Best Ethnic and Dive eats in Berkeley?
I'd love to try all the stylish places I read raves about here but wallet and small children keep me on a short leash. What're great dives for great food in Berkeley/El Cerrito/N. Oakland for lunch and dinner? Breakfast too if you can find new places for us to try? We always end up at: Saul's for wkend b-fast (the hash, the hash); Picante for the fish and asada tacos (Fruitvale's better but it's hard w/ sm. feral kids in the car out of their 'hood); Gregoire's for sandwiches (burgers and the lamb, always the lamb); Gioa's pies (mushroom and the ham/roasted onion), and a few others... Ba Le on San Pablo is great too, but what should I order besides the bbq pork? Indus Village, but I feel I don't have a real handle on what to order. What do they do awesomely there with lamb? Rick and Ann's you need to be cutthroat early w/ a paper for the breakfast wait. Sans kids waiting time can pass much more peacefully. Hmmm, clearly none of the above are dives. Parenthood has turned me into yuppie scum. I miss dives, and great ethnic food, that's one of the things the Bay Area, and specifically Berkeley/Oakland is great for. and spicy too. So, what's worth putting on old jeans and a Violent Femmes teeshirt for?
Ethnic food (Vik's not withstanding) tends to get yuppified in Berkeley and "dive food" is almost a contradiction in terms, but I think you are seeing that already. For El Cerrito and north, you might do well to research some rworange posts as she covers that area well and seems to be something of a breakfast person and well.
Taiwan Restaurant on University near Shattuck makes super tasty and super cheap Taiwanese food. There are a lot of posts about it on this board. Its even a bit dive-y as ethnic places go.
2071 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704
I hate to give this up, because already this place is quite small and crowded, with lines on weekends, but here it is: Jayakarta on University in Berkeley for GREAT Indonesian and Southeast Asian ethnic eats. Be warned though, the food is highly-seasoned and sometimes spicy (thinking of your kids). There's an amazing grilled chicken, and the nasi goreng (fried rice) is yummy. Brazil Cafe has opened a location on Shattuck just north of University in Berkeley (the corner cart on University right by campus is still there), and I love their salad with cilantro dressing (this is coming from someone who normally does not eat salad--vegetables, yes, but salad, normally no). Oh and we just tried Da Nang on San Pablo and Solano, for Vietnamese and Thai. I have to say that two of the dishes we ordered were delicious, though the Pad-see-ew noodles were not the best, HOWEVER, the owner or manager is the most welcoming person you will ever meet at a Thai/Vietnamese restaurant, just gracious and friendly beyond expectations! He greets regulars with a pat on the back or a kiss on the cheek. Feels like being in a village in Thailand or Vietname, not a busy corner in Albany/Berkeley. Hope these get you started! Good luck!