LA chowhound @ North Berkeley Station
I will be heading north at the end of this week and staying near the North Berkeley Station, and worse yet, I will not have a car..
I'd like to meet a friend I haven't seen for a long time for a quick lunch. She will not have a car either and is taking the bart to meet me, so while we "could" take a cab from there, it would be nice to stay within walking distance. Perhaps if there are any cafe's in the area? And good places to sit for a while to catch up... or nearby coffee houses that we can walk to?
BUT- if the area really is that lacking, then feel free to suggest others and i'll see if i can talk her into taking a cab further away...
Please please PLEASE help!!
The North Berkeley BART station is not terribly convenient to anything terribly good.
It's pretty much in the midst of a sprawling suburban residential neighborhood.
The "hike up to gourmet ghetto" suggestions are probably your best bet, if you don't
mind a half mile walk up a gentle incline. There's always a taxi or three at the station.
Shattuck has a bunch of worthwhile, sittable cafes between University and Rose which
you'll pass on your walk. The nicest path is to head up Hearst St through the park
that runs parallel to it.
Another, actually a bit closer but not much, option is Cafe Fanny downhill at Cedar
and San Pablo. Sharing a building with the Acme Bread bakery and Kermit Lynch
wine shop. Outdoor seating only. This Saturday it will be a huge mess because
Kermit is closing the parking lot for his annual beaujolais nouveau festival so don't
go then unless the idea of an annual beaujolais nouveau festival is appealing.
Here's a map. The red placemarkers provide a good sense of where you are in relation
to cafes, but the only ones on the map that are like what you're looking for are
Fanny, Guerrilla, and Village Grounds.
Thank you everyone for all your suggestions- I think I'm going to visit the Gourmet Ghetto (sounds intriguing)!! I will be having my adventurous lunch on Thursday. Planning on meeting my friend by the BART station and walking over there together. Send good weather my way!
Thank you lexdevil, Glencora, Wally, Morton the Mousse, and ML8000. Your advice has been invaluable, and I'd literally be lost without it! Expect a report upon my return! Cheers, so_hungry
For decent regional Indian food, Breads of India is walking distance, south on Sacramento at Dwight Street.
The Tuk Tuk Market (Thai and Asian foods) food court on University at Sacramento has surprisingly good food.
Another Indian, although a longer walk, is Bombay Cuisine, next to the Milan Indian market on 9th St. at University.
Not to worry, as long as you don't mind a short walk you have a ton of excellent options. No need to BART, bus or cab anywhere.
The Gourmet Ghetto is about 3/4 of a mile east of the North Berkeley BART. It's a pretty pleasant walk through a flat residential neighborhood. There are many great lunch options in the area. For something quick and casual, consider:
Gregoire: upscale French sandwiches and excellent potatoes. A bit like Clementine in LA, though the menu is smaller and heavier. My favorite spot for a casual lunch in the area, but seating is limited. I usually spend $8-$11 per person there.
Cheeseboard Pizza: Great pizza, very cal-style. One topping choice per day, changing daily, no sauce. Great live jazz, usually plenty of seating. I usually spend $5-$8 per person there.
Cesar: Most upscale option in terms of food, but it's Spanish Tapas so the atmosphere is hip and casual. Great bar. Food is good, though since it's small plates the price can add up esp. if you order cocktails. Expect to spend $12-$25 per person.
Guerilla Cafe - casual sandwiches and salads. The food is fine, not fantastic, great coffee. Casual vibe, usually plenty of seating. I usually spend $7-$10 per person.
That area also has a few coffee houses, including the original Peets. If you have time, you should check out the Cheeseboard cheese shop, LA doesn't have anything quite like it.
You're other option would be to head west over to Cafe Fanny on San Pablo. That's about a half mile from No Berkeley BART, but unlike the Gourmet Ghetto you have one good restaurant to choose from. Fanny is good - sandwiches, salads, soups, egg dishes, coffee desserts. There are some really nice outdoor tables, and it can be a fun place to have a relaxing meal. Probably the quietest place on this list. Tables are outdoors only so don't go on a cold or rainy day. I usually spend $10-$15 per person there. You can also check out Acme Bread and Kermit Lynch Wines next door.
i guess it doesn't sound like there's much in that area unless we a nice loooong walk...
so, would it be easier if i said that:
1) i'm willing to travel to a nearby station where i could join my friend and we could walk from there?
2) willing to take a short cab-ride to allow ample time to eat/catch up, so i can get back to the north berkeley station area by early evening?
which will yield more tasty options? i'm still all about the food!! sorry i'm not more specific in my questions... i have NO idea about this area!
thank you so much!!
Will this be on a weekend or weekday? If walking to the Gourmet Ghetto Chez Panisse Cafe does lunch M-Sat. You'll need to reserve. http://chezpanisse.com/pgreservation.html
Other options in the area include the Cheese Board for pizza T-Sat. http://cheeseboardcollective.coop/Pizza%20Collective/PizzaPage.html
I think Rockridge will give you more options. M-F you can have nice, upscale Thai at Soi 4. M-Sat you can have a super lunch at Wood Tavern (http://www.opentable.com/rest_profile.aspx?rid=15898). Casual Italian lunch is available 7 days at Oliveto Cafe, just across the street from the BART station. A more expensive (and better) rustic Italian lunch is available upstairs at Oliveto M-F (http://oliveto.com/index.html). Uzen does excellent sushi and cooked Japanese lunches M-F. You also have less upscale but popular options in Zachary's (for stuffed crust pizza--not my favorite) and Rockridge Cafe (burgers and breakfast).
From the above I would opt for Wood Tavern or Soi 4, especially if your catching up will be enhanced by cocktails. Both of these are a few blocks from the station, but this is a very pleasant area in which to walk. Lots of yuppie shops, etc. If you don't want to walk at all, Oliveto is excellent and directly across the street.
Places in the neighborhood that some like, but I would skip: Garibaldi, Barney's, Becky's Chinese, Somerset.
It really depends on how much you want to walk. If you go North on Sacramento you'll get to Hopkins. You could have coffee at Cafe Roma there. If the weather is nice, it's pleasant to sit outside under the trees, but the food is terrible. (Well, maybe a salad, but don't get the pizza.) On the same street, Lily's has not very good Chinese food. Going South on Sacramento you'll reach University Avenue and its many Indian restaurants. If you go East, up Virginia, you'll get to Shattuck and all of the gourmet ghetto. That may be too far for you, though.
If you want a place to sit and catch up Cafe Roma might be best because no one will ever rush you out of there. I've seen people bring food in from the pizza place across the street. Though I guess technically it's a no-no, the people there really don't mind.
Of course, a short cab ride or a long walk could take you to Solano, or San Pablo (Sea Salt) or even Fourth Street.
There's a lot to choose from, actually, depending on whether you want inexpensive ethnic, or a fancier place, or just someplace nearby where you can hang out.
Another option, if the walking seems a bit much, would be to meet at a different BART station. Downtown Berkeley is a bit closer to the Gourmet Ghetto, though it's still a walk. Rockridge has lots of nice lunch options in walking distance, including Oliveto, Soi 4, Wood Tavern, and Uzen. You could even pop over to San Francisco, where there are even more options.