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Looking for a nice vegetarian restaurant in Berkeley

I want to get a gift certificate to a nice restaurant for a friend in Berkeley who is vegetarian. If she lived in the city, I would probably get one to Greens or Millennium.

Is there anything comparable in the E. Bay? Or are there any nice restaurants (~$50 per person) that any of you East Bay vegetarians really like and feel are particularly vegetarian friendly?

Thanks!

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  1. I don't think there are any upscale vegetarian restaurants in the East Bay.

    Vegetarian-friendly, Chez Panisse Cafe, Oliveto, À Côté.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Indeed, CP always has a veggie option and by most accounts it's as good and sometimes better then the non-veggie menu.

      1. re: ML8000

        The cafe is the upstairs restaurant. It's a la carte and typically half the items are vegetarian.

        I don't think it makes sense for a vegetarian to go downstairs for the prix-fixe unless they're accompanying an omnivore who really wants to eat there. The substitutions will be similar if not identical to what you could get upstairs cheaper.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Upstairs will give more options and be less expensive. That said, I've gone downstairs many times with vegetarians and they were always very happy and were always accommodated. On a few occasions what they were served was much better then the animal protein based item. They plans on a veggie variation...it is Berkeley afterall and they know it will be requested.

    2. My vegetarian dad is always happy at Lalime's and Rivoli.

      1. Suggest you try Riva Cucina (Heinz Street, Berkeley - not vegetarian, but veg friendly lots of options, fabulous food), or Cha Ya on Shattuck (all veg - Japanese, not fancy but wonderful food have never taken anyone there who hasn't loved it)

        3 Replies
        1. re: Maureene

          Much as I like Riva Cucina, to me it doesn't seem very vegetarian-friendly. Last night's menu had only four vegetarian dishes: the soup, one of two salads, one of three hot appetizers, and one of the nine pastas and main dishes.

          I like Cha Ya when I'm in the mood, but it's not "nice" in the way that Greens or Millennium are.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Yes. Riva Cucina is not very vegetarian friendly. There was only one vegetarian pasta dish to choose from when I went (I don't remember what it was) and it was not something I was excited to order. It was pretty disappointing for me.

            And forget Oliveto. People go on and on about how fabulous Oliveto is and I've concluded that they must do great stuff with meat. I've been at least half a dozen times and have been wholly unimpressed.

            But many nice restaurants have only one vegetarian entree. It used to be that Chez Panisse (the cafe) had a pasta dish with beans EVERY time I went, but they've gotten much more creative with the veggie main dishes the last few times I've been (ok, the veg main dish for yesterday was pasta with mushrooms..). And more than half of the appetizers are vegetarian. You can't go wrong with Chez Panisse.

            1. re: MollyGee

              Oh, my God, I had the two raviolis at Riva: TORTELLI DI PORCINI $16
              Porcini and ricotta ravioli with sautéed crimini mushrooms (made without the pancetta at our request), truffled Boschetto cheese and the RAVIOLI ALLE MELANZANE $15
              Roasted eggplant and ricotta ravioli, brown butter and sage, Parmigiano with a vegetarian friend. Both were divine.

        2. Camino always has vegetarian options. Or really option. One-third of the entrees is always vegetarian, in other words. The food, drinks and setting are great.

          1. Well, I haven’t been there in a while but Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese (1686 Shattuck Ave) used to be excellent. It’s vegan sushi. I was extremely skeptical of this place but colleagues kept raving about how good it was. It’s outstanding. The only negative thing is the long wait. Great sushi, the shitake mushroom and avocado rolls are outstanding. And they make this yummy custard dish with ginko nuts-I forget the name but I think “moon” is in the name. I haven’t been there in over a year but have been meaning to go back.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Ridge

              I like Cha-Ya but don't find the dishes even as refined as the vegetarian dishes at other non-vegetarian Japanese restaurants. Going there with a hardcore vegetarian for a great casual meal is fine but it's definitely not upscale.