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Best low/mid range in Berkeley area?

gemster Feb 20, 2008 11:03 PM

Looking for something low to mid priced in Berkeley area (I will be treating 5-6 people, so want it to be nice but not take too much of a hit to my wallet). Needs to be a place that takes reservations as well. Open to cuisines, though ideally not Chinese or Indian.


  1. y
    yehfromthebay Feb 22, 2008 09:27 PM

    Venezia's not great but it's decent and has a lovely atmosphere.

    There's also Fellini on University & Acton. I've never been but it's always crowded and looks like a festive place from outside.

    1 Reply
    1. re: yehfromthebay
      TopoTail Feb 22, 2008 10:17 PM

      I've always had good experiences at Venezia. Not the best Italian around, but good for the price. I once ordered a pizza to go from Fellini, and it was the worst pizza I have had in a long, long time. Rubber cheese, boring crust. Really bad.

    2. hohokam Feb 21, 2008 04:07 PM

      I haven't seen Platano mentioned yet. $20-$25/person would go pretty far there if there is no alcohol on the tab.


      Cafe Platano
      2042 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

      1 Reply
      1. re: hohokam
        Robert Lauriston Feb 21, 2008 04:14 PM

        Good call, that is one of the nicest spaces in town for that low price range.

      2. nicedragonboy Feb 21, 2008 03:53 PM

        Venezia might fall in your price range, but the food is kinda ugh. Bobby G's is very budget friendly I think and is good. You may consider the new Vietnamese place across the street from Bobby G's, it's called Anh Hong. Not too many reviews on Chow yet, but I've been a few times and I've had good experiences w/ the food and it should fall w/in your budget. You might find more feedback about it on yelp though.

        1. k
          katnat Feb 21, 2008 03:44 PM

          Someone mentioned pizza. I like Cucina on Solano. The pizzas are pretty good, wood oven, they have other things on the menu and it is totally within your price range.

          5 Replies
          1. re: katnat
            gemster Feb 22, 2008 03:52 PM

            Cucina on Solano? I can't seem to find it...

            1. re: gemster
              wolfe Feb 22, 2008 03:56 PM

              1556 Solano Ave.
              Albany, East Bay

              1. re: wolfe
                Robert Lauriston Feb 22, 2008 07:26 PM


                They don't have entrees? That keeps the cost down.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  Glencora Feb 22, 2008 08:49 PM

                  Well, the sign outside says "panini's." Two mistakes in one word. That's got to be a record.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                    wally Feb 22, 2008 09:03 PM

                    They do have a wood burning oven.

            2. l
              loulah Feb 21, 2008 03:24 PM

              The best Thai in the area, in my opinion, is a whole in the wall called Thai Noodle on Shattuck. Most dishes hover under $10. I love La Note, but mostly for brunch. There's a small inexpensive Tibetan place on University @ Milvia that has great dumplings, and the chef used to work at Chez Panisse. But if you want pizza at a sit-down place, I'd say make a reservation at Jupiter (Shattuck @ Centre St.).

              1 Reply
              1. re: loulah
                Robert Lauriston Feb 21, 2008 03:50 PM

                Cafe Tibet is kind of nice and the price is definitely right. The chef used to work not at Chez Panisse but for pastry chef Emily Luchetti at Stars.

                The best dishes are the bean soup (vegetarian, but you'd never guess it), the Cafe Tibet Soup, and the mushroom momos, which are really mushroom ravioli in a mascarpone sauce. The other momos aren't as good.

                The desserts can be great, especially for the price. The ginger crème brûlé is incredible unless the kitchen has an off day and it's curdled. You don't get perfection in that price range.

                Cafe Tibet
                2020 University Ave, Berkeley, CA

              2. m
                milklady Feb 21, 2008 03:11 PM

                What about Venezia? I know that there are plenty of people on this board who don't like it, but it could work well for your group. Each pasta or entree comes with a salad, so people wouldn't have to order apps and entrees.

                1. gemster Feb 21, 2008 02:35 PM

                  Thanks for the suggestions all. Any good pizza places that take reservations that may fall under that price?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: gemster
                    Morton the Mousse Feb 21, 2008 02:40 PM

                    Bobby G's would fall in the price range, and possible be less. It's uber casual, but the food and bev is good. You'd have to call and ask if they will take a reservation for 6 or more. I've seen big groups eating there before, so they just might. Ask to talk to Robert when you call - he's always there, and the young folks manning the register wont be able to give you as definitive an answer.

                    1. re: Morton the Mousse
                      Robert Lauriston Feb 21, 2008 02:50 PM

                      Bobby G's has a very student-budget cafe atmosphere, with a high percentage of customers taking advantage of the free wi-fi and typing away on laptops. Seems like a depressing place for a party to me.

                  2. m
                    meemster Feb 21, 2008 12:03 PM

                    Maybe Adagia? The most expensive thing on the menu is Grilled Flat Iron Steak for $25, so if everyone ordered that, you'd be out of luck, but the other entrees are $13-23.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: meemster
                      Robert Lauriston Feb 21, 2008 12:37 PM

                      Most of Adagia's appetizers are $9 or more and half the entrees are $20 and up. Not a safe place to host a dinner if you're trying to keep the total tab under $30 a person.

                    2. Morton the Mousse Feb 21, 2008 11:39 AM

                      Ajanta would be my first pick, but you said no Indian.

                      Cafe Colucci would work well. I think they'll take reservations for 6 or more. Very easy to stay in that range, and the food is great. It's got a fun, hip atmosphere. Not formal, but sill nice.

                      You might also consider Tamarindo, great food, about that range, nice atmosphere, though Old Oakland may be too far for you to travel.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Morton the Mousse
                        Robert Lauriston Feb 21, 2008 11:46 AM

                        What are the prices like on the dinner entrees ("especiales") at Tamarindo? They don't list them on the Web site.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                          Morton the Mousse Feb 21, 2008 11:51 AM

                          I dunno. I've never actually ordered from that part of the menu. The rest of the menu is available at dinner.

                      2. Robert Lauriston Feb 21, 2008 10:41 AM

                        Soi 4 (Thai) is the nicest place with great food I can think of in that price range that's not Ajanta.

                        Cafe Colucci (Ethiopian) or Angeline's (Louisiana) aren't quite as nice.

                        Alborz (Persian) is in between in terms of niceness but I find the food boring compared with Maykadeh in SF.

                        Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen
                        2261 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                        Soi 4 Bangkok Eatery
                        5421 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

                        Cafe Colucci
                        6427 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                        Alborz Restaurant
                        2142 Center St, Berkeley, CA 94704

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                          bbulkow Feb 24, 2008 08:24 AM

                          Soi4 is an excellent choice. It's very chic, very party, the food's excellent. No entrees at $20. If you were taking me, I'd probably order 3 small plates, which would be about $21, round up to $30 with tax and tip.

                        2. gemster Feb 21, 2008 10:24 AM

                          Dinner - ideally Sunday but another day works.

                          Per person - ~$20-30 all in would be ideal. We probably wouldn't get wine, so that'll save us some money.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: gemster
                            ML8000 Feb 21, 2008 10:33 AM

                            Venus and La Note are in that price range in Berkeley. Never had dinner at La Note.

                            1. re: ML8000
                              Robert Lauriston Feb 21, 2008 10:56 AM

                              I think Venus is out of the stated price range at dinnertime. Appetizers are $7.50-$13 and entrees are $17-21. Add dessert, non-alcoholic drinks, tax, and tip and you might be over $40 a head.

                              I think dinner prices at La Note are about the same but the online menu doesn't show them. They serve dinner only Thursday through Saturday.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                ML8000 Feb 21, 2008 10:58 AM

                                They do have the pre-show special for $28 bucks. That edges beyond $30 but it's close.

                                Might consider Angeline's.

                                1. re: ML8000
                                  Robert Lauriston Feb 21, 2008 11:43 AM

                                  Stated price range is $20-30 "all in all." $28 is around $37 with tax and tip (higher with drinks).

                          2. Morton the Mousse Feb 20, 2008 11:59 PM

                            Can you give us a price range? How much do you want to spend per person including tax, drinks, and tip?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Morton the Mousse
                              Robert Lauriston Feb 21, 2008 08:28 AM

                              Lunch or dinner? Which night of the week?

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