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Strange, weird or hidden places to eat in the Eastbay?

Mission Apr 30, 2007 04:49 PM

Here are a few:
#1
Try a sandwich at the Honeybaked ham® place on Piedmont Ave.(In a mini mall near the top toward Pleasant Valley) Its been there 20 years.

Its hard to describe the experience.

All I can say is:

You will probably be the only customer.

You will get one of the most elaborate quality $4.00 sandwiches ever made.

It will take at least 10-15 minutes to make your sandwich.

And it comes with assorted free "unusual" side dishes.

Assorted meats too! And great soup bones are available(used to be free ,now kinda pricy)

#2

Jerry's Beefburgers in
San Leandro.

Jerrys makes a fine burger with fresh cut fries...way better than In and out.

Located on a strange un traveled section of Macarther Blvd. in San Leandro
560 Macarthur Blvd to be exact.

There is a huge Chinese place next door,but it always looked empty...even at prime lunch hours.

#3
The Kingfish Cafe and pub on Claremont and Telegraph used to serve Sanwiches and Chili and Chowder.

But they stopped just as the area began to prosper.

Still open for beer, at least till its torn down for more condos.

They don't build places like this anymore.

  1. b
    billraymond May 26, 2011 02:33 PM

    Castro Tarts is tucked in a small place with a sign leading you to believe pastry tarts would be the thing to eat there. Indeed they have a fine bakery but people really go there for the cheap Pho and Vietnamese Sandwiches. The staff are super nice and the food is quite good, and did I mention cheap? They don't serve cocktails so it is one of the quieter places in the hood.

    -----
    Castro Tarts
    564 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114

    1 Reply
    1. re: billraymond
      Robert Lauriston May 26, 2011 04:22 PM

      You might want to share that tip in a topic that's not specific to the East Bay.

    2. nicedragonboy May 26, 2011 11:22 AM

      Albany Cafe a tiny store front to a cosy place to grab an interesting take on vietnamese sandwiches.

      Zaki's Kabob house for their seasoned and sauteed chicken livers.

      1. e
        ernie in berkeley May 24, 2011 02:47 PM

        I just had an excellent meatball hero at hidden gem Luca Cucina Italiana in Berkeley. East coast style red-sauce Italian place (no checkered tablecloths, though), everything made from scratch and low prices--6.50 for the hero, 10-12 for pasta dishes.

        -----
        Luca Cucina Italiana
        2057 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

        1. wolfe May 24, 2011 12:22 PM

          Jodie's in Albany hasn't been mentioned yet.
          http://www.djovida.com/jodie/

          2 Replies
          1. re: wolfe
            mariacarmen May 24, 2011 01:31 PM

            Yay, i've only been once, must go again for that chicken.

            1. re: mariacarmen
              e
              ernie in berkeley May 24, 2011 02:43 PM

              Be prepared to wait. Jodie decided to start cooking each chicken order from scratch, and there's only so much space in the kettle. Last time I tried to order take-out the wait was 1.5 hours, and before that, in-house was around 45 minutes. But it is very, very good chicken.

          2. s
            screwlewse Mar 23, 2011 03:02 PM

            That Chinese place next to Jerry's Burgers is called the Oriental Tea House. If you are into traditional Chinese food.. this place is great. I think I am the only white guy that orders chicken's feet. :) It's my favorite Dim Sum in the East Bay.

            -----
            Oriental Tea House
            604 MacArthur Blvd, San Leandro, CA 94577

            1 Reply
            1. re: screwlewse
              Mission Mar 23, 2011 11:12 PM

              After reading more about the "Oriental Tea House" it sounds like a perfect fit for this thread.

              And I can't wait to try it out!

              Kinda dirty,Funky retro,popular and cheap.

              Sounds perfect!

              http://www.yelp.com/biz/oriental-tea-...

            2. daveena Jun 1, 2008 08:58 AM

              I have a contender... excellent Taiwanese beef noodle soup at Wuling Karaoke in El Cerrito.

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/52439...

              1. AntarcticWidow Aug 4, 2007 10:24 AM

                On the first or second Sunday of the month, breakfast is served on the Red Oak Victory Ship. For $5, you get pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, coffee, orange juice. I think they also serve toast or hash browns, but I don't remember - it's been a while.

                Okay for what it is. The bonus is the view of the bay and you can tour the ship afterwards.

                Location information: http://www.ssredoakvictory.com/contact.htm

                Event schedule: http://www.ssredoakvictory.com/calend...

                3 Replies
                1. re: AntarcticWidow
                  Mission Jan 6, 2008 10:52 AM

                  I guess we should add Godspeed to the list?

                  Godspeed
                  5532 San Pablo Ave Oakland CA

                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/476171

                  1. re: Mission
                    Mission May 23, 2008 08:53 PM

                    I found a new one.

                    Wally's Mediterranean Cafe food in Emeryville.

                    Up the street from the now closed Dougs BBQ.

                    Its a fantastic Mediterranean/ Lebanese cafe.

                    The proprietors are Wally and his wife,two of the nicest people on the planet.

                    The food is fantastic and served in large portions.

                    Its located back behind a trippy punk ,blues, local bar call the The Bank Club.

                    But it has a nice clean sunny alley way for outdoor dining and cafe seating inside.

                    Super "Garlicky"homestyle Mediterranean food,tasty burgers and fries too.

                    Cash only.

                    Read all the rave reviews below for more details.

                    Wally's Cafe
                    3900 San Pablo Ave
                    (at Yerba Buena Ave)
                    Emeryville, CA 94608
                    (510) 597-1303

                    http://www.yelp.com/biz/wallys-cafe-e...

                    1. re: Mission
                      rworange Jun 2, 2008 09:05 AM

                      Mission ... thanks for the tip ... loved Wally's.

                      If you don't know, there is a secret menu at Wally's ... quite a few off the menu items and he will really make what you want given the time.

                      His wife is from Mexico City and her mom and grandmother make the tamales. Thinking about it, I have to put them near the top of the tamales I've had in the bay area.

                      Emeryville: Wally's Cafe and The Bank Club - a roadhouse with Lebanese Mexican food and draft Trumer Pilsner
                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/524291

                2. d
                  Dan Wodarcyk Jun 25, 2007 11:45 PM

                  There's an International House on the UC Berkeley Campus, right? If so, is there a cafe? A few years back while on business in Detroit often, we would walk over to an International House situated within a campus area shared by a few colleges, and they had the best, cheap lunch. Something different everday, but usually great curries.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Dan Wodarcyk
                    Robert Lauriston Jun 26, 2007 03:49 PM

                    Yes.

                    http://www.dailycal.org/sharticle.php...

                  2. w
                    westberkeleygal Jun 25, 2007 11:34 PM

                    Bubi's cafe in West Berkeley on 10th Street, a block away from busy Caffe Trieste but hidden. Has a great courtyard and great sandwiches for $5. They do a lot of catering.

                    Tortas at the prepared food counter in the Mi Tierra Market are big enough for 2 people for about $5 and very good. Carnitas on Thursdays.

                    1. crimson Jun 20, 2007 03:16 PM

                      My wife swears by the pancakes at La Pinata 2 on Park Ave. in Alameda.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: crimson
                        t
                        tobycat Jun 26, 2007 12:31 AM

                        That would be Park St.

                        Park Ave. runs parallel to Park St. one block over.

                      2. a
                        adrienne156 Jun 20, 2007 10:24 AM

                        El Taco Zamorano Restaurant *not the truck* at 4032 Foothill Blvd in Oakland. High Street exit if you're coming down 880 S.

                        I absolutely love this place and trek out here for mexican food at least every other week. I always order the steak ranchero (I up the heat), the s.o. gets the carne asada sopes, delicious carnitas, and the softest corn torillas - made to order. Everything here is clean and delicious and the waitresses are very sweet.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: adrienne156
                          Mission Jun 20, 2007 12:12 PM

                          I love El Taco Zamorano Restaurant too.
                          I have lived in Oakland all my life and this is still one of my favorite Mexican restaurants.

                          Every dish is great!.Fresh homemade tortillas,some of the best Carnitas I have ever had.

                          Super service too.

                          They have a beautiful Mexican born waitress with natural red hair that is worth a visit!

                          They have recently cleaned the place up a little with fresh paint and polish, so its even better.

                          Plus its kinda cool to see Hells Angels wander in and out to their headquarters across the street.
                          They also dine inside El Taco Zamorano on a regular basis.
                          (i once saw a whole table of them order "diet coke"s,while I was drinking a beer....yes!)
                          Paradoxically,I believe they keep the neighborhood a little safer too.

                          To top it off they have a Happy hour from 3-6 with half price beers.

                          1. re: Mission
                            a
                            adrienne156 Jun 20, 2007 01:06 PM

                            The renovations are from a truck slamming through the front entrance and taking out about a third of the front room a few months back.

                          2. re: adrienne156
                            Lori SF Jun 20, 2007 02:19 PM

                            Oh I forgot about that place very good Mexican.

                            When I lived near the Grand Lake Theater I liked Mimosa Cafe, vegetarian and the best breakfast. Have not been for quit sometime.

                            I get a donut craving twice a year and the best maple bar (my fav.) is at the donut shop next to Peets Coffee on Lake Shore, cuppa peets and that donut!. Cannot find one as good in SF.. Also, the little produce market right next door has delicious vietnamese spring rolls at the register. I would go early and buy them up.

                            The Lunch Box- if you are downtown Oakland and want a good old fashion good sandwich, nothing fancy just good fresh sandwiches. On Franklin at 17th?

                            Lake Merrit Diner- late night and good pie.. love the formica and the waitresses

                            T.J.'s Gingerbread House- now this would be strange never been but have always wanted too.

                            Casa Latina Bakery on San Pablo I think near Hearst- excellent mexican food and bakery.. cheap cheap.

                            The Southern Cafe- good southren soul food- in Oakland

                            1. re: adrienne156
                              DezzerSF Jun 20, 2007 02:35 PM

                              Is the Zamorano on High St/International just as good?

                              1. re: DezzerSF
                                a
                                adrienne156 Jun 20, 2007 03:42 PM

                                I don't like the smaller one at all. Trust me - go to the restaurant up the street, even if just for some tortillas and beans washed down with a modelo especial.

                                1. re: adrienne156
                                  a
                                  adrienne156 Jun 20, 2007 04:58 PM

                                  Oh, and I believe that they are unaffiliated.

                                  1. re: adrienne156
                                    DezzerSF Jun 20, 2007 06:04 PM

                                    Thanks for the tip. Do they have al pastor?

                                    1. re: DezzerSF
                                      a
                                      adrienne156 Jun 21, 2007 12:40 PM

                                      Hmm. I don't think so. ..But there are so many other things to eat that you won't miss it.

                                    2. re: adrienne156
                                      c
                                      Curmudgeon Jan 6, 2008 12:53 PM

                                      The one on International is not nearly as good, and and the ambiance is very poor. It has a very cold feeling. The one on Foothill makes you feel like you have a Mexican mother who will cook anything you want.

                                      1. re: Curmudgeon
                                        a
                                        adrienne156 Jan 6, 2008 01:08 PM

                                        On occasion, the s.o. has asked for things that aren't on the menu and the cooks have actually obliged him...

                              2. daveena Jun 19, 2007 06:23 PM

                                There's a Mongolian place across the street from the Oakland Public Library - outside there's a sandwich board that says "All you can eat Korean and Mongolian". Inside looks like an anonymous circa early 80's college campus pizzeria. On the wall immediately to the right is a massive menu of pasta, pizza, and salad. There's a small dry-erase board with the Mongolian menu (written in Mongolian) high up, close to the steam table. I dropped by after work one day just to see what it looked like (a friend sent me a link to a blog mentioning it, and it piqued my curiousity)... it was empty, there was no food in the steam table, and the one employee there was chatting on a cell phone and didn't look interested in finding out what I was doing there (I was painstakingly trying to sound out the cyrillic letters... hoping those 2 years of high school Russian were finally going to pay off). Going back next week with friends for dinner, will report back.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: daveena
                                  Robert Lauriston Jun 20, 2007 12:27 PM

                                  Across from which branch of the Oakland library? There are around 20 of them.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                    daveena Jun 20, 2007 12:36 PM

                                    My bad - the main branch on 14th, between Madison and Oak.

                                  2. re: daveena
                                    daveena Aug 3, 2007 05:56 PM

                                    Finally made it to lunch - we struggled a little bit with the language barrier (best we could get was that of the Mongolian specialties, there's soup, there's noodles, there's meat with potatoes on top, and there's goulash; they also have dumplings (manti) and fried meat pies (khushuur) - the two things I'm the most interested in - but we were warned "they take a long time", so we didn't order them (good thing, too - our other items took about 30 minutes to come out - this is not the place to go for a quick lunch, if you're ordering the Mongolian specialties.).

                                    We got the noodles and the meat with potatoes. Both were homey, simple, and fairly tasty. They make the noodles to order - they're uneven in thickness but uniform in width, like they've been rolled out with a pin but cut with a chitarra or similar contraption. They're roughly linguine-width, but much, much thinner. They had a slightly raw, floury taste to them (more appealing than it sounds) and were cooked dry with some carrot and beef bits (I swear, it tasted better than it sounds). I'm thinking they were cooked directly in the pan, without blanching or boiling.

                                    The meat and potatoes dish was basically a good meatloaf with mashed potatoes and a tasty tomato sauce that on first taste had some subtle spicing I couldn't identify - there wasn't enough sauce for me to really be able to figure it out. Subsequent tastes only revealed a good tomato sauce.

                                    Anyway, I'm thinking that if they're hand rolling their pasta, they're probably making the dumpling wrappers and meat pie pastry to order too... they could potentially be really good... will need to go back one day for dinner, when I have more time.

                                    1. re: daveena
                                      w
                                      wally Aug 3, 2007 06:30 PM

                                      They call the dumplings manti? not momo or something like that?

                                      1. re: wally
                                        daveena Aug 4, 2007 10:06 AM

                                        Manti, just like in Russian/Kazhak... momo are Tibetan. And mandoo are Korean.

                                      2. re: daveena
                                        Melanie Wong Aug 3, 2007 10:19 PM

                                        Was your lunch part of the AYCE? Would this be Inner Mongolian or Outer Mongolian regional cuisine? (vbg)

                                        -----
                                        Pizza-Rama
                                        138 14th St, Oakland, CA 94612

                                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                                          daveena Aug 4, 2007 10:16 AM

                                          Ah! Thanks for the link! I couldn't find the restaurant's name - I think it was covered up somehow, and there are no printed menus or business cards.

                                          I think they stopped the AYCE - the steam table was empty - the only prepared food was one lone veggie pizza.

                                          Going to go start a new thread, see if there are any Mongolian speakers who can help translate the menu off my transliteration...

                                    2. w
                                      WC2HLondon Jun 19, 2007 06:08 PM

                                      Try Al's Big Burger on San Pablo about half a mile past Solano Ave. in Albany. One of the things I miss most now that I no longer live in Berkeley. Also, have you tried Doug's BBQ in Emeryville? I'm pretty sure it's on San Pablo, but ask around to make sure. I used to live near there and was never disappointed. The real thing.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: WC2HLondon
                                        l
                                        lintygmom Oct 6, 2007 08:02 PM

                                        We were supposed to go out with friends and have a gourmet meal but my husband found a bug that had to be fixed right then and there. So belatedly we contemplated the fresh from the farmers' market greens and tomatoes and other wholesome foodstuffs and decided to go out with the dog for Tailgate Picnic! We would up at Al's for the first time. What a kick! Like going back to 1963--right down to the signs on the wall. Not terribly sanitary but since everything is fried to a delicious turn in hot grease, it's perfectly safe. (And now that organic greens can give you salmonella...) So the 1/3 pound burger was delicious with cheese and bacon and tomato/lettuce/onion/pickle/mayo and the fries were commercial but perfectly cooked, crispy on the outside and meltingly soft inside and not in the least greasy, the commercial onion rings were crisp, and the clams were almost buttery. With a large diet Coke which we shared, the whole shebang was $12 and change and tip for the three of us. I'll be back next time the urge for a blast from the past and a blatant disregard for health hits me--and I'll get a coffee or mocha shake.

                                        1. re: WC2HLondon
                                          m
                                          ML8000 Jan 6, 2008 11:26 AM

                                          Unfortunately Doug's BBQ closed around May of '06. Very sad to see it go and couldn't figure out why. The 3-way lunch special for $7.99 was one of the best deals around. Hopefully they'll re-open in some shape.

                                        2. a
                                          AppleSpam Jun 15, 2007 09:22 PM

                                          The new Manila Garden Restaurant (not Cafe) just opened this year in Uptown Oakland in what used to be a Pilipino moneywire/florist/ice cream parlor on 19th St between Franklin and Webster that was recently remodeled to have sit down lunches. The Ice Cream Cone still hangs outside the front. Florist shop is still there (and maybe the ice cream). It's an all-you-can-eat buffet lunch at about $8 plus make-your-own halo halo and other rich desserts. Never ate at the old Manila Garden in Chinatown but the food is great for home style buffet. Its gets packed at the lunch hour with the Kaiser Pin@y crowd. The buffet menu changes every day but the pancit, sinigang, fried fish and palabok are among my favorites. Not sure if they are open in the evenings, but one this is for sure, no more karaoke. And if you you want to take it to go and eat at the Lake, it's just 5.95/lb.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: AppleSpam
                                            michele_corum Aug 3, 2007 10:52 PM

                                            Sorry to say no more ice cream at Manilla Garden Restaurant.....

                                          2. Chuckles the Clone May 3, 2007 04:13 PM

                                            Junket, in El Cerrito Plaza.

                                            I'm not sure how hidden this is, although it's around the back past Trader Joes.
                                            But it is a bit weird. Half German canned goods and preserves store, half
                                            deli, half sandwich shop. German beer on tap and in bottles. An espresso
                                            machine out in the middle of things. Decent-sized sandwiches on (of
                                            course) good bread for a reasonable price ($5-$7 depending on ingredients).
                                            The Westphalian ham was very nice last time. The owners appear to be
                                            German, the sandwich maker was speaking Russian last time I was there.
                                            It's only a little bit like being back in the old country, but it's very much like
                                            not being in El Cerrito anymore.

                                            14 Replies
                                            1. re: Chuckles the Clone
                                              a
                                              adrienne156 Jun 16, 2007 04:00 PM

                                              The owners of this place are the nicest people and they do make very good sandwiches... In fact, does anyone know of any other places that make the same in the area? Eunice on Solano is pretty decent, but their sandwiches aren't deli sandwiches. TONS of British goods and great cheese at The Junket....

                                              Great call Chuckles.

                                              1. re: adrienne156
                                                wolfe Jun 16, 2007 04:17 PM

                                                Tasting at the June Taylor Still Room on Fridays 12-4. Not a meal but a mini sampling of some of her good stuff.

                                                1. re: wolfe
                                                  a
                                                  adrienne156 Jun 19, 2007 04:39 PM

                                                  I'm sorry... The Junket is doing a tasting?

                                                  1. re: adrienne156
                                                    Chuckles the Clone Jun 19, 2007 06:01 PM

                                                    I think it was a case of clicking the wrong "reply" button.

                                                    June Taylor's factory is open for tasting on Friday afternoons:
                                                    http://www.junetaylorjams.com/where/s...

                                                2. re: adrienne156
                                                  rworange Jun 16, 2007 07:47 PM

                                                  Zares on Solana makes good basic sandwiches at a bargain price. Saffron Gourmet (also Solano) may or may not make sandwiches. The owner goes back and forth on that.

                                                  Rafael's Shutter Cafe has a few sandwiches on the menu which might not be deli sandwiches, but they are better than Eunice's (great Lastest Scoop Gelato at Eunice, though). FatApple has more diner-type sandwiches, but they are good.

                                                  1. re: rworange
                                                    a
                                                    adrienne156 Jun 25, 2007 09:43 PM

                                                    I never saw this, sorry... I've been to Zares a couple of times, but prefer the Junket. I think the main reason I go to Eunice is because when I ask for extra sundried tomatoes, they really do pile em on.

                                                  2. re: adrienne156
                                                    Chuckles the Clone Jun 16, 2007 10:33 PM

                                                    Well, before I learned about Junket, I'd get the occasional sandwich from
                                                    the deli counter at Andronicos. Not terrible, big, reasonable price. But unlike
                                                    Junket, you can't get a Berliner Weiße grün to drink with it.

                                                  3. re: Chuckles the Clone
                                                    choctastic Jun 20, 2007 10:36 AM

                                                    Wow, this is pretty hidden. I go to that mall all the time and never heard of this place.

                                                    1. re: choctastic
                                                      a
                                                      adrienne156 Jun 20, 2007 01:07 PM

                                                      It's down by Chef's.

                                                      1. re: adrienne156
                                                        w
                                                        wally Jun 20, 2007 05:06 PM

                                                        I have been to the Junket but I don't think I have ever noticed Chef's.

                                                        1. re: wally
                                                          rworange Jun 20, 2007 08:59 PM

                                                          Steam table inexpensive Chinese food. Ok for what it is.

                                                          1. re: rworange
                                                            wolfe Jun 21, 2007 04:35 AM

                                                            But have you ever tried the sit down section to the right with freshly prepared
                                                            dishes from the chalkboard menu? I do the steam table for lunch but wait, if I can, until they dump out fresh stuff from the back. I would be interested in a
                                                            review of the sit down menu.

                                                            1. re: wolfe
                                                              rworange Jun 21, 2007 08:06 PM

                                                              No. Haven't tried the freshly prepared stuff. Thanks for the tip.

                                                    2. re: Chuckles the Clone
                                                      mariacarmen May 24, 2011 01:38 PM

                                                      Love their sandwiches, and their stock of German and Brit canned/bottled goods. Great sandwiches - last time I was there I had the Westphalian ham with some pate and swiss on rye - delicious. I've also bought a couple of their British pork pies that you eat cold. also good. Great place to take a parent (my 83 year old dad liked it too.)

                                                    3. grocerytrekker May 2, 2007 05:54 PM

                                                      Certainly not hidden. Not weird or strange, but...

                                                      Falafel from a food cart on Bancroft, near the Berkeley entrance at Telegraph. Is it still there? I've always wanted to try one.

                                                      The city was planning to allow more vendors in that area and near the Berkeley BART station. Does anyone have any information?

                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: grocerytrekker
                                                        w
                                                        wally May 2, 2007 06:26 PM

                                                        It has been years and years but I used to call that place Awful Falafel. It was a horrible experience for me in 1978. It clearly could be a very different product now or many times before now, but I still remember that falafel.

                                                        1. re: grocerytrekker
                                                          Glencora May 2, 2007 06:35 PM

                                                          There used to be food carts at the Berkeley BART station. I assumed they were kicked out in an effort to spiff up the place. I'd be surprised if they returned.

                                                          1. re: grocerytrekker
                                                            s
                                                            SWoodruff May 24, 2011 11:47 AM

                                                            There is now a falafel restaurant/counter on Bancroft called Fa La La. It was my first-ever falafel. It was very good. Seating is VERY limited, so if you can walk and chew at the same time, you'll be alright.

                                                            1. re: SWoodruff
                                                              bbulkow May 25, 2011 09:04 PM

                                                              First ever falafel? Wow! Now you'll need to eat some comparison falafels.
                                                              This rather sprawling east bay thread has a few ideas:
                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/648282
                                                              I've never been 100% happy with my east bay falafels, but I've never tried Oasis.

                                                              One of the hidden falafel joints is Sophia Cafe on Solano, which is mostly a sweet shop but they sell falafels. I really liked them, crunchy, good garbanzo taste, good toppings, good bread.

                                                              1. re: bbulkow
                                                                m
                                                                Mr_Happy May 25, 2011 10:00 PM

                                                                The best falafels I've had in the east bay were from Holy Land in Oakland, though admittedly I haven't tried that many. Made to order and crispy on the outside. Oasis has a decent one too.

                                                                -----
                                                                Holy Land Restaurant
                                                                677 Rand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

                                                                1. re: bbulkow
                                                                  Robert Lauriston May 26, 2011 11:40 AM

                                                                  Sophia Cafe seemed like a typical pita / falafel joint when I was there, didn't even know they sold sweets.

                                                                  My favorite falafels are from Sunrise Deli, though unfortunately nothing else I've had from them has been very good, so I just get a bag of falafels. Runner up is Holy Land in Berkeley. I found the Oakland branch inconsistent, but haven't gone back in a few years.

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Holy Land Restaurant
                                                                  2965 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

                                                                  Sunrise Deli
                                                                  2456 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94704

                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                    majordanby May 26, 2011 06:20 PM

                                                                    I like Zand's falafels in Albany.

                                                            2. k
                                                              katya May 2, 2007 05:15 PM

                                                              This is one of the best kept secrets in Berkeley. Part of this is because it's probably the hardest restaurant to go to in Berkeley. Panini's only open Mondays through Fridays for lunch, PLUS they're located down Trumpetvine Court - a private lane next to Jupiter's off Shattuck. I haven't eaten at Panini in years since I work a day job outside of Berkeley. However, for $5 (maybe $7 now?) you could get an amazing sandwich. Even better was the cheapest item on the menu - a half baguette covered in pesto, cheese, and mushrooms.

                                                              Psst! If you like their food, I believe that Rado's right around the corner carries many of the same items.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: katya
                                                                Robert Lauriston May 2, 2007 05:43 PM

                                                                $5.95 to $8.30:

                                                                http://www.cafe-panini.net/cafemenu.html

                                                                Huh, German Chocolate Cake, that's not something you see around much any more.

                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                  k
                                                                  katya May 3, 2007 02:38 PM

                                                                  Whoa, their prices are the same as when I started going there 13 years ago. My open face mozarella, roma tomato, pesto, sun-dried tomato sandwich is still $4.50.

                                                                  I love German Chocolate Cake. Even bad German Chocolate Cake is good - I've had Safeway's $4 one (on special) on more than one birthday.

                                                                  1. re: katya
                                                                    Chuckles the Clone Jun 30, 2008 04:18 PM

                                                                    Cafe Panini is being run by Jupiter these days:
                                                                    http://www.dailycal.org/article/10134...
                                                                    When I was last there a bunch of weeks ago, it looked pretty much as it always has.

                                                              2. k
                                                                kresge86 May 2, 2007 03:08 PM

                                                                I strongly recommend the Sunday brunch at the Thai Buddhist temple in Berkeley. It offers very good Thai food; mostly made by local Thai restaurants, but stuff they don't necessarily sell at their restaurants. It's a fundraiser. You pay with tokens (that you can purchase on site). They have amazing desserts (try the coconut pancake/doughy things). The temple is called Wat Mongkolratanaram and is located at 1911 Russell x Martin Luther King Jr Way.

                                                                7 Replies
                                                                1. re: kresge86
                                                                  Romanmk Aug 3, 2007 11:38 PM

                                                                  Brunch is good here. The smell of the food cooking reminds me of Thailand more than any other place I've been in the US.

                                                                  1. re: kresge86
                                                                    eeblet May 24, 2008 05:21 PM

                                                                    I found some of the food to be good, but most to be really gross - like dried out spring rolls, overly greasy or bland sauces, etc. Is it hit or miss?

                                                                    1. re: eeblet
                                                                      Chuckles the Clone May 24, 2008 10:29 PM

                                                                      Yes, very; some hits, many misses. The fried chicken and vegetables, the papaya salad (woo hoo! a full week's supply of fiber plus a fistful of hot peppers!), the soup, and the strange coconut/scallion grilled cookie things are all very good. Pad Thai is passable but if you get the right person they give you a ton. Drinks are all reminiscent of an intravenous glucose solution and highly not recommended.

                                                                      1. re: Chuckles the Clone
                                                                        Robert Lauriston May 25, 2008 08:57 AM

                                                                        The fried chicken (which they may have dropped), papaya salad, and griddled rice-cake things are made to order. The steam-table stuff is reportedly donated by local restaurants.

                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                          eeblet May 25, 2008 11:31 AM

                                                                          Aha! Great to know - thanks Robert & Chuckles. If I go back, I'll be choosier.

                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                            Chuckles the Clone May 25, 2008 01:10 PM

                                                                            Went by today. They were serving fried chicken but did not seem to be preparing it there. The giant wok was missing. I guess it's being brought in from somewhere else now. The thing is, a block away I thought
                                                                            I could smell the chicken frying. Hmm...?

                                                                            At 11am, the line for the steam table extended out to the street. There were no more than 3-4 people on any of the other lines. Hours are now 10am-1pm, which is too bad because it used to be that the best time to go was 9-10am before the crowd arrived. Rainy days are also good (seating is outside, but mostly covered). A line as long as it was today is definitely a sign to go away and come back some other time; those people are going to be waiting an hour at least.

                                                                            1. re: Chuckles the Clone
                                                                              Robert Lauriston May 25, 2008 03:21 PM

                                                                              The hours just changed, things will probably settle down soon.

                                                                              Also, this was the last Sunday before a lot of UC students leave town.

                                                                    2. Zach Georgopoulos May 2, 2007 11:51 AM

                                                                      In San Leandro, Ernie's Seafood, if you are craving deep fried fish and seafood. Sort of old cafe style, looks like its been there since the '50s. Not incredibly fresh or anything, but if you want a fried fish sandwich and happen to be in the area.... East 14th, at 136th.

                                                                      Also in SL, on Bankroft, there's a place that looks like an old Coffee Shop, but has converted to Mexican food. Not sure about the rest of the food, but they do a good Huevos Rancheros for breakfast. Can't remember the name or the cross street (though I think its near the CitiBank).

                                                                       
                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Zach Georgopoulos
                                                                        susancinsf May 2, 2007 12:44 PM

                                                                        speaking of huevos rancheros, and strange places,some of the best huevos rancheros I ever had in the SF bay area were in the coffee shop at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Oakland.

                                                                        Will have to check out your SL recommendation.

                                                                        1. re: susancinsf
                                                                          Zach Georgopoulos May 2, 2007 01:30 PM

                                                                          I was wrong about it being on Bancroft, since the SL Citibank branch is on E. 14th & Estudillo. The Google map for nearby restaurants would indicate that I might be thinking of the Tequila Grill, at 1350 E. 14th... Whatever the place is called, I remember I came across it because its back door faces the bank parking lot.

                                                                          1. re: susancinsf
                                                                            oakjoan May 3, 2007 09:37 PM

                                                                            Susan: Were these great heuvos rancheros served to you recently?

                                                                            1. re: oakjoan
                                                                              susancinsf May 3, 2007 10:21 PM

                                                                              unfortunately, no. Its been at least two years,....I keep thinking I should go back and try them again, to see if it was a fluke, but I am sort of afraid to find out if it was. Probably would have been back if I worked a bit closer to there....

                                                                              1. re: susancinsf
                                                                                susancinsf Mar 23, 2011 05:17 PM

                                                                                since somebody bumped the thread, I will reply to my old post to report that perhaps five or six months ago I did have the opportunity to try the huevos rancheros at the Marriott again. Sigh. Clearly, it was a indeed a fluke, or someone in the kitchen who really knew what he or she was doing, but has since left...

                                                                        2. Glencora May 2, 2007 11:34 AM

                                                                          The cafe at the Lawrence Hall of Science has the best view in Berkeley. The food isn't bad either. Roasted pork tenderloin, veggy quiche, roasted chicken with orzo and more -- even a vegan dish (baked hoison tofu). I believe that I've heard they try to use organic products, but I could be wrong. Of course you have to pay to get in, unless you have a pass. But the view is amazing.

                                                                          The Oakland museum has a nice cafe overlooking the sculpture garden. The last time I was there (when I had jury duty) a guy was playing the piano. I had a nice bowl of black bean chili.

                                                                          My dentist likes the cafeteria at Alta Bates hospital. It's open to the public, but I've never tried it.

                                                                          1. h
                                                                            heltsai May 1, 2007 04:48 PM

                                                                            State workers know this secret.
                                                                            On Thursdays in the State building in Oakland, the cafeteria serves absolutely the most delicious turkey barley soup. I pop in when it comes out at 11am and get my cup full steaming hot broth filled with chunks of turkey, tender carrots, celerey and onions plus barley. Everything else not that interseting.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: heltsai
                                                                              rworange May 1, 2007 06:27 PM

                                                                              Do you have to work there to eat at the cafeteria?

                                                                              1. re: rworange
                                                                                h
                                                                                heltsai May 2, 2007 10:30 AM

                                                                                Nope, the building is open to the public.

                                                                            2. Eugene Park May 1, 2007 04:29 PM

                                                                              This is a copy & paste from the original thread I wrote this to on Chowhound. It's not strange nor weird. It's simply hidden in plain sight on busy University Ave. in Berkeley (though most folks are simply zooming by while on the way to the freeway or to the Shattuck/campus area).

                                                                              I'd been conflicted ever since discovering CH about posting my fave hole-in-the-wall in Berkeley. It's not as if they were going to go out of business; I've been eating there ever since I met the owner's son back in the late 80s. Prices have always been absurdly low, and portions are great. Plus they have the best egg/imperial-style rolls around (family that owns and operates the place is Vietnamese).

                                                                              So I've finally decided to break my vow of silence. If you want to spend less than $10 (or even $5), my fave resto in Berkeley is.........New Oriental Restaurant on University (cross street is McGee).

                                                                              So what would I recommend there? BBQ chicken over brown rice plate (you can get any of the rice plates with either steamed white rice or brown rice). Last time I had it there, it was $4.80 or $5.00 (tax included, as you order at the front counter then sit down at a table; all menu prices posted on the wall include tax). Two large boneless chicken thigh strips that have been grilled to order, topped with a teriyaki BBQ sauce (more like a marinade, as it is thin, not goopy). Side is either a basic salad or steamed veggies (it alternates). When I first started eating there in the late 80s, I think this was priced at $2.80 or thereabouts.

                                                                              I'd also recommend the won ton soup. I forget how many won tons come in the soup, but it's somewhere between 8 to 12. Soup itself is nice and doesn't pack an MSG wallop, and is topped with a sprinkling of green onions. I remember this being $1.80 when I first started going there, and I remember it being $3.00 when I last stopped by a few months ago.

                                                                              If you eat there, you absolutely must try the egg rolls. They use ground chicken with some cabbage and other veggies, give it a decent slug of black pepper, then roll them up in the same type of wrappers that are used in Vietnamese imperial rolls. I forget the price for these now, but I'm certain they're still under a buck apiece (65 cents sticks in my mind, but that could've been the price a few years ago; regardless they're less than a buck). These aren't little measly egg rolls measuring a few inches long; these are close to double the length of the typical Chinese egg rolls you get at Chinese-American places. They're served with a good sweet & sour sauce, which I punch up with Sriracha. Heaven.....=-D

                                                                              I've also tried the spring roll, which is this huge pocket of crunchy veggies in a thicker wrapper. Nice when they're hot and fresh.

                                                                              I'm a big eater, but it's been impossible for me to spend more than $8 on lunch or dinner there (and that includes a tip in the jar on the counter). More peckish eaters could easily get away with a meal for $5 (won ton soup and an egg roll is enough to fill up most). They have a pretty lengthy list of rice plates, noodle dishes and soups, with plenty of veggie options. But I've always ordered some combo (sometimes all 3 when I'm starving and also want leftovers to take home) of the BBQ chicken over brown rice (used to be the #26, may be a different number now), egg rolls and won ton soup.

                                                                              If you go, be prepared for a bit of a wait even if you're the only person in the place. Everything is made to order, and you can easily see into the small kitchen from most tables of if you're standing at the counter. This is not an operation predicated on doing high volume at any given moment, but they've been in business for over 20 years, so they've obviously been doing a steady stream of business thru the years.

                                                                              1. Scott M May 1, 2007 10:38 AM

                                                                                Ok, I have never been but maybe someone can tell me the deal with Ahn's 1/4 pound burger place on Grand Ave. by the Lake. Its been there a long time but it never appears crowded. I haven't seen it mentioned by any 'hounds. So maybe its considered hidden even though its easy to spot from the street.

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Scott M
                                                                                  rworange May 1, 2007 11:04 AM

                                                                                  This is one of those Yelp darlings like Smokehouse where I really have to disagree. My first job in the East Bay was one block from Ahn's. So I ate there pretty regularily. It is an ok burger, nothing special. Along the lines of all the other 1/4 burger places maybe a little better than some. Nothing to go out of your way for, but if in the immediate area a decent enough burger.

                                                                                  1. re: rworange
                                                                                    Scott M May 1, 2007 01:04 PM

                                                                                    Thanks for the info. I drive by it often but have rarely seen anyone parked there. I did eat at Smokehouse once and didn't care for it so guess there is no need to check out Ahn's.

                                                                                  2. re: Scott M
                                                                                    oakjoan May 2, 2007 01:53 PM

                                                                                    OOh! Ooh! I've lived on China Hill for more than 20 years and have driven by Ahn's a thousand times....each time wondering "What th?" I've rarely seen more than 1 car in the parking lot...maybe folks walk down the hill from their homes? Maybe the Ahn family owns the building and lets their weird son run the place so he won't get into trouble?

                                                                                    1. re: oakjoan
                                                                                      JasmineG May 2, 2007 01:55 PM

                                                                                      I've eaten at Ahn's before -- some family friends live nearby and love the place. I've only had the burgers and fries, which are your classic drive thru style burgers (big bun, a little floppy, a little greasy, hits the spot in certain situations) and not quite crisp enough fries, but my sister loves their fish burger.

                                                                                  3. DezzerSF May 1, 2007 08:38 AM

                                                                                    Vientian Cafe @ 3801 Allendale Ave in Oakland for Thai, Laos, Vietnamese food. I would definitely say it's hidden but it's been mentioned here before.

                                                                                    Saigon Wraps in the Fruitvale BART center for Banh Mi. They grill their meats in the open kitchen and it's this reason why it's one of the best banh mis I've had. Excellent bread too. It's hidden from the street off E 12th St between Fruitvale and 35th Ave.
                                                                                    http://www.saigonwraps.com/

                                                                                    1. hhc May 1, 2007 08:24 AM

                                                                                      I haven't been, but on Yelp this seems to be THE place to get Breakfast:

                                                                                      Fifth Wheel
                                                                                      898 San Leandro Blvd
                                                                                      San Leandro, CA 94577
                                                                                      510-635-7538

                                                                                      Hope someone can report back.

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: hhc
                                                                                        larochelle May 1, 2007 08:59 AM

                                                                                        I don't get it. This place has been heavily reviewed and seems to serve good breakfast food. What makes this place strange, weird or hidden?

                                                                                        1. re: larochelle
                                                                                          rworange May 1, 2007 10:08 AM

                                                                                          Chicken teriyaki omelet? They will make loco moco on request. There's the option of rice instead of potatoes. The Japanese owners are retiring soon, so go while you can.

                                                                                          Lots of good ideas here ...
                                                                                          http://www.chow.com/digest/tag/san%2Bfrancisco%2Bbay%2Barea

                                                                                          Out of my oddest is the church that makes pupusas and fried fish on Sunday
                                                                                          http://www.chow.com/digest/2397

                                                                                          On my list to try is the Friday Persian Dinner at Woodminster Cafe in Oakland
                                                                                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/326400

                                                                                          "During the day, they serve the best chicken salad sandwiches I’ve eaten in California. Complex flavors enhance the chicken without overpowering it. Garlic is top amongst the middle-eastern flavors that suffuse this delight, so don’t eat one before you propose. They have a great tuna salad sandwich as well, but the chicken is king.

                                                                                          During the day it's an unassuming sandwich shop, but on Friday nights, they stay open and offer terrific dinners. They serve Persian classics, such as lamb shank, lamb and chicken kabobs and various cold salads. The star of the menu, however, is their lamb stew. The thing here is that they don’t just have one stew. Each week they change the offering. I’ve been through the cycle of about 4 recipes and they are all delicious."

                                                                                          1. re: rworange
                                                                                            c
                                                                                            chompy May 2, 2007 04:06 PM

                                                                                            I've been wanting to try the Friday night dinners at Woodminster Cafe as well, but this more recent post said that they've discontinued them and will be starting again "after May". Probably best to call first and ask...

                                                                                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/379455

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