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Oakland Berkeley Food Tour Recommendations

East Bay Folks:

A friend and NYC Chowhound will be visiting at the end of this week and we've decided to do a food tour of Berkeley and Oakland on a weekday afternoon. As a SF city dweller, I'm looking for chowish budget-minded suggestions for Oakland or Berkeley -- places to get specific items, as opposed to a sit down lunch. No place is too divey. For example, a good Chinese pastry shop, place to get Taiwanese small dishes, shakes and boba, or one particular taco truck that has good al pastor or tripitas.

I've already searched the boards and reviewed the recommendations and comments about the places listed below. If you have other quick bite recommendations to add particularly, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Chinese, Mexican -- they would be much appreciated.

Ici - ice cream
Cheeseboard - pizza and cheese
Delicious Food Co. - dim sum
Acme - bread
Bakesale Betty's - just o.k. to me.
Sketch - not my fave.

Sit Down Places
Pizzaiolo - pizza
Battambang - Cambodian
Peony - Vietnamese
Pho Hoa Lao II - Vietnamese
China Village - Szechuan
Sea Salt - out of budget

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Pizzaiolo's not a place to get a quick bite unless you get there right when they open at 5:30, not long after that there's usually a long wait for a table.

    For a slice of pizza and the best beer in the area, go to the Oakland branch of Lanesplitter a few blocks down Telegraph.

    Near Acme:

    Cafe Rouge meat counter - hot dog
    Lanesplitter (Berkeley branch) - pizza slices and best beer in the area
    Tacubaya
    Tuk Tuk - Thai supermarket with steam table
    Vik's - chaat

    Sitdown:

    Dan Sung Sa - soju bang (not sure when they open)
    Shanghai for dumplings
    Spices!3 - Taiwanese Sichuan
    T-Rex happy hour
    Vanessa's happy hour

    Other places:

    Grocery Outlet - the Oakland branch on Telegraph also has a decent taco truck in front
    Koreana Plaza - fun to browse and lots of snack-size items to go

    1 Reply
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      I finally got to Spices!3 the other day. The dishes I ordered were good, but not as good as their counterparts at China Village. I noticed that they do have a full DIY hot pot/shabu shabu menu available daily now. They also had some table cards titled "Hunan Trenz" that had at least a few dishes that were identifiably Hunan. Anyone tried Hunan dishes there or at their sister restaurants?

      You can have fun wandering around Oakland Chinatown -- there's a wide assortment of restaurants, Hong Kong style snack/drink shops, bakeries, etc. Then you can hop on BART and do the same at Fruitvale.

    2. Try Wonder Food Bakery for chinese pastry. I especially like their bo lo bao.

      Tacos El Gordo for al pastor on a spit, but they are only there nights. I think they may have a different schedule on weekends, hopefully someone can verify.

      Delicious Food Co does a really good jook special in the morning for 2 dollars and change.

      You listed Peony as vietnamese, but it's actually sit down dim sum. I hear it's the best in Chinatown.

      I haven't been to Pho Hoa Lao II in a while, but it used to be my favorite for pho. My current favorite is Pho Hoa Hung.

      1 Reply
      1. re: DezzerSF

        Tacos El Gordo is there during the day on weekends. Basically, they're there outside of normal M-F business hours.

      2. Will you have a car? And how many hours will you have? Also, is the friend from Manhattan or another borough (will help me eliminate some places, depending on where he/she is from...)

        1 Reply
        1. re: daveena

          We will have a car. My friend lives in Brooklyn, but works near the LE Side. Both of us used to live in Manhattan. Last time I was in NYC, we spent an afternoon eating around Arthur Ave in the Bronx. Hope that gives you some idea, thanks in advance for your help!

        2. do yourself a favor and skip lanesplitters for pizza, mediocre at best. if you really want pizza go to gioia(sp?), close to monterey market.

          i'd have to second the vik's suggestion
          sweet adeline's for delicious baked goods
          for sit down i'd add:
          dona tomas-outdoor patio is sweet when the weather is fine
          pho 84-good vietnamese

          1 Reply
          1. re: tracylynn

            Gioia uses good toppings but to me the crust is tasteless. I'm not sure if it's the flour they use or not enough salt or what. I'd rank the local by-the-slice pizza roughly as follows:

            1. Pie in the Sky; Lanesplitter (pepperoni)

            3. Cheese Board; Arizmendi; Zachary's (slices are thin, not their awful deep-dish)

            6. Gioia

            7. Mr. Pizza Man; Fat Slice; Blondie's

            10. Arinell's

            To my taste, if you order a whole 15" pie, Lanesplitter makes the best thin-crust New York-style pizza around. Some of the combos have too much stuff and the crust gets soggy, but the Carnivore and Heartstopper are good. The 19" pie also has a tendency to get soggy in the middle.

          2. Personally I would go to:
            Ao sen for Pho or Dry noodles- Vietnamese
            Tacos Sinaloa ,22cd ave and International - Taco Truck
            China Village, Solano Ave, Albany - Szchaun
            Lanesplitters Berkeley Night time only - NY pizza
            Vik's Only for Chaat - Berkeley

            For Dimsum, Chinese stuff SF has better than EB

            1 Reply
            1. re: chefj

              Why do you say nighttime only for Lanesplitter?