Rob.Laur.,Chemchef,Morton, JT et al: Berkeley-Five Take Away Lunches?
- opinionatedchef Mar 16, 2008 01:15 PM
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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...
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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
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.
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.
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.
DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT get the par baked pizza from the Cheeseboard. It is the worst grease-bomb I've ever had, and it does not do the crust justice, no matter how long you reheat it in the oven. I love the Cheeseboard, but you're better off just getting a fully baked pizza and allowing it to cool. The crust will be much better.... ie. not as greasy or doughy.
I see in another topic that you are planning to go to Ubuntu ... is that on your way to Elk or on the way back? If it is on your way there, you can save yourself all this running around and just stop at the nearby Oxbow Market for supplies.
Morton's route is pretty good (and ain't no one getting from Sea Salt to Solano in 5 minutes even speeding at 3am in the morning).
Morton, I have a question in terms of dim sum ... what about Imperial Tea in Epicurious Garden across from Cheeseboard? I still have to make it there but I remember you spoke highly of it in the past. That would eliminate one stop.
The only change I'd make in the route is to go from Sea Salt to Cedar and stop by Acme Bread. You can probably pick up some lunch items at Cafe Fanny and wine at Kermit Lynch.
Then continue up Cedar until you hit Shattuck. A left will take you to Cheeseboard.
However, if you take a right ... next to McDonalds on Shattuck and University is one of the finest Middle Eastern restauarants it has been my priveldge to eat at ... Turkish Kitchen. I love Zand, but Turkish Kitchen is in a higher more rarified class. I'm polite when I say I like Zand ... I'm crazy in love with Turkish Kitchen.
Anyway, back to cheeseboard.
Stop there (get one of the cheddar cheese rolls ... 10 seconds in the microwave ... oozy goodness). Walk across the street to Epicurious Garden and grab something from Imperial Tea.
You can then continue up shattuck, go through the tunnel and you will be on Solano and you can choose from many of the joints mentioned. Here's all the restaurants on Solano Avenue.
Here are all the place records for Solano Ave with websites or menus attached. I personally know if there was either it is on those Place records. There are also linked reviews
Personally I would consider China Village. No one comes close for Chinese food. Read some of the linked reports on the Place record.
King Tsin is said to have good dim sum by posters I respect.
I just noticed that for some reason Lola's isn't on the Solano Merchant list. It is next to Talavera, should you stop there. Lola's is in my top five restaurant list on my profile. I adore the roast chicken but it will be too early for you to get that. However, they have some excellent lunch items (amazing quiche) and the baked goods are seriously the best in the Bay Area, bar none.
You might give Jodie's a call and see if you can pre-arrange some fried chicken. They only make it on weekends, but maybe you can put in a special order.
What is your planned route to get to Elk? Are you getting to 101 across the San Rafael Bridge? Or are you going up 80 and then connecting further up. I can think of a few fried chicken places on route.
With all respect to Morton Picante doesn't get high marks on the board ... kind of really Californized. The do three things that most people like. Don't remember if cartinas is one of them. Here's the Place record with a link to the topic of what it is that Picante does well
I would prefer Talavera on Solano and they also have a bakery on San Pablo called Casa Latina which is the same idea, but not as extensive. Casa Latina uses sustainably raised meat like Picante and doesn't use lard ... which kind of sucks the joy out of Mexican food, IMO.
You can hook onto 80 from Solano if you continue up San Pablo. There is a really good place called La Bamba which has some great burritos and pupusas. They make some fine soups too. Lard used aqui and I'm guessing there isn't Niman Ranch meat used here ... just tasty.
OH! I forgot about Casa Latina. Very good tortas there. I might actually like their food better than Talavera for some reason. Plus, they have delicious Mexican sweet breads.
rworange, what else do you recommend at Lola's? I thought it looked a little pricey (for my feeble budget), but I would really like to try them out, so need your expert opinion!
I like the roast chicken a lot, it is my favorite in the Bay Area. But I don't cook, so given you do, I'd skip that unless you really want a take-out chicken.
Donna who does the baked goods is a master with crust ... anything like pie or quiche as mentioned is usually great. They make the best blueberry pie in-season. There was a classic strawberry rhubarb last year ... it's about that time.
Cookies I like alot: Triple chocolate, lemon pistacho, madelines and great gingersnaps. One year for Halloween they made the best caramel apple I have ever tried.
I like the jams and jellies John makes quite a lot but there is an occasional miss ... so given the price ... the apricot rosemary jam has always been terrific. Donna suggested putting it on La Farine's olive bread ... so, so good. My second favorite is blueberry basil. The sour cherry they haven't quite perfected yet.
Nice strombolis which I like better than the calzones which occasional have a crust that is too delicate to hold the fillings. The mini pizzas or flatbreads are good but not the first thing I'd recommend.
So far the sides, soups, and take-out dishes can be very good or ok so that is not the first place I'd put my money. While the salads are not amazing, John does a good job with the dressing so they hold up a while without wilting.
They were changing the bottle of their olive oil which is one of the great bargains and a good all-purpose oil that is as good in salads as it is in cooking.
I really, really do love Lola's.
1585 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707
wow rw; you look to be my serious savior!! i think i have become a permanent passenger on your bus!! ubuntu, (because of you) (hey, that rhymes).. will be on a napa side trip, after a pitstop in sf after elk. so all your suggestions will be incorporated into THE PLAN for sure and of course i will be my loyal responsible CH poster about all of it....
th again. ; you have been so very generous with your time.i'm printing evything and googling places too
One more idea - rotisserie chicken from Bread Workshop on University. In your general vicinity - wont require much of a detour. Not as good as Lola's, but available all day.