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Berkeley Eats before & after UT/Cal game

I'm traveling from Nashville to SF on Labor Day weekend with 5 friends (all in our early to mid 30's) to attend the UT vs Cal game. The game starts at 5:30 p.m., so we are thinking about coming over to Berkeley early to grab some lunch and drink a bit before the game.

I’m obsessed with food and hate going to sports bars and eating the typical bar food, but I may have to compromise somewhat for the men in our group. They will want some place that is lively and has tvs showing other games. We'll be taking the BART from the City so anything on the walk to campus would work best.

Are there any places that have good/interesting food choices AND football on tv? If not, then just provide me with my best eating options (forget the tvs) within our walking route to/from the BART to the game.
After the game, should we stay in the area and hit some bars too? (keep in mind our age- don't really want to go to college bars....) None of us have ever been to Berkeley, and we have no idea what the atmosphere is like before/after games. Any tips on bars, etc would be great.
Thanks in advance for any insight you have!

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  1. I know nothing about football (isn't it over?) or sports bars, but I'll try to help and maybe others will join in. There aren't many places with TVs in downtown Berkeley, but you might try Looney's BBQ. It's pretty close to the campus and has a big TV (Don't get the crabcakes.)

    1. If you want TV's, your options are somewhat limited to bar food but I would recommend Raleighs on Telegraph. They've got a great back patio and solid hamburgers, etc. Much better than average bar food.

      If you don't need TV's your options are wide open. There are so many great unique restaurants on your walk from BART up to campus, I don't know where to begin. Jupiter is usually great on gamne days. Back patio, tons of great beers, wood oven pizza's, etc.

      1 Reply
      1. re: PulledPork

        Raleigh's also usually has an excellent selection of beers, It's where I first encountered Anchor's Old Foghorn on tap -- at a mere $2.75 per pint at that! I'm sure it's more expensive now. But Raleigh's always had good brews. Also it's right next to the campus, and the food is...acceptable.

      2. Well, I am a Cal season ticket holder, so my views may be influenced by that...first, bear in mind that revenge will be ours! I think you could have fun stopping and eating on the way up the hill to the stadium from BART, but don't know how much fun it would be to hang around afterward. There will be a LOT of people (something you are familiar with from your home games), and Vol fans will be in the distinct minority. Either you will be really happy and we won't want to see you or vice versa! I would head back into the City after the game and eat and drink after the game there. Which BART station are you using in SF? There will be a bunch of places on the SF end of the line and you won't be mobbed by college-age kids! (Go Bears!)

        2 Replies
        1. re: dinnerout

          I will be there as well (GO BEARS!!) and I'll probably eat at Vik's, as I do before every Cal game I attend. (When we had a recent chowdown there and I mentioned to the group that it was a great place for pre-game eats they all looked at me like I was from another planet...what..can't chowhounds be football fans too???). Of course, it has no TVs and serves no booze (and is not within walking distance, either...but you could get close on a bus from the BART station...), but the food is interesting, definitely. Fool that I am, I actually volunteered to take one of my best friends (who is a HUGE Vol fan and is flying in from Tennessee for the game) so at least you won't be the only one in orange. However, you and your friends (and my friend) WILL be a LOT quieter than you were in Knoxville last year...especially after you see what our team is really capable of!

          As for places on the walk up or down from BART, if you detour a bit north on Shattuck there is always Cesar (sp?) a nice place for drinks and snacks before heading home (and not a college hangout....all the bars closer to campus will definitely be mobbed...) or even Chez Panisse cafe if you can snag reservations. I haven't lived in Berkeley for years, so I'm not too much help other than these suggestions, sorry. Remember that the walk TO the stadium from BART is about a mile uphill, so plan accordingly....or take the shuttle.....

          1. re: dinnerout

            I am also a Cal season ticket holder and I agree with dinnerout. Due to the TV-driven scheduling of the game at 5:30, it will be after 9:00 p. m., probably pushing 10:00 p. m., by the time you get back down to the Downtown Berkeley BART station. I'd advise heading back to SF at that time of the evening. Before the game, there are lots of options in Berkeley. One is the Triple Rock Brew Pub on Shattuck at Hearst, a block north of University. Typical brewpub grub, but not bad, good beer, and several TVs. The crowd is varied in age. It's a pretty good hike from there to the Stadium, but you can always get the free bus up the hill from Shattuck and Center, near the BART station.

          2. Before a game it's always a top dog and a brat for me...even if I'm feeling queasy. Doesn't feel right otherwise (okay sometimes I'll have a burrito or a sandwich from Ratto's or Genova).

            As for TVs, decent food and a bar...it's not a combo done well in the Bay Area and sort of a re-occurring topic here. Seems you either get bar and TV or bar and food...but the holy trinity doesn't happen anywhere I know.

            Raleigh's is a good pick...if you're 24 y.o. or under...very much a college hangout. Looney's is inconsistent and if you're from the south the bbq will disappoint for sure. Jupiter's is good but no TVs. The only place with good and plenty of TVs near campus is Kip's...a complete dive (sticky floors and cheap food).

            1 Reply
            1. re: ML8000

              I was going to suggest TopDog as well.....that's often a favorite post game stop for me.

              I used to live next door to Kips.......It was a dive then too. But there was plenty of beer......

            2. Sushi Ko on Berkeley Square has a big TV, but I am not sure whether they play the games or not. It is usually showing a movie when I go there, but I tend to avoid that area when there is some big sporty-ball hoo-ha going on...

              1 Reply
              1. re: uninvitedsaint

                I have mixed feelings about Sushi Ko. They have a great menu for non-cooked things, and their sushi is on the upper end of Berkeley standards.

                However, their service is just plain aweful when it gets crowded. As I imagine it would be - you could be stuck there for hours, missing your precious moments of fandom. Search (almost anywhere) else.

              2. Fun bars to hit up after games include Bear's Lair and Henry's. I also second the Raleighs suggestion. Fun college atmosphere there, if that's what you're looking for.

                4 Replies
                1. re: gemster

                  thanks for all the input! After seeing that I don't really have many options for good food and tv's, I'm hoping to convince the boys that we can eat somewhere good, then go to a bar for beers. I've seen Vik's suggested over and over, so I would love to go there, but I'm not sure everyone likes Indian food. I've also seen Pie in the Sky and Zachary's for pizza in other posts....any thoughts on either of those?

                  1. re: sparkplug

                    Both pie in the sky and zachary's are very good but famous for different things (thin slice vs deep dish respectively). Depending on when you go, zachary's might be insanely crowded, but in my opinion has better pizza.

                    1. re: gemster

                      yeah, be prepared for an hour long wait at times at Zachary's on College Ave. The one on Solano has a slightly better line but is farther from the Stadium I think. Seating isn't as good, but should offset with the smaller crowd.

                      1. re: gemster

                        Actually, although it's famous for it's deep-dish pizza, I really like the "regular" pizza at Zachary's.

                        I was going to suggest Jupiter as well, especially since you specifically said you didn't want a "college" bar.

                        For something completely different, some of the Korean places farther down Telegraph into Oakland (straight shot on the bus and then near the MacArthur BART station) are open late and can be fun for late-night food and drink.

                  2. Hi There sparkplug-

                    I made the trip to Knoxville last year and want to thank you folks for the great hospitality. I can only hope we can return the favor this year (including the score of course).

                    Ironically, the best place for TV AND above average pub food near the Bart station is a BBQ joint (Loonie's). It can be quite good on its best days, but it can't ever hold a candle to Jack's on Broadway. Just to get something different than you would find in most TN joints I would recommend the drumsticks, beef ribs, and a slice of his whiskey bread pudding, all washed down with a couple of micro brews. What ever you do, stay away from the brisket.

                    Unfortunately most of the other places mentioned in this thread like Vic's, Zachary's, and Triple Rock are not within walking distance of the downtown Bart Station. Other places like Top Dog and Pie in the Sky are great and close by, but are also primarily take-out spots. Raleigh’s, Henry’s, Larry Blake’s, and the Bair's Lair (on campus) are all very popular hangouts for beers before and after the game, so they are fun but packed tight with students. Just say NO to Kip’s. Jupiter’s is usually a little bit less packed due to the lack of TV screens, but they serve good beers, sandwiches, and wood-fired pizzas.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Civil Bear

                      Zachary's on College is just a short walk from Rockridge BART and a bus ride down College from the campus. Pretty easy whether you're going before or after.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        I would definitely do the College Ave route -- there's a shuttle from the Rockridge BART station to the campus on game days, so what I would do is take BART to Rockridge (on the early side), go to either Zachary's (if the boys in the group want pizza) or walk a few blocks further and go to Wood Tavern (really great lunches, and has food that will be great for both you and people wanting "man" food), and have lunch there. Wood Tavern has a TV above the bar, so they may be playing football on it then, and you could see some games then. Then walk back towards the BART station, and stop at Barclays on the way -- they have lots of TVs, and will be likely playing lots of games. Check the shuttle schedule first, to make sure that you don't miss it, and when the time is right, head back to BART and get on a shuttle.

                        1. re: JasmineG

                          What about Nick and Ben's right at Rockridge BART, if there's a shuttle running? You'd be out of the main flow of partiers, have a decent selection of Actual Beer, probably some kind of food, and I have no idea about the TVs.

                          1. re: bbulkow

                            I can't imagine someone coming all the way out from Nashville to see their Vol's and not wanting to be in the thick of things on gameday, but if that is the case, then Rockridge is a valid option.

                            Otherwise you are going to want to be downtown. Berkeley isn't exactly the SEC on Saturdays, but it will be quite the scene as we mange to fit 70k+ in our quaint lil' stadium. My advice would be to save the culinary delights for SF, get a dog at Top Dog, a beer or two at the Bear's Lair, catch the band at Sproul Plaza (birthplace of the free speech movement located at the north end of Telegraph Ave.) two hours before game time, and follow them as they march up the hill to Memorial Stadium. You can then kill the remaining time before kickoff drinking beer and listening to live music in the "fun zone" next door. Finally, be sure to catch the view (and your breath)from the upper rim before moving down to your seats. The view from Neeland Stadium is nice, but you ain't seen nothing yet!

                            1. re: Civil Bear

                              To add to that, for the full Berkeley experience I'd hang out on Telegraph Ave 3-4 hours before the game - get a top dog, go to Henry's or somewhere for a beer, buy some tie-die, go to the head shops, get fro-yo, maybe run-into the naked people, look for non-existent hippies, wander up Sproul, go to the top of the Campanile, watch the band, see the game and on the way back stop at Jupiter's, Taqueria Cancun or somewhere near downtown BART.

                              **OR** I'd try and get a reservation at Chez Panisse Cafe for lunch and then do the above.

                    2. I'm afraid that good food and wide screen HDTV football in Berkeley is a culinary oxymoron. My suggestion is that you take Bart to the Rockridge Station. A short walk up College Avenue is Barclay's Pub ( http://www.barclayspub.com/ ) with OK food and lots of football. Next door is Somerset (the former Miss Millies on 24th Street in SF) which serves an excellent brunch (ask for the rear patio). I'd suggest you eat there and let the football fans eat pub food ( http://www.barclayspub.com/CurrentMen...).

                      Following the games, we often eat at Oliveto next to the Rockridge Bart Station (http://www.oliveto.com/index.html). They serve until 10 on Saturdays and the food recently has been excellent. You can dress casually on football days without feeling awkward. It will be the perfect meal to counter your depression after the Tennessee loss.

                      Two other thoughts...

                      Visiting teams usually sponsor a pregame rally at the Greek Theatre next to the stadium with food, the band etc. Also, Cal has a "Fun Fest' on Maxwell Field (also next to the stadium) with decent food and music prior to all home games.

                      You're also welcome to come by our tailgate which will have excellent food and a small 13" TV although everyone will be required to wear blue and gold...Go Bears!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: cliff4cal

                        This is great info...I love that I now have several options that should work for our group. Cliff4cal- funny that you mention tailgating....my boyfriend just said this morning that he wished we knew some Cal fans that would be tailgating and could hang out with them! Better watch out, we might just take you up on it!

                        1. re: sparkplug

                          I'll keep you posted. Definitely take Bart to Rockridge and either walk (20 minutes) up College Avenue (great street) or take the shuttle to within a block of the stadium. The traffic in Berkeley on game days is crazy. There's a nice restaurant on the corner of College and Bancroft called Adagia which has good food and a wonderful outdoor patio. You can book most of your reservations via www.opentable.com? Do you know it? It's a great website.

                          1. re: cliff4cal

                            hey, if any chowhounds want to do a potluck tailgate (or invite me to theirs and let me bring something...) I'm certainly up for it. Go Bears!

                      2. I love Intermezzo on Telegraph for delicious sandwiches on homemade honey wheat bread, but the line is always crazy long. Plus, not the best ambiance inside. Raleigh's is right next door and serves Intermezzo's sandwiches so you could do that. Plus, they have beer and TV. It's kind of a young scene though and always super crowded on game day. I haven't been in ages, but there's an Ethiopian restaurant called Blue Nile on Telegraph that was always really good. For Thai food, there's Thai House off Telegraph (on Blake??). There's also a great hole-in-the-wall Thai place on University and Shattuck called Lucky House. They're awfully slow but the food is fantastic.

                        For a post-game hangout, Jupiter's is right by Berkeley BART. Great beers on tap and decent pizza. It'll probably be super crowded as well.

                        You may want to consider heading back to SF affter the game for drinks. BART stops running around midnight.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: yehfromthebay

                          Pyramid Brewery does not get the best food ratings on this board but I've always liked it. Plus, it has great beer (try the Curve Ball or Mac's amber ale rather than the standard Hefeweizen), many tv's AND a free shuttle up to the stadium on game days. Main problem--it's not very close to any BART station (I think it's about a mile from North Berkeley).

                          Vik's is great. Barclay's is great. Zach's of course is great. So many options! I've actually sent the the link to this thread to some Cal friends living outside the Bay Area because I know they'd get a kick out of it (and be homesick for Berkeley).

                          Go Bears!

                        2. The Bay Bridge will be closed to traffic Labor Day weekend from Friday at 8 pm until Tuesday at 5 am for earthquake retrofit work. BART will offer round-the-clock service and run extra trains. Ferries will extend their hours and run additional boats. Bart will be crowded so give yourself extra time. If you elect to stay in Berkeley, I'd suggest the Claremont Hotel which is a 20-30 walk to the stadium however avoid eating there since the food is just so-so.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: cliff4cal

                            Thanks for the warning. I know its out of the scope of this discussion, but why do that on a holiday weekend????? Crazy.....

                            1. re: janetofreno

                              Because a holiday weekend actually has less traffic than normal, and the three-day weekend lets them get the work done all at once before Tuesday commute, instead of having two closures. They had a similar closure last Labor Day weekend and it worked out fine -- they actually got done and reopened before schedule.

                              Have you looked at what they're doing -- it's really cool!


                            2. re: cliff4cal

                              Also, be aware that after midnight BART service will be to limited stations:


                            3. You may be part of the group I'm meeting out there for all I know. A friend of mine has booked reservations at Chez Panisse pre-game and Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen post-game, which, incidentally, is run by a guy from Kingsport apparently. Hope to see you there!

                              1. So you're a Tennessee fan? Hmmm... let's see... I'm sure there are some nice places to eat in Palo Alto.... GO BEARS!

                                Just kidding. Good luck in your quest.

                                1. I haven't been, but Bobby G's got a good review in the SF Chronicle for its organic pizza, panini, and salad. The review also said they have a widescreen TV behind the bar. It's on University just below Shattuck. (The Berkeley BART station is at Shattuck and Center. You'd head north from there to University. Review: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                                  Bobby G's Pizzeria
                                  2074 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: meemster

                                    I've been to Bobby G's and yes, the pizza is pretty good. The TVs are nice and they do show the local games AFAIK. This is probably a good place for a hang out spot if you're looking for casual and cheaper fare. Otherwise I'd suggest Jupiter or maybe Triple Rock for after the game.

                                    1. re: muimi07

                                      I'll be at the game as well. I'd go at noon to Chez Panisse Cafe ( get any reservations they offer) then cab to campus (get off at Hearst and Euclid and walk across to Sproul Plaza and Telegraph Ave.). Then, on to the Fun Zone just before game time. The people at Chez Panisse will look at your Orange gear as plain nuts (and won't know there's a game that day let alone vs. the Vols). But, what the heck, the food and wine are wonderful. Get your beer later.

                                      After the game, get right back to SF via Bart. No one there will know there was a game that day either. But, the bars will be open late and you can get wonderful food and drink throughout the city.

                                      Go Bears!

                                  2. Hey great game huh?

                                    Okay, so WTH is with Top Dog on Center St. I was there about 4 p.m. and there were 4 guys; one frantic screamer, one mover of dogs to the hot grill, one REAL slow bun stuffer/wrapper and one taking money...and all apparently stoned (not there's anything wrong with that...it is Berkeley). 20 min wait.

                                    It got so bad they called some guy up on the phone (apparently the owner/manager) and said he had to come down right away and it was an emergency...i.e., too busy. Whoa...

                                    Oh well...go bears.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: ML8000

                                      how is it that the Center street one requires 4 people to man it and the others only need 1 at any given time.

                                      1. re: nicedragonboy

                                        LOL, that is no longer true in the Jeff Tedford era. I made the mistake of trying to get a Top Dog on Durant on a game day last year, and it took at least a half hour!

                                        1. re: nicedragonboy

                                          My take, the guys on Center St. were new and actually stoned. Never seen them before. It really made no sense.

                                          One game in '05 (on Center) they had a charcoal grill out on the sidewalk selling dogs and canned sodas. I can't understand why they don't do that again, at least for bigger game. There's massive foot traffic from BART and they must have sold a ton. Only thing I could figure was some kind of permit/health code issue.