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Rob.Laur.,Chemchef,Morton, JT et al: Berkeley-Five Take Away Lunches?

We are Boston CHs, in the middle of our annual March Cal. vaca.This Fri. we will be having lunch at Sea Salt and then dashing around Berkeley to pick up take way lunches for our week in the eblouissante hinterlands of Elk. Now, try to be understanding; i KNOW dimsum is not great for reheating and neither are a lot of things. Given that, we will be staying in an inn that serves bkfst and dinner but no lunch and we do not like to spend time away from that fabulous view, driving away to find a mediocre lunch. The inn's kitchen lets us use their microwave and oven and we store our foods in their walk-in. So we usually take up things from whole foods, yank sing dim sum , pastor burritos from san jose on mission,and lunches from gregoire. Yes, this takes alot of planning and running around. And yes, I am food obsessive(How can you tell?).

Since youall are so familiar w/ berkeley restnts and their proximity to each other,would you offer your suggested list of restnts and/or specific dishes for 4 or 5 lunches- that we could pick up after our sea salt lunch, (which will include their wonderful chowder and their eel sdwch)? We need to limit this take out list to berkeley because we don't want to add to this already-time consuming task.
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Some of the items i'm thinking that could handle the delayed eating and/or reheating are:
pastor burritos(just because that is our fav type), hamburgers, shish kabob and falafel-type sandwiches,fried chicken, asian dishes[maybe you'd say 'horrors' but i also love cold leftover asian food(though not pho!)].

I really appreciate any time you have to share your suggestions. Thank you.

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  1. A surprisingly good and cheap place to pick up stuff for lunches might be Bacheeso's right across the street from Sea Salt. It's a buffet, so you could really load up on the cold salads (though not the lettuce-based. With time they produce slime.) and the roast turkey/mashed potatoes/sweet potatoes, etc. Taqueria Talavera on Solano has great mole in a good sized portion and Jerusalem Organic Kitchen up at the top of Solano has very good Middle Eastern. You could also stop by Zand's and buy some of her admittedly price Persian. And if you like spicy, I've eaten for three days from leftovers from China Village, especially the ma po tofu with crab. And the noodles with sesame sauce (tan tan?) Very spicy, soupy, very filling. Cumin lamb should heat up nicely, too.

    3 Replies
    1. re: lintygmom

      mom, how long a drive between sea salt and china village?is your idea that we would pick up at CV and keep heading north?th you

      1. re: opinionatedchef

        Five minutes from Sea Salt to CV--straight north on San Pablo and then turn R onto Solano. About 1/4 mile up on the left. Taqueria Talavera (or Talavera Taqueria--never can remember) is another few blocks but you can get the food at Montero's on the corner of San Pablo and Solano. Then, head back down Solano to San Pablo, go left a few blocks south to Buchanan, turn R, stay on R, and get on the freeway, verging to the left to get on 580 rather than stay on 80.

        Berkeley is really small and during the day traffic is not much of a problem. You could also stop at Cafe Fanny for croissants and some bread at the corner of San Pablo and Cedar on the way to Solano. And if it's open, Taxi Brousse has Senegalese food that reheats well.

        I love leftovers.

        1. re: opinionatedchef

          Also, I think picking up some cake to go would be good--at Masse's near Saul's or Crixa. Crixa's dense gingerbread would make a great lunch with coffee and maybe some cheese (from the Cheeseboard), an apple or pear and crackers first! Or a pre-cooked chicken (bbq but not really) from the Safeway on Solano! Really is yummy in a rich and greasy (hence reheats well) way.

      2. At Indus Village, 1920 San Pablo, which is on the way to Cedar and the turn to Gregoire's and Cheeseboard you can get 2 hot dog sized minced chicken or beef kabobs, cooked in the tandoori oven, that will cost about $4 an order. On your way to the freeway after Solano you can hit the places in the Pacific East Mall for Dim Sum. Continue down San Pablo Ave and I'm sure there can be a suggestion for good Mexican take out.

        Edited thanks to kc72

        2 Replies
        1. re: wolfe

          EC Plaza has dim sum?? Or did you mean Pacific East Mall?

          1. re: wolfe

            Indus Village is super yummy. Especially the five tandoori lamb chops for what is very little money. Great choice!

          2. I, too, love leftover/cold chinese food. There are lots of chinese places in Berkeley and surrounding areas (all with posts/opinions on this board), but since I live in the Elmwood area, my husband and I are fond of King Yen (College Ave). I can't speak of authenticity, but definitely good food, friendly staff, generous portions that won't break the bank, and plenty of leftovers. Particularly good are the specials (listed on a separate paper menu), I usually get the fish served over fresh spinach with steamed brown rice. The sizzling rice soup is delicate and satisfying with lots of shrimp, chicken and fresh veg. Also good are the chicken w/ green beans, and "Chinese steak on a sizzling plate". All of these dishes reheat well.

            If you are in the mood for sandwiches, I like the simple pastrami sandwich at Saul's (Shattuck, gourmet ghetto area). Served piled high on Acme rye bread with very lightly dressed, crunchy cole slaw and great pickles. For around $10, it makes a nice lunch. Don't forget to get some of their delicious deli mustard to slather on. Another place for good sandwiches is Gregoire (same vicinity). More frou frou than Saul's, but if you're in the mood for something different, I've had some good things there. Don't forget the fries (ordered extra crispy) if you go to Gregoire. They're excellent, and one order is enough to share between at least two people.

            For Mexican, there are several options. I love Tacubaya. It gets mixed reviews on this board, but I think the quality of ingredients that they use really makes the food stand out. My only complaint is that things are not spicy (I love spice). I think they do this on purpose so as not to overpower the delicate spicing of their sauces, but nevetheless, I like things spicy. I combat this by using some of their habanero hot sauce (not homemade, but good). Anyway, things that would travel and/or reheat well here are tortilla soup, frijoles con todo (with homemade tortillas), enchiladas (my favorite thing here; made with shredded Niman Ranch beef), and torta al pastor. There are probably others, but these are my go-to dishes here.

            Just tried Platano (University Ave.) yesterday. I thought it was very good, though I don't know much about Salvadoran cuisine. It seems like many of the items would be appropriate for you lunches. Pupusas are only $2 and a few of them would make a good lunch (I imagine you could re-crisp them up in a pan since you have access to a kitchen). My friend and I shared the Bistec, along with a couple of pupusas which made a very satisfying lunch and would definitely reheat well. I'm sure other items would too, but I won't discuss since I haven't tried anything else.

            Also on University is Bobby G's pizza. Not sure about reheating the pizza (though I don't mind cold pizza...), but they have a good chicken pesto panini sandwich that comes with an organic mixed greens salad. Very good and transportable. They have other sandwiches too, but that one is my go-to. Another plus is that they serve Three Twins Ice Cream.

            If I think of more, I will post them later, but for now this should give you some ideas...

            1. Rather than take stuff that gets worse with age, why not go for simpler foods that will still be in their prime? The bread on Gregoire's sandwiches will get mushy, the pico de gallo on your burritos will cook when you reheat them...yuck! Dim sum does okay in a microwave, though I can't say I'd risk the high end stuff in one. Were I trying to do what you are, I would get:

              Cheap ass steamed pork buns at 99 Ranch in Richmond (they come in a plastic clam shell so they will not dry out in the fridge). Found in the refrigerator case over by the take away hot food and BBQ area.

              A couple of half baked pizzas from Cheese Board. While you're there, get a nice selection of cheeses for lunches later in the week.

              Soupy items from China Village because they'll stand re-heating best. The water boiled beef and spicy tofu and fish soup have both re-heated well for me in the past. Steamed rice microwaves well w/ the introduction of a little water to the container.

              Head down to the Pasta Shop on Fourth St. for a nice selection of salumi from local producers. Get some Fra Mani salami, Bocalone pancetta piana (eaten raw), maybe some lardo. This plus cheese will be good later in the week once your prepared foods are eaten or past their prime. Buy a nice selection of crackers and bread sticks too, as fresh bread will not last this long. You could also get some hummus or the nice garlicky lima bean spread they make there. You can also head next door to Cafe Rouge for more salumi/charcuterie goodies.

              8 Replies
              1. re: lexdevil

                Get the pico de gallo on the side? Reheated or even cold burritos are delicious to me. I agree about sandwiches and salad greens--if not eaten the first day or even if wrapped tightly they take a real nosedive in taste and quality.

                And the ma po tofu with crab reheated like a dream in small quantities, making sure the crab got hot but not over-cooked.

                1. re: lintygmom

                  I find burritos get too...I dunno...compacted and log-like once they've spent time in the fridge. If Mexican is a priority, I think tamales do pretty well in the microwave, so maybe that's an option. Possibly grab some at Tacubaya while at Pasta Shop and Cafe Rouge.

                  This is a pretty simple itinerary, but for the Cheese Board stop on Shattuck (possibly do that before lunch at Sea Salt). Then it's just Sea Salt to Fourth Street to China Village on Solano to Pacific East Mall. Very efficient. Or, if one wanted to keep all of the shopping after lunch, I guess one could go Sea Salt to Fourth Street, then head up University to Shattuck and hit the Cheese Board. After that one could continue on Shattuck through the tunnel and down Solano to China Village, followed by the Pacific East Mall.

                  1. re: lexdevil

                    I live in N. Berk. DO NOT drive up University! Heavy, inconsiderate traffic. Go straight N on San Pablo to Cedar, turn R and continue straight up to Shattuck and turn L to Vine. Or even better, up Cedar to MLK then turn L to Vine and R on Vine and park just west of Shattuck on Vine--walk around corner to Cheeseboard.

                    Yes, dense and compacted! Love those stomach bombs!

                    1. re: lintygmom

                      I drive extremely fast. From Sea Salt to Cheeseboard, I would recommend San Pablo -> Ceder/Hopkins -> Rose -> Henry.
                      Park at Henry && Vine.

                      I realize for a non-native this may not be optimal. But you can
                      drive quite fast on Rose.

                      But even I cant drive from Sea Salt to China Village in 5min
                      during dining hours.

                      Wouldnt you rather just stop at Acme [en route from SS -> CB]
                      and get some bread to go with CB cheej, instead of reheating
                      a hamburger? You could also go to Kermit Lynch if you are a
                      wine person. Or get some pates and such at Cafe Rouge [minor
                      detour between SS and CB. Pasta Shop next door to Rouge also
                      good option.]

                      The Crixa/Berkeley Bowl quadrant is also exciting, but not totally on your
                      path. Although you could do SS -> BB/Crixa -> Shattuck -> CB/Gregoire
                      -> Solano -> 4th Street/Fwy. Parking is not a big deal in any of those
                      areas.

                      1. re: psb

                        A. Don't drive so fast in the neighborhood--even on Rose. Two people were killed already this year on Marin. I go from Rose down MLK to, say, Sweet Adeline's in 8 minutes, not speeding during rush hour am to get to the freeway. Dwight's a lot closer and San Pablo can go fast until you get to Solano.

                        B. I don't think he's going during dining hours. He's making to-go packages for his trip to Elk.

                        1. re: lintygmom

                          i'm a SHE!!!!!! man, this is going to be some Berk. adventure today!!

                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                            Sorry, SHE!!!!! I'll use he/she or she/he from now on.

                2. re: lexdevil

                  That's why I didn't recommend any burritos. If you wanted a burrito, I would recommend going to either Gordo (College Ave or Solano Ave) or Cancun (downtown Berkeley) and get the carnitas plate. It comes with rice and beans and and tortillas, and is better b/c it keeps everything seperate and you can make your own burritos from it "to order", thus eliminating the soggy factor.

                  Also, not all of Gregoire's sandwiches get soggy. I had a roast beef on crostini recently that held up very well.

                3. What you need is a good deli. Sadly, Berkeley doesn't have one. That said, I'd go with:

                  Cold Cuts and Salami: Cafe Rouge, Pasta Shop (you can peruse Pasta Shop's deli items as well. Not great, but the best non-med deli Berkeley has to offer)

                  Par-Cooked Pizza: Cheeseboard Cheese Shop

                  Cheese and Crackers: Cheeseboard Cheese Shop

                  Mediterranean Deli: Zand's on Solano (much better than Jerusalem Organic Kitchen)

                  Tamales: The Primavera brand is pretty good. They carry them at most Andronico's.

                  Par-cooked potato gratin: Gregoire (only thing at Gregoire worth reheating)

                  Carnitas, salsa (ask for large salsa containers), and tortillas to go: Picante (you can pick up sour cream and at Andronico's and queso fresco at Cheeseboard)

                  Curry reheats in the oven pretty well. Maybe get some vegetable Biriyani from Ajanta?

                  Here's how I'd shop:

                  Start at the Gourmet Ghetto (From Sea Salt: Dwight to Shattuck, North on Shattuck). Stop by Andronico's, Gregoire and Cheeseboard. (The GG has two delis - Sauls and Poulet - but I think both are awful)

                  Take Shattuck North to Solano. Stop by Ajanta (call your order in ahead). Continue on Solano to Zand's.

                  Continue on Solano to San Pablo. Take San Pablo south to Gilman, Gilman west to 6th St. Stop by Picante (call your order in ahead).

                  Picante is just a few blocks from 4th St. At 4th St, hit up Pasta Shop and Cafe Rouge meat market.

                  Total driving time under 30 minutes (depending on traffic and parking). Plus, 4th St is right next to the freeway entrance.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Morton the Mousse

                    I like Jerusalem Organic--and the food's fresh made for you. And cheaper per amount, I think. Zand's is great but very pricy and basically a deli--which serves the OP well, I think.