HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


New job in downtown Oakland, looking for lunch places

that's right, i managed to unstick myself from the powerful adhesive that is graduate school and went and got myself a "real job".

turns out that job is in oakland, a place i know nothing about, and have only visited previously to use the airport; oh, and one purposefully forgotten raiders-steelers game :(

i work at 20th and harrison, have limited time for lunch and will be on foot, but am willing to spend my time walking to a great place and back for worthwhile takeout to eat at my desk!

so far i've eaten at the whole foods, a few sandwich places across the street and golden lotus (veggie vietnamese). these are the places on my short list to try out:

shanghai restaurant
ba vo
pho 84
phnom penh house
spices 3
tamarindo antojitos

what am i missing? and what should i order/avoid there?

thanks in advance!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. welcome to my world. Unfortunately, the best options (a few of which are on your list) are a bit of a walk from 20th and Harrison, so be prepared to get a bit of exercise! ...

    I am not a Pho 84 fan: the food is ok to good, but it can be crowded at lunch. Ba Vo has similar food (I thought they were owned by same people) but some dishes are noticeably better (particularly their Pho Ga, which is very good). Binh Minh Quan on 12th near Webster is a long time favorite; lots of posts to search. In the other direction (and a bit closer to you, perhaps) is the long closed Vo's (at Grand and Webster) which is getting ready to reopen any day now, and is (well, was) comparable to Ba Vo food wise, in my experience.

    One of my Chinatown favorites that is not on your list is New Gold Medal. Delicious roast meats.

    I also like Cafe Madrid, a bocadillos place at 20th and Broadway

    For me, Luka's is more of a afterwork place than a lunch spot. Try it on Monday afternoon for $1 oysters.....

    And you should also check out Rico's. I have only been once or twice since my original report:


    most because my cholesteral can't handle it more often, but it is a great option for diner food. A burger and a shake there: highly recommended!

    9 Replies
    1. re: susancinsf


      Binh Minh Quan
      338 12th St, Oakland, CA 94607

      Ba Vo Restaurant
      416 13th Street, Oakland, CA 94612

      New Gold Medal
      389 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607

      Cafe Madrid
      2001 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

      Pho 84
      354 17th St, Oakland, CA 94612

      1. re: susancinsf

        how about Le Cheval? haven't been for a while but it was always a favorite.

        1. re: sfoperalover

          In addition to being a good walk from OPs location, it is very, very crowded, very very noisy, service is haphazard and the food is mediocre, IMO. However, I have had to go there now and then for work events, and I do have to say, they have a nice drinks menu (assuming it is the sort of work function where one can drink): so if you do find yourself having to go there, try a ginger cosmo!

          1. re: sfoperalover

            There's much better Vietnamese food closer to 20th.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              What are those better places closer to 20th?

              1. re: singleguychef

                Most are listed above. Here are a couple of others:

                Saigon Restaurant
                1526 San Pablo Ave, Oakland, CA 94601

                Phuong Nam Restaurant
                1615 Clay St, Oakland, CA 94612

        2. re: susancinsf

          Cafe Madrid is only a couple of blocks from you and across the street from me, at 20th and Broadway in the old I. Magnin department store building. It's quite good and verrrry pleasant for lunch. The owner/manager? is friendly and accommodating. He gives tastes of different types of chorizo for example so you can choose ingreds for a sandwich.

          The coffee is also quite good. I love to eat lunch there and read my book. The gazpacho is also tasty - it's pureed.

          Luka's is great for soup and delicious catfish sandwiches. Crowded and noisy at lunch and they'll often put you in the hideous side room , painted black and with big, backless stools and little round, nightclubby tables.

          Dai Ten is a fairly blah Japanese place on the corner of 19th and Webster. Okay for bento box lunch. Nothing spectac.

          I agree with the pans of Le Cheval. Food has gone waaay downhill and it's far away from you.

          I've had very good turkey sandwiches from Fat Cat Cafe on Telegraph between 17th and 18th. They actually COOK TURKEY and ask if you want some dark meat. Rolls are blah.

          Again, I lovvvvvvve Cafe Madrid.

          Some folks like the Louisiana Chicken place on B'way just before Grand. I've had pretty good chicken and pretty lousy chicken from there.

          Welcome to Oaktown!

          1. re: oakjoan

            FYI - I passed by the Louisiana Chicken place on the corner of Broadway and Grand today, and they are closed.

            1. re: Cindy

              Looks like Daniel Patterson will be opening up a new restaurant in the former LFC spot:


              Next to Bakesale Betty's new location - yum!

        3. I work in your area and I'm always complaining about the poor lunch options around here. Which is why I often bring lunch from home.

          But other than the ones you mention, my other go to places include:

          1) Don Day, a Korean place on the way to Chinatown at 14th and Webster. They sell Korean inspired burritos for $4.99. http://singleguychef.blogspot.com/200... It's not bad and you can eat in or take out. If you want regular burritos, everyone goes to Happy Burritos on Webster close to 19th and 18th Streets. (You'll see the line out of this non-descript place at the peak of lunch hour.


          2) I often walk all the way to Chinatown for things, including the Vietnamese sandwiches at Cam Huong on Webster between 10th and 9th Streets. Also on 10th Street are a couple of pho places: Pho Hoa Lao II is the more popular and the newer one is Kim Huong at 10th and Harrison. Here's my comparison: http://singleguychef.blogspot.com/200... Also on that street is Shan Dong Noodle House that has Shanghai dumplings.

          In terms of places nearby, there's a rotisserie place that I can't recall the name of. It's on 19th Street between Webster and Franklin near a shoe store. It has a salad bar and also sell rotisserie chicken plates. Not bad, but a bit pricey. Things seem fresh though.

          11 Replies
          1. re: singleguychef

            Have you been to Pho Hoa Lao II recently? I went last week and the broth wasn't as I remembered. It was a lot lighter, and not as beefy. The portion of beef seemed to have dwindled as well. It used to be my favorite pho in Oakland but I'm not too sure anymore.

            1. re: DezzerSF

              It had a lot less beef but was greasier the last time I was there a month or so ago as well. I'm shopping around for a new place.

              1. re: Marc Wallace

                Not in downtown Oakland, but I like Pho Hoa Hung on International/22nd Ave.

                1. re: DezzerSF

                  Three miles might just be outside of my walking radius for lunches. ;-)

                  It is too bad that the place that took over Vi's was taken over by Rang Dong, because their pho had been incredible. Rang Dong isn't bad, but given the distance I stick with Phuong Nam, which is at least consistently decent (and sometimes quite good). For pho ga, I agree with Susan about Ba Vo being tops. In terms of taste I would put Pho 84 near the top, but the noise and insane lines keep me out of there. It is not worth being broiled and having a headache when I stagger back into work just for good pho.

                  1. re: DezzerSF

                    they have a lamb hot pot for $16 (small, almost enough for 2) and $22 or $23 for a large. the lamb pieces were fatty and bony but as the broth condensed, it became more flavorful and it was fun digging out the meat from the lamb chunks. only found a few shreds of ginger and a tiny mushroom in the broth. a few years ago jon kauffman in the east bay express reviewed, favorably, a goat hot pot at this place but they no longer have it.

                    here's a video of the hotpot:

                2. re: DezzerSF

                  I haven't been to Pho Hoa Lao II recently. Might check it out to see if it's changed.

                3. re: singleguychef

                  My husband loves the Cam Huong bahn mi and also often either buys them on the way to work or walks there for lunch.

                  Also, next door to Cam Huong is Shanghai Restaurant which, imnsho, has the best won ton soup around. Fresh and delicious. They make it all there.

                  Down on Washington between 9th and 10th is Cafe 817. Quite a walk but really good for breakfast or lunch. Highly reccoed.

                  According to SF Mag (a copy of which I "borrowed" from my landlady since she doesn't live here and never takes it out of the mailbox) Oakland is the latest "happening" city and several new places are opening.

                  1. re: singleguychef

                    Don Day no longer sells burritos. However, they are once again open for lunch, and the food is good and cheap:


                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Robert, have you been over there this week? I've walked by a few times since Memorial Day and they've been closed at lunch, even though there's still a Grand Opening sign up. I think that spot is cursed or something.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Don Day was closed at lunch yesterday when I walked by. I ended up going down to Gigul Gigul for a subpar Kimchi Jjige.

                  2. For Cambodian, try Battambang on Broadway, between 8th & 9th, I think. I love it, & I've seen lot's of good reviews on CH.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: rfneid

                      Yeah, good place.

                      850 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607

                    2. 20th St is a toughie, there are a bunch of possibilities in Chinatown but as posters have already noted it's a bit of a walk. One thing nobody has mentioned is Pacific Coast Brewery on Washington between 9th and 10th. There are also a couple of eateries on the same block as Le Cheval, I can't speak to their quality as I haven't tried them, but one or another of them may be worth a visit.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Louise

                        Oh, if you're going to go all the way down to 9th and 10th at Washington, there are some nicer lunch places like Levende East and B. These would just be places for nicer lunches, not eat and run.

                      2. I've taken classes down there and I found a few places to eat:

                        A little Japanese place on the 2nd? floor of the Rotunda Building. Don't remember the name, but it used to be in North Berkeley.

                        Popeye's Fried Chicken in the BART mall.

                        Isn't Chef Edward's (name?) BBQ not too far from you.

                        Jamaican take-out place in a storefront on Broadway?

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: chocolatetartguy

                          Uncle Willie's BBQ isn't far.

                          Uncle Willie's BBQ and Fish
                          614 14th St, Oakland, CA 94612

                          1. re: chocolatetartguy

                            The Japanese place is most likely Genji, street level if you come in from Telegraph on that walkway between 16th and 15th. Decent enough, but I would get takeout from Kyoto Express (north of 17th and Webster) for half the price if you like udon.

                            Chef Edwards is around 20th and San Pablo, so a straight shoot.. albeit through horrible construction.

                            Jamaican? There's a place on Webster just above 14th, open occasionally (but never when I wander by) for lunch. It took over the old Mi Casa location. That's all I can think of, unless you mean Our Place (22ndish and Franklin, also a haven of construction), which does have a decent jerk chicken.

                            1. re: Marc Wallace

                              only other possibility is that chocolatetartguy is thinking of Art's Jamaican Market:


                              but that is much further north (near 40th Street) and not walkable as a lunch destination. The place on Webster and 14th is always closed when I go by also.

                            2. re: chocolatetartguy

                              Chef Edwards used to be at 20th and San Pablo - an area now consisting of billions of new "luxury" apartments. I think he moved across the street and is still in that area. Pretty good bbq.

                              1. re: oakjoan

                                Yup, directly across the street, maybe three storefronts south. Much less crowded and much better service than when he first reopened (it was a zoo for almost a month).

                            3. There are also many little hole-in-the-wall Chinese places in Chinatown: Gold Medal, Ying Kee Noodle House are two that immediately come to mind.

                              1. And of course, the new Oakland "Whole Foods Market", (27th at Harrison) Its also a bit of walk also but the selection is amazing. Lots of market style prepared foods, dishes made order. Nice outside eating area (and inside as well). Lots of "grab and go" prepared foods for very quick service even at peak times.

                                1. I've read a few very positive reviews about Rico's, at 15th and Franklin. I've never been because they're closed for dinner but it sounds great. Around 14th and Franklin there's a couple of blocks with lots of mom and pop restaurants...two many to count or figure out. From what I can tell they serve that area of downtown.

                                  1. From the look of things, you prefer decent sit-down or the Chinese/Vietnamese side of Asian (or both)?

                                    Kim Huong (10th and Harrison) has great bun bo hue, but get there early because it gets crowded.

                                    I find Legendary Palace to be.. not on par with Peony, but half as expensive for dim sum and at least 80% as good. 7th and Webster. That's getting far away from you.

                                    And I second all of what susancinsf said.

                                    For tolerable and nearer food, I would suggest:
                                    - Aroma (19th and Franklin) for great sandwiches, but expect an insane line
                                    - Bay Fung Tong (just north of there) for Chinese, but on the greasy side
                                    - Take it Easy (17th and Webster) for "fast food" Thai: not that authentic but filling
                                    - Kyoto Express (just north of there) for takeout spicy udon
                                    - Don Willy's (just easy of Take it Easy) for tacos, but nothing else
                                    - Davan Thai (Webster just south of 19th and north of Kyoto), good curries

                                    I would personally stay away from Sabina, Huynh, Juanita's, Happy Burrito [the 14th st location is miles better], and Ichi Japon in your local neighborhood.

                                    15 Replies
                                    1. re: Marc Wallace

                                      Yes, I think you put it best one time when you said Friends don't let friends eat at Sabina....:-)

                                      by the way, this gives me an excuse to give one more update on Davan Thai: last time I was in there (what can I say, it isn't worth all the visits I give it, but a few co-workers whose company I enjoy really like it) I asked them if they could make my noodle dish very spicy. (I got the rice noodles with tofu...) And, they did, and it not only hot, it was very tasty! I was quite pleasantly surprised....

                                      I find Kyoto Express to be (ironically, given the name) very slow, even for takeout. Not surprising since it is literally a one person show, but I don't have the patience for it..

                                      1. re: susancinsf

                                        I agree, Davan Thai can't compete with any Thai restaurants in Berkeley, but it is the closest we have in downtown Oakland. Much more authentic than Take it Easy, and they don't just flash-fry every single dish like Manyda does (until Manyda I had never had a panang beef where the beef was as firm as it was in the pan fry dish). I've had good experiences with Davan Thai making spicy food as well: they cook it in, rather than just sprinkling lots of hot pepper flakes over the top after cooking.

                                        Kyoto is slow, but I always call in early. If there is a line one can wait fifteen minutes. But they have the only udon I can stand in the area. (it was much better when her (granddaugher? niece?) was dealing with the cash register.

                                        Oh, I forgot to add Dai-Ten (19th and Webster) as another Japanese place to avoid. Good service, but greasy and somehow tasteless food.

                                        1. re: Marc Wallace

                                          Geez....it never occured to me to call in an order to Kyoto...duh.

                                          Actually, the last time I went to Dai-Ten (and I SWORE it would be the last time) service was pretty bad. Forgot a dish, didn't bring water or tea though it was going to other tables etc. The other problem with Dai-Ten is that the tables for two can be an inch or two apart. Ok I guess if you are dining alone and want to evesdrop, but forget about saying anything that won't be overhead by strangers....it is amazingly crowded however, but then so is Happy Burrito and Juanita's, which is just an indication of the lack of options in the neighborhood...

                                          I've never been to Aroma. Since you and I are on the same wavelength, Marc, obviously I have to try it. :-)

                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                            If you go to Aroma: make sure it is on a sunny Friday, and arrive around 11:40 or so. Expect like a ten minute wait.. it would be 20-40mins at other days of the week. Hope to get the old guy working the middle, although the newer Hispanic guy on the right (there are usually three people) is showing promise. For whatever reason, people get sandwiches from there Mon-Wed causing insane lines, but go our to sitdown restaurants Thu-Fri (witness the longer lines at Pho 84).

                                            At Aroma, most of their sandwiches are good, but I love their gyro wrap in lavash (with everything and some hot sauce). Most people like their cookies as well. You can fax orders in to Aroma (then shove through the line to the usually empty pastry/salad counter to pick it up), but give them a lead time of 45mins or so.

                                            Have you tried the Filipino place on 19th between Franklin and Webster? It used to be Filipino and ice cream, but changed names (Manila Garden?) and possibly owners. I know nothing about the cuisine, but it could be interesting. When I glanced in it was hard to tell if it was an N-item steam table or a buffet sort of place. (it is next door to Khana Khazana Express, which I do not recommend because they drive the food in from their main Emeryville restaurant.. meaning the naan and pakoras are always soggy and old)

                                            1. re: Marc Wallace

                                              At around noon today I just couldn't stay another minute in the office and on a whim I decided to try the Filipino place you are talking about on 19th ; its name is Manila Bistro. (Manila Garden is another place further downtown). Anyway, yes, new ownership per a sign out front, and I think they've remodeled a bit.

                                              Manila Bistro is next to the rotisserie place someone mentioned above, which isn't bad actually, though pricey. I've never noticed Khana Khazana Express, maybe it is on the other side of Manila Bistro?

                                              But as for Manila Bistro: it is an all you can eat buffet. Cost was just under $10 including a can of diet coke, so it isn't badly priced. However, the diet coke was the best part of the meal. They had at least ten hot dishes, plus some type of porridge, salad, and two soups. Lots of variety, but of all the dishes I tasted, the only one I'd even consider eating again was roast turkey in a heavy gravy, which was fairly tasty in a homey sort of a way when eaten with some of the steamed rice (and actually the rice, in a huge rice cooker at the end of the buffet table, wasn't bad either). Several dishes, including some type of beef sauteed onions that looked good but tasted like the meat was past when it should have been served, were actually inedible. Most were just blah. I won't be back.....

                                              So Marc, let's finally set up lunch at Lady's Place after Thanksgiving. If a few other hounds are interested in joining us, drop me an email (see profile). (I would like to see the East Bay Chowhounds lunch group get active again, and I think Marc would also, though Lady's Place is probably the wrong place for a formal Chowdown since it is so small)....

                                              1. re: susancinsf

                                                Anyone have an address for Manila Bistro? Is it still in business? Nothing is showing up for it on the web that I can find.

                                                Bistro de Manila
                                                365 19th St, Oakland, CA 94612

                                                1. re: rworange

                                                  I don't know the address, but I know it's on 19th Street between Webster and Franklin, on the south side of 19th.

                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                    Manila Garden and Bistro de Manila Steakhouse are popping up for the same address, 365 19th St Oakland. Then there's a Manila Garden Cafe in google at 370 12th St. Maybe someone can sort these out for us.

                                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                      Not sure if anyone is still interested but walked by Bistro Manila today and the address is 365 19th St. There's no Manila Garden Cafe anymore. (I think that was the previous name.) Looks like a sitdown eating place. I didn't try it though because I'm not familiar with Filipino food other that chicken adobo and lumpia. I was getting chicken next door at the Rotisserie.

                                                2. re: Marc Wallace

                                                  Bistro de Manila is an All you can eat filipino buffet at I think $6.75 per person. Drinks are I believe $1.75.

                                                  1. re: cher81

                                                    Looks like Bistro Manilla is definitely closed and gone. A new Vietnamese placed called Mama's opened up in that spot this week.

                                                    1. re: singleguychef

                                                      Finally went to check out Mama's Vietnamese restaurant. I should note that I tried going the first week it opened up and I was seated and no one checked back on me so I actually up and left. Now a few weeks later, I went in and had the beef pho and wasn't very impressed. The broth didn't seem to have much depth or body and the meat was grissled. The service was OK but they look like they get stressed when it starts to get busy. The guy who seated me the first time doesn't look like he works there any more. This is really close to my office, but I'm not tempted to come back right away. Pho 88 might still be the best bet for Vietnamese in the area.

                                                      2500 W El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040

                                            2. re: susancinsf

                                              LOL, susan, I was thinking the same thing about Kyoto Express when I saw it mentioned a few times here. It's a real mom and pop shop with just the mom. While sweet, she has to do everything so not very express. Also, Kyoto Express is representative of what I find horrible about eating out around this area: several of these places cook their food somewhere else and basically reheats or reassembles them at their storefront. Kyoto Express does this for its chicken teriyaki, which is why I don't go there anymore.

                                            3. re: Marc Wallace

                                              Since others have bumped up the thread with updates, gives me a chance to add: Bay Fung Tong has apparently had a change in ownership very recently (according to the Alcohol Control sign in the window). Curious if anyone has tried it and it has had any impact on the food?

                                            4. I think that if you have limited time for lunch (I'm assuming 1 hour) it's too hard to have a non-rushed lunch in Chinatown, unless you can leave work early enough to walk the 12 long blocks (with lots of traffic lights) and be seated at or before 12. Getting seated even 5 or 10 minutes after 12 can mean a 20 minute wait for food... then you have to wolf it down and book it back up to 20th street. I work *in* Chinatown, and I rarely have sit-down lunches because I'm always rushing to get back by 1.

                                              From your list, I like Peony and Shanghai, used to like Spices 3 but my last two meals there were very, very salty. I may give it one more shot. I prefer Battambang to Phnom Penh House (also, PPH is an even longer walk for you). However, it is a good idea to specify that food be prepared the way they would for the Cambodian palate, otherwise things come out a little sweet and bland.

                                              For banh mi, I prefer the ones at BC Deli (crustier rolls, less mayo) - the lines tend to be shorter than at Cam Huong, too, so there's an added advantage. BC Deli used to have a delicious rice noodle dish with coconut and shredded pork on their take-out menu - it's since disappeared - but you could try calling ahead to order it for take-out.

                                              Other take-out options in Chinatown:
                                              Napolean Bakery, for various stuffed buns and pastries
                                              Delicious Food Co., for the best take out dim sum
                                              Tao Yuen pastry, for their rice rolls (glutinous rice with mushrooms and sausage wrapped in mantou dough)
                                              Shandong - call ahead for takeout knife-cut noodles with pork and preserved vegetable

                                              I had a tasty but pricy chicken salad sandwich from B Restaurant, but I have a sneaking suspicion that you could get something as good and cheaper from the prepared food counters at Whole Foods. There were some other things that looked good too... a duck confit sandwich, and a pastrami sandwich... again, pricy, and not necessarily better than something similar from Whole Foods.

                                              edit: I'm having trouble with Places - will add them in later, if it's working.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: daveena

                                                I was at the Oakland Convention Center on Monday... walked around & was drawn into BC Deli by the relative cleanliness, and its popularity among (what I believe are) Vietnamese diners. I had the $2.25 roast pork Banh Mi & a plate of Zucchini in a spicy brown sauce. I thought the sandwich was quite good (fresh crusty roll, roast pork with the same flavors you find in pho broth, whole jalapenos & bean sprouts etc.,)... the Zucchini was very flavorful, rich but not greasy... pungent but didn't seem to stay with me all day.... I don't understand how any of these places make money. This was the going price for Banh Mi in East L.A....14 years ago.... unbelievable!

                                                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                  I really like BC Deli, and think it gets overshadowed by the much more popular Cam Huong. They also have really good Chiu Chow-style pan fried rice cakes with scrambled egg and preserved vegetable, and I like the take-away mini-pans of steamed coconut rice cake with ground shrimp, pork, shallot, and cilantro.

                                                  1. re: daveena


                                                    B C Deli Sandwiches
                                                    818 Franklin St, Oakland, CA 94607

                                              2. The best Chinese restaurant in Chinatown is without a doubt Peony. Their dim sum at lunch is awesome, too, although Legendary Palace seemed more popular with the Chinese crowd.

                                                Tamarindo's my all-time fave restaurant in downtown Broadway - ate there 4 times last week alone.

                                                Cafe 817 and B Restaurant are also very good.

                                                8 Replies
                                                1. re: klyeoh

                                                  Just had a good meal at Siam Bay, Clay St, yesterday. I liked the "mieng kam" - betel leaves (cha-ploo) topped with roasted peanuts, toasted coconut, shredded lime, dried shrimps, ginger & shallots, served with a tamarind/galangal sauce). Only the small birds'-eye chillis (phrik kee noo) was missing. It's almost as good as the ones I had in Bangkok over Christmas.

                                                  Also really enjoyed their yam woon sen (vermicellli salad with minced pork, dried shrimps, shallots, lime juice, coriander leaves).

                                                  Yellow curry was mild & delicious; whilst the green curry was done correctly with addition of baby eggplants (ma khea phuong). Po pia tod (deep-fried spring rolls) was average. But pad Thai was too moist (maybe it's been "Americanized") for my taste. No complaints about their Thai iced tea (cha yen) though - 100% genuine, just as what you'll get off the streets of Bangkok.

                                                  Still, all in all, a good authentic Thai experience compared to the Cal-Viet cuisine at Le Cheval next door.

                                                  1. re: klyeoh

                                                    Good to know --- very few of our local Thai restaurants offer up betel leaves, most use spinach or lettuce, which doesn't cut it for miang kam. Guess I could bring my own birds eye chilis!

                                                    Siam Bay Authentic Thai Cuisine
                                                    1009 Clay St, Oakland, CA 94607

                                                    1. re: klyeoh

                                                      Thanks for writing these up, klyeoh - you're covering a lot of places that haven't had posts in a while (years, for some of them). If I get out of morning clinic early one of these days, I'm going to hightail it to Siam Bay for lunch.

                                                      I'd assumed that you were going to avoid Asian food out here, but as I appear to be wrong, I'm offering up my favorite bowl of pho - #26 (pho bo kho) at Pho Hoa Lao.

                                                      I'm also waffling on whether or not to recommend Battambang - I've had some great meals there, but my most recent lunch was pretty disappointing. Well, here's the thread with my reports... I do love their version of bahn xeo, and the off-menu spicy fermented fish dips.


                                                      1. re: daveena

                                                        Hi daveena, my job takes me to Oakland once very 3 months (for 2 weeks each time), other times, I travel to Tokyo (4 times a year), Sydney, HK, Bangkok, etc. (I spend 20% of my time at home in Singapore)

                                                        You're right, I tend to avoid Asian food here, there's no comparison between Vietnamese food I'd get in Hanoi/Ho Chi Minh Cuty & the ones here. And sushi in Tokyo will always be better than elsewhere.

                                                        I really enjoyed La Furia Chalaca which I've written up separately today. May return there tomorrow, but a colleague suggested Asmara up at Temescal for lunch.

                                                        1. re: klyeoh

                                                          If you do go to Asmara, don't forget to stroll a couple of doors up the street to Bakesale Betty's -- maybe you can get one of their famous fried chicken sandwiches for a "snack."

                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                            You read my mind - I was going to grab one of Bakesale Betty's sandwiches back for afternoon snack (we know some people who drove alll the way from SF for it). When I lunched there last Oct 24, the raisin & lemon scone, pear & ginger scone and the banana bread were absolutely divine! Bakesale Betty aka Alison Barakat was there that day & she looked very pregnant then. Wonder if she's taking a maternity break right now.

                                                      2. re: klyeoh

                                                        I read they once did a lunch buffet. Is that still offered?

                                                        1. re: DezzerSF

                                                          Yes, they still do a lunch buffet. But you can still opt for the a la carte menu at lunch-time.

                                                    2. A few more suggestions I haven't seen mentioned:

                                                      Cervantes does excellent sandwiches (17th between Webster & Harrison). Get the turkey on a toasted hard roll with extra jalapenos, you won't be disappointed.

                                                      Juanitas (on Webster between 17th & 19th) has good Mexican food but is often packed. They will do burritos to go although they're not on the menu. The carne asada burrito is excellent. I like it with black beans.

                                                      A little farther away is the Big Apple Cafe (14th and Franklin). Decent soups, honest sandwiches, amusing staff.

                                                      Although it may be considered jejune on this board, I like the soups at SF Soup Co. (on Clay between 14th and 16th)

                                                      And to restore my cred, I'll second the recommendation for Cafe Madrid. Get the boquerrones added to any sandwich (addition $1) and you're stylin’.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: 10foot5

                                                        I think the food at Juanita's is average at best, but I am not a burrito fan. I've always meant to try Cervantes and somehow never have; think I will give it a shot soon!

                                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                                          I haven't had a sit down meal at Juanita's for a long time. Now that I think back, I guess I wasn't all that impressed. Plus I hate sitting and smiling through the owner's long-winded jokes. Nice enough guy, don't get me wrong...

                                                          Anyhow the take out burrito is fairly unique for the bay area. Not densely packed with rice 'n beans and rolled tight - like what you would find at (the awful) Happy burrito down the street. Instead it's loosely wrapped with larger lettuce leaves, not the usual shredded. Nice moist strips of juicy carne and tasty black beans. The spicy green salsa is also really good.

                                                          I think it's good enough to justify the $7 price tag every now and again. Definitely the best take out Mexican I can walk to at lunch.

                                                          I guess what I'm saying is even if you're not a burrito fan it might be worth trying if you're stuck downtown and absolutely craving some Mexican food.

                                                          Let me know what you think of Cervantes. The sandwiches can be hit or miss depending on whose behind the counter but I've had some great ones. They also do Tri-tip on Wednesdays and ribs on Fridays (I think those days are right) which I've sampled but never bought. The samples tasted good enough but didn't inspire me to return for them.

                                                      2. I can't believe no one mentioned Ichiro's on 15th.

                                                        It is the best sushi place in the EB. Price wise probably the best value in the Bay Area. I had their sushi combo for lunch I could not finish it. It must have been more than 20 pieces for 8.95 plus miso soup. Very fresh sushi. I wish I worked in downtown Oakland just so I could eat there more often.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: bluecheesewiz

                                                          I want to love this place, but 2 of the 3 times I've been there, the fish was really really bad. Was I just very unlucky?

                                                          I find Geta, which is cheap and not particularly fresh fish-wise, to be far better.

                                                          1. re: eeblet

                                                            We stopped going to Ichiro's after the night we noticed the staff wrapping the leftover fish at the sushi counter in plastic wrap that had already been used (obviously juicy/oily).

                                                            Not a case of peeling back the wrap on a block of fish and then reclosing the wrapping,. .more like pulling a previously used piece of plastic wrap from under the counter to wrap a block of fish that was sitting in the fish case at the counter to use another day.

                                                            On a more positive note, try Sam's -- a Cantonese restaurant across 15th St. from Ichiro (between Broadway & Franklin). The cook used to own Chef Lau years ago (a photo of him, his wife, and Martin Yan are by the cash register). I've only eaten dinners there, but am told they do have a good lunch business.

                                                            1. re: Stephanie Wong

                                                              Sam's RIP 2008 -- just couldn't attractive enough dinner trade to survive

                                                        2. I'm sure many will disagree with me, but I sort of like the new Continental Buffet that took over the Jade Villa location. For the money, the food isn't too bad. Though I would stay away from the sushi bar (they had a california roll with candy sprinkles last time i was there...yuck).

                                                          1. Since we're updating this thread:

                                                            Kim Huong has gone way downhill - there was an ownership change since this thread started.

                                                            Rico's Diner has great burgers and shakes, hot dogs are skippable.

                                                            I'm working my way through every duck noodle soup in Chinatown and will post once I'm done, but my current fave is the one at Gum Wah (better than Ying Kee, Best Taste, and Cafe 88).

                                                            The delicious noodle dish with coconut milk and shredded pork is back on the menu at B C Deli, and it's as good as ever. They also started serving a really excellent iced Vietnamese coffee.

                                                            Franklin Square is uneven for dinner, but has some appealing-looking sandwiches on the menu that might be great for lunch.

                                                            Not sure what Flora's lunch menu looks like, but I had a very good burger there for dinner one night.

                                                            Possible downhill alert for the Pho Bo Kho at Pho Hoa Lao - my last 2 or 3 had very tough beef, and the flavor wasn't as good as before. I think I saw saw recent, negative reports for their regular pho as well.

                                                            I've had some good lunches at both Gaboja Sojubang and Gigul Gigul Korean Restaurant.

                                                            1900 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612

                                                            Franklin Square Wine Bar
                                                            2212 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

                                                            Gaboja Sojubang
                                                            347 14th St, Oakland, CA 94612

                                                            Rico's Diner
                                                            400 15th Street, Oakland, CA

                                                            Gum Wah
                                                            345 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607

                                                            Gigul Gigul
                                                            340 14th St, Oakland, CA 94612

                                                            8 Replies
                                                            1. re: daveena

                                                              Mmmm, Daveena, I can't wait to read your report on duck noodle soup, although I did hear Gum Wah is the standard for Oakland.

                                                              Have you or anyone else tried the recent new things around the area too?

                                                              1) Spice Monkey, new cafe like shop with sandwiches and salads in the spot that used to be an Indian restaurant near Webster and 17th?

                                                              2) Red Room (I think that's the name, it definitely has Red) off Webster and I think 15th? It looks interesting but once I walked in and the panini's were over $6 and I thought that seemed kind of pricey and left. Not much room to eat in, just a few chairs.

                                                              (As you can tell, I take Webster on my stroll down to Chinatown. ;-)

                                                                1. re: singleguychef

                                                                  I'll have to check out Red Room... I do have days when I just can't eat any more Asian food for lunch. What kind of panini did they have?

                                                                  1. re: daveena

                                                                    Oh, I walked past today and the name is Red Door Cafe. I don't really remember the panini options, but they had a few I believe. Pricey I thought. Also, Don Day still looks closed and just today looks like Gojubang across the street was closed, which is unusual since they typically serve lunch. I think something's up with that intersection.

                                                                  2. re: Goshawk78

                                                                    The space definitely looks great. I went by on Saturday afternoon thinking of maybe having lunch, but contrary to the hours posted on their Web site it was closed.

                                                                  3. re: daveena

                                                                    Please tell me more about your duck noodle soup research! Even though Vi's on Webster around 8th Street closed several years ago, not many days go by that I don't think with regret about the duck noodle soup there and wonder why I didn't go more often while it was open. I have found nothing to compare, but I intend to try Gum Wah on Monday!

                                                                    1. re: jan_b

                                                                      I have a few more to go, but Gum Wah is still my #1. The duck at Cafe 88 is very good, but I wasn't eating critically when I had that bowl, so I need to revisit (and to request wheat noodles - they give rice noodles unless you request otherwise. With duck soup, I strongly prefer wheat noodles). I was surprised at my revisit of Ying Kee - I haven't eaten there in a really long time, and was doing it just to be complete. I'd ordered a duck for takeout from them a while ago and found it excessively salty and fatty, so I was surprised by how good the soup was (there was a fair amount of fat under the skin, but the skin wasn't fatty at all, and the duck itself was flavorful and tender).

                                                                      There's definitely a lot of variation from bowl to bowl - I told one of my friends I'd had a good bowl at Ying Kee, and he was really surprised, as he had stopped going after getting duck with unappetizingly flabby skin. I've had a bowls where the flavor is good but the duck was tough (New Gold Medal) and I don't know if it's consistently that way or if it just happened to be that day... maybe I'll post up what I have and other people can add on their experiences. One major limiting factor is the salt load in each bowl is so high that I have to limit myself to one bowl a week, so it's taking a really long time to finish.

                                                                      1. re: daveena

                                                                        Oops, I meant Yung Kee, not Ying Kee. Ying Kee is an old-school Cantonese place on 8th Street - friends of mine like their shrimp dumpling soup, I like their Chiu-Chow style pan fried rice cakes with pickled veg and scrambled egg.

                                                                  4. Any one ever been to Ib's Hoagies. There's one on San Pablo/Telegraph and one on Franklin and 19th (?). I've driven by a million times but never had a reason to stop or go. I'm curious mostly.

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: ML8000

                                                                      If this is the same IB Hoagies that's on Durant and Telegraph, they do okay Philly cheesesteak but I think the chili cheese fries were the highlight of many freshman year nights.

                                                                      Ib's Hoagies
                                                                      2513 Durant Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                                                                      1. re: liujenny

                                                                        I just saw this old-renewed post. I posted the dinner request for Broadway/10th.

                                                                        My office is very close to the IB's on Franklin. Been there for lunch a few times-the hot Italian Combo is very good. The fries are great too!

                                                                        1. re: Scotty

                                                                          My New York friend swears Uncle Dougie's Heroes (17th nr. Franklin) are the real thing. She thought the chicken parmigiana was moist and the batter so light. I personally would have the sausage and red pepper over and over. Only meatloaf and eggplant parmigiana are left to try. I think he just added spaghetti and pizza bread.
                                                                          Friendly, small start-up.

                                                                          1. re: bunnysitter

                                                                            Don't try and do Dougie's for take out if you're walking more than a block.

                                                                            The soft roll can not hold up to the sauce and you end up with sandwich porridge.

                                                                            On a whim I tried the meatball sub at Maisa. Better tasting than the meatloaf sub at Dougies and the Semifreddy roll held up to the sauce much better.

                                                                            377 13th St, Oakland, CA 94613

                                                                            1. re: 10foot5

                                                                              Funny my takeout heroes were fine. Maybe he grilled the bread longer. It would be helpful to let him know. Someone with a startup would be open to comments.

                                                                    2. bihn mihn quan broken rice plates, all the way!

                                                                      1. Modern Coffee (in Crema's old spot in the Tribune Building) now sells Summer Kitchen salads and sandwiches.

                                                                        411 13th St, Oakland, CA 94612

                                                                        1. the grub is pretty good at Rico's Diner, and they have a selection of vegetarian and vegan items for lunch for those adverse to typical diner fare.

                                                                          Rico's Diner
                                                                          400 15th Street, Oakland, CA

                                                                          1. Now Bakesale Betty's II is open. On the SE corner of Broadway & Grand

                                                                            Bakesale Betty
                                                                            5098 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                                                                            1. I just found out a good one. The Liba falafel truck now parks at the little park at the corner of 19th and Harrison on Tuesday's from 12:00 until 2:00. They make a great homemade falafel sandwich with an assortment of gourmet, homemade toppings, like chutneys and pickled onions. They're a little on the pricey side - I had a half pita with two falafel balls, a packet of sweat potato fries and a drink for $8. But the falafel was amazing with a really nice crunch and all the toppings I tried were great. The pita bread, which they don't make, was good enough, but not up to the standards of the rest of the sandwich. The sweet potato fries were nice too, but it's the falafel and the toppings that I'll come back for.

                                                                              There's not much about them on Chowhound, except that they were Melanie's #3 pick at the Oakland East Real Street Food festival.

                                                                              1. Recently upgraded interior. Specializing in Greek food this lunch place has good sandwiches and speciality plates like the Mazza plate which is loaded with yummy middle eastern stuff like babaganoush, falafal, hummus and cucumber salad. Very good prices.

                                                                                Athenian Deli
                                                                                2125 Franklin St, Oakland, CA 94612

                                                                                1. I'd add True Burger, Hawker Fare, Farley's, Plum (and they have a truck!), Cafe Gabriela, and Specialty's (only the cookies are special, but they have convenient online ordering.)

                                                                                  Farley's East
                                                                                  33 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA

                                                                                  Specialty's Cafe & Bakery
                                                                                  155 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94612

                                                                                  146 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94612

                                                                                  2214 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

                                                                                  Cafe Gabriela
                                                                                  988 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607

                                                                                  Hawker Fare
                                                                                  2300 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94612

                                                                                  1. Awaken Cafe used to be a good place for a sandwich, they have a sign up in a building on Broadway so I'm guessing they are reopening soon, it's near 14th street, right where Telegraph meets Broadway