HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


What are your Go-Tos. Regular, consistent, value near Oakland or Berkeley.

  • d

We've fallen for a few places, some with the help of this board, and were wondering what your go-tos are. This is more for the "Where should we go tonight?" conversation that keeps coming up than the "Where should we have a romantic evening?" plan.

Here are ours:

B Restaurant - consistent, tasty, a comfortable place with friendly service, sometimes a wow, always good.

Champa Garden - ridiculous value, complex flavors, best in class and better than most.

Rudy's Can't Fail - no fuss, diner gone Cali, simple, quick, inexpensive

Casa Vino - for some reason it still surprises me that this place is so good. Lots of wine options with 1/2 glasses, flights, etc. It's not the Taj Mahal, but for a laid back meal, it's nice.

Kabana - Pakistani food on University in Berkeley. Affordable, complex, spicy, quick.

Aunt Mary's Cafe - Used to go for dinner, but now for brunch. Love the menu and the people there. Don't even mind the wait.

China Village - Some of the best szechuan we have found. Value is very high.

Sahn Maru - Of all the Korean joints on Telegraph, we keep coming back for their Dinner A - $42 for three entrees, soup, and a lot of panchan.

Lois the Pie Queen - Some of the nicest people ever. Tasty, quick, simple. Not "diner cheap" but worth it.

Saul's - In love with the steps they have taken with the new menu.

Those are our regular haunts. Where are you hanging out?

Champa Garden
2102 8th Ave, Oakland, CA 94606

Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe
4081 Hollis St, Emeryville, CA 94608

Lois the Pie Queen
851 60th St, Oakland, CA 94608

Kabana Restaurant
1106 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

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

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. My newest addition to this list is Encuentra on 2nd Street, near Jack London Square...a very friendly wine bar with terrific vegetarian appetizers and small plates. This isn't clunky veggie fare, but well executed food that happens to contain no meat.

    Marzano [Park Blvd., not College Ave.] a wonderful neighborhood place with a talented bartender, and good pizza's and other dishes. For us, this is the place we go to when we're on our way home, and realize we'd rather go out than cook for ourselves.

    [Bellanica on the same block of Park Blvd. is also good for that purpose].

    We used to go to Cesar [the Oakland outpost] pretty regularly, but have only been once since the menu changed.

    4214 Park Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94602

    1. How funny: the first thing I thought of when I read the title of your post was "Champ Garden"!

      I think you have a very solid list there. I'd add Pizzaiolo and Shanghai.

      5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

      Shanghai Restaurant
      930 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607

      1. We've been enjoying the Cantonese seafood and dimsum at L & L Seafood Restaurant on San Pablo in El Cerrito. On the same block is the wonderfully goofy Jac's, a Hong Kong-style cafe.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ernie in berkeley

          Also in Peppermint Plaza is Ba Le for bahn mi, seafood soup and goi cuon.

        2. Funny---that's a list of many of our favorites, too! We also like Boot and Shoe (though need to go early or late to avoid crowds); Wood Tavern (ditto for the wait, or go for lunch); Sunnyside in Albany for brunch (haven't tried the Berkeley location yet); Shan Dong in Chinatown for noodles and dumplings; Pho 84 in Uptown for Vietnamese; and Burma Superstar in Temescal on weeknights when the wait's not insane.

          Pizzaiolo and Dopo are great too, but for some reason we have much better luck getting in and out of Marzano (agreed on Park v. College!) and Boot & Shoe without breaking the bank. Dunno why, since in theory the prices are about the same.

          3 Replies
          1. re: artemis78

            Thanks for those who have replied so far.

            Ruth-- I think some of our list has been influenced by your posts (and Robert L., rworange, Melanie and a few others). We've been in town 2 years and I think we might be following your lead. Thank you. We will check out Shanghai.

            The husband (who posts under "dcfoodblog") doesn't eat pizza often, but I will sneak out to Pizzaiolo some night. (We're also thinking there was a Ruth Lafler on the figure skating boards he followed for years - before we lived in this area?).

            Artemis78 - We'll need to try Sunnyside. Have visited most of the others and like them all. I always forget about Marzano. Our one meal there was good, but we went on an extremely busy night. We'll check it again. (And I post under "considering" on City-Data Forums. We owe you a debt of gratitude if you are the same as the artemis78 over there. So kind and helpful as we were moving and looking for neighborhoods.)

            Ernie and wolfe -- Those sound great too. We like Ba Le, but are always looking for more good Vietnamese (husband is Vietnamese) and dim sum.

            Always fun to hear where people hang out!

            dcfb and dcfoodblog

            5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

            4214 Park Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94602

            1. re: dcfb

              I'm not much of a pizza person, either, but there's lots of delicious things to eat at Pizzaiolo besides pizza.

              Yup, that was me on the figure skating boards. As far as google can tell, I'm the only Ruth Lafler in the world, which is not too surprising given my somewhat uncommon first name and my very uncommon last name. I haven't been very active in skating fandom recently, but I am thinking of going to Skate America, since it's on the West Coast (Portland) this year.

              5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

              1. re: dcfb

                Yep, same user name on that board too...should probably mix it up one of these days! ;)

                I realized I left Sidebar off of that list, too. We don't go as often as we mean to, but it's almost always good when we do, and it's another spot that, like Wood Tavern, can be a $15 meal or a $50 meal depending on your mood (which I like; sometimes we just don't have the wiggle room to splurge on a really nice meal out, but a burger and a beer in either of those spots feels almost as fancy!)

                And if you go to Sunnyside, the tasting menu is a must (at least once---it's a huge amount of food so hard to do too often...but it's almost always really creative and tasty, and I love that they're brave about experimenting).

            2. If you've been liking China Village, do yourself the favor and drive up to Happy Golden Bowl for a change of scene. For my money, the dishes are different enough, the value still high, it's got a spot in rotation. Not enough to bump CV out, just a change of pace.

              Add Lanesplitter San Pablo. I'm not fond of the Temescal branch, but two-topping 7-10 split and a pint brings a smile to my face - and change back from $10 - even in the late night.

              For lunch I like the burger at Triple Rock. When I was living in north berkeley, Barney's Solano was also in rotation, because it was the quickest decent burger. I know Barney's has a tough rap around here, but I liked it. I like Triple Rock better, though!

              For everyday eats I also have a soft spot for Khana Peena. Reminds me of real india (fast and slightly out of control), the nan's super fresh, the flavors bright. Solano only - the Bancroft branch didn't do it for me. Not a good rep here on CH. Friends keep taking me to the curry joint next to Sunnyside, which is far cheaper, but I like the greater selection at Khana Peena. The schwarmas next door at Jereuselem got good play, too.

              Happy Golden Bowl
              10675 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, CA

              1. A 2nd on Lanesplitter on San Pablo. A nice place to get a slice and brew. Friendly staff and a back patio.

                For Cantonese food in Oakland Chinatown,Chef Lau's and New Gold Medal are good and reasonably priced. For Mexican food, frankly you'd have to be really slow not to find any in the Fruitvale...or you can do a search.

                New Gold Medal
                389 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607

                2 Replies
                1. re: ML8000

                  I will assume that bb and ML are referring to The Lanesplitter on San Pablo just south of University. I prefer the take out only in Albany where a super large cheese is now $13. Lanesplitter apparently has a thing for San Pablo Ave.
                  West Berkeley est. 1998
                  2033 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley
                  Emeryville est. 2010
                  3645 San Pablo Ave., Emeryville
                  Albany est. 2002
                  1051 San Pablo Ave., Albany

                  1. re: wolfe

                    A little trivia: SP aka CA Hwy 123 is aka Camino de la Contra Costa from Spanish times. On that note: Local 123 (cafe), Sea Salt, Mi Tierra (market). Also Vik's is close by.

                    Sea Salt
                    2512 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                    Local 123
                    2049 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                2. Judging by how often I eat there (probably average once a week), Lanesplitter is easily my #1 regular go-to value place. Late hours, decent salad, good pizza, great beer, low prices, friendly service. I like the original Berkeley location because they have cask beer (the beer engine at the Oakland branch has been out of commission for months), but the Oakland branch has more comfortable chairs and tables. Slices are fine, but I think the crust is best if you get a whole small pie. I don't believe the Emeryville branch is open yet.

                  Lanesplitter Berkeley
                  2033 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                  Lanesplitter Temescal
                  4799 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                  1. Pho King,open till 7, Bun Bo Hue' , Mi Quang and any of the dry noodle dishes
                    Seoul Gom Tang, Korean Beef Soup and Soft tofu Soup.
                    Ohgane, korean BBQ
                    Tacos Sinaloa, Tacos
                    Speisekammer, German
                    Ajanta, Indian
                    Indus Village, divey Pakistani food
                    Zakis, Mideastern and roast chicken
                    Chai Thai Noodles, Thai (favorite right now.)
                    Ruen Pair, Thai
                    Shabuy Shabuy, Thai
                    El Taco Zamorano Restaurant, Jalisco Mexican
                    Spices! 3, China village and Sichuan Fusion, all Szechuan
                    Jayakarta, Indonesian
                    Addis, Ethiopian
                    OK I am worn out now and Hungry!

                    2424 Lincoln Ave, Alameda, CA 94501

                    3915 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94611

                    Jayakarta Restaurant
                    2026 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                    Ajanta Restaurant
                    1888 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

                    Indus Village Restaurant
                    1920 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                    El Taco Zamorano Restaurant
                    4032 Foothill Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601

                    Ruen Pair
                    1045 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706

                    Seoul Gom Tang
                    3028 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95051

                    Chai Thai Noodles
                    545 B International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606

                    1. I have to throw in Nizza la Bella! That was our go to almost every weekend until we moved from El Cerrito two months ago. Reaally miss it!

                      Nizza La Bella
                      827 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706

                      1. In the Berkeley area:

                        Rivoli, Corso, Venezia (for lunch), Nizza La Bella (for lunch/brunch), Britt-Marie's, the Cheesesteak Shop on University, and for an off the wall favorite: Romano's Macaroni Grill in El Cerrito Plaza (especially for their[ dirt cheap] café menu served in the bar from 3pm on). A little further north: La Bamba and Portumex in Richmond.


                        Dopo, B Restaurant's Happy Hour, Café Madrid (lunch/takeout), Bay Wolf.

                        4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

                        1369 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

                        Nizza La Bella
                        827 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706

                        Rivoli Restaurant
                        1539 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

                        La Bamba
                        12345 San Pablo Ave, Richmond, CA 94805

                        Portumex Restaurant
                        721 23rd St, Richmond, CA 94804

                        Bay Wolf Restaurant
                        3853 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                        El Cerrito Plaza
                        San Pablo Ave and Fairmount Ave, El Cerrito, CA

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: dlglidden

                          Thank you for the tip about RMG in El Cerrito - I have a gift card there.