Need four, maybe five meals in the Bay Area
My wife and I are coming in for a wedding in mid-October, and we'll have a couple meals free. We're flying into Oakland, staying in Berkeley, and we'll have a rental car, so anything within an hour drive is totally fine.
We need to cover:
1) Friday late night (flight gets in around 8:30pm)
2) Saturday Breakfast
3) Monday Breakfast
4) Monday Lunch
5) Monday Early dinner (flight leaves at 9pm)
We're both total food nerds, and chances are we won't be back for a long time, if at all. We're trying not to go broke, but if the French Laundry decided to have a Monday lunch service, we'd make it work.
Definite Likes: Asian (wife loves sushi), Italian, French, anything adventurous, Nerdy bizarro experimental food (think molecular gastronomy)
Dislikes: Hot-Spicy food. Indian is okay, but when we eat it, we tend to stick to things like Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken.
So, humble chowhound readers, I come to you for help narrowing down the giant array of options.
What are your must-eat suggestions for an unforgettable trip to the Bay Area?
Thanks in advance!
Late night on Friday (I haven't updated since May so some might have changed):
À Côté, midnight
Bar César, midnight
Chez Panisse Cafe, 11:30pm
Dan Sung Sa, 2am
Kang Tong Degi, 2am
Lanesplitter ... 1:30?
re: Robert Lauriston
I don't recommend the area around Dan Sung Sa late at night for tourists; I was almost posted up outside there earlier this year. It's not earth-shaking food anyway; it's Korean bar food. It's a fun place to drink with your friends, but it's not destination dining. If you absolutely must do the Korean bar food thing, then go to Playground in Japantown, which is admittedly less tasty, but at least is in a pretty safe area. Open similar hours.
I've never had a problem at Dan Sung Sa or Kang Tung Degi. As soju bangs go the food's good and most places in the US don't have soju bangs.
If you're concerned about the neighborhood (more deserted than dangerous) Oriental BBQ Chicken Town has its own parking lot but the food's not as good.
re: Robert Lauriston
Except that the OP's profile shows that he has cause to be in New York and Chicago. Chicago is probably a better bet for this sort of food (certainly for Korean food in general; I can't speak for the soju bangs specifically), and New York/Northern NJ is superior by leaps and bounds for all Korean food.
Yah skip Dan Sung Sa. I'm not one of those people who is afraid of Oakland, but let's be real here, some areas are safer than others, and once you go past like 25th, you need to be a little more careful late at night. I just wouldn't recommend it for a tourist.
The request is for a late dinner in Berkeley / Oakland on a Friday, and they're particularly interested in Asian. If the flight is late and it takes a while to get their rental car, they might be looking to eat after 10:30, at which time the pickings are slim. That's about the time of night when the soju bangs are really getting going.
re: Robert Lauriston
Not sure if Robert intended to stop at "L," but here are some others. These are Friday hours and not necessarily applicable the rest of the week:
Burma Superstar, 10:30pm (Burmese)
Mua, 12am, (new American)
New Gold Medal, 4am (Cantonese)
Plum Bar, 11pm (new American)
Rudy's Can't Fail, 1am (diner)
Spices III, 12am (Sichuan, Taiwanese)
Regarding the safety of the area for Dan Sung Sa or Kang Tong Degi, I've never had a problem parking within a block of those places at night. Both places have the same owners, and have destination-worthy sauced korean fried chicken wings.
Edit: The OP's desire to avoid spicy foods might make the Korean places less of an issue :-) New Gold Medal's roast pork or their porridges are good late-night eats. There's better Burmese in the Bay Area, but if that's not something you have available to you in Raleigh, Burma Superstar in Oakland would be a worthwhile place to eat at if you can get there before they close at 10:30pm.
It's easy to avoid spicy dishes at Dan Sung Sa or Kang Tong Degi. I think all the dishes I like at Spices!3 are spicy. I think they close at 11 now.
My list is of restaurants that serve food until 11:30 or later on Friday. Comal and Flora are on there because they're open until midnight but the kitchens close at 11.
The food at Mua is good, I took it off my late-night list list because it's usually unbearably noisy and one time the kitchen had closed early.
New Gold Medal is OK but I'd schlep go to Daimo instead.
Rudy's Can't Fail is decent diner food but kind of a waste of a meal for a visitor.
Luka's and Plum Bar are way too noisy later in the evening.
These suggestions are awesome!
So far, we've booked a reservation at Plum on Friday night, and Incanto on Monday.
Any can't-miss breakfasts for Saturday and Monday? We're totally fine with just eating bread from a really good bakery, or even something not typically "breakfasty".
Zati's (Turkish) on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. Just went there on a Sunday evening, when it was quiet, and the owner was looking after his customers. This was the most pleasant, relaxing, dining experience I've had in awhile. But be forewarned, the online menu is not kept up-to-date.