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Visiting Oakland/ Berkeley & Hungry!

OldLA Aug 15, 2007 07:17 PM

Any quick recomendtions for a good dinner in the Berkeley/ Oakland area? I am thinking sushi, but am open to suggestions. Mid-price range...doesnt have to be super cheap but not ultra expensive either.

I lived here years ago, but things have changed since then I am assuming.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. h
    hankstramm RE: OldLA Aug 15, 2007 07:46 PM

    Cafe Rouge at the 4th street Yuppieplex is great. Spengers, ever since it was bought by McCormick and Schmicks, is pretty good. There's the Cafe at Chez Panisse that's moderately priced and Oliveto in Oakland (Paul Bertolli from Chez P).

    6 Replies
    1. re: hankstramm
      rworange RE: hankstramm Aug 15, 2007 10:09 PM

      Interesting you would mention Spengers with the other two recs. What do you recommend there? I'm not sure if anyone has eaten at Spengers since the change and reported.

      1. re: rworange
        Robert Lauriston RE: rworange Aug 16, 2007 05:59 AM

        All reports here (other than people recalling long-past meals) are post-change. McCormick & Schmick reopened Spenger's in November 1999 and the first post on it dates from 2001.

        They get good seafood but it's a chain/hotel/Sysco-type kitchen, so best to stick with simple preps. A simple piece of grilled fish can be good if it's not overcooked (and you could always send it back). Oysters are safe, so are fish and chips. Bar's a nice place for a drink and a snack, but with Sea Salt not far away, I'll probably never go back for dinner.

        It's one of the few places in Berkeley that can handle a sitdown dinner for 220 people.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          rworange RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 16, 2007 08:19 AM

          Yup, that's pretty much the consensus.

          I like hankstramm's posts a lot ... makes me smile the way the posts get to the point and get past the hype.Given that, I was surprised by the Spengers rec. Of course, 'pretty good' might just mean what you said.

        2. re: rworange
          ML8000 RE: rworange Aug 16, 2007 10:52 AM

          I've eaten at Spenger's 2-3 times since the switch over...for lunch.

          For a biz lunch it's a good choice. It's reasonably priced ($13-ish out the door for a simple fish and non-alc drink or beer), of good quality, no distractions, tastes like fish and you can hold a conversation there...also free validated parking.

          Dinner is twice as much for the same thing (looking at the menu) and hardly seems worth it.

          I'd go there again or for weekend lunch without much angst if the situation required it - old fashion eaters, easy access, large group, etc.

          The one item that looked interesting but didn't order or anyone else was the fried oyster sandwich.

        3. re: hankstramm
          rockstar1o9 RE: hankstramm Aug 17, 2007 04:24 PM

          Chez Panisse is NOT moderately priced unless dropping $85 (not incl drinks, tax, tip) per person for a prix fixe meal is nothing to you. Getting a reservation there on short notice can also be a problem.

          1. re: rockstar1o9
            Robert Lauriston RE: rockstar1o9 Aug 17, 2007 04:36 PM

            The Cafe (upstairs) at Chez Panisse isn't that expensive. Appetizers are $9-16, entrees are $18-27, desserts are $7.50-9.50. On weeknights they have a prix fixe for around $35.

            Downstairs it's prix fixe only. Cost is $55 for three courses on Monday, $65 for four courses Tuesday through Thursday, and $85 for four courses, an aperitif, and usually an amuse on Friday and Saturday.

            Usually impossible to get reservations for either on short notice, but we often walk into the cafe on impulse after 9:30 on a weeknight and get seated right away.

        4. Robert Lauriston RE: OldLA Aug 15, 2007 08:00 PM

          This topic has all the usual suspects:


          With no reservatinons, our usual suspects are A Cote, Cafe Rouge, Cesar, Dopo, Sea Salt, T-Rex. Waits can be long depending on random factors. We might swing by Pizzaiolo on the off chance there's not an hour wait.

          Spenger's, no way.

          Chez Panisse is out on short notice unless you want to go around say 9:45.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            lucieluce RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 16, 2007 09:18 AM

            A Cote's waiting time can get very scary on a weekend night. Ended up waiting for 30 minutes once, 9pm.

            Cesar sometimes can get worse than A Cote. I remember once waiting for about...30 min at 9:15pm, 4 people. I barely squeezed in to make last call.

            Sea Salt is not that bad of a wait.

            Agree that Spenger's not such a great choice if you have other selections available to you.

          2. t
            theSauce RE: OldLA Aug 16, 2007 04:32 PM

            Rowya Ramen on University.

            1. c
              chemchef RE: OldLA Aug 17, 2007 06:30 AM

              Did anyone mention a sushi place yet? Not fancy, but Nanayiro on Shattuck has always been fresh, and affordable. Great service too. Never had to wait long (if at all) and with the crowds heading to Kirala down the street, its a good way to avoid them. Note: I haven't been to Kirala, but the reviews I've read have been mixed, so for the price, Nanayiro seems better.

              1. m
                mielemaiale RE: OldLA Aug 17, 2007 11:58 AM

                Wood Tavern on College at Alcatraz on the Berkeley/Oakland border is a newish favorite. it has been getting pretty packed lately, so making rezzies is recommended.

                Check out my blog at:

                1. r
                  rockstar1o9 RE: OldLA Aug 17, 2007 04:19 PM

                  I graduated from Cal about 2 yrs ago so I know the area pretty well.

                  Two of my favorite places are actually pizza places: Cheeseboard Pizza on Shattuck for $2.25 a slice of heaven and Zachary's Chicago-Style Pizza on College Ave (nearby 2nd location on Solano in Albany).

                  Citron on College is a great alternative to A Cote. Across the street is a Thai place called Soi4 that I'd also recommend.

                  Paragon Resturant at The Claremont Resort has some of the most incredible views of the Bay Area.

                  For sushi, Kirala on Shattuck is the way to go.

                  1. l
                    lucieluce RE: OldLA Aug 17, 2007 05:43 PM

                    Ah...how come no one mentioned Oliveto??? It is absolutely awesome as a pasta place...the only pasta restaurant that I have found that could rival Oliveto is Battali's Babbo in New York, but Babbo's pasta concept is very different from Oliveto's, so it's a little bit like comparing pears to apples.

                    Agree with a previous poster about Wood Tavern being a nice choice too, but a lot harder to get reservation because it is smaller...
                    Here is my report on my blog - with photo:p -

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: lucieluce
                      Robert Lauriston RE: lucieluce Aug 17, 2007 06:19 PM

                      I didn't mention Oliveto because it's one of the half-dozen most expensive restaurants in the East Bay.

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