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Best $3.50 lunch in Berkeley?

I've become a regular at Luca Cucina Italiana, where a bowl of polenta soup goes for $3.50. They start with a beautiful tomato sauce, add the polenta, and top it with a slice of mozzarella. My only complaint is that I want a tad more tomato sauce than they normally use, but they're happy to add a bit extra. Basic, no frills spot, but I've loved everything I've had there.

Other contenders for something that good at that price?

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Luca Cucina Italiana
2057 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

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  1. A slice of pizza down the block at Lanesplitter.

    Luca's prices are startlingly cheap.

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    Lanesplitter Berkeley
    2033 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

    1. The peppered pork sandwich at the Albany Cafe. (Okay, that's Albany, not Berkeley--but close.)

      3 Replies
      1. re: Glencora

        I'm in agreement w/ Glencora on this. That is an excellent sandwich.

        1. re: Glencora

          How does it compare with Ba Le?

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          Albany Cafe
          1309 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            While the similarities are there to a traditional banh mi, pickled Daikon, carrots, jalapeno peppers. I really feel like it's almost an entirely different animal with it's more rustic toasted baguette and organic ingredients. They also serve a variety of meat filling you won't typically find at Ba Le or Cam Huong like their Peppered Pork or Spicy Crab. That being said, it's a very good alternative to Ba Le.

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            Cam Huong Cafe
            702 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606

        2. Regular burritos are still $3.95 at La Palmita on San Pablo. Excellent chili verde.
          Tacos are $2.50, tamales $3.50 at Casa Latina.
          PIQ downtown has a variety of sandwiches and pizzas for under $4.00
          I think the falafel at Zand (Solano in Albany) is $3.95.

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          Casa Latina
          1805 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA

          La Palmita Cafe
          1335 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

          1. I'm usually looking for the $5-6 lunch, but for 3.50 there are some sandwiches at Lee's less than a block from LCI. A huge club is only 5.25. Also slices at Arinell also nearby and Gioia. You can get 2 bowls of good honest soup at any Alta Bates cafeteria. I like the beef and root vegetable.

            4 Replies
            1. re: chocolatetartguy

              Lee's?

              1. re: sydthekyd

                Possibly Lee's Deli which is much more than 1 block from Luca Cucina. Thank you EIB.
                2116 Shattuck Ave
                Berkeley, CA 94704
                http://www.leesdeli.com/menuberkeley....

                1. re: wolfe

                  Less than a block from PIQ, not Luca.

              2. re: chocolatetartguy

                Lee's is definitely a good deal. The turkey is roasted in house..and the sandwiches giant.

              3. Top Dog still has the brown bag special for $4.50...dog, small soda, chips.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ML8000

                  I remember in my youth that the Top Dog brown bag special (As late as 1979.) was only a $1.00...topdog, small soda, chips.

                  Plus the Top Dog "Louisiana Hot sausage" were actually really, really hot!
                  Now they should not even be called a "Hot" sausage.

                  You could also get a Cheeseburger, French Fry and a drink at Kwikway in Oakland for $1.00.

                  Good times!

                  Good thing there is no inflation.