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Moving to Oakland. Where to eat?

merylnet Sep 29, 2012 05:26 PM

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. Robert Lauriston RE: merylnet Sep 29, 2012 05:29 PM

    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
      sundeck sue RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 29, 2012 11:00 PM

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

      1. re: Robert Lauriston
        shanghaikid RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 30, 2012 05:34 AM

        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
          Robert Lauriston RE: shanghaikid Sep 30, 2012 09:52 AM

          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
            shanghaikid RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 30, 2012 11:49 AM

            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
          escargot3 RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 30, 2012 11:33 PM

          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. bbulkow RE: merylnet Sep 29, 2012 06:12 PM

          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
            Rapini RE: bbulkow Sep 29, 2012 09:50 PM

            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
              bbulkow RE: Rapini Sep 30, 2012 12:00 PM

              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
                Robert Lauriston RE: bbulkow Sep 30, 2012 04:04 PM

                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
                  bbulkow RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 30, 2012 09:49 PM

                  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
              Robert Lauriston RE: bbulkow Sep 30, 2012 09:56 AM

              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. m
              merylnet RE: merylnet Sep 29, 2012 06:17 PM

              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
                Ruth Lafler RE: merylnet Sep 29, 2012 11:23 PM

                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
                  Janet RE: Ruth Lafler Sep 30, 2012 12:16 AM

                  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
                    bbulkow RE: Janet Sep 30, 2012 12:02 PM

                    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
                      Ruth Lafler RE: bbulkow Sep 30, 2012 12:16 PM

                      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
                        bbulkow RE: Ruth Lafler Sep 30, 2012 01:47 PM

                        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
                      Ruth Lafler RE: Janet Sep 30, 2012 12:04 PM

                      That would be Taqueria Las Comadres II.

                      1. re: Janet
                        drewskiSF RE: Janet Sep 30, 2012 06:55 PM

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

                        Much more hole in the wall taqueria vs El Agavero

                    3. re: merylnet
                      Robert Lauriston RE: merylnet Sep 30, 2012 10:00 AM

                      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. lapizzamaven RE: merylnet Sep 29, 2012 06:29 PM

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

                      1. h
                        hyperbowler RE: merylnet Sep 29, 2012 06:58 PM

                        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.

                        1. t
                          tre2012 RE: merylnet Sep 30, 2012 12:43 PM

                          Our fav breakfast in the entire East Bay is Mama's Royal in Oakland. I go for the corned beef hash, spouse goes for the Bennie. Lunch is not as good but they serve breakfast all day.

                          I urge you to try Marica, on College near Broadway, a very nice little bistro with some excellent seafood, run by Asians.

                          We go to three Montclair Village places:
                          1) Crogan's - yes, Crogan's, for ONLY 2 dishes: the batter-fried fish tacos, which I request with lettuce, not cabbage, and extra Choluca cream. And the 8-oz sirloin steak is amazing - better than anything we've gotten at Ruth's Chris or Fleming's, both in Walnut Creek. A cup of the vegetarian black bean chili is a nice way to start. Everything else at Crogan's is a waste of time.

                          2) Italian Colors, which is just outside the main village. Dinner is far better than lunch. James Syhabout, owner/chef of the Michelin-starred Commis, is partnering his new restaurant with Alan Carlson of Italian Colors. IC's rather Modernist beet salad is very good, and the soups are often unusual and delicious. My recent cauliflower bisque with Manchego cheese, toasted sliced almonds, and red bell pepper swirl, was extraordinarily good - frankly, far better than anything I've gotten at Gather. You will see a lot of kids at IC, and it's one of the few places that has some very simple menu items just for the kids, while the adults can take advantage of the more sophisticated dishes.

                          3) We second on El Agavero IF you go for Happy Hour. You can get the full-sized cheese quesadilla with carnitas added for less than $6. It's a substantial meal for one and as an appetizer you could split it four ways. The rest of the food is okay, but we normally go elsewhere (below).

                          Outside the village, there is Phnom Penh in Jack London Sq. with its sibling Cambodia House in the Laurel. In the Grand Lake area we have soured on Mezze, which gave us an awful dinner last week (sigh...they used to be very good) but we enjoy Lin Jia, which contrary to what some Yelpers believe, is more Vietnamese than Chinese. Their 'contemporary Asian' food can be very good at times - the shrimp rolls (not the Hakka, but the 'cigar' shrimp rolls), hot-and-sour soup, and Changsha beef (which is also used in the "Hunan Hottie" sandwich) are terrific.

                          In the Temescal we love Barlatta and Genova Delicatessen (boudin noir – love it!), loathe Tanjia and Dona Tomas (DT seems to have gone seriously downhill). And we have fallen in love with La Calaca Loco taqueria – their flour tortillas are made with lard and wonderfully flaky.

                          A shrimp flour quesadilla at La Calaca is a thing of beauty, and if you eat in-house (recommended) you get your choice of three great salsas to slather on in enormous quantities – each in giant squeeze bottles! My spouse squirts the jalapeno on every single bite. Their carne asada is excellent, and I like their nachos, which is a much lighter and cleaner-tasting version with whole beans and less grease. They use a good queso fresco crumbled over it instead of cheap shredded cheddar. They also make the best burger in town – the telera bun is superb, what hamburger buns should always be, and the pickled jalapenos make your mouth zing. My spouse doesn't like burgers, but he thinks La Calaca's is amazing.

                          On Park Blvd. I would never recommend Blackberry Bistro to ANYONE any longer. The new owners have cheapened the ingredients and ruined the place. The food is awful now – the menu still lists Hobb's bacon, but what we got what a petrified slice of fake turkey bacon…ick.

                          We felt Rumbo was like its sib A Cote, same strengths (service, a few dishes) but same flaws (erratic sizing, many dishes just weren't that interesting). Bellanico's a level below Riva Cucina/Berkeley, but always seems to be trying hard, which is good.

                          The Korean restaurants all have different strengths and weaknesses, so you'll have to try them to see which one has the food you like best.

                          The Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurants in Oakland are generally excellent. Again, you need to try a few to see which ones you enjoy the most. Each one's a little different from the others, but overall Café Colucci, Café Eritrea, Red Sea, Enssaro, and Abesha rank higher with diners than the others.

                          And welcome to Oakland!

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: tre2012
                            Ruth Lafler RE: tre2012 Sep 30, 2012 12:47 PM

                            Thanks for the update on Blackberry Bistro -- too bad! I remember the desserts being good at Rumbo al Sur -- seemed more like a drinks/snacks/dessert place, but that was very early on.

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler
                              tre2012 RE: Ruth Lafler Sep 30, 2012 04:30 PM

                              Yes, Rumbo's bar gets a workout. But we don't drink, so we focus strictly on the food.

                              We ate at both Eritrea and Red Sea recently (Eritrea twice, in fact). I drafted up a comparison, but it's rather long and perhaps it would be better if I put it on a separate thread.

                              Another Oakland/Rockridge suggestion no one mentioned, or at least if someone did, I missed it: Guest Chef. It isn't for kids, though, having only a few seats, extremely tight quarters, and a nasty noise level. But for a couple's date night out it can be fun to look forward to (the menu changes every two weeks with each guest chef, and reservations well in advance are recommended. Descriptions are on the website).

                              1. re: tre2012
                                Ruth Lafler RE: tre2012 Sep 30, 2012 04:57 PM

                                I actually suggested Guest Chef for exactly those reasons.

                            2. re: tre2012
                              moto RE: tre2012 Oct 2, 2012 10:45 PM

                              the kitchen staff at Lin Jia speak Hakka to each other -- asked one when the sounds didn't quite register as Viet or a Cantonese variant (though the Hakka have lived amongst the Cantonese for the past 1-2 centuries, their language came from an earlier home elsewhere in China). part of the family that run the place lived for a time in Viet Nam, but Changsha beef, one of our favorite dishes there, is clearly not a Viet dish, and is named after a famous, old city in the Chinese heartland. some of the Vietnamese eateries here are operated by ethnic Chinese whose families crossed the river or sea at some point, and some of their cooking could be perceived as Chinese food as much as Lin Jia's might be perceived as Vietnamese.

                            3. singleguychef RE: merylnet Oct 2, 2012 02:07 PM

                              Welcome to the neighborhood! I live on the border of Rockridge as well, right off Broadway south of where you are. You're close to the California College of Arts and Crafts, which is right off College Ave. On that end of College Avenue I would suggest:

                              1) Hudson's (formerly, Garibaldi's/Marzano). Bustling bar with pizzas, etc. I see families with young kids there around 5:30 p.m. for pizzas around the commuter table by the bar. For something fancier, sit in the main room later in the evening.

                              2) Enoteca Molinari is a small wine bar on College (next to A Cote). Nice selection of wine and friendly owner at the bar. The menu is limited and dishes are on the small side, but it's a nice, friendly, casual spot for something last-minute.

                              3) Adesso is another good wine bar over on the Piedmont Avenue side. It's going to start serving up pizzas if you don't want to wait at it's sister restaurant Dopo, which also is good for neighborhood Italian dinner.

                              I don't drink coffee, but seems like there are more coffee shops on Piedmont Avenue than on our end of College Avenue. Or you could go down to Telegraph in the Temescal area.

                              Same with brunch, I haven't really found a favorite nearby. The two closest spots that seems extremely popular is Rockridge Cafe on College and Mama's Cafe on Broadway near 40th. I think both of these places are popular because they're cheap and have that diner, old-style feel. The I wasn't that excited about the food at Rockridge Cafe and haven't tried Mama's.

                              My favorite restaurants that I considered "nearby" to me would include Pizzaiolo, Casserole House (Korean), Adesso, Enoteca Molinari, Hudson, Dopo, and Commis, on the far end of Piedmont Avenue (for special occasions). A little further I would go for Wood Tavern and Southie.

                              19 Replies
                              1. re: singleguychef
                                Robert Lauriston RE: singleguychef Oct 2, 2012 02:54 PM

                                The new pizza at Adesso is Roman-style a taglio aka pizza rustica, by the slice from big trays, not pizzas made to order like at Dopo.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                  hyperbowler RE: Robert Lauriston Oct 2, 2012 04:24 PM

                                  Is the pizza there already, and if not, any clue when it will be available or what the hours will be?

                                  1. re: hyperbowler
                                    Robert Lauriston RE: hyperbowler Oct 2, 2012 04:37 PM

                                    They sent a message to their email list two weeks ago that said they had added it to their menu.

                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                    singleguychef RE: Robert Lauriston Oct 3, 2012 01:12 PM

                                    Nice to know. I love getting pizzas from big trays like in Rome.

                                  3. re: singleguychef
                                    moto RE: singleguychef Oct 2, 2012 03:35 PM

                                    the cooking of Mama's on broadway is very heavy, but it seems to appeal to those who are nostalgic for old school, 'greasy spoon' cooking. Ole's coffee shop in Alameda is in a similar vein, granted the ambience is very different, along with the difference between the local constituencies. for brunch type stuff, Mary's in Temescal has much more finesse, though they're quite fond of butter there as well.

                                    1. re: moto
                                      Stephanie Wong RE: moto Oct 3, 2012 01:31 PM

                                      Love the freshly squeezed red grapefruit juice at Momma's on Broadway. Durng the summer, their fruit cup is full of good melons, pineapple (not just grapes!) and, of course, their hollandaise is really nice. I get the half bennie so my arrteries don't get so plugged.

                                    2. re: singleguychef
                                      zunzie RE: singleguychef Oct 2, 2012 08:02 PM

                                      And Dopo is pretty kid friendly.

                                      Sparky's Burgers is a hole in the wall on Piedmont Ave that's great for kids.


                                      Bites off Broadway on Friday Nights.


                                      Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe

                                      Luka's Taproom


                                      1. re: zunzie
                                        Ruth Lafler RE: zunzie Oct 2, 2012 09:04 PM

                                        I was really disappointed with Sparky's. The service was terrible, they got my order wrong, and they food just wasn't that good.

                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                          The Dive RE: Ruth Lafler Oct 3, 2012 11:29 AM

                                          I so agree about Sparky's. We couldn't even finish our food. I prefer Trueburger and Christopher's.

                                          1. re: The Dive
                                            singleguychef RE: The Dive Oct 3, 2012 01:15 PM

                                            I haven't tried Christopher's, but in terms of location, this is closer to the OP's north Rockridge location (it's on College) than Trueburger, which is by the Cathedral on Grand Avenue a few yards from Whole Foods.

                                            1. re: singleguychef
                                              Robert Lauriston RE: singleguychef Oct 3, 2012 01:59 PM

                                              Whole Foods to Trueburger is a few blocks.

                                              1. re: singleguychef
                                                The Dive RE: singleguychef Oct 8, 2012 12:40 PM

                                                I agree, but I will cut over on Oakland Avenue to Trueburger because I like it so much. Appreciate that they fundamentally believe that American is the only proper cheese on a burger!

                                                1. re: The Dive
                                                  drewskiSF RE: The Dive Oct 8, 2012 06:00 PM

                                                  TrueBurger has been inconsistent for me.

                                                  Nice med-rare patty one day; overcooked and dry on another. Same with the fries and bacon.

                                                  In that area for a burger, I'd go to Mua.

                                              2. re: The Dive
                                                luciemom RE: The Dive Nov 30, 2012 12:07 PM

                                                Tried Sparky's one night just because we were so tired of the post-movie Barney's pattern. They were truly incompetent at Sparky's; I even offered to go into the kitchen and make my own salad! Yuck.

                                              3. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                drewskiSF RE: Ruth Lafler Oct 3, 2012 05:33 PM

                                                1 visit to Piedmont Sparky's. Service was terrible. Food was OK.

                                                The Sparky's on Redwood Rd has been much better on both counts.

                                                1. re: drewskiSF
                                                  zunzie RE: drewskiSF Oct 5, 2012 11:14 PM

                                                  re: Sparky's. Haven't been in a while, but it used to be a semi-reliable place for a burger for my 4 yr old. Hmmmm.

                                                  Trueburger is way better, though.

                                                  1. re: zunzie
                                                    vulber RE: zunzie Oct 8, 2012 04:12 PM

                                                    is it related to the sparky's in SF?

                                                    1. re: vulber
                                                      drewskiSF RE: vulber Oct 8, 2012 05:57 PM

                                                      i don't think so. SF Sparky's has a much larger diner-type menu vs. the Oakland ones

                                            2. re: singleguychef
                                              hyperbowler RE: singleguychef Oct 7, 2012 10:36 AM

                                              Last night, Adesso's late night happy hour was serving crostini w/ whipped lardo, a chick pea salad, and the eggplant pizza, sliced into thick strips. I also ordered a sausage slice and the Adesso slice.

                                              They undercook the pizza to prevent it from overcooking when they reheat the slices. The dough is somewhat focaccia-like, and has a crisp bottom underneath a tall layer of an airy crumb. It's nowhere near as oily, but the bottom of the crust reminds me of Cheesboard's pizza. Despite the rectangular shape, it's not at all reminiscent of NY's "sicilian slices." Pizza places seem to take several weeks to hit their stride, so I'm gonna return in a few weeks with a Roman friend to see what they think.

                                              The toppings were all good quality. My favorite was the eggplant, whose bitterness went beautifully with the other ingredients, and kicked the butt of the thick and greasy fried eggplant slice I've had on Northeast pizzerias. The toppings on the sausage pizza were also good. I love Calvestrano olives, but their unyielding texture didn't work for me on their Adesso pizza.

                                              Adesso: garlic Calvestrano olives $5
                                              Eggplant, garlic, calabrian chiles $7
                                              Sausage, red onion, pecorino $8
                                              Early girl tomatoes $8

                                            3. moto RE: merylnet Oct 2, 2012 02:49 PM

                                              if you like Thai food, one variation that oaktown has a bit more compared to berserkly, is northern Thai/Lao. (there is a place on Shattuck and Cedar with some Lao items, but their Thai seemed very mainstream). but the places to try it are in working class 'hoods nowhere close to where you live. we've only tried one of several, Champa Garden, and the food and service were very good, the other groups with kids seemed to be doing fine.

                                              1. The Dive RE: merylnet Oct 2, 2012 04:18 PM

                                                This is my neighborhood, so I will add my two cents (mostly repeats):

                                                Brunch: my current favorite (even with the kids) is Camino. More old-school, I like Full House Café (in Laurel District) and the Egg Shop in Montclair works in a pinch. Both tend to be shorter waits, which is the problem with Aunt Mary’s – great food, but long wait.
                                                Coffee: Bica on College. Hands down.
                                                Date night: Wood Tavern, A Cote, Addesso, Commis, Plum
                                                Kid-friendly: El Agavero in Montclair; Barclays on College (only if you need beer); also, we’ll go through the tunnel to Chow
                                                Thai: Soi4. Great food. Actually, works for date night, kid friendly and take out.

                                                Also, we regularly go over to Vik’s, Paisan and Sea Salt – it is not much of a trek from Upper Rockridge. And, as others point out, it is super fast to get to Uptown and Old Town on 24, which opens up tons of great restaurants and bars.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: The Dive
                                                  bbulkow RE: The Dive Oct 3, 2012 06:24 PM

                                                  What kind of coffee do you get at Bica? What do they specialize in? If espresso, how would you characterize the pulls? (Very curious and unlikely to get there for a few weeks)

                                                  1. re: bbulkow
                                                    The Dive RE: bbulkow Oct 8, 2012 12:38 PM

                                                    I only get the drip. They have a four rotating coffees from different small roasters on the West Coast. They often have Verve, which is a favorite of ours, but the selection will vary. It is a nice way to try something new. The pastries are from Starter Bakery and sandwiches from Southie.

                                                    1. re: The Dive
                                                      bbulkow RE: The Dive Oct 8, 2012 02:01 PM

                                                      That sounds nice. I'm an espresso guy not a drip guy (most days), will have to give them a try.

                                                2. m
                                                  merylnet RE: merylnet Oct 3, 2012 08:09 PM

                                                  These are great suggestions - looking forward to the move just so we can try all these new places. One more question if anyone has ideas - my husband is an obsessive iced tea drinker. He loves the iced tea from Philz in Berkeley. Anyone? Suggestions? Does Cole Coffee have good iced tea? Until he finds his "place' he will not be content.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: merylnet
                                                    jaiko RE: merylnet Oct 6, 2012 02:47 PM

                                                    I will be looking forward to seeing the suggestions for great iced tea in the EBay. Right now the only three places we've been to that make great iced tea are Slanted Door/SF, Auberge/Rutherford, and Bistro29/SRosa!

                                                    Also, I will say that although Full House Cafe is closer to us than Mama's or Royal Cafe (the latter in Albany), I like it but just can't seem to love it. Have friends that adore it, however, so like most places, much depends on what you like to order.

                                                    There is a new branch of Everett & Jones BBQ in the Laurel but it's reportedly awful.

                                                    The newest place in the Laurel has its own parking lot - Laurellino's Trattoria closed up and the new Taqueria La Palma (as of Sat Sept 29, 2012) has taken over the space, 4171 MacArthur Blvd near High St. The owners are the well regarded Tacos Sinaloa folks. We have not tried it yet. Pls be aware that 'casual crime' is happening quite a bit in our Laurel area - we've been here 23 yrs and watched it come and go in waves, and right now it's on the upswing. Even some cars left for a few minutes in parking lots (such as the Safeway on Fruitvale in the Dimond) have been broken into, according to our local listserv.

                                                    We have very little serious crime in the Laurel, but a lot of burglaries and break-ins when times are bad. The Laurel business owners are paying a private security firm who makes regular rounds every day, but of course they can't be everywhere at once. Our area is ideal for the 'quick getaway' type of crime; people can get on the freeway easily or turn two corners and be lost from sight. Grand Ave/Lakeshore and the Dimond have similar problems, so always be aware of your surroundings, even in the daytime.

                                                  2. m
                                                    merylnet RE: merylnet Jan 15, 2013 02:25 PM

                                                    Getting back to all you folks who replied to my original post. For breakfast/brunch, we've tried all the suggestions, but our favorite is Local Cafe on Piedmont Ave (right next to Adesso). Really good biscuits, good eggs benedict, nice little place with nice staff.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: merylnet
                                                      hyperbowler RE: merylnet Jan 15, 2013 05:15 PM

                                                      If you're in the mood for a breakfast sandwich, and don't mind spending close to $10, Southie serves a really good breakast burrito w/ chorizo for $9 and a bacon & fried egg sandwich on an acme bun for $8 (excellent, but needs ketchup). They also have granola and toast + jam.

                                                      1. re: hyperbowler
                                                        majordanby RE: hyperbowler Jan 22, 2013 08:36 AM

                                                        do you know the hours they serve that burrito?

                                                        1. re: majordanby
                                                          drewskiSF RE: majordanby Jan 22, 2013 09:13 AM

                                                          the lunch menu last week said breakfast served from 9-11am

                                                    2. a
                                                      andee RE: merylnet Jan 21, 2013 08:41 PM

                                                      Telegraph Ave just south of 51st (temescal area) is a great area.There's Burma Superstar,Pyung Chang Tofu House(I crave their tofu soup),Pizzaiolo,Bakesale Betty's (daytime only) and Dona Thomas.I am not a fan of Lanesplitter's Pizza but many people like it and it's super kid friendly.On College the burgers at Crepevine and Barclays are kid friendly and quite good,love Wood Tavern and Southie's.We still enjoy the thai garlic noodles at Nan Yang along with a couple other dishes.We do enjoy Bellanico(on Park Blvd) too.We've lived in Montclair since 1978 and I have to say it's basically a black hole for dining.That said,the ceviche at the Taqueria is quite good.
                                                      One thing I forgot...the little Indian take out place on Moraga (with the little parking lot near the awful chinese place)is pretty good too.You can eat there but it's quite small.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: andee
                                                        drewskiSF RE: andee Jan 21, 2013 10:14 PM

                                                        "Little Indian" = Flavors of India Bistro
                                                        "Awful Chinese" = Silver Palace

                                                        My (hopefully good) interpretation (I'd agree) for future searches.

                                                        andee, please correct if needed!

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                                                        andee RE: merylnet Jan 22, 2013 08:47 AM

                                                        Thanks so much Drewski...perfect!

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