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Best $3.50 lunch in Berkeley?

TopoTail Mar 16, 2011 02:34 PM

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?

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

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  1. Robert Lauriston RE: TopoTail Mar 16, 2011 03:10 PM

    A slice of pizza down the block at Lanesplitter.

    Luca's prices are startlingly cheap.

    Lanesplitter Berkeley
    2033 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

    1. Glencora RE: TopoTail Mar 16, 2011 04:01 PM

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

      3 Replies
      1. re: Glencora
        nicedragonboy RE: Glencora Mar 18, 2011 12:47 PM

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

        1. re: Glencora
          Robert Lauriston RE: Glencora Mar 18, 2011 12:51 PM

          How does it compare with Ba Le?

          Albany Cafe
          1309 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            nicedragonboy RE: Robert Lauriston Mar 21, 2011 10:47 AM

            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.

            Cam Huong Cafe
            702 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606

        2. e
          ernie in berkeley RE: TopoTail Mar 16, 2011 04:39 PM

          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.

          Casa Latina
          1805 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA

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

          1. c
            chocolatetartguy RE: TopoTail Mar 16, 2011 05:20 PM

            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
              sydthekyd RE: chocolatetartguy Mar 17, 2011 02:31 PM


              1. re: sydthekyd
                wolfe RE: sydthekyd Mar 17, 2011 02:38 PM

                Possibly Lee's Deli which is much more than 1 block from Luca Cucina. Thank you EIB.
                2116 Shattuck Ave
                Berkeley, CA 94704

                1. re: wolfe
                  ernie in berkeley RE: wolfe Mar 17, 2011 03:07 PM

                  Less than a block from PIQ, not Luca.

              2. re: chocolatetartguy
                ML8000 RE: chocolatetartguy Mar 17, 2011 03:33 PM

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

              3. m
                ML8000 RE: TopoTail Mar 16, 2011 06:53 PM

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

                1 Reply
                1. re: ML8000
                  Mission RE: ML8000 Mar 16, 2011 08:35 PM

                  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.

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