Good, cheap places in Oakland (within 5-10 min walk of BART stations)
I feel like I always read about places in Oakland that I want to try, but then when I am tasked with choosing a place for an actual meal, I draw a blank.
I am looking for: dinner spot for 7 PM on a Wednesday, casual/cheap (I want the total food bill for 2 people to be under $40, ideally closer to $25 or $30). Walking distance from 12th, 19th or MacArthur BART stations (probably not willing to go to any others unless there's an amazing choice).
Most importantly, I want it to be really good food.
Any help for what I'm missing?
Thoughts include: Miss Ollie's, Hawker Fare, somewhere Korean on Temescal, Vietnamese or Chinese in Chinatown....what else?
Obviously you can eat well in Fruitvale on that budget as well -- El Huarache Azteca comes to mind.
Miss Ollie's, although at the top of your price range, seems like the best bet for quality of food. I've heard too many mixed reports about Hawker Fare. For Korean in Temescal I like PyeongChang Tofu House -- if you go one of the BBQ places you'll likely spend more. Juhu Beach Club might fit all your criteria except it's a little longer walk than that.
re: Ruth Lafler
Thanks again to everyone who responded to this discussion. I ended up trying Juhu Beach Club, which ended up being a very good choice for the occasion. It was slightly pricier than my original criteria, since each of us had three sliders. But I was definitely full afterwards, and two probably would have been enough!
The Sloppy Lil'P was really spicy, but had a good flavor. It did remind me of a spicy, vegetarian sloppy Joe. The braised short rib was my favorite of the sliders, though the lamb meatball was pretty good too. I didn't find the lamb spicy at all.
We also shared an order of fries, which had a great flavor, but got limp pretty quickly. Tamarind ketchup was very tasty.
I tried the nimbu pani (cilantro limeade, toasted cumin) and I did not care for it. Now I know :)
re: Ruth Lafler
If you're willing to go to Juhu, where I know I spent more than $40 for two people because the servings are tiny, I have always liked Koryo. It's a BBQ specialist unlike Pyeong Chang (which is also great).
I usually get out of lanesplitter for less than that, with the "7-10 split" combo priced the way it is.
Umami stretches the budget and you walk out hungry.
Miss Ollie's is hard to beat for great food on a tight budget. Last time we went we got:
pickle plate 4
salad with fried oysters 10
fried chicken 12.50
slow-cooked pork 14
Total $44.50 but we took half the chicken and more than half the pork home.
Disco Volante is also great food for not much money.
Kang Tong Degi (soju bang) is close to MacArthur and I think about as cheap as Korean food gets.
Ideas for good/cheap around BART:
some of these have already been mentioned
Binh Minh Quan
A burger from Hopscotch.
A branch of Umami Burger just opened around here. Went this week and was good, may be pushing budget a bit.
Hawker Fare - I haven't been here for awhile, but I remember the pork belly rice bowl and the issan sausage bowl being very good.
Sahn Maru - some things are expensive here, would probably not get the grilled items. Good tofu stew and other soups around $10-$20. I like the Yuk Gae Jang and the tofu stew.
Pyeongchang Tofu House
Juhu Beach Club
Unless you are eating the lunch buffet, Red Sea is painfully slow. And I do mean painfully! Lunch took 2 hrs, yet nothing seemed any different from the buffet (which we eat at regularly).
If one is going to walk all that distance, the better choices are Abesha and Eritrea. Abesha is not very distinctive but generally good; Eritrea does a better job on meat than on the veggies, in our opinion. In fact, we think they do a worse job on veggies than any other Eth/Erit place around. Love the shiro, but it's a tiny portion.
Cafe Romanat and Enssaro are better than all three above, but they are not within easy walking distance of a BART station, although Enssaro is nominally within walking distance of the 19th St. BART. Definitely not 10 minutes away, though.
I'd be interested in your take on a couple of places in downtown Oakland that haven't gotten much play on this board:
1. Aria Grill on 14th Street between Webster and Harrison - Afghan food at a place that has been open less than a year. I had the mantu, a beef dumpling topped with spices, about 6 months ago and preferred it a tad over the same dish from Kamdesh, which is on the same block a few doors to the west. The man I talked to behind the register said that their cook had worked for years at the highly-regarded Salang Pass in Fremont. I'd go back to Aria to try the badinjaan (eggplant) and the bolani.
The room is not overly attractive but it sounds like the food is your main concern. It's about 2 blocks east of the Oakland 12th Street BART station.
2. Molcajete - I had the fish tacos for lunch in about November, 2011, not long after it opened. From what I remember, the battered white fish was lightly fried with an appropriate crispiness, fresh and not overly salty. At that time, the restaurant was still feeling its way and some confusion with the service and menu was to be expected but since it was run by the operators of Antojeria Mexicana El Chilar, located around the corner at 365 17th St, where I had had first-rate cochinita pibil and burritos, I got the feeling that Molcajete, given time, was heading in the right direction.
And according to this week's review of Molcajete by Luke Tsai in the East Bay Express, they are on target. Luke particularly liked the mole poblano and chiles relleños and his article made me regret not having gone back sooner.
Molcajete is about 2 blocks east of the 19th Street Oakland BART station.
Here's a link to a YouTube video with some pictures I took in about November, 2011 of Molcajete and Antojeria Mexicana starting at the 1:30 mark:
Aria Grill & Cuisine
308 14th St
Oakland, CA 94612
Molcajete Cocina Mexicana
1734 Webster St
Oakland, CA 94612