El Cerrito/Richmond Recommendations
Today, while getting the fishcake sandwich at Ba Le, I happened upon a new cupcake place, Encorecake. The strawberry cupcake was moist and not overly sweet (my preference), and I bought a pina colada cupcake, I didn't get to try it because someone inhaled it. I'll go there again.
10178 San Pablo Ave
I agree that the bread to filling ratio is high at Ba Le, but the filling is good, it's close, I like the Vietnamese yogurt, and my dog does amazing tricks for chunks of fishy-flavored bread.
For a quick take out lunch or dinner, the organic Thai food at Ran Kanom in the Pacific East Mall is hits the spot. They also make homemade curry pastes, but they sell out fast.
Seconded for La Bamba's pupusas & curtido! I also love the bahn mi at Bahn Mi Ba Le but haven't been there in almost a year so it is possible the quality has slipped as glencora noted. Junket has okay sandwiches (nothing special but they use good bread). I like them best for their fun imported English goodies and the occasional surprisingly tasty quiche special.
Nong Thon is pretty good with non-soup dishes. I find the pho there really bland. I prefer the saltier, richer pho at Huong Tra on San Pablo.
If you like sushi, Sushi Sho is good, although it's a pain to get a seat there. Read up on reviews to know what you're in for when you go. Lots of rules to follow. Very fresh sushi but he uses lots of wasabi (real wasabi not green-dyed horseradish) so beware. The chawanmushi is wonderful.
L&L Seafood is good for cheap basic dim sum if you avoid all the shrimp items (iodine-y yuck) and don't expect too much. Saigon Seafood has better and more varied dim sum for a few more bucks a person. Neither is close to as good as what you can find in SF, Oakland or the peninsula, but you also don't have to plan your whole morning around getting there and getting a table, so I usually find the trade-off acceptable.
Well Grounded and Angelo's Gourmet Deli both have tasty sandwiches. The former has more interesting sandwiches but a small menu, the latter has a more classic deli menu and a nice selection of chips and drinks.
People love going to Fat Apples for brunch. I'm not a brunch person but if you are, you may want to try them out. Their ollalieberry pie is very good.
Heng Heng Heng Thai gets lots of positive reviews, but I found it generally too sweet. If you don't mind that, it could be worth trying out as they do have many interesting dishes. I haven't been to SaWad Dee Thai in many years but I used to like it and recent reviews seem to indicate that it's still pretty good.
12221 San Pablo Ave #8 Richmond, CA 94805
10749 San Pablo Ave
El Cerrito, CA 94530
6925 Stockton Ave El Cerrito, CA 94530
Angelo's Gourmet Deli
12025 San Pablo Ave Richmond, CA 94805
7525 Fairmount Ave El Cerrito, CA 94530
Heng Heng Heng! Thai Noodles
2330 Macdonald Ave
Richmond, CA 94804
SaWad Dee Thai
12200 San Pablo Ave
Richmond, CA 94805
As jaiko noted, there are lots of better restaurants in Berkeley, Oakland, Albany and Kensington. Generally I find that most of the restaurants in El Cerrito/Richmond have a few dishes that I really enjoy, several that are duds and lots of mediocre in between. But I enjoy finding those gems at each place, especially as the cost of the search tends to be pretty low in both effort and money.
If you ever venture as far south as Albany, there are many other restaurants to try out in that area. I love Bowl'd (dolsot bibimbap and ddukbokki!) and Zaki Kabob House (usually I just get the rotisserie chicken, lentil soup and falafel, their other meats can be rather dry)
Bowl'd Korean Rice Bar
1479 Solano Ave.,Albany, CA 94706
Zaki Kabob House
1101 San Pablo Ave Albany, CA 94706
I second Fat Apple's for brunch, lunch, or dinner American style. They provide reliably good food, won't break the bank, casual, family friendly atm. with lots of light. The bakery case is really attractive too. My bro loves the ollalieberry milkshake. Our only gripe lately is the decaf was weak, prepared in a gigantic coffeemaker. We've been loyal customers for decades.
-Elevation 66-good food, interesting brews
-eurasia -ok mongolian, poor japanese fare
-saigon seafood-good dim sum
-L & L-decent dim sum
-koreana kitchen (korean, richmond)cheap tasty lunch specials, dinner not so cheap
-VH Noodle House(richmond)related to oaktown one. tastes the same
Botto Bistro is located in a little strip mall on Meeker Ave, just off the Marina Bay Parkway exit. The chefs are from Tuscany and they serve old world dishes and thin crust pizza. Some time ago, I ate dinner there with a group of 8 or 9 and they served everything family style for us so we could share. They offer a daily/nightly meat dish, seafood pasta specials, and they do a nice risotto as well. I also tried their cannoli and it was delicious..
They don't really have wait service, you order at the counter and they bring the food to your table. I've heard from some that their attitude may at times need adjustment, but I didn't have that experience. I would love to eat there more often, but pasta and cannoli does not look good on my hips.
Dining room is pretty small, atmosphere is casual. Open for lunch and dinner.
2171 Meeker Ave
Richmond, CA 94804
M-F: 11a - 8p
S/S: 4p - 8p
L&L and Yuet Foo on San Pablo and Saigon Seafood Harbor next to the Ranch 99 complex all have great Cantonese seafood. L&L and Saigon also have dim sum.
For Mexican, try the tack truck in the Hotsy-Totsy Club parking lot, every day except Tuesday.
Pikanha is a Brazilian churrasco in Point Richmond, haven't been there yet but I've heard good things about it.
re: ernie in berkeley
Pikanha is good for what it is - cheap. The people are nice, and the fruit drinks (especially the cashew juice) are terrific. But the meats are heavily salted on the outside, like most of the Brazilian places, and most of the offerings are forgettable, with only a few meats standing out. The food on the steam table buffet carts is awful. Filler food only.
We prefer the dim sum at Daimo to L&L and Asian Pearl, but all of them pale in comparison to Lee Garden Seafood in Pleasanton (formerly Tri-Valley Seafood). LGS comes pretty close to rivaling Yank Sing at half the price.
Outside of the beef la lot and tofu salad at Nong Thon in El Cerrito, we don't think too much of the restaurants there that we've tried. My family all lives on that side so we are often over there (like 2x/week for the last 20 yrs), but in the main all of us prefer eating in Berkeley, Albany, and Oakland.
re: ernie in berkeley
Am interested in other reviews of Saigon Seafood, I've been there once in the past 3 mo. They have the cleanest fish tanks I've ever seen. The geoduck clams reaching toward the surface look like a work of art. Servers smile and serve happily (unlike some other places). Big and airy. Am hopeful this is where we can go for good Chinese food.
Asian Pearl Seafood Restaurant in the Pacific East Mall is an acceptable place for weekend dim sum. I don't know if anything has changed since then, but I'd eaten almost every other place in there by 2009, and other than Daimo, there's nothing I'd strongly recommend.
I wasn't happy with my last visit (old oil?), and they're inconsistent anyway, but Andy's Donut Stop in Richmond is 24/7 and used to be my favorite doughnut place in the Bay Area
Some recent CH reports have made me want to check out Happy Golden Bowl and Sushi Sho.
Taqueria La Bamba is cheap and good and has pupusas.
The Junket is a German Deli that's worth poking your head into.
Do some searches on Point Richmond. I've had good spaetzle at The Baltic.