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First Date/Blind Date in East Bay?

Hello 'Hounders.

I am looking for an easy place for a blind date in the East Bay, preferably North Berkeley, but can be elsewhere. Good food but not: expensive, frou-frou, romantic, onion or garlicky. I don't drink alcohol and I don't want my date to get drunk wither.

It can be as easy as Gioia but not Arinell.


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  1. Not romantic because you don't want to look as though you're trying too hard, but not onion or garlicky in case it gets romantic later? (funny)

    Since you mentioned Gioia, which doesn't even have tables, I guess you want super-casual. Is Gregoire too expensive? Do you like Mexican? Thai? Chinese? Indian? There are a lot of options in the area.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Glencora

      Yes on not trying too hard. no on onions/garlic because I really have a hard time with these things nowadays. b/c of this, thai and vietnamese are difficult... but mostly I want to think outside my own box so I'm open to all suggestions! thanks.

      1. re: sailorbuoys

        Solano Grill and Bar, Albany, works. Interesting choices. pleasant service, not too

        1. re: wolverine61

          I never thought I'd see mention of Solano Bar & Grill on this board - hah! The decor is... Well... Okay, the walls are a gray/blue color and have been lightly [splattered] with pink and sea foam green paint. There is usually a running exhibit of local artists and right now (I was there yesterday) there seemed to be a pet/animal theme in a couple of different mediums. I sat next to a very intricate water color of someone's maltese.

          That being said, even though this is not really my type of place, I go there for lunch often because everything is done well and is very, very consistent. Great service and their food is completely unintimidating - basically the classics executed perfectly and not for some exorbitant price. Best ceasar salad that I've found - hands down.

          However, I think DragonBoy's reccomendation for Luna/Sunnyside is the best one yet. Not expensive, no booze, nothing oniony or garlicky. The only downside is that it can get a bit loud at times which Solano Bar and Grill will never be.

          1. re: adrienne156

            Have you tried Luna Yet?

            I have a mention of Solano Bar and Grill but it was for brunch. Didn't wow me but it was decent enough. Never made it there for another meal, but I do want to get over there for the monthly wine tasting.

            1. re: rworange

              You just missed the wine tasting this past Tuesday. They did Australians this month I believe.

              1. re: rworange

                I haven't tried their brunch - I always go for a salad and a glass of wine at lunch and my friend usually has the oven-roasted chicken breast entree. It's not "wow" food. It's good, consistent, and unintimidating. I would have no qualms about taking older relatives (well, maybe not mine) there.

                I tried to go to Luna, but the night that I stopped by they were having some kind of dinner meeting. I was walking past the restaurant debating with a friend over whether they were open or not and the women inside promptly slammed the window shut and I could see that they were giggling amongst themselves. I'm not sure why this pissed me off, but it did. So no, I haven't been to Luna, but I used to go to Sunnyside ALL the time until their service started getting crappy. Their type of food seems to fit the bill though.

                1. re: adrienne156

                  Here's some of the dishes from a menu I picked up a few weeks ago

                  1. re: rworange

                    Thanks, RW. Yeah, SailorBuoys, I don't think you could go wrong with Luna. I guess I'm going to have to go and try it out now, too - I'm always on the lookout for a good steak. ..It's just so hard with Fonda right across the street and that waiter with the long hair is still on my $%^&-list.

      2. I don't know what expensive means to you, but T-Rex and Sea Salt are both fun date places in Berkeley that aren't super expensive, and neither are particularly romantic. Since you mentioned pizza, Jupiter is always fun.

        1. How about Fat Apple's Restaurant & Bakery

          1346 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
          (between Berryman St & Rose St)

          1. If you like Indian food, A Taste of the Himalayas in Berkeley has the best chicken tikka masala and naan. They have great food and good service.

            It gets busy on the weekends, so maybe you can call and get reservations.

            1. Do the ironic, weird and contrarian...go to Walker's Pie Shop. Bigger risk but it won't be the norm and better happily ever after story. Okay, I'd do the safe thing, choose three and let the other datee choose.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ML8000

                Not Walker's. Pie crust is really not good.

                1. re: wally

                  Walker's prime rib and popovers are decent. Most of the rest of the food reminds me of my high-school cafeteria.

              2. I'd go with T-Rex instead of Sea Salt because of the menu being limited to fish at Sea Salt .. not everyone is a fish fan.

                Tacubaya might be a good option. It is casual, no booze that I remember and good without taking you too far out of your comfort zone.

                1. If it's a weekday and not too late, Riva Cucina in West Berkeley.


                  If it's after 7 or a weekend, Imperial Tea Court in the Gourmet Ghetto.

                  Neither serve alcohol. Both are casual, reasonably priced (dinner for two at $40 or under), good food with organic ingredients.

                  2 Replies
                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      No, it isn't. The food is very simple, very homestyle, nothing is fancy or overexecuted. The decor is plain, aside from the tea display. And you can have a good dinner for less than $15.

                  1. If it's a weekend date, you can try Luna's Cafe/Sunnyside Cafe on Solano.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: nicedragonboy

                      Have you tried Luna?

                      I picked up a menu and it seemed a little pricy.

                      1. re: rworange

                        Yeah, I tried Luna a couple weeks ago. Decent steak, salad and veggies, nothing really worth posting about, there are better restaurants at that price point (and much better restaurants if you're willing to spend 10 or 15% more). Kind of reminded me of my recent trip to Chow.