opinion, than those at Barney's (where the name of the game is size more than taste). I've never had their shakes--too hooked on the strawberry lemonade to stray).

            2. Burger Depot on Solano Ave, about a block east from San Pablo. Mom and Pop operated, burgers are only okay but charbroiled (seems like kid's food), probably $1 overpriced per item for what you get ($3.90 for plain burger) BUT it's connected to an ice cream shop so it serves excellent shakes and you can get any flavor.

              The place probably hasn't changed in 40 years but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Doesn't have the fountain feel of Fenton's (more hole-in-the-wall) but it's definitely old fashion main street.