Cheap between-class places to eat near UC Berkeley?
- Ozumo Sep 4, 2007 12:53 PM
My girlfriend just started attending Cal, and wants to make the most of her food options, but while there are tons of places nearby, she has no idea what's actually any good. She takes BART to school, so if any hounds could make any reccomendations within walking distance that I could pass on to her, I'd really appreciate it. She does not like Indian (at least she thinks she doesn't, I'm still working on that...), but would be cool with pretty much any other cuisine. I got her liking banh mi over the summer, so if there's a place that has those, that would be awesome. But anything else that's cheap (i.e. no more than $10, but ideally around $5) is great, too!
Cheese 'n Stuff in the Sather Gate parking structure which you can enter from Durant (@Telegraph) has really great made to order sandwiches which are about $3. Another plethora of cheap options is at the Durant Small Taipei food court which is on the other side of Durant and Telegraph (next to the post office there), they have Chinese, Italian, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese and more. Across from the food court, there is Top Dog which is always good with La Burrita next door which has cheap Mexican. Of course there are tons of other options, but these are the first that come to mind since most students hang out on the south side of campus. Hope this helps!!
On the northside, that whole shacky stripmall lookin' thing with the Top Dog in it is supertasty. I love the Korean BBQ place there, though it frankly would never withstand a health inspection. Nefeli coffee also has sandwiches and salads if she's into that and doesn't, god forbid, want more Thai food. Also the best coffee on that side of campus (near Soda Hall). But for cheapass breakfast, the tiny little place on the right in that same food court (can't remember the name) is not to be beat. I think it's $3 for eggs and toast plus a side.
Healthy Heavenly Foods in the Bear's Lair food court sells bahn mi, I think for $2.50. They do a wide range of Asianish food including rice plates and summer rolls. Not much is made to order but they're probably the best eat on campus property.
For $7 or less, there's Pie in the Sky (NY pizza) and Brazil Cafe (tri-tip sandwich) downtown, Sunrise Deli and Espresso Experience (bulgogi sandwich) on southside, Hummingbird Cafe (Middle Eastern plate) on northside, Top Dog everywhere. Many more good places on University Ave if one's willing to walk a little further and pay a little more.
On the walk west to BART, she can hit Bongo Burger for good cheap falafel, grilled eggplant sandwich, or Persian (lamb) Burger w/ sumac. Breakfast prices are very low too. Here's the Bongo Burger menu: http://bongoburger.com/menus.htm
There's also a branch of Top Dog next to the Bongo Burger.
There are also branches of both of the above on South Side, closer to campus.
On the same route she can try the new Filipino place, Kawayan. The Adobo is tasty.
2534 Durant Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704
2154 Center St, Berkeley, CA 94704
2160 Center St, Berkeley, CA 94704
2505 Dwight Way, Berkeley, CA 94704
I also strongly second Bongo Burger and swear by their shish kabab sandwich. Others - Cheese 'n Stuff, Smart Alec's (healthy, I like their basil chicken sandwich), and the Thai place at the back of the Durant food court (try the #45a w/ lots of sriacha - yum).
On the way up from BART, if she wants to take a slight detour to the left, two blocks down on Shattuck at Addison, there's Saigon Express. They are not the best banh mi or pho, but the place is clean, quick, and the people are nice. Another block down and to the right is the Brazil Café which has very good tritip sandwiches and plates.
Wow, I remember the Dwight Way Bongo Burger from the early 70's. Awesome that it has stayed in business this long. They made an excellent cheeseburger as I recall.
Pie in the Sky (pizza)
Caffe Intermezzo (really good and cheap salads and sandwiches)
Panini (near Jupiter in Trumpetvine Ct. off Shattuck)
Le Petite Cheval (Vietnamese steam table)
Hummingbird Cafe (sandwiches)
Cancun (Mexican; great salsa)
Cafe Durant (for white chocolate pancakes)
The Orchid (cheapest Chinese food around)
And if you get her into Indian food...
Naan 'n Curry
i've been to the telegraph nann and curry about three times with
a large group, so in total i've had about 15+ dishes in front of me and
i think that branch is the worst one by a significant margin.
of course i havent been there in a while, so maybe they've
gotten better, but i cant bring myself to go back.
so that's not the place i'd take somebody to sell them on
cheep-n-tasty indian food.
bonbo burger b'fast was always a good deal. my personal
fav there was the persian lamb burger.
if you gf is willing to walk for food, there is gregoire and cheeseboard [$2.25/slice].
[gregoire sandwiches arent large but are pretty good.
these days $5 pretty much limits you to slice and a coke or one of the
cheeper delis and a can of soda [cheese-n-stuff as the fellow above
suggests, or stuffed in, on north side ... cheap and passable, but not that
exciting. like getting a sandwich at safeway.].
there are also "out of the box" options like the counter at one of the andonicos ...
if you want to go the pasta salad type route. the pizzas at the north shattuck andronicos
looked pretty good in terms of price-perf but i cant remember if i had had one ... of course
when in that area i'm usually bound for cheeseboard.
of course there is the infamous Durant Grease Court ... that's sort of a YMMV kinda
place [north side of durant, half a block above/east of telegraph].
When I worked there a couple years ago, I ate a lot at Slurp, which has noodle bowls. They're on Telegraph. At that time, you could get a big bowl of wonton noodle soup for $5.
There's a Thai place in the Durant food court that isn't bad for cheap student eats. I can't remember what it's called, but it's all the way in the back on the left.
I ate a lot of meals at Caffe Intermezzo when I was a student, but that was six or seven years ago. I was never that big on their salads, but their bread was decent.
When I last ate at Thai Basil, albeit probably 5 years ago, they had a really good chicken pineapple curry. However, the chicken was barely edible. I'm admittedly not a dark meat fan, but I have had good dark meat. This was not good dark meat. Anyway, the sauce is really good so maybe you could order it vegetarian.
Arinell is another decent pizza option. But if you're going to do pizza in downtown Berkeley, you should do it at Pie in the Sky. Avoid La Val's at all costs.
Note about salads from Cafe Intermezzo--they are effing huge. Even more huge than they appear, because they de-compress as you eat them. There is more lettuce in one of those bowls than should actually fit by the laws of physics. I swear, it's the clown car of salads. You eat and eat and eat and the amount of salad does not decrease. Unless your girlfriend is seven feet tall or a hardcore rugby or ice hockey player, one regular salad there will be at least two meals, maybe more.
I love your description of it as "the clown car of salads." That's absolutely true. Their sandwiches are the same way. Half a salad or half a sandwich is a meal in itself. The fact that the salads and sandwiches are about $5 is one of the pleasures of living near a college. Oh, how I miss those um, salad days of my youth.
When I was in college, I split my breakfast purchases between Bongo Burger and Annie's Soup Kitchen. Bongo had better eggs but Annie's had better potatoes. Cafe Durant had good veggie omelets.
Definitely have your gf check out Intermezzo. She could even pick up a loaf of that honey wheat bread for you. Yum.
I used to go to Thai House when I was feeling a little more fancy (hey, this was in the 90's and I was a broke joke). They had a really good grilled pork with 3 spices dish.
Everybody I knew loved Blondie's and Fat Slice for pizza by the slice. I prefered Top Dog's top dog.
I absolutely adored Cafe Milano's turkey sandwich, which was served on foccacia with roasted bell peppers AND came with a salad.
Down by BART, there's a Pho place next to the UA Theater. Also check out Cafe Venice and La Note for brunch and sandwiches.
Finally, your gf should check out Lucky House, a yummy Thai place that serves very spicy food very slowly.
Everyone's hit most of the places I would try. I would like to add the 59 cent milk tea at the Quickly in Durant food court. Hey you need something to wash down your dinner right? hehe.
I guess I am inspired by your working on getting her to like Indian food. I love Berkeley specificially for the Indian food. In SF (where I am) it is particularly hard to find South Indian food. I am guessing that like other people I know who don't like "Indian Food" it's because they think the food is too spicy or rich.
In your quest to convert your girlfriend to liking Indian, may I suggest you start with South Indian food. All vegitarian and milder, if you chose correctly. Specifically start with a DOSA... everyone (well I think so) loves these... Thin rice flour crepes filled with potatoes and veg (and a hint of curry). Plus it visually impressive and really cheap. The dosa will come out hanging over the plate (1.5 ft. long about). Plus, you get to eat with your fingers a fun thing to share with someone you care about (smiles).
I found an old link on Vik's (not as close to UC but pretty famous in Berkeley) and Udupi (on University)... check it out: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/30716
Hope this adds to your enjoyment of South Indian food.
Actually, I recently took her to Vik's as her very first Indian food experience (a couple weeks before I posted this thread), and we did try the dosa, the bhaturra cholle and cauliflower and lamb parathas. She thought most of it was alright, although the lamb paratha she actually REALLY liked.
So Vik's opened the door, and we're celebrating my birthday next weekend, so she's taking me to my favorite Indian restaurant, Masala in Danville. I've never had anything better than their mutton khandari, and their naan, basmati rice and vegetarian dishes are all outstanding. I can really taste a difference in freshness of the ingredients compared to other Indian places I go to; so hopefully Masala will be able to convert her.
Thanks for jumping in to help me make the conversion! :-)
If she liked lamb parathas, then she should check out Khana Peena, right on the way to/from BART. Also Naan-N-Curry on Telegraph near campus, or better yet Tandoor Kitchen 5-6 blocks south.
Naan N Curry
2366 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704
2598 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704
Dollar Curry House
2136 Oxford St, Berkeley, CA 94704
And if your gf is around in the evening, the Desi Dog cart at Bancroft & Telegraph has $1.50 dogs between 5-8 PM Not Top Dog quality, but the price can't be beat.