Zarri's Delicatessen on Solano Ave.
I go all the time, because it's close. I'm usually also picking up produce at Happy Produce next door. I wouldn't go out of my way for either place. Zarri's is an old fashioned Italian deli. The sandwiches are inexpensive and okay. They don't use any tomato, lettuce, onion or other produce. Just lots of meat and cheese.
I tend to buy things like capers in salt, cured olives, bottled peppers, anchovies, some cheese, maybe sausages, dried pasta. The prices are good.
They also sell frozen ravioli, not cheap. Haven't tried. They have baguettes -- not very good, but okay in a pinch. Italian wine -- I don't buy it so I can't say if it's good.
A lot Albany high school kids come in for snacks and soft drinks.
When Zarri sold the store a year or to ago the new owner added a bit more variety, but not a whole lot. I'm glad to see that much of the family still works there.
Hope this helps.
How far up Solano?
Here's a link to the places on Solano in Albany
Glencora pretty much nailed it on Zarri's. A good inexpensive sandwich and nice, inexpensive wines. They also have some fancy soda selections including sodas made out of wine grapes. I guess this is one of the new owner's changes. It is a good local source for me if I need an Italian grocery item.
Of course, Lola's is my choice for a roast chicken dinner take out, though they have nice sandwiches for lunch and had an amazing ... amazing ... goat cheese quiche last week which is probably the best piece of quiche I've ever had.
In addition to Zand you might want to check out Saffron Gourment
For after work, once a month Solano Grill has a wine tasting which usually runs $5-$10. The first one this year seems to be Tuscan Wine Tasting March 25, 2008. Check their website or sign up for their email.
Fonda has lunch now and their 'tortas', especially the one with grilled flank steak is one of the finest things I've eaten in my life. Pricy at $12 but enough to feed 2.
I keep meaning to get back to Cafe Ina since it opened, but I'm not there often in the afternoon and it is so tiny that I forget about it when I pass by. Organic soups, salads and sandwiches
Also along those lines is PriPri cafe which ... WARNING, WARNING ... is geared toward the kiddie set with the back of the restaurant a playground. HOWEVER, the owners are from Spain and they have a few interesting things on the brief menu. No real kitchen, just panini grills and such. In the morning you can get an inexpensive Spanish snack-type breakfast.
I like Rene's place for Cal-Chinese cuisine and they have some lunch specials
Cucini's is open now for lunch. Stick with the wood-fired pizzas and stay away from any salad ... we are talking about waaay too much iceberg and mercifully a small amount of some out-of-season tomatoes and cucumbers.
Eunice Gourmet has some ok sandwiches but the feature here to me is the Latest Scoop gelato they sell.
In the ice cream spirit Tay Tah Cafe has Mitchell's Ice Cream but again, ok other stuff. Interesting joint though
I have read that Burger Depot across from the theatre and carries about 30 flavors of Bud's Ice Cream has decent burgers, but haven't tried them yet.
You do know that Walker's Pies really has drek. Also on the mediocre side is Cape Cod which is pretty much what you might expect ... except ... it also has Thai food which I keep meaning to check out. It is that odd type of item in a 60's type of American seafood restaurant that intrigues me. If I liked Thai food better I might have checked it out sooner.
Cafe Raj has ok, if not exciting Thai food, but I'm no expert in this area.
Haven't tried Bua Luang Thai, but they have free delivery if you get stuck at work
Britt-Marie's is a good cold-weather option if you want hearty (and heavy) Eastern European type of food in huge portions.
I don't know what is going on with 6 Degrees on Solano these days. At one time they had the lunch deal of the decade which they have dropped and their dinner menu has changed QUITE a bit. Live jazz on weekends if you want a drink after work on a Friday night with music.
Speaking of which, King Tsin a long-time Chinese-American joint which gets positive mentions for their dim sum, has live jazz on Thursday nights. They do have some sort of cabbage soup that gets some positive mentions on Yelp that I want to try some day.
Kathmandu has a Nepalese daily buffet which is inexpensive and ok. The people are nice but my favorite thing there have been the momo's off the menu
I have read very little positive about Sushi Solano which replaced the dreadful Beuregards.
Montero's has decent Cal-Mexican food and has a nice patio for lunch on a sunny day.
For take-home after work, in addition to Thai, Lao-Thai kitchen has a soul food menu. I like the ribs a lot, but a few people didn't share my enthusiasm. I still think the sides are wonderful too
I like Sunnyside Cafe for breakfast, but it is always crowded and I don't know how they are for lunch.
There are quite a few posts here so I'm guessing I don't need to mention China Village which would have some good take-out for dinner at home.
The rest on the list (and some not in the Place database yet) I haven't tried yet.
There seems to be a new restaurant going into the old Teance location next to the theatre.
Just off the area, is Jodie's which is a funky little place mainly known for breakfast and the weekend fried chicken, but they have lunch items like burgers that I haven't tried
Zapp Zapp Noodle House just of Solano on San Pablo has had some good mentions. Also on San Pablo in the other direction is Hot Spot burrito which also gets some good mentions and there was a Digest article about it.
Of course, on the way to work you are picking up your bagels at Berkeley Bagel on Gilman.
Let me know if you are interested in upper Solano, the Berkeley part.
Looking forward to updates from you as you try some of these places or uncharted territory. IMO, a great food neighborhood to be located near.
Wow, thanks rworange! That's quite the list. There are many places that I didn't even know about, but I was also surprised at how many of them I've already tried:
King Tsin, Zand, Renee's Place, Montero's, Jodie's, Taqueria Talavera, Berkeley Bagel (as per your rec), and Khana Peena and Cactus on upper Solano. More recs for that area would be great since I live in Berkeley and often take that route home.
You're right, I should post! Maybe that will be my late new year's resolution: Post more reports on CH. hee hee.
Ajanta can be great if you order the right dishes.
Rivoli for a splurge dinner.
Jerusalem has unusual schwerma, sort of Indian spices. I love it but some people don't like it.
Generally places on upper Solano seem expensive to me relative to the quality of the food. The ethnic places are mostly very Americanized.
The lunch specials are not particularly "generous", especially their tiny cup of soup. A whole bowl of soup is much more satisfying. My vegan son eats their falafel and fries regularly so I suspect they are vying for some of the high schoolers who cross the street to Zarri's. The meza plates (baba ganoush, hummous, and eggplant) with pita are worth trying, as well as the Sophia Salad (especially if the owner is cooking - he likes to add seasonal fruits/veggies as a special topping) If you like baklava, apple strudel, all goods are housemade. I walk in regularly to buy a fruit-filled hammatashen cookie. It's a cozy place and comfortable for single patrons.
Depending on where you are, the Hopkins street businesses are not that far from Solano.
In the morning, stopping by Hopkinds for a morning bun is really nice.
They also have some English pasties that are quite large and would be something you could pick up in the morning to have for lunch.
While I haven't had a sandwich there yet, I'm really liking Magnini's cold cuts. A boiled ham or roast beef sandwich from them would make a nice lunch. I like the pastrami quite a lot but because it is so assertively spiced I wouldn't order a sandwich there. The only way to eat it IMO is to heat is slightly until the fat lubricates the meat and transfer it to some fresh rye from Saul's spread with hearty mustard.
The tamales are pretty good at Magnini's also.
Then there is always Gioia Pizzeria which sells by the slice.
Unfortunately, nothing's open when I drive by as I get to work at 7am.
I will have to revisit Hopkins St. Bakery. I've been there once about a year ago, but I must not have left much of an impression on me b/c I can't even remember what I had. I do remember that I did not care for Gioia at all, though.
I'll have to scope out Magnani after work one of these days. Your posts have left me intrigued.
You might give the new Buttercream a try ... no guarantees since I just had a cupcake there.
I was thinking about this thread driving up Solano the other day. I was happy to see Cafe Ina was still in business and seemed to have a healthy amount of customers. Didn't have time to stop though.