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One nice meal

I'll be in the bay area (staying in Berkeley) over Labor Day weekend, mainly to catch a couple baseball games. Does anyone have recommendations for a place I can get a nice meal? I'm very open to type of cuisine, though I tend to shy away from Italian and usually have to be "in the mood" for Indian. I also don't mind spending $100 (with alcohol) for myself, but the key factors are a) no dress requirement (I'll likely be in t-shirt, shorts and hiking boots), and b) someplace not too hard to get into (e.g. needing reservations three months in advance; I prefer to just walk in).

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  1. You can try Gather. Or the Chez Panisse cafe. People tend to get slightly a bit more covered up/dressed up for Chez Panisse cafe than Gather. Not necessarily just due to a bit of a more formal setting but also because it can get quite chilly at night in Berkeley during the summer (a common uniform in the Bay Area for dinner at all but the most formal or hip places is a windbreaker or fleece, jeans, and tennis shoes).

    Regardless - at either place they aren't going to throw you out, and people will barely look askew. Gather is a bit more casual.

    There's also Comal which is getting some good buzz, but I haven't been there yet so can't comment on the dress/atmosphere (though my assumption would be it would be the same or even more casual than Gather).

    1. I think you're pushing your luck if all you're packing for Labor Day weekend in Berkeley is shorts and t-shirts. If the fog comes in (and Berkeley is at the end of our summertime "fog finger") then you'll want something warmer.

      Places to consider in Oakland addition to the ones Robert mentioned: Plum (shorts/t-shirts okay) and Commis in Oakland (you'd probably want jeans/collared shirt).

      1. What Ruth said. Shorts might be okay if you're hiking, but you are definitely going to wish you were wearing pants when you're at the baseball game, especially if they are not matinee games. Moreover, the Bay is pretty casual; you can wear jeans to just about any restaurant you want (I do), but shorts might be pushing it at every place where it is possible to spend $100 per person.

        If you absolutely must wear shorts... I dunno, personally I think even at Plum, shorts are pushing it -- there's going to be dim lighting and posh hipsters sipping $12 cocktails; a lot of people would feel self-conscious. I honestly can't think of anything, unless you want to visit a taqueria or hamburger joint, of which the Bay does have good examples.

        1. hi bzookaj....Cafe Rouge fits your requirements, and you can definitely walk in and get a table without a reservation, I guess your wait time will depend on the time of the day. But I have never been there when they were really slammed and had lots of folks waiting, so it should work for you.
          http://caferouge.net/site/ .

          1. Are you dining solo? If so, there's good counter dining at Plum, Corso, Comal, Cafe Rouge, Wood Tavern, Oliveto, A Cote, Corso ...

            People wear whatever wherever in Berkeley and Oakland. At Plum one one of the other customers was wearing a bikini.

            1. Thank you all for the suggestions.

              To clarify a few things:
              The games are day games, so this would be for dinner.
              I am dining solo.
              If it's above 40 F, I shouldn't have much of a problem (I've been known to wear tees below freezing).

              I'm liking the looks of Cafe Rouge, though I see things on some other menus I could go for too. (I guess I should have also mentioned I'm a sucker for game.)
              I'm around for a couple nights, so maybe I'll hit two of them.

              And I'm still open to other ideas!

              4 Replies
              1. re: bzookaj

                Cafe Rouge sometimes has great goat from the chef's cousin in Rio Vista.

                Incanto in SF sometimes has great game and it's one of the most comfortable counters for dining I know (they have a step for your feet so it's like sitting at a regular table).

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Depending on what sort of person you are, you might REALLY feel uncomfortable wearing shorts in Incanto. It is what my mother would call "a fancy restaurant." (Great food though.)

                  I should clarify that probably no restaurant in San Francisco will actually refuse to seat you if you're wearing shorts, so if you're the sort of person who just doesn't care what other people think, then wear whatever you want, I guess.

                  1. re: dunstable

                    I don't think Incanto's any fancier than Cafe Rouge or most of the other places mentioned here. Earlier in the evening I often see neighborhood families with kids there. I have not seen anyone wearing a bikini.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Well, Plum is a lot more casual than Incanto. People often go to Incanto for romantic dinners. Few people would select Plum for that reason.

                      But like I said, personally I wouldn't wear shorts to any of those places, and anyway, if the OP doesn't mind, then whatever, shorts it up.

              2. Went to Cafe Rouge. The place feels 'nice,' but also feels fairly casual. I have no issue with wearing shorts here. The food is delicious, with an extensive drink menu.

                Thank you all for your suggestions!

                1 Reply
                1. re: bzookaj

                  Thanks for reporting back. I hope you weren't in town because you're a Red Sox fan!