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Sep 29, 2012 05:26 PM

Moving to Oakland. Where to eat?

Help! We are moving to Oakland (upper Rockridge area) from Berkeley (north Berkeley/Solano). This may not seem like a big move, but for us it seems huge. The biggest question is where to go for our usual meals out. Particularly, breakfast/brunch and casual dinner with kids. The places we like around our current neighborhood are:
For brunch, Gorilla Cafe; Jimmy Beans; Venus
For coffee, Local 123 and Philz
For special occasions or date night, Gather and Cesar
For kid-friendly restaurants, Kirin, Paisan Pizza, Jerusalem Organic Kitchen
Also looking for good bagels, Thai and Korean. And we enjoy the Berkeley Off-the-Grid event on Wednesday nights.
If you can suggest good substitutes, particularly for our breakfast places, we'd be grateful!

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  1. By "upper" Rockridge you mean near Claremont / Alcatraz? Though judging from how spread out the places on your list are, I guess that doesn't matter much.

    Elmwood: Shen Hua is basically a branch of Kirin. I like Holy Land better than Jerusalem. There's a newish Korean place I haven't tried yet.

    Wood Tavern and A Cote are kind of in the Cesar / Gather vein.

    Soi 4 might be the best Thai in the East Bay.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Re newish Korean place @ Elmwood: don't bother to try it. Not a happiness.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Re:agreed, BeBop-lunch specials premade, no flavor, not sure about regular menu
        -agree on wood tavern, (also southie next door), star meats, high wire roasters
        bica coffeehouse, lots of organic varieties.
        OTG berkeley, thursday evenings on telegraph also.
        -bagels: old brooklyn bagel on college. interesting bagel, organic coffee.

        1. re: shanghaikid

          The Old Brooklyn "bagel" I tried was your average poofy round bread. Big step down from the Baron's bagels at Saul's.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            good to know your characterization. anyone in the rockridge can judge for themself whether it's worth the time and traffic hassles to get a baron or beauty bagel.

        2. re: Robert Lauriston

          I actually really like the new Korean place in the Elmwood. No it's not traditional fare and it's not a "destination".

          But the bim be bop is replete with very fresh veggies & a meat. They offer the option of brown rice. And compared to Bowl'd (a very popular north berkeley spot), the spicy chicken, for example, is far superior at BeBop. It's a nice addition to the neighb.

          On the downside: they only offer a few items as banchan. But for the price, and healthy options, I'm happy to have it as an option for a quick meal.

        3. Coffee:
          It would help to know exactly where "upper rockridge" is, but at College/Claremont there's Cole Coffee, which scratch a Philz itch. It looks like there's been a bunch of turnover among my usual old places. I always liked Peaberry near rockridge bart, especially when Grace Baking made coissants and they stocked 'em. I don't think there's anything on the espresso side remotely as good as Local123 - or even tolerable in general - anyplace called 'bica coffee' should be pretty good, Oh My Beloved Lisbon Where Espresso Is Cheap and Plentiful.

          For kid friendly:
          It seems everyone loves Cactus Taqueria who has kids, it's a stroller-fest in there.

          The good news:
          You're near Temescal now. Lanesplitter on this side of town is more kid-friendly than the San Pablo / University branch.
          Bocanova for date night.
          Uzen is underrated for Japanese, especially the udon, and is a modest date night place.
          For high end, Commis
          You'll end up trying the Piedmont Ceasar's, and you'll end up disappointed.

          You want them roasted to go, or just a sack of bagels?
          I used to get the bagels at Spasso, I don't know where they sourced from, but I always liked them.
          Try market hall for a bag of the fresh ones to take home.

          5 Replies
          1. re: bbulkow

            Your comment on Cesar's Piedmont is spot on...and agree with you on Uzen, Soi 4 and Commis.

            I've never seen the attraction of Bocavnova, other than the location and outdoor seating...but nearby is Encuentro which is vegetarian food entirely enjoyable for non-vegetarians, with a good list of local-ish wines.

            Although Peaberry's at Market Hall changed hands, the new owners--High Wire Coffee--are roasting some nice coffees. I'm starting to like their espresso blend better than my default-setting Blue Bottle Hayes Valley Blend; and Mrs. Rapini has taken a liking to the Conscientious Objector fair trade blend.

            1. re: Rapini

              Ok, I had my names backward. I was thinking of barlata, which is in Temescal, not Bocanova. I agree about Bocanova exactly - Enquentro is nearby and 100% my favorite.

              OP: learn to love the korean. All the places are good. My Korean friend loves Koryo, but most round-eyes find it intimidating. Shan Maru is a better starting point, and Oghane.

              I always wanted to like Cato's more, but it's hard to grab one of the decent tables.

              Brunch: From your location, Rick and Ann's. Few board mentions. Very, very good.

              1. re: bbulkow

                I don't find Koryo more intimidating than other Korean places, but I haven't been too impressed by the food.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Most people think it's a little run-down and the huge sign about not leaving things in your car.

                  My friend says it has more "soul" than the other places; I find the meat there does have an extra something that's not simply being rubbed down by MSG. I'm not sure, myself.

            2. re: bbulkow

              The Piedmont Cesar's menu has evolved in a Mexican direction. Great place for drinks on the patio on a nice day, or at the bar anytime. The incongruous clam chowder special was great so I have hope the food will improve.

              Uzen has the best sushi in the area. Doesn't seem like a kid-friendly place to me but I haven't been there earlier in the evening.

            3. Thanks for the suggestions! By Upper Rockridge I mean the hills up above College Ave off of the Broadway Terrace exit from 13. Also, Montclair isn't far, nor is Piedmont Ave. I really appreciate the suggestions!

              8 Replies
              1. re: merylnet

                Sadly, there are no eateries of note in Montclair although I recently had some decent Mexican at EL AGAVERO and there's a branch of House of Bagels, which are some of the better commercial bagels in the area. If you're on 13 it's easy to go one more exit and down Park Blvd. to the cluster of better restaurants in Glenview (Bellanico, Marzano, Rumbo al Sur, Blackberry Bistro (brunch)).

                For date night you might want to check out Guest Chef -- I've had a couple of nice meals there, and since there's a new chef every couple of weeks, every time you go it's a different restaurant!

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  Montclair has a great Mexican place, just a hole in the wall, It is across the street from the Safeway. I think it is just called a Taqueria (spelling?) A couple of doors up from the Subway.The best wet burrito ever.

                  Soi 4 is great Thai on College. I used to live in Upper Rockridge. You are so close to downtown. You can find all kinds of great food. Breakfast in Montclair, the Egg Shop. On Broadway Mama's Royale Cafe great breakfast. Homeroom on maybe 42nd, mac and cheese any way you can dream of.

                  1. re: Janet

                    It's not that far a cruise down to Red Sea for Ethiopian, either.

                    The one problem I have with Soi 4 is the brightness of the tastes. I never got the WHAM that you get with some dishes in thailand. But great in many other ways.

                    You'll also find you're driving-close to Uptown, because you hop on 24 and you're there in a millisecond (although you have to park). Date night places like Pican.

                    1. re: bbulkow

                      Do you like Red Sea better than the others in that neighborhood? I haven't been there in years (ate there with an ex who as far as I know still lives in the neighborhood). I was underwhelmed by Asmara but liked Addis quite a bit better. Since then, of course, Temescal has become a great chow neighborhood. Not to mention that Genova has been our family default light pick-up dinner for 50 years.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        The short answer is no, I don't like it better or worse. I found them to be somewhat interchangeable. I used to patronize the one right at Telegraph and 52nd. The one great benefit of Red Sea is you can actually drink at Kingfish across the street, and they'll bring over orders from Red Sea. I don't think it's the full menu, but it's a great way to go. Like the korean places, the OP should just hunt around a bit.

                    2. re: Janet

                      That would be Taqueria Las Comadres II.

                      1. re: Janet

                        Taqueria Las Comadres? It's in between Agavero and Safeway

                        Much more hole in the wall taqueria vs El Agavero

                    3. re: merylnet

                      Huh, I never knew that was called upper Rockridge. In that case, Ohgane for Korean, not far and they have a parking lot.

                      Adesso on Piedmont for date night.

                    4. Is Duende in Oakland open yet? From what Ive heard it sounds like it will be a great addition to the area.

                      1. Nice area. Lots of gorgeous walks behind the Claremont hotel.

                        Brunch: Aunt Mary's (long lines, but really good). I've never seen what the fuss is about, but Rick & Ann's has its fans and is really close to you.
                        Korean: On Telegraph, Casserole House. Sura has an more extensive selection of banchan (18 dishes!) and a larger menu, but the dishes I've ordered haven't been as good.
                        Bagels: Beauty Bagels are Montreal style, but style aside, unsurpassed on this side of the Bay.
                        Kid-friendly: Zachary's, Holy Land, Fentons (kids like the ice cream, not sure if anyone likes the food)

                        There's a Farmer's Market at the DMV Sunday mornings. I think the closest Off The Grid is on Telegraph on Thursdays (by UCB) last time I checked. For gourmetish take-out, the Pasta Shop in Market Hall has lots of good deli counter items. Star Grocery has good sandwiches and Gregoire on Piedmont does take-out too.

                        College Avenue in Rockridge's restaurants tend to be overpriced. Regarding places mentioned above, A Cote is great for dates, and Soi Four is excellent and more appropriate for kids.