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Need recommendations for lunch today near El Cerrito

Help! We are having a work lunch for a departing coworker, and the office decided, a few minutes ago, that since Dunstable likes food so much, HE should pick! Except I know very little about the area. Somewhere on Solano in Albany sounds like the best bet. Anyone have any ideas? I think anything further than Albany or Richmond is too far. Nothing too posh, of course, and the coworker in question doesn't like Indian food (so Nepalese and the like are probably also out), and another coworker won't eat bread (so no pizza). Any ideas? Thanks in advance...

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      1. +1 for Bowl'd Korean on Solano.

        How about Chinese at Daimo? If you want Sichuan, China Village just had a fire so sadly cross that off the list. I don't care for the Sichuan place in the Pacific East Mall, but there was a positive recent report for Happy Golden Bowl in El Cerrito. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/840690

        Tangerine is too small, but FYI, is a nice place to get a fresh and healthy lunch.

        5 Replies
        1. re: hyperbowler

          Bowl'd sounds great to me, but quoth my Korean coworker: "I been there; it's shit." So, no go for today's lunch. To be fair, he doesn't think any Bay Area Korean restaurant is any good. I think I will go there myself sometime, though.

          1. re: dunstable

            I recently had a brunch/lunch at Bistro 1491 on Solano that was better than I thought it would be.

            Is Sea Salt too far away? That's better.

            1. re: Glencora

              I've had lunch several times at Bistro 1491, getting the steak (not Philly style) sandwich with coleslaw. It was delicious. My husband got the french fries with his chicken sandwich and they were great. I think the dreary atmosphere is what keeps the place from being popular but the food is superior to Sunnyside.

              Also, Taqueria Talavera, at Solano and Peralta, has very good fried fish tacos and also shrimp tacos. The burritos are more upscale hence smaller than Gordos but not steam-table-ish. Especially to me the chicken mole as the mole is great. If only it wasn't chilly out you could eat outside.

              1. re: rccola

                I agree - the mole at Talavera is good.

                Bistro 1491 still has that sterile chain-y atmosphere that Walker's Pie Shop had, and still seems to have an older clientele, but the food isn't bad and the service is very friendly.

                1. re: Glencora

                  We've had great food at 1491 lately--steak sandwich, fries, chicken sandwich. I just don't go if I'm the slightest bit blue--the decor can be depressing.

                  The tacos at Talavera are also good, though I find them a shade better at La Mission, their other place. But Talavera is so much nicer to sit in. My husband hosted a big group from his work (in the City) and they all loved it and thanked him effusively for bringing them there. Felt was worth the drive/BART.

        2. How about Zaki's? Delicious Middle Eastern herbed roast chicken and other very good dishes.

          2 Replies
          1. re: carolineinthecity

            another plug for Zaki's. They have rice for the non-bread eater.

            1. re: carolineinthecity

              Third for Zaki's for their outdoor seating and awesome mint lemonade.

            2. Rendez-Vous is nice and very friendly. I prefer the food around the corner at Nizza but they're not open for lunch today.


              3 Replies
              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                My lunch last week at Rendez-Vous was very good, and the lunch specials incl. soup and iced tea are very reasonable.

                1. re: lmnopm

                  Interesting. I had dinner at Rendez-Vous once and swore I would never go again. Out of the four people eating, only one had edible food. I make much better beef bourguignon than what I had there and I would by no means style myself a French cook.

                  1. re: rccola

                    Well, for your future reference:

                    Rendez-Vous makes one really good dish - the seafood puff pastry (vol-au-vent). Outside of that, it's far eclipsed by Nizza La Bella, but as pointed out above, Nizza is only open for lunch Fri/Sat/Sun.

                    The beefsteak salad is amazing, as is the seafood pizza. Desserts are too sweet except for the chocolate orange bread pudding.

                    We like Bistro 1491 more for dinner than breakfast or lunch. Excellent salads, some nice creative touches on the entrees.

              2. Thanks for all the suggestions. Turned out someone had a preference, so off we went to some Med place (Sophia Cafe: an okay choice if you are in the area, otherwise unremarkable). But all these places are definitely on my own must-try list now... thanks again...

                11 Replies
                1. re: dunstable

                  Their fries were terrible when I went. Have they improved?

                  1. re: wolfe

                    My plate didn't have fries, but my lamb stew thing was... just okay. It must be noted that everyone else was quite pleased with the food, and that includes a person who also ordered the lamb stew. There were around ten of us.

                  2. re: dunstable

                    Even if you're right in front of Sophia, Zand is only four blocks away.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      So is Zaki. The shawarma I had at Sophia was disappointing.

                      1. re: Glencora

                        FWIW ATF Zaki's is 3 times as far while Rendez-Vous is the same distance as Zands from Sophia Cafe.

                        1. re: wolfe

                          If you say so. Still a short walk either way.

                          1. re: wolfe

                            Zaki's is a lot farther and a depressing walk down San Pablo for ok food. I'd rather walk up Solano to Jerusalem Organic Kitchen and have their yummy salmon. Generous portions, too!

                            And you can only walk across Marin at Masonic/Key Route or San Pablo. Safely, that is, and even that's dubious. I keep seeing shrines to pedestrians on Marin.

                            1. re: rccola

                              Crossing Marin is hard, I agree. I often walk out of my way to cross at Key Route. The crossing guard at Talbot is fearless, though!

                              Back on topic, I had lunch at Montero's today. They now call themselves Timbao Tropical Restaurant and Bar. It's a bit odd--they still have plenty of Mexican, but also some Caribbean food on the menu. I tasted the ceviche, the shrimp fritters and the Cubano. They were all good, not great, and the place is pleasant.

                              1. re: Glencora

                                I thought they went back to calling the restaurant Montero's. The place has a pleasant ambiance but I wonder if the Mexican is better at Talavera up Solano. The mole is great. Actually of their three restaurants, I like the food at La Mission on University. I've had great shrimp tacos there but ambiance? Twice very odiferous homeless guys came in to scarf down cheap Chinese and, as the place is small, we left before the police came.

                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Is Sophia that place on Solano just below Key Route? Zand would be a good option. I had a very pleasant lunch there of baked chicken rice topped with tart barberries, babaganoush and tabouli yesterday after dropping off my tax papers to my preparer.

                          1. re: chocolatetartguy

                            Right, across Solano from Jodie's and Zarri's.