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Breakfest East Bay

What is the top five "moderate" Breakfest places in the East Bay

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  1. I have only been to places in Berkeley and Emeryville along I-80 so can't really offer the "top five" in EB authoritatively; But I like the following:

    Cafe Aquarius in Emeryville
    Jimmy Bean's in Berkeley
    Betty's in Berkeley
    Doyle Street Cafe in Emeryville

    The last one tends to be calmer, especially on weekends. The first 3 can be crowded if you don't get there early (or late). Not being rushed on a weekend morning is more important to me than the food itself.

    There is always a large crowd at Rudy's Can't Fail in Emeryville for some reason (good food? easy parking? cute waitstaff?). I never feel the need to wait in line for breakfast so have never tried it.

    9 Replies
    1. re: tvr172

      Here's a rough priority list of places I've eaten at, without regard to the wait

      I dislike "best" lists because some of these places specialize in different foods, so mood matters.

      Rick and Ann's - lousy parking long wait great food
      900 Grayson - fairly light, smallish menu, but great
      Sunnyside - heavier, great all-around
      Betty's - long long wait - not so bad at the counter
      La Note - light, limited menu - more lesiurely
      Venus - heavier, lousy parking - I remember slow service
      Jimmy Bean - good all around, but lousy coffee
      Cafe Ina - very limited menu, heavy on the organics
      Meal Ticket - don't remember well, but remembered liking
      Sam's Log Cabin - old-school charm
      Au Cocolet - never a wait, good mochas
      Homemade Cafe - the waffles, but a very long wait on weekends
      Rudy's Can't Fail - filling, lousy parking if full, crowded on weekends
      Mama's Royal - old school
      Tomate Cafe [may have been poor execution the one time I tried it]
      Fat Apple's - very old school and a bit greasy, huge pates of food

      I'm leaving out some places I haven't tried (Chop Bar), some places that just aren't worth the mention (Gilman St Cafe).

      1. re: bbulkow

        Meal Ticket was outstanding for breakfast last week.

        Slow roasted pork with eggs was a hit. The pork was very tender, juicy and flavorful, with a hint of curry. Eggs done as ordered; potatoes added necessary starch. This was delightful.

        Trout filet with eggs was also delicious, with more of a curry flavor to the trout than the pork. Fish was very fresh and flaky. Eggs and potatoes as ordered.

        Coffee excellent.

        This is a place in which you order at the counter and then they bring the food. There is a large back patio.

        Meal Ticket
        1235 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94706

        1. re: lil mikey

          Meal Ticket is a very nice place for breakfast/brunch. The patio when it's warm is excellent. I had a very nice trout plate with veggies, rice pilaf in the summer (it was around $10). I've heard a lot about the pancakes but have never had them.

          Meal Ticket
          1235 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94706

        2. re: bbulkow

          Second Venus.
          I ate there 3 times in August, always experiencing good, quick service. I like their coffee, benedicts, scrambles and Morning Glory muffins, which happen to be the best Morning Glory muffins I've tasted.

          I like the spinach, mushroom, roasted red pepper and chevre omelette at Five in the Shattuck Plaza Hotel, although the tastiness factor varied a little depending on which cook was preparing it (more spinach/mushrooms/cheese some days). http://www.five-berkeley.com/five_men...

          I wanted to try Bette's, but the line-up was insane, even early on a weekday, so I grabbed some pastries from the Bette's To Go side. Nice breakfast rolls, cinnamon rolls, donut muffins. If I ever do manage to get a table at Bette's, what should I order?
          Bette's Breakfast menu: http://www.worldpantry.com/bettes/img...

          Bette's Oceanview Diner
          1807 4th St, Berkeley, CA 94710

          Venus Restaurant
          2327 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704

          1807 4th St, Berkeley, CA 94710

          1. re: bbulkow

            Chop Bar has an above average brunch with fresh tasting foods and decent, strong coffee.

            1. re: moto

              When have you last been? Because every time I've been to Chop Bar, the coffee is terrible. Like, some of the worst coffee I've ever had terrible. The first time I sent the coffee back and got a new cup, and it was just as bad, so I figured that they just regularly make really bad coffee. The food is good, and I happily go there for brunch, but either get coffee first or bring it along with me now. I'd be happy to know if it's gotten better.

              1. re: JasmineG

                a little over a year since we went to Chop Bar for brunch. thanks for the downhill notice -- the stuff we have at home is personally blended, roasted, ground and brewed to order, so mediocre coffee is like a big flag. in a recent discussion about CaƱa someone commented how the blue bottle coffee is individually brewed there and always bitter, so there's a definite possibility that some places choose to make their brews a certain way as a style preference.

          2. re: tvr172

            1. i think breakfast at homemade cafe is consistently yummy. true, there is a long wait on the weekends (isn't that true for most good b'fast places, though)-but there is usually counter space and it is fun to watch the long time cooks at the grill. forewarned-this place is scruffy in atmosphere-which i think is a plus-also has a great mix of people.
            2. rick and annes-yes: long wait, terrible parking (ride your bike) -and more expensive than others-but the breakfast is top notch (i waited tables there for a year and never got sick of the food-if that says something)
            3. the egg shop in montclair-great service usually and a cool ceiling toy train
            4. west side bakery
            5 and one no vote-rudy's can't fail cafe-everyone seems to like this place and i can't figure out why-after 5 tries and five mediocre results-i have given up

            1. re: deirdretaos

              I love the corned beef hash at Westside.

          3. Aunt Mary's Cafe
            Jennifer & Todd's Cafe Soleil

            1. Full House Cafe in Oakland.

              1. Hob Nob - Alameda - Upscale/tasty
                Fat Lady - Jack London Square - my favorite east bay pancakes - good corned beef
                Westside Bakery - Berkeley - lots of veggie options - house made bread
                La Pinata - Alameda -- Filling cheap Mexican Breakfast (Otaez also has huge buffet if you like Mexican breakfast)
                Jim's Diner- Alameda- Old School - cheap and huge

                7 Replies
                1. re: myst

                  for the vegans, Westside Bakery makes a fierce tofu rancheros for breakfast. it's really outstanding.

                  1. re: myst

                    I would second Jim's, really good old school breakfast.

                    1. re: rtmonty

                      I feel like Rudy's was good for awhile, then at some point they kind of lost interest. But the aura of hipness still seems to cling to the place.

                      1. re: redrover

                        I like Guerilla by the corner of Shattuck Ave. and Cedar.
                        Ole's in Alameda. Nothing fancy, but watching the cooks if you sit at the counter is amazing.
                        We did like Brown Sugar Kitchen until one of the owners, she said she was an owner, was rude to us. Never again.

                        1. re: achefsbest

                          Doug's Place. Castro Valley. Better Chicken Steak than anything mentioned above, or below. And good hash browns. Cheaper than half of the options above too.

                          Doug's Place
                          20871 Redwood Rd, Castro Valley, CA 94546

                      2. re: myst

                        Also in Alameda: Albert's -- how can you not like a place that features the "hippie special" and is helmed by a gravel-voiced, rainbow-haired grandma?

                        Albert's Cafe
                        1541 Webster St, Alameda, CA 94501

                      3. I'm surprised there hasn't been a mention of Sunny Side Cafe on Solano in Albany (or is it Berkeley?). Large and fresh portions with seasonal changes to their specials. Locally raised produce and meats. Outdoor seating. Great prices. Yay!

                        Sunny Side Cafe
                        1499 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: mollyamorous

                          Sunnyside is good, but definitely not great prices! We went a couple weeks ago, and got a crazy giant french toast with eggs and ham and something else- tons and tons of food, but kind of just okay taste wise. I got eggs blackstone, which was good. nice outdoor seating though.
                          My favorites:
                          Tacubaya- usually great churros, strong coffee and good chilaquiles- get there before 12 when it gets packed
                          Cockadoodle cafe in old oakland (bwtn 7th and 8th ..cant remember exactly, near the courthouse)
                          great breakfasts, mexican influence, great people delicious specials, and a shady patio if i remember. havent been there in a while
                          Mamas Royal- fresh squeezed oj, great hash, quality meat and ham used, good diner-y breakfast
                          Sam's Log Cabin- very homemade tasting, good pancakes and corncakes, cash only i think, nice nice people, strong coffee
                          Cana (sorry, cant do the enyay) on grand ave was really cool, not amazing, but definitely a menu i want to go back and eat more of- cuban food
                          And heads up- i cook so i dont go out to eat at these places on weekends- i have NO idea who's too packed to bother on sat/sun, though i think mamas royal and tacubaya definitely have a wait

                          1. re: rabbitblue

                            Cockadoodle does have a nice breakfast -- patio in the back-- it's located on Washington St. near the police station / courthouse (the main county courthouse is further uptown and close by Lake Merritt). It's cooking style is rather lighter, less greasy-spoonish than Mama's Royal, but some folk of course like the old fashioned ways.

                            1. re: rabbitblue

                              Tacqueria Talavera is as good or better than Tacubaya, cheaper with more food. Outdoor seating if the weather is good and less crowded than Tacubaya.

                              Then saunter up Solano to La Bedaine for dessert.

                              Taqueria Talavera
                              1561 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

                          2. Rockridge Cafe
                            Mama's on Broadway
                            La Note
                            Au Coquelet
                            Bette's Diner
                            And I'll probably get hated on for this but I love the breakfast at Saul's.

                            Au Coquelet Cafe Restaurant
                            2000 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                            1. Aunt Mary's in Temescal is our favorite.

                              Aunt Mary's Cafe
                              4307 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: sundeck sue

                                Aunt Mary's breakfast/brunch is terrific. I love that egg dishes come with a choice of any two of a whole list of sides - biscuits, fruit, potatoes, vegetables, beans, etc.

                              2. Red Tractor in Dublin has pretty good breakfast. Huge portions.

                                JD's Restaurant in Castro Valley has pretty good French toast and their crab eggs benedict is awesome.

                                Ole's Waffle Shop on Park St. in Alameda is a bit more old school cafe diner and waffles are the specialty. It's been a long time since I ate there, but supposedly the quality is still as good today as it was when I last ate there.

                                El Rancho Steak House in Castro Valley is a small chain (they used to have two or three, but I think the economy has whittled them down to only one restaurant now). They have a $3.99 breakfast M-F and are pretty fair. Not the best, but not bad at all.

                                Just four to recommend, but I eat at these four, so I can vouch that they have decent food.

                                Ole's Waffle Shop
                                1507 Park St, Alameda, CA 94501

                                Red Tractor Cafe
                                4920 Dublin Blvd, Dublin, CA 94568

                                El Rancho Steak House
                                3240 Castro Valley Blvd, Castro Valley, CA 94546

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: estump

                                  Ole's is o.k. if you only expect typical diner stuff -- above average for the genre but the coffee is just o.k. and not everything tastes like it's made from fresh ingredients (the potatoes for example, which is something you can have going out for breakfast that isn't always around the home kitchen).

                                  1. re: estump

                                    Sad news. JD's is closed after 40 years. Between costs to upgrade the facility recently, the down economy and the major construction on Castro Valley Blvd which has driven all businesses along the boulevard down (and nearly running many other businesses out of business) JD's had to shutter its doors.

                                  2. Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland has a small but spectacular breakfast menu!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: lpfch

                                      I agree on BSK. I am obsessed with their waffles. I go way too often and each time I go I plan on trying something new, but after 10+ trips, I still just order the waffles. They are so "light" and crispy and different from any type of waffles I've ever tried, and I'm not a waffle person. They completely live up to the hype and are worth every single calorie.

                                    2. I don't usually wake up on time to eat breakfast, but I had a pleasant one last week at Quince while waiting for my car to get its smog retest.

                                      Eggs cooked to order (over hard, nuke 'em). Nice crispy hash browns with some sort of mild Middle Eastern? spicing. Meaty bacon. They do a spinach/feta cheese omelet and homemade blueberry muffins too.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                        Another vote for Aunt Mary's. Always a good meal there for us. Very creative pancakes, some savory items, generous portions, good espresso drinks. We usually go early to avoid any lines, but last 2 times we went they were packed and we waited a bit and felt like it was totally worth it.

                                        900 Grayson is the other favorite. Perfect eggs every time, basics plus, but basics done as good as we can imagine.

                                        La Note and Venus are also good if you are up in Berkeley.

                                        1. re: dcfb

                                          Had the pozole stew at Aunt Mary's the other day. Don't know that it's a breakfast item, but it sure was tasty.

                                      2. Since this got revived.

                                        Alfonso' Cafe ... crepes


                                        There are lots of places on this list that wouldn't fit my description of moderate. Alfonso's is downright inexpensive.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: rworange

                                          Don't forget Nizza la Bella, although they only do brunch on weekends. It's definitely in the moderate price category and great food!

                                          1. re: rworange

                                            Is JD's in Castro Valley still open? It's been a few years, but I always made a point to get breakfast there. Top notch ingredients, old school service and killer French roast.

                                            1. re: GroovinGourmet

                                              JD's is still there, not much has changed and still is a killer breakfast, old school and wonderful.

                                          2. Had a nice chorizo scramble at Cafe Leila the other day. This really hit the spot, with an oversized flour tortilla and thinly sliced fried potatoes with a dollop of sour cream. The scramble was moist, with tomato and onion, and a little cumin to keep it interesting.

                                            Also got (1) strawberry smoothie and (2) peach smoothie. I liked the peach one better, although the strawberry one was also good, and my wife preferred it. I found it too acidic.

                                            1. don't sleep on Saul's

                                              Saul's Deli
                                              1475 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                              1. I've been to Aunt Mary's since we last talked, and lordy was it horrible!! Have never been for brunch to try the great things they say they have, but i wont be going again. The homemade cornbread was absolutely the best thing going, and everything seemed positive. Then the food arrived- most sad, dried out overcooked chicken ever sitting on a waffle. I dont even know why i got it, when the waitress told me they only use skinless boneless chicken breasts for the upgrade to friend chicken. They do that because its easier, and people who eat white meat are harder to please, but it was cooked to shit. / shoe leather. I told the waitress it was pretty bad, and she took it off my tab. My boyfriend got a very bland (aka diner version of mexican food, what do you expect) huevos rancheros plate. He was bummed.
                                                On another note, Tacubaya's chiliaquiles were Phenomenal this morning! fluffy buttery eggs, awesome sauced chips, great michelada...only gripe is its so pricey....$6.50 for churros??

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: rabbitblue

                                                  Wow! $6.50 for churros? They were $4.50 -- still sort of expensive -- the last time I was there (a while ago). Have prices gone up across the board? The menu on their website seems to be quite old (http://tacubaya.net/content/00/01/48/...), and has the prices I think I remember.

                                                2. Just found out that Bistro 1491 in Albany serves breakfast until 5PM. Good for people (like me) who don't feel like breakfast food at the normal time. The duck hash with shitakes and a balsamic reduction was pretty good, slightly sweet but not too sweet. With potatoes, red bell pepper, an egg on top and totally unnecessary toast.

                                                  1. How about jook at Gum Kuo in Oakland's Chinatown?

                                                    1. Jodie's in Albany. It's a long wait and only space for a few groups of 2, but worth the experience.