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With only 4 days in San Francisco, should we spend a half day checking out Berkeley?

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The topic says it all. We'll be in SF from Saturday morning until we leave for wine country early Wednesday morning. Should we take the BART up to Berkeley to check it out? If we do I definitely want to shoot back down to Oakland to Commis for dinner (hence why I said half a day and not a full day.)

What I'm really looking for is a great sandwich. Maybe a place with good cocktails or an extensive beer selection is a huge plus. My wife and I like off the beaten path places and I've read a lot of positive things about Berkeley in general. So put yourself in my shoes. Leave the hotel early in the morning, hop on the BART and get to Berkeley in about 45 minutes. Knowing that you have dinner plans at Commis later that night, how would you spend your day?

Thank you.

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Commis
3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

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  1. there aren't a whole lot of good cocktail places by the downtown berkeley BART. triple rock brewery has great beer but ok food, including sandwiches. jupiter also has great beer and good food, albeit very pizza focused.

    there are some good off the beaten bath cocktail places in berkeley along san pablo, but it's annoying to get to via public transit

    6 Replies
    1. re: vulber

      Yeah I've had a few moments to look into Berkeley and nothing really stood out to me enough to try and build a day around it. I think we're going to go to the Ferry Building Farmers Market on Saturday then get cocktails either around there or in Oakland and have dinner Commis that night. I still have one full day in SF I need to plan.

      So that leads me to my next question. Best cocktails/beer selection between Civic Center BART and Commis?

      -----
      Commis
      3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

      1. re: sixteenbiticon

        I live near Commis and work in SF. Take BART to Rockridge Station. Walk south on College toward Broadway. Hudson has great cocktails, it is about a 7 min walk from station. However, at the corner of Piedmont and Pleasant Valley there is Adesso, they have a great happy hour and they are at the opposite end of Piedmont ave from Commis. Adesso is about a 15 min walk from Bart and safe neighborhood to walk through. Commis is another pleasant stroll down Piedmont from Adesso about 5-10 minutes, if you get to Kaiser you have gone too far. Commis does not have a sign and it is small so have reservations.

        -----
        Adesso
        4395 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA

        Commis
        3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

        1. re: Walkertoo

          Commis is across the street from the Piedmont Ave Blockbuster Video. Look for the white awning.

          -----
          Commis
          3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

        2. re: sixteenbiticon

          Between?

          The best cocktails --- with a view --- is on the SF to oakland ferry. There's a gent who serves lousy port of Oakland wine, and the best caipirinia around. It's a bit of a chance (I think there are two ferries and he must not work every night), but if you see a bottle of cachasta prominently displayed, it's him. He uses agave nectar as the sweetener and the secret ingredient is rose wine.

          *and*, you get a nice hour on the water for 1/4 the price of a tour.

          Take a cab from jack london to Commis. (There's a fairly direct bus, but why bother)

          If the drink guy isn't there, you can stop at the Trappist for a beer, or Cato's next to Commis if you get there early (local pub with good fresh west coast beer selection), or the cocktail places mentioned.

          -----
          Commis
          3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

          1. re: bbulkow

            You get my vote for best tip of 2011, so wish I'd known about Caiprinia Guy when we took the Oakland Ferry which is for sure a great and cheap way to get out on the water for a visitor trying to avoid the blaring touristiness of those tour boats.

            1. re: grayelf

              Yeah, the ferry is great. I and a bunch of friends spent a few hours on the ferry for a birthday party one friday night. We got flats of eggrolls from Legendary and took over the upper back deck. We were buying drinks from the on-boat bar when I saw the cachasta, then we drank him out of his supplies. Good times.

      2. i wouldn't, and no offense to berkeley (i used to live there and loved it). that's a very short time in the City and so much to see and do. make it your next trip.

        1. You can get a great sandwich and a great selection of beers at The Trappist. Or get banh mi at Cam Huong or B C Deli and go to Beer Revolution. If you go on Sunday, there's a hopping farmers market at Jack London Square. Coffee at Blue Bottle.

          Skip Berkeley, spend the day in Oakland. I say that as someone who lives in Berkeley.

          -----
          Cam Huong Cafe
          920 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607

          The Trappist
          460 8th Street, Oakland, CA

          Jack London Square
          70 Washington St # 207, Oakland, CA

          Cam Huong Cafe
          702 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606

          Blue Bottle Oakland
          300 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607

          Beer Revolution
          464 3rd St, Oakland, CA 94607

          3 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Ah, excellent. I just noticed Beer Revolution and The Trappist on the Chow Oakland tour. They both look great, although I was getting a little claustrophobic looking at some of the pictures of The Trappist on yelp. Is it really that small inside?

            And I appreciate the honesty coming from you Berkeley natives. I usually steer people away from eating in my town too (although I live in Anytown, USA).

            -----
            Beer Revolution
            464 3rd St, Oakland, CA 94607

            1. re: sixteenbiticon

              Not sure what the Trappist looks like on Yelp - the bar is long and rather narrow, then there's a room behind it that has 3-4 small tables (seats 4 each snugly) directly across from the bathrooms, and then there's a much bigger/wider room at the rear of the bar with a good amount of elbow room. YMMV depending on how many people are at the bar. I am very fond of personal space and do ok at the Trappist, which isn't always the case at bars. I like sitting against the wall in the second room, though yes, view of the restroom doors.

              1. re: sixteenbiticon

                The Trappist expanded into an adjacent storefront. The "back bar" (new part) is quite spacious.

                There's some great food in Berkeley. To me, the best foodie tour might start at Acme Bread and Kermit Lynch, continue down San Pablo to the international food shopping district (Casa Latina, Spanish Table, Indus Foods, Middle East Market, Mi Tierra) with maybe a hand-pumped beer at Lanesplitter, a swing by Grocery Outlet, a tour of the Takara Sake brewery, and ending at Fourth Street for Sur la Table, the Cafe Rouge meat counter, and the Pasta Shop. There are also some wineries nearby that are sometimes open for tasting, and the June Taylor shop. Or head down the street to Vik's for chaat. I'm probably forgetting some other highlights.

                -----
                Spanish Table
                1814 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                Acme Bread
                1601 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                Pasta Shop
                1786 4th St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                Takara Sake USA
                708 Addison St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                Lanesplitter Berkeley
                2033 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                Cafe Rouge
                1782 Fourth St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant
                1605 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                The Trappist
                460 8th Street, Oakland, CA

                Mi Tierra
                2096 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA

                Middle East Market
                2054 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

            2. Not to be the contrarian here, but for somebody from out of town, Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto might be worth experiencing. It's only about 25 minutes from the BART stations near Union Square. That's no more time than it takes to get to the Haight or the Inner Richmond, so why not? (Well, the view's less interesting, but aside from that...)

              Hop off at the Downtown Berkeley station and wander north on Shattuck Avenue; you'll have tons of options. Chez Panisse and its offspring, along with all the others that have been attracted to the area, make for some interesting strolling and outstanding eating.

              You mentioned sandwiches, but do you want French-influenced takeout (Gregoire), NY deli style (Saul's), or veggie / healthy (Juice Bar Collective)? And I'd venture to say that sandwiches aren't the area's strongest suit...

              -----
              Chez Panisse
              1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

              Gregoire
              2109 Cedar St, Berkeley, CA 94709

              Saul's Deli
              1475 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

              The Juice Bar Collective
              2114 Vine St, Berkeley, CA 94709

              Chez Panisse Cafe
              1517 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

              12 Replies
              1. re: alanbarnes

                N-judah gets you to the haight pretty quickly from union square

                1. re: vulber

                  True dat. Can't remember why I took the 6 Parnassus last time I was headed that direction, but it's quite a bit slower.

                2. re: alanbarnes

                  The Gourmet Ghetto was the happening place 20-30 years ago. Lots of the places that made its reputation are gone (Pig by the Tail, North Berkeley Wine, Cocolat, Vivoli), dated (Juice Bar Collective, French Hotel, Poulet), or no longer unique (Peet's).

                  As a local, the main attraction is the Cheese Board, which is one of the top four or five cheese shops in the Bay Area. (Their bread is second- or third-rate, their eccentric pizza is fun once in a while.) If I'm there to buy cheese, I might pick up some wine at the excellent Vintage Berkeley. The Thursday afternoon farmers market is quite good, though small since it's organic-only. Cesar is a great place to drink wine and have a snack on a nice afternoon if you can snag a window table. Chez Panisse is classic but you need a reservation.

                  Personally I don't think there's enough there to justify a special trip and it's not on the way to anywhere.

                  -----
                  Chez Panisse
                  1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                  Vintage Berkeley
                  2113 Vine St, Berkeley, CA 94709

                  Bar César
                  1515 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

                  The Cheese Board Collective
                  1504 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

                  Cheese Board Pizza
                  1512 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

                  Poulet
                  1685 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA

                  Chez Panisse Cafe
                  1517 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I agree with you about not making a trip there with limited time. However, if one does, I'd probably (in meeting with the OP's criteria) have a drink or two at Cesar, and have a sandwich at Gregoire (especially for something on the lighter side, given the dinner plans).

                    1. re: lmnopm

                      If you're at Cesar, get the excellent spicy tuna and egg sandwich.

                      I can see why people who live in the neighborhood and don't cook or are working long hours like Gregoire for quality takeout, but otherwise I don't get the appeal. The food is simple and bland, and if you're not lucky enough to snag one of the handful of seats you have to eat it on the sidewalk.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        not too mention pricey.

                        glad to hear another gregoire detractor

                        1. re: vulber

                          not bad for lunch, but dinner is quite expensive.

                      2. re: lmnopm

                        The cocktails at Cesar are exceptional, including by san francisco's standards. They claim to have lead the use of Antica in manhattans, back when they served the Lucky 13 (there isn't enough Hirsch 13 to have the drink regularly). In the late afternoon, when they have the doors open in front, it is one or my more favorite places in the world.

                        -----
                        Lucky 13
                        1301 Park St, Alameda, CA 94501

                        1. re: bbulkow

                          I wouldn't ever plan a trip to the Bay Area without a stop at Cesar's. It's worth a trip just to go there!

                      3. re: Robert Lauriston

                        All good points. Still and all, it's a piece of American culinary history. And it's always easier to take places like that for granted when they're in your own back yard.

                        As frequent visitors from out of town, Barb and I enjoy wandering the area. But then again, it **is** on the way for us since we usually ditch the car at El Cerrito del Norte and take BART into the city.

                        Is it worth a special trip? If time's limited you could certainly argue that other options should take precedence. But IMO it's at least worth considering.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Rumors of North Berkeley Wine's demise have been greatly exaggerated? Still kickin', and still great.....

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            If you do decide to go to the Gourmet Ghetto area, Lush Gelato is not to be missed. It's better than anything you'll find in SF, in my opinion. There's another location near Commis, but if you want to space out your caloric intake, the North Berkeley shop is a good option and has a wider selection of flavors.

                            On the other hand, if you're in the Acme Bread area (West Berkeley, basically), then you shouldn't skip Local 123, one of the best coffeeshops in the Bay Area. And Berkeley Bowl West, arguably the best grocery store in the world. My honest opinion, though, is that that area is probably too much of a pain to get around if you don't have a car.

                            As far as your overall plan is concerned, it really just depends on whether you have other non-food related interests for your day in Berkeley - like visiting the campus, the gardens, Tilden regional park, etc. The food in Berkeley is great, but I wouldn't necessarily plan an entire day around it, starting early in the morning like you mentioned - and for the most part the food options in Oakland are better and more interesting. (Better even, some would argue, than what you can get in SF proper.)

                            If you don't have reservations for Commis yet, note that it isn't open on Mondays or Tuesdays.

                            -----
                            Lush Gelato
                            4184 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA

                            Local 123
                            2049 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                            Commis
                            3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                            Lush Gelato
                            1511 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

                        2. Not a beer drinker so don't know but is there something wrong with Cato's? If too close there's a walk to the Oakland Rose Garden then to Lake Merritt and back to work up an appetite.
                          http://www.catosalehouse.com/

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: wolfe

                            First I'm hearing of Cato's. I'll look into it as well. Honestly after seeing the Trappist beer list and Adesso's cocktail list I think we've found our pre-Commis plans. Thanks for all of the suggestions. Now to focus my attention on the 9 billion other things I'm trying to decide upon for our trip...

                            -----
                            Adesso
                            4395 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA

                            1. re: wolfe

                              Cato's is a convivial neighborhood beer-and-wine bar with decent pub grub and reasonable prices. It's pretty much a twin of Ben & Nick's. Not in the same league with The Trappist or Commonwealth.

                              -----
                              Ben & Nick's Bar & Grill
                              5612 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

                              Cato's Ale House
                              3891 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

                              CommonWealth Cafe & Public House
                              2882 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Agreed. The beer selection is only OK and tends to be less fresh than Lanesplitter, but it's simply a solid neighborhood place. The kind of place I frequented when I lived near there, but don't drive back for. I do make a point at stopping at lanesplitter when I can - the beer's just that fresh.

                                1. re: bbulkow

                                  Actually I sent a pint back at Lanesplitter last night, though that's only maybe the third time in the 10+ years I've been going there. The bartender said they've been getting occasional off kegs from Bear Republic in the last six months (after years of reliable consistency).

                            2. I'd disagree with some of the posts put up. If you have any interest in visiting Berkeley -- you definitely should. Yes, there's lots more to do in SF, but it's also a bigger city. Berkeley though has great places popping up all the time and while Gourmet Ghetto is definitely an area you should hit up, there are also lots of great places *right* in Downtown Berkeley that have food/drinks that would rival many places in SF. I recommend the following:

                              Revival Bar & Kitchen (literally right next to Downtown Berkeley BART)
                              Gather (1 block away from the Dwntwn BART exit)
                              Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen (also next to exit -- really great hushpuppies)
                              FIVE (inside the Hotel Shattuck has a great bar and really good garlic fries)

                              There's also more casual places like Saturn Cafe, Jupiter (good beer selection), Cancun Taqueria, and Burger Meister.

                              So there's lots of places outside the Gourmet Ghetto right around Downtown to get a good drink/meal. Though, if you're really interested in seeing Berkeley, a visit to the Gourmet Ghetto isn't to be missed. You'll see a bit of Berkeley on your walk there and you'll get to see the birthplace of California cuisine at Chez Panisse.

                              -----
                              Chez Panisse
                              1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                              Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen
                              2261 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                              Jupiter
                              2181 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA

                              Burger Meister
                              507 Westlake Ctr, Daly City, CA 94015

                              Cancun
                              2134 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94704

                              FIVE American Bistro & Bar
                              2086 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94704

                              Gather
                              2200 Oxford Street, Berkeley, CA 94704

                              Revival Bar & Kitchen
                              2102 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                              Saturn Cafe
                              2175 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94704

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: vozz37

                                There are a fair number of good restaurants downtown—Ippuku, Gather, Revival, Five, Angeline's—but that doesn't really make an interesting morning or afternoon for a tourist. Generally downtown Berkeley is a boring student ghetto.

                                To me, unless you have a reservation at Chez Panisse, going to the Gourmet Ghetto is a bit like going to Fisherman's Wharf. The cultural moments that gave the places their names passed long ago. You want to see fishermen, go to Half Moon Bay. You want to go where East Bay gourmets shop and eat, go to West Berkeley and various Oakland neighborhoods.

                                -----
                                Chez Panisse
                                1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  That's true, but the original question was whether there were good places to eat/drink near Downtown Berkeley BART, which there are. If they want to see Berkeley, there's much more than just the Downtown area, but that's true of any city.

                                  -----
                                  Downtown Berkeley BART
                                  2230 Shattuck Ave, C Berkeley, CA

                                  1. re: vozz37

                                    The original questions are whether it's worth spending one day of a four-day trip to SF (1) in Berkeley followed by (2) dinner at Commis, and if so where to get (3) a great sandwich and maybe (4) good cocktails or a (5) great beer selection.

                                    -----
                                    Commis
                                    3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      Right. There are many fine places to eat, drink and shop for food in Berkeley, but given those parameters, I wouldn't recommend a trip to Berkeley.

                              2. I wouldn't go to Berkeley as a tourist destination (unless you are a produce/market junkie).
                                I am so surprised that so many people would recommend that you do so… I am thinking there is some local bias…

                                The first time I went to Berkeley, I was disappointed in the Gourmet Ghetto. There is not much to see to do... maybe there used to be, but I find it a bit lack luster and parts a bit run down. IMO, there are so many more interesting areas in SF to explore (Hayes Valley, the Mission, Japan Town, or Haight for neighborhoods or the Presidio, Golden Gate Park, or Chrissy Field for scenery/hiking)... and if you really want a day out of the city, go to Sausalito instead.. there are nice restaurants and great views. Also, after going to the ferry building (which has Acme and cowgirl cheese) you certainly won’t need to go to Acme and Cheeseboard in Berkeley like so many have suggested.

                                That being said, I am a market junkie and do love visiting Berkley. I love going there are and filling my trunk with groceries from some combination of Berkley Bowl, Monterey market, Monterey Fish, The Spanish Table, Nordic House, Tokyo Fish, Acme, Cheese Board etc.., doing a restaurant, brewery or even a Sake tasting .... and some hiking in the hills. I can't imagine really enjoying Berkeley without a car and a trunk to fill. I could easily live there... Btw, I would say the same about the Peninsula where I live... They are great places to live, but not worth 1 day out of a 4 day trip to SF.

                                20 Replies
                                1. re: lrealml

                                  I disagree, there's so much awesome stuff in the East Bay, and much of San Francisco has gotten so expensive and yupped out, that it's a shame not to come over here.

                                  Downtown Oakland / Chinatown (which is largely Chinese), Uptown, Temescal, Fruitvale, and West Berkeley all have way more to offer the foodie tourist than North Berkeley.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    I'm going to throw a few other ideas out there. Instead of a bar for cocktails, you might consider a trip to the Hangar One / St. George Spirits Distillery in Alameda - you can take the ferry from SF to not too far away (open Wed-Sun) - this is one of my regular "stops" on the "tourists are visiting" circuit, and an occasional stop even when not. (The issue afterward is the bus service from there to get to Oakland probably isn't that great.) But there is a bus, and it will get you to BART. Temescal and West Berkeley have plenty of tasty bits, but aren't necessarily lovely walking areas (nothing wrong with them, but more industrial feeling than the better "walking" neighborhoods) and also, best served if you have a car. Without a car, I might head up to Rockridge and eat lunch at Wood Tavern - and if not, there are plenty of other ok to very good places, and it is a nice place to take a walk.

                                    -----
                                    Wood Tavern
                                    6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

                                    1. re: lmnopm

                                      I finally made it to St. George Spirits when greyelf (and Mr. Greyelf) were in town. They really do a very nice job with the tasting (except for the fact that at some points it was almost unbearably noisy in the tasting room). A tasting is $15 but they let you share it, just in case you aren't up to downing a dozen quarter-ounce pours on your own.

                                      1. re: lmnopm

                                        With a car, an alameda/berkeley afternoon becomes pleasant. Hangar One, maybe a stop at Rosenblum, maybe the USS Hornet, a walk through chinatown, a beer at Trappist, Dinner at Plum or Commis, a show at the Fox, nightcap fries at Luka's, and home. Doing with public transit gives you the ++ of a ferry ride to alameda, but makes it very hard to get from the ferry to Hangar One, or the Hornet, or back to downtown oakland. The 31 bus appears to be your friend getting from Alameda to the mainland, but still.

                                        I do love the views from Jack London Square, and afternoon patio drinks at Heinholds is a win.

                                        Most people find that for a first trip to SF, oakland/berkeley doesn't make a 4 day trip unless there's a special interest, like the free speech movement, or the cyclotron & science museum up in the hills, an interest in container shipping and/or aircraft carriers, a historical visit to CP, or visiting colleges.

                                        -----
                                        Jack London Square
                                        70 Washington St # 207, Oakland, CA

                                        Commis
                                        3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                        1. re: bbulkow

                                          Yeah, there's no compelling reason for a foodie tourist to come to the East Bay from SF unless they're interested in ice cream, pizza, beer, soju, shochu, banh mi, izakaya, modernist cuisine, wine, coffee, Spanish food products, Korean food, pastrami, or salumi.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Or snark! I hear that's *very* strong in the east bay.

                                            And --- you forgot tacos. Fruitvale is so much more real than the mission.

                                            1. re: bbulkow

                                              Beer, brats and sun in the face! Yeah, I'm talking about an A's day game at the Coliseum. BART drops you off at the parking lot. Very cool.

                                              1. re: steve h.

                                                Wife vetoed the idea of seeing a Giants game while we're in SF so I would assume she'd do likewise for the A's. Thanks for the suggestion, though!

                                                Growing up, my favorite baseball player was Will Clark so I was a huge Giants fan (moreso than our hometown Orioles), but alas my wife put an end to the idea before I had a chance to get excited about it.

                                                1. re: sixteenbiticon

                                                  Too bad about the Giants game, AT&T Park is pretty special. Food is surprisingly good for a ballpark, maybe the equal of Camden Yards. The Coliseum is an old 1960's design that screams out for beers and brats. I like the old girl.

                                                  Maybe next time.

                                                  1. re: steve h.

                                                    90% of the food stands at Your Name Here Park are lame, selling the same lukewarm garlic fries and supermarket hot dogs. The other 10%, which can take some hunting down (top deck all the way to the right, ground level all the way to the left) have some of the best food I've ever found in a stadium or airport, but it seems like they don't open if they expect low attendance.

                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                      Your quality/crap ratio is about right. Finding the right beer stand should be easy but it's not. Hunting out the few places that can make a decent sausage, steak sandwich, whatever is always a challenge. Still, Orioles Stadium at Camden Yards and AT&T Park are better than most. I'm a Yankees fan. Steak sandwiches from Lobel's at The Stadium are pretty good. Mike's Deli (Arthur Avenue guys) has closed shop. They are missed.

                                      2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        Ok, perhaps I haven't been exploring the right parts...
                                        Will try to plan another visit soon... Most of the posters (not you) seem to be telling the OP to hit North Berkeley...
                                        Still not sure that the OP has enough time for this. 4 days in SF is nothing. I feel I could live here for another 5 years and not explore everything properly...

                                        1. re: lrealml

                                          My first five-day trip to San Francisco when I was 19 included half a day of wandering around Berkeley (and not the campus, although we did head up to Lawrence Hall of Science) taking BART.

                                          I later moved here because of it. It sure wasn't because of the seal rocks or the Financial District or any of the crummy tourist dining recs in this week's NYTimes.

                                          And agreed, there's plenty to do, see, and eat all over the East Bay. You could easily spend the whole time in Oakland without ever being bored or hungry. Take a look at bart.gov to see where you can easily get to on public transit.

                                          Also fascinating to me that most of the naysayers on this thread live in the East Bay!

                                          1. re: Windy

                                            I can't seem to find a single "naysayer" that has the East Bay listed as their location in their profile... to me it seems to be the opposite: those who live in the East Bay are strongly recommending a visit. This is probably because they know where to go. I need to do some more exploring and find out myself.

                                            I also came here on vacation a few years before moving out...We spent a lot of time in SF wondering around parks and the coast. I was lured by the beauty of the Ocean, the Mountains, and all the wonderful nature so close to such a vibrant, culturally diverse, major city. Didn't spend much time at the tourist traps either. Different people will obviously find different things appealing.

                                            1. re: lrealml

                                              I've lived three different places in the east bay, totaling about 10 years, in the 22 years I've been in the bay area. I know I've spent a day hanging out in the east bay with friends when I lived there - a nice brunch at Rick and Ann's, grab a picnic from one of the italian delis, hike one of the parks (say, redwood, I like the rim walk then back through the dark center, pausing for lunch about half way), then a nice dinner somewhere - A Cote / Cesar / etc. But, honestly, when visitors arrive I send them to Pt Reyes or Pescadero or MOMA or a Ft Point -> Marine Basin walk, or angel island, even the afternoon mission murals & street food walk, long before I'd suggest a day in the east bay.

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

                                              1. re: bbulkow

                                                "... when visitors arrive I send them to Pt Reyes or Pescadero or MOMA or a Ft Point -> Marine Basin walk, or angel island ..."

                                                This is Chowhound. If someone posts here looking for tips, they're looking for a foodie itinerary, not scenery.

                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  You can eat well in all of those places.

                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                    There's been good threads about a mission street walk including food, which I've contributed to. MOMA is a little sad in food options; right now, I would probably go check House Of Shields (post leary), I've also been itching to try B. Hoofing it all the way up to Heaven's Dog for a Bee's Knees or Four Bees or whatever they call it isn't a bad idea. Pt Reyes has a couple of options, depending on whether going up Tomales to Marshal is a good idea, or hitting the Pelican further south - I forget if that's off this board on on it. Ft Point -> the marina I don't have good food recs for - that's a fine topic in itself. The standard angel island rec is hitting cowgirl and associated stalls in the ferry building for a picnic pre-ferry, since the Tiburon options stink.

                                                    The question being "Is Berkeley worth the trip 1 out of 4 days" means "what would you be leaving out".

                                                    -----
                                                    Heaven's Dog
                                                    1148 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                              2. re: Windy

                                                However, note that the OP specifically said he/she wanted to spend half a day in Berkeley and get there by BART from SF. I think that's the crux of the issue. I'm not sure that's terribly feasible based on my recent experience trying to do just that.

                                                1. re: Windy

                                                  I love eating in many places in the East Bay. The key is they are coming over for a short 4 day trip. I have lived in SF and in the East Bay since 1985 and work in the financial district and I am still finding cool places to eat and visit in SF. I would just not send a visitor to Berkeley within that kind of timeframe.... (craving some Arizmendi pizza as I type....)

                                                  -----
                                                  Arizmendi
                                                  1268 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                          2. where are you coming from?

                                            1. dont plan your visit to Berkeley around food. plan your visit around going to the campus (or whatever non food attraction you may have)...and then plan food around that. great restaurants in Berkeley...no doubt about that, but nothing in my mind that would take up a whole day.

                                              1. When I saw the title of the post, I thought "If you are driving, yes, if not, no." And when I saw that you're going to Commis for dinner and not driving, then it's definitely no. Don't get me wrong, there are great eats in Berkeley, but they're not all in one central location, and it's easier to drive around and hit them. And a lot of the great newer stuff is in Oakland, which is a more interesting food location these days. If you're having dinner at Commis, then the Trappist then Adesso plan is a fantastic one. Enjoy!

                                                -----
                                                Adesso
                                                4395 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA

                                                Commis
                                                3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                                1. I was faced with the same situation recently and I decided to do the Berekely option. I would not recommend it. For one, it's a lot more than 45 minutes on the train when you factor in waiting for the train on both ends. So you spend a lot of time underground or looking out at fairly boring scenery. For another thing, I didn't find that there was anything food-wise in Berkeley particularly worth the trip.

                                                  I didn't regret it, because I wanted to check out UC-Berkeley and meet up some friends in the east Bay, but I don't recommend a BART trip to Berkeley just for food or unless you have a big interest in seeing something else in the Berkeley area. If you have a car it's a different story.

                                                  17 Replies
                                                  1. re: taos

                                                    How did you manage to spend 45 minutes on the train? Were you coming from San Bruno? It's 25 minutes from Montgomery Street Station to Downtown Berkeley - quicker than driving if there's any traffic on the Bay Bridge (and there's always traffic on the Bay Bridge).

                                                    1. re: taos

                                                      The OP is already going to Oakland for dinner, so the BART trip is included.

                                                      It is a good idea to consult the BART website; it's the one Bay Area transit agency that runs close to schedule. Also you can put both BART and MUNI fares on a clipper card, which is handy.

                                                      And sorry you didn't find anything good to eat in Berkeley. I wouldn't head there for cocktails, but otherwise do pretty well snacking on that side of the bridge.

                                                      1. re: taos

                                                        Where did you end up eating?

                                                        1. re: bbulkow

                                                          This what you do :

                                                          Have a light breakfast in SF.

                                                          Jump on BART go straight to Rockridge station in Oakland , arrive at a little past noon.

                                                          Now you are on College Ave. in the heart of the "Rockridge".

                                                          Check out Market Hall gourmet food center across the street.

                                                          Wander a few blocks down College away from Berkeley towards your final destination of Commis on Piedmont ave. Oakland.

                                                          Next stop Wood Tavern or Southie (next door) You wanted fantastic sandwiches they have them!
                                                          Some of the best in Nor Cal.

                                                          They also have great cocktails , beer too and super duper service, all at a fair price.

                                                          Want coffee after lunch? go one more block to Cole coffee....Very fantastic!

                                                          Hang out and soak up the mellow Oakland vibe. This part of Oakland is very safe and chill.

                                                          Then continue down College Ave and check out the crazy amount of other food and drink options along the way.

                                                          Keep on going down College ,there are some interesting shops and watering holes to explore too.

                                                          When you get to the end of College and you see a Wendy's...it's time to turn left and head three long blocks up Pleasant Valley Ave.
                                                          Then you will be on the Top of Piedmont Ave and Pleasant Valley.

                                                          This is where Adesso is is...right on the corner.

                                                          Have some apps and some wine.

                                                          Then head down Piedmont Ave. which is also filled with great places to eat.

                                                          Till you reach your final destination of Commis
                                                          3859 Piedmont Avenue.

                                                          Then take a $ 8 taxi ride back to BART.

                                                          You don't want to walk back to any BART station after dark from Commis.

                                                          Not that its in a bad hood....but you don't want to do it.

                                                          This is your best plan !

                                                          And its about a 1.75 mile walk.

                                                          But if you have 4-5 hours it will be great!

                                                          Plus we have the best weather in America...so enjoy!

                                                          -----
                                                          Wood Tavern
                                                          6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

                                                          Adesso
                                                          4395 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA

                                                          Commis
                                                          3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                                          1. re: Mission

                                                            you know, that's a good plan!

                                                            1. re: Mission

                                                              If you're at Market Hall and start walking toward Commis, you won't pass Wood Tavern, it's half a mile in the opposite direction. When you reach College, you won't see the Wendy's until you turn RIGHT on Broadway, then you turn left on Pleasant Valley. Adesso is great but doesn't open until 5 and is closed Sundays.

                                                              More generally Rockridge and Piedmont Avenue are very upscale yuppie neighborhoods and while not as weak in points of foodie interest as North Berkeley there are a lot of lame overpriced places and none of the exciting diversity you'll find in downtown Oakland, Uptown, or West Berkeley.

                                                              -----
                                                              Wood Tavern
                                                              6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

                                                              Adesso
                                                              4395 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA

                                                              Commis
                                                              3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                                              1. re: Mission

                                                                Now that I've switched around my itinerary and am doing Oakland on Tuesday, this is definitely helpful. I'll look into Wood Tavern and Southie. They'd be up against The Sentinel or Barbacco for lunch...

                                                                -----
                                                                Wood Tavern
                                                                6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

                                                                Barbacco
                                                                230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                                1. re: sixteenbiticon

                                                                  If you're in the East Bay on Tuesday, you might check out the Berkeley farmers market, which is a few blocks from the Berkeley Bowl. Have you thought about renting bikes? They're a very popular way to get around here, and there's a great network of bike routes.

                                                                  http://bayareabikes.com/about/hours-o...

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Berkeley Bowl
                                                                  2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

                                                                  1. re: sixteenbiticon

                                                                    All four of your lunch choices are really good. I would think you'd want to keep it lighter before your Commis dinner, so I'd opt for Southie or Sentinel (take out as opposed to sit down.)

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Commis
                                                                    3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                      The fact that it's takeout / stand-up doesn't make Southie any lighter than Wood Tavern, they're pretty similar. Barbacco has the lightest options of the four.

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Wood Tavern
                                                                      6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

                                                                      Barbacco
                                                                      230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                                    2. re: sixteenbiticon

                                                                      James Syhabout, the chef/owner of Commis, launched Hawker Fare this morning. You might want to keep an eye out for posts about it and consider adding it to your Oakland outing.

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Hawker Fare
                                                                      2300 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94612

                                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                        Thank you Melanie, I'll keep an eye out for it.

                                                                        After looking at where they're located I'm not sure Wood Tavern/Southie quite fit. While I'm sure they're great, I'm not quite certain that they're much better options than either The Sentinel or Barbacco which are much more convieniently located.

                                                                        I like the progression through Oakland starting at The Trappist and then after some sight-seeing around Lake Merritt taking the BART North and then coming back south to finally end up at Commis around 8pm.

                                                                        You have to realize that I'm a huge beer fan and so checking out The Trappist definitely pulls a lot of weight for me.

                                                                        -----
                                                                        Commis
                                                                        3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                                                        Barbacco
                                                                        230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                                        1. re: sixteenbiticon

                                                                          If you're a huge beer fan, you might want to swing by to Beer Revolution for at least one glass and a look around before heading out of the neighborhood.

                                                                          I find it kind of ridiculous, since to me it's a trivial little walk, but until the grant money runs out there's a free Broadway shuttle bus that runs from Jack London Square to Grand.

                                                                          http://www.meetdowntownoak.com/shuttl...

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Beer Revolution
                                                                          464 3rd St, Oakland, CA 94607

                                                                          1. re: sixteenbiticon

                                                                            I absolutely love the sandwiches at Wood Tavern and Southie. But The Sentinel still has my favorite sandwiches in the Bay Area.

                                                                            -----
                                                                            Wood Tavern
                                                                            6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

                                                                            1. re: JasmineG

                                                                              The sides at Wood Tavern are really good. The pastrami comes with cole slaw, a chair, a table, and a roof over your head.

                                                                              -----
                                                                              Wood Tavern
                                                                              6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                All of that is true. But if you want the best sandwich (and to pay less for it) go to The Sentinel.

                                                                                1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                  The Sentinel's hot sandwiches are $9 vs. $10 for Wood Tavern's hot pastrami, and I'd pay $3 for that cole slaw.

                                                                                  -----
                                                                                  Wood Tavern
                                                                                  6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

                                                                2. I lived in the Berkeley area for about 10 years (moved away about 10 years ago). When we had out-of-town guests, we combined sightseeing with eating. Breakfast at Betty's Ocean View diner maybe, followed by a walk along the waterfront. ALunch as a take-out from a collection fo places inthe gourmet ghetto. Take the lunch up into the hills to one of the picnic areas in the woods or just overlooking the Bay by the Lawrence Science Hall. Stroll along Telegraph and Shattuck to browse at the many used book stores and Amoeba for music. Dinner--I was always partial to Lalime's--is it still there? I never was good at planning things far enough in advance to go to Chez Panisse....

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Chez Panisse
                                                                  1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: wrldtrvl

                                                                    In between these walks you had a car? The walk from Shattuck and Cedar to campus and then up Centennial is daunting as is the La Loma route.

                                                                    1. re: wolfe

                                                                      Yes, we had a car, although we did not use it much, except, of course, going up to the hills. I used to take the bus to school and home from Albany so I was very familiar with the bus routes as well.

                                                                      1. re: wrldtrvl

                                                                        The OP is BARTing and no doubt an AC Transit novice.

                                                                    2. re: wrldtrvl

                                                                      Lalime's is still there.

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Lalime's
                                                                      1329 Gilman, Berkeley, CA 94706

                                                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                        Still there, fairly recent chef change.

                                                                    3. As far as food goes, the only thing I can really add to the discussion is that the Berkeley Bowl always blows my visitors' minds, even if they don't buy anything; they just like to wander around gawking at all the produce. As far as meals, you can get great food almost anywhere in SF/East Bay, so I think the question actually boils down to non-food criteria: what does OP -- or any visitor -- like in terms of neighborhoods & atmosphere? Where is the visitor coming from, & what do we have that that place lacks?

                                                                      Regardless, if I had to be cruise director for anybody's 4 days in SF, I'd rent a car & drive to Pt. Reyes because it's one of the most beautiful places in the world. You can eat there too, of course, but you don't go there *for* the food. I mean, I know this is a food board, but eating happens in a place where you experience so many other things -- what you see while you're eating, what you see on your way there, who you talk to or pass by on the street, what the weather is like... actually, weather can often be a good argument for going to the East Bay from SF :)

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Berkeley Bowl
                                                                      2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: indigirl

                                                                        There's destination food in Point Reyes: Osteria Stellina and, maybe someday again, Manka's.

                                                                        -----
                                                                        Osteria Stellina
                                                                        11285 Highway 1, Point Reyes Station, CA

                                                                        1. re: indigirl

                                                                          Bovine Bakery, Cowgirl Creamery, Marin French Cheese Co.,and Brick Maiden Bread.
                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/734878

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Marin French Cheese
                                                                          7500 Red Hill Rd, Petaluma, CA 94952

                                                                          Cowgirl Creamery - Petaluma Facility
                                                                          105 H St, Petaluma, CA 94952

                                                                          Bovine Bakery
                                                                          11315 Shoreline Hwy, Point Reyes Station, CA

                                                                          1. re: wolfe

                                                                            I try to spend a few days at Pt. Reyes every year (Walt's Cottage) because it is so damned beautiful up there. Stellina is ok, very good for the area but needs to be graded on a curve since it's just not the equal of its San Francisco counterparts.

                                                                            I miss Manka's but it seems Margaret Grade didn't make nice with the neighbors (parking!) and forgot that insurance is your friend when things go horribly wrong. The Lodge is missed.

                                                                            Oysters are pretty good taken fresh from Tomales Bay, the Cowgirls make really good cheese, beer from area sources fills the fridge and it's only a short hop over the mountains to Napa for that September/October wine fix.

                                                                            Pt. Reyes is cool.

                                                                            Here's a photo out the back of our little rental cottage.

                                                                             
                                                                        2. I love Berkeley and used to live there, but with four days I would also stay in SF (maybe use the "extra" day in GG Park and CA Academy type stuff...). You should though BART over early and maybe grab a cocktail before dinner in Oakland.

                                                                          As for SANDWICHES my favorite right now is Barbacco's porchetta or lamb sandwich (duck sadly not on the menu right now) or a Banh Mi.

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Barbacco
                                                                          230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111