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Affordable steakhouse in East Bay for tonight

I have a last minute request. I'm taking my mother out for dinner tonight in the El Cerrito, Richmond, Berkeley area. She wants a good steak. But here's the caveat - my mother is cheap. She would flip if I took her some place expensive, or over $30 per person.

I took her to Harris about 5 years ago and she still talks about how overpriced it was. She's made exceptions before for House of Prime Rib but I'm not willing to drive all the way over there in traffic tonight.

Any other ideas? Was thinking Cafe Rouge. Probably a little pricey for her but if it's good she might get over it. Suggestions?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Yes Cafe Rouge. I think that the last dinner I had there was around $50 for an entree and a dessert. No wine, no steak, but that is the place to go for red meat. Their menu is on-line.

    7 Replies
    1. re: chocolatetartguy

      Cafe Rouge is where I go when I'm craving steak and don't want to drive into SF. Current menu, rib-eye is $32 and hanger steak is $26, though most of the other entrees are under $20. Good steak's not cheap.

      If that's too expensive, Nizza la Bella has steak-frites for (per the Web menu) $18. I haven't had it since they reduced the price but it used to be good.

      Outback, no way.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        As a less expensive alternative, you could buy steaks at the Cafe Rouge meat counter and cook them at home. That should get you down in the $30 range.

        1. re: chocolatetartguy

          Heck you could buy prime at Costco and get to the $15 range. OK it's not dry aged.
          PS. I noted on another thread that I wasn't that impressed with my Cafe Rouge rib-sye

          1. re: wolfe

            I'm actually a fan of their pork. I think I have only had steak from there once.

            It's my neighborhood restaurant, following Chez Panisse in North Berkeley and Oliveto in Rockridge. Where I live in West Berkeley (halfway between the drug house that is subject to eviction that has made the news this week and the apartment building where there was a shootout a few weeks ago), it's either Cafe Rouge or Popeye's.

            1. re: wolfe

              For the holidays, DH buys from Costco and dry-ages in our 2nd refrig. . . uses a remote thermometer to moniter temperatures. Works really well!

              1. re: Stephanie Wong

                We are doing this on Sunday! I am a horrible cook and can mess anything up, but my husband is excellent and usually does this for prime rib during the holidays as well. Given how disappointing our meal was last week I guilt tripped him into cooking for us this weekend.

                1. re: calalilly

                  This poor meal is reaping benefits for you on many fronts. :)

      2. I think Cafe Rouge may be your best bet in that vicinity; but as chocolatetartguy notes, it probably won't hit your price point. You can take her to the Outback steak place in Pinole (or Pleasant Hill), but IMHO, you really, really have to love your mother, and/or be anticipating a sizable inheritance,

        2 Replies
        1. re: Rapini

          lol. I don't think I've ever been to Outback...

          Yes, I've been to the Brazilian place, unfortunately, was not a fan.

          Looks like Nizza La Bella has a steak du jour for $18.95. Any tried it?

          Otherwise, Cafe Rouge might be it. I've never had a bad meal there. I might just have to order for her and have her not look at the menu or check. Ugh, mothers =)

          1. re: calalilly

            As I recall, Nizza's steaks are kind of, well, French. Probably a bavette cut, so a little thin and little chewy but intensely flavored. Not your average steak house ribye or NY strip, but quite good in their own right. They tend to be on the rare side, so double-check when you order if you prefer them cooked more.

            I seem to recall that Cafe Rouge is happy to cook items from their butcher case, even if they're not directly on the menu. Might be worth a phone call to find out. Then again, the rib-eye on the posted menu sounds really good.

        2. Ever been to the Brazilian place in Pt Richmond?

          1. I heard Corso in downtown Berkeley did a good steak that could be shared.

            1 Reply
            1. re: nicedragonboy

              Oh yeah, Corso's is $42 for a 24-ounce Fiorentina (T-bone) for two. Very good.

              Comal has a 22-ounce rib-eye for two for $49 with a bunch of Mexican sides. That's on my list to try for sure.

            2. Sorry I didn't see this in time, but hope you had a great time with your mom! Next time, if you can talk her into prime rib instead of steak, the hands-down best in the EBay is Townhouse Bar & Grill in Emeryville. Their steaks are okay but the prime rib is amazing, far better than anything at Fleming's or Ruth's Chris, let alone Cafe Rouge.

              The catch is, it's only available Wed-Sat as an off-menu special. And when they run out (they only do two small-end roasts per night), that's it, finis. Price includes sides: last few times it's been broccolini as the veggie, with mashed potatoes always the starch. My DH always asks if they have the potato gratin that night, to sub it for the mashed - says it's really good.