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21st Birthday in Berkeley

Hi all - would like to purchase a gift certificate for a resto in Berkeley to send for as a 21st birthday gift. Help, please. This will be paired with concert tickets - something hip and fun, with vegetarian options for pre or post concert dining. Any thoughts on Vik's or Cesar for this type of celebration?

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  1. How much do you want to spend? Vik's isn't nice enough for what I would give as a 21st birthday present. Cesar would be fun, and they have great cocktails there, but I've had some problems in the past going there with a vegetarian (once there were only three things on the menu that didn't have meat in it, including the fried potatoes, but the menu changes). Another option is Gather, a new restaurant in Berkeley that has great vegetarian and non vegetarian options, and a full bar.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JasmineG

      Is it reasonable to expect four 21 year old ladies to be able to eat and drink for $200, exclusive of tip? So, a $250 cert?

      1. re: nancyhudson

        Yes, completely. I mean, it's possible to go over that if they get a lot of cocktails, but I've gotten out of Cesar for significantly less than $50 a person, so I think that would be just fine, and a nice splurge.

    2. Gather is near most Berkeley concert venues, has a full bar, and is quite vegetarian-friendly.

      Vik's closes early and isn't near any concert venue.

      1. I agree that Cesar and Gather could work. Depending on your budget, Five in downtown Berkeley could be great too. If you're going for something more casual, you might look at Jupiter - it's not particularly gourmet, but it's a fun place.

        8 Replies
        1. re: milklady

          For a 21st birthday party, definitely Jupiter. The food is delicious, great artisan beer, and just a lot of fun (and outdoor seating).

          Originally I was going to suggest Triple Rock (which actually owns Jupiter), but the food there isn't as great, and the vegetarian menu is very limited, whereas Jupiter has tons of great vegetarian pizzas.

          1. re: vulber

            Jupiter is fine if the recipient loves beer, but it doesn't have a full bar. And honestly, if she's a student at Cal, I'm sure that she's been there a lot before, and definitely isn't a special 21st birthday party kind of place. Also, $200 would go a really long way there, I can't imagine spending that much money at Jupiter unless it's a lot of people who drink a lot of beer.

            1. re: JasmineG

              who says she's a student at cal?

              need for a full bar was never mentioned either; if anything, i tend to order wine at birthday/celebratory dinners, which jupiter does have (although i would still get beer)

              1. re: vulber

                There's no need for a full bar, but I'd say that any 21 year old has had beer before, but few have been able to get a good cocktail. Jupiter has fine food, and I like it, but beer and pizza is not celebratory for most 21 year old girls, and while they have good beer, their wine selection is boring. I said "if" she's a student at Cal.

                1. re: JasmineG

                  4 top, $200, $50/pp, one cocktail one glass of wine, I think I'm pointing at either Cesar or Fonda. Wood Tavern or A Cote if berkeley means "greater berkeley". Would add Eve but I don't know the price range. All (except eve?) have the benefit of the sharing small plates party attitude, which I find is especially popular among women (not knowing these, but the "an entree is too huge" meme is stronger among the female set IMHO).

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                  A Cote
                  5478 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

                  Wood Tavern
                  6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

              2. re: JasmineG

                Diners will also have to like pizza because that's basically the menu. They have a few small plates but nothing you'd call a meal...so it's basically pizza and beer.

                1. re: JasmineG

                  keep in mind that even if shes' been there before, as this is her 21st birthday, she's never been able to order a beer there before, which is one of Jupiter's strong suits

              1. I thought Cesar was a great idea. They have good food and GREAT cocktails. It is true that the vegetarian options are not super extensive, but they are adequate in my experience. It's good for a party because you just order a bunch of things family style.

                Gather is also a nice place which is great for vegetarians. This would be a good call if the ladies prefer a more traditional app-entree-dessert approach to dinner rather than lots of shared small things.

                Jupiter if and only if the birthday girl is a beer aficionado. It's a fun place but outside of a very good beer selection nothing special food-wise. The pizza is fine but ordinary, wine list pretty boring, no full bar, etc.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Truffle Dog

                  Gather's good for sharing small plates as well. In my observation, that seemed to be what most tables were doing.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I don't have a first-hand report on Gather but my sister said "good not great". Any specific reports?

                2. Reports on Gather:

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/676524

                  If Berkeley means "greater Berkeley," A Cote would definitely be a great fit.

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                  A Cote
                  5478 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

                  Gather
                  2200 Oxford Street, Berkeley, CA 94704

                  1. Hi everyone...thanks so much for your replies. Not a Cal student - a Cal Poly SLO student! But school doesn't start for them until late Sept., so concert tix in Berkeley to see Ray LaMontagne/David Gray at the Greek plus dinner is the plan. It's my daughter, and she's a bit of a bohemian, thus the choice of Berkeley to celebrate 21. Plus, she'll either be interning in Lake Tahoe or San Francisco, so Berkeley seems like a good spot. I certainly don't need to spend $250 inclusive of tip for her on dinner, I was just thinking I may have to - $50 per person including drinks - didn't seem out of line. Love all the suggestions and banter - keep it coming!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: nancyhudson

                      I think Fonda or T-Rex are fun, but T-Rex is heavy on meat.

                      1. re: myst

                        Fonda is a good choice but a bit away from the Greek but 21st appropriate. They're open pretty late as well (nice post show place). Boho-wise, Gather might be better but that's a guess on my part. Still not mentioned, Chez Panisse Cafe...it's about as Berkeley as it gets and she can notch the gastro-glutton belt.

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                        Chez Panisse
                        1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                      2. re: nancyhudson

                        If she's a bit of a bohemian, I'd say that Gather would be fun for her.

                      3. I will stop with the Jupiter recommendations; while Jupiter is many things, it is not bohemian.

                        FIVE could be fun, as someone mentioned earlier. It feels nice and classy without being overly pretentious. The food is interesting and different, but not too far out. They also have a pretty affordable drink selection and cocktails.

                        1. I think Wood Tavern would be perfect. Almost like a holy coup of pre-fancy-concert events, in that it's a straight shot up College walking through a pleasant neighborhood to Cal/the Greek, great food, nice cocktail list, fancy but lighthearted atmosphere.

                          I agree also that Cesar would be a good choice, still conceivable that they can walk, fun and energetic, and food perfect for sharing.

                          A Cote would be my third choice - while I personally love the food, and they do have a back patio that would be absolutely wonderful on a summer night, it's a bit far. Honestly, if you are going to a show at the Greek, it is least stressful to park only once, and just hike around from there.

                          Have not yet been to Gather but have heard ok things about it so far. Five, I think is too sterile for your purposes, although they have an adventurous cocktail list (the Amelia is my favorite). I cannot imagine a bohemian berkeley birthday at T-Rex. Ugh.

                          -----
                          A Cote
                          5478 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

                          Wood Tavern
                          6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

                          1. No one has mentioned Adagia, at College and Bancroft, which is close to the Greek. I ate there a couple of years ago and liked it, but it may have gone downhill since then. I think it would be fancy enough for a 21st birthday and yet not too stuffy or formal.

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                            Adagia Restaurant
                            2700 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94704

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Jack

                              Second Adagia..

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                              Adagia Restaurant
                              2700 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94704

                            2. A bit of a late reply, but wanted to let you all know that I went with Cesar and it was a HIT! My daughter is a bit of a foodie, so an experience like this was not out of the norm for her, but the 3 friends all said this was the best meal they'd ever had and the atmosphere was fantastic. They had a great time. Thank you all for your comments and suggestions.