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Why aren't there more places like Cafe 15 and Outerlands in the Bay Area?

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The first time I went to Cafe 15 in Oakland, I was blown away by the quality of the food, and couldn't believe there was nothing like it in San Francisco. Then I discovered there is, in the form of Outerlands.

Regardless, despite a plethora of formal sit-down restaurants serving California/Cal-Med cuisine in the Bay Area, there really seems to be a lack of places like the above that serve California cuisine made with top-notch ingredients and cooking, where you order at the counter and nearly everything is under $10.

Thoughts? Or am I way off base and just don't know about other ones? (I do realize that Outerlands is slightly more refined than Cafe 15, but I still consider them similar)

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Cafe 15
597 15th St, Oakland, CA 94612

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  1. Gregoire in Berkeley is a good one.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Shane Greenwood

      link

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      Gregoire
      2109 Cedar St, Berkeley, CA 94709

      1. re: Shane Greenwood

        Also, Cafe Fanny for breakfast.

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        Cafe Fanny
        1603 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

        1. re: Shane Greenwood

          of course, forgot about Gregoire.

          While Cafe Fanny definitely matches the description I gave, I've always found the food to be good, but not great.

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          Cafe Fanny
          1603 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

          1. re: vulber

            I would toss "out the door" on there too.

          2. re: Shane Greenwood

            I agree that the breakfast food at Cafe Fanny is really good, but it's just too pricy for me.

            I haven't been to Gregoire for many months because of a couple of overly expensive and not that great dishes. I'm talking about the one on Piedmont.

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            Cafe Fanny
            1603 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

          3. re: Shane Greenwood

            For me, Gregoire quickly lost its early bloom. Used to be consistently full of love, & sometime after the expansion to 2nd location they seemed to lose that consistency. To be fair, things are never bad or even mediocre (with one exception*), but I acutely feel the difference between good & great. The potato puffs though are solid gold! That's mainly what I get there anymore.

            * There was a risotto that led to argument w/ the cook over our divergent understandings of "al dente" -- his definition was "raw & hard in the middle" & his tone & attitude showed that he considered me an unwelcome rube who wanted him to dumb down his fine cuisine for my ugly American palate.

            1. re: Shane Greenwood

              Aren't many, if not most, items there more than $10?

              1. re: Glencora

                I looked up the menu just now. For dinner, definitely over $10. Lunch items are under $10 but one item often seems not quite adequate for a full meal, so you end up spending more than $10. Contributes to my overall sense of mild disappointment, since I have quite a thing for Value.

                1. re: indigirl

                  Those prices are in line with both Outerlands and Cafe 15. And the strong tendency to order more than one item and drive the price well over $10 is also similar. Same with Kitchenette. The last time I was at Cafe 15 I had the Po Boy, a strawberry lemonade, and a panna cotta == $15. As long as the food is outstanding -- and it was -- I'm OK with that for the occasional lunch treat.

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                  Cafe 15
                  597 15th St, Oakland, CA 94612

            2. How about Sentinel in SF?

              1 Reply
              1. re: daveena

                I'm thinking places that do a more than just sandwiches. The savory bread pudding at Outerlands was only $7 and absolutely phenomenal; places that do stuff like that....

              2. Great question. It really should not be that hard. Certainly there are plenty of 'ethnic' places where the ingredients are top notch, service is counter-casual, and prices are low. But California cuisine? Not so much.

                How about Kitchenette? And I haven't managed to eat there yet, but Heart has their food at <$10 prices, and there is seating.

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                Kitchenette
                958 Illinois Street, San Francisco, CA

                Heart Wine Bar
                1270 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                2 Replies
                1. re: BernalKC

                  Looking at the menu, it seems that wine bars like Heart and Fat Angel (where I went last night, really good, will write a report soon) are more meant for noshing on small bites with wine, rather than places to go for dinner.

                  Nonetheless though, it's encouraging

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                  Fat Angel
                  1740 Ofarrell St, San Francisco, CA 94115

                  1. re: BernalKC

                    Kitchenette is a good call for lunch. Not even a counter to order from, just a loading dock and a folding table. Food is always great and they seem to be expanding their menu with more choices.

                  2. Any reports about Fish&Farm's "American Box Lunch"? Looks promising, and everything is under $10. Seems like it might fit in this category. http://www.americanboxlunch.com/

                    1. To answer the question -- part of it is philosophical and lifestyle, i.e., making a living/having a life vs. making a killing and big success.