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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?

Dave MP

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  1. 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.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      On this particular trip I need to stay in downtown Oakland or north of it, so Fruitvale is out.

      Juhu Beach Club sounds interesting, and I would be OK walking that far. What's particularly good there?

      1. re: Dave MP

        I was there at lunch, so the menu was slightly different, but we shared the trio of pavs and a salad. Based on what I had, I'd order anything on the menu with confidence, and I think there are a lot of different ways to mix and match.

        1. 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 :)

          1. re: Dave MP

            I liked the nimbu pani, but you have to really like cilantro!

      2. 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.

        1. re: bbulkow

          Unfortunately I believe Koryo has closed. Lanesplitter is a good idea - I would get a whole pie as slices are sometimes reheated.

          1. re: Mr_Happy

            Koryo is closed and gutted undergoing remodel.

            not sure what is next?


            downhill alert on Koryo sushi a couple doors away.

            too bad, i have had some decent late night sushi there in the past.

            1. re: Mission

              I saw that they just reopened with an all you can eat special. Has anyone been to Koryo since the re-opening?

      3. Miss Ollie's is hard to beat for great food on a tight budget. Last time we went we got:

        phoularie 5
        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.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Thanks for the Disco Volante tip, that could work well.

          1. re: Dave MP

            The burger at Disco Volante is one of the best around. But the entire menu is interesting.

        2. Ideas for good/cheap around BART:
          some of these have already been mentioned

          12th St:
          Miss Ollies
          Binh Minh Quan
          Spices 3
          Shanghai Restaurant
          Gum Kuo
          Sobo Ramen

          19th St:
          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
          Asmara (ethiopian)

          7 Replies
          1. re: Mr_Happy

            Sahn Maru might have changed hands, there's a liquor license transfer notice in the window.

            1. re: Mr_Happy

              Some good suggestions there. I'd thumbs-down Asmara, though. I've eaten at most of the Ethiopian restaurants in Oakland and Asmara was surprisingly undistinguished. If you're walking from MacArthur BART, Cafe Eritique is closer.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Good to know, will have to try Cafe Eritrea sometime.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  how about red sea?

                  half block from juju beach.

                  plus very cheap drinks across the street at the kingfish pub.

                  claremont and telegraph.

                  11 short blocks to mac bart.

                  1. re: Mission

                    Might be faster to walk from Rockridge BART.

                    1. re: Mission

                      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.

                      1. re: jaiko

                        I've walked from Enssaro to 19th St. BART. It's not any farther than MacArthur to 51st and Telegraph, and it's a lot nicer.

                2. the food at Luka's Taproom is tasty and fresh. might be a little higher than your budget range, but oysters are a dollar on Mon's and they have nice beers. very close to the 19th St. bart.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: moto

                    Luka's often has blasting loud music.

                  2. 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 relleƱos 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
                    (510) 893-2742

                    Molcajete Cocina Mexicana
                    1734 Webster St
                    Oakland, CA 94612
                    (510) 466-6652

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: zippo

                      These are both awesome recommendations. I didn't even know those Afghan places existed, so even if I don't try it this week, I'll give it a go soon!
                      Dave MP

                      1. re: zippo

                        Kambesh serves find afghan food also. they've been here nearly 2 years. (across from from disco volante. limited seating though.
                        -346 14th St.

                        Biryani Kabob was a surprising tasty lunch. busy at lunch
                        -377 13th St.

                        Asian grill sell mongolian food. seems pricey, not so tasty
                        -352 14th St,

                        1. re: zippo

                          Gene Anderson at OurOakland.Net says that the vegetarian version of the sabzi challow was delicious at Aria:


                        2. Why not Lake Meritt bart? 7-10 minutes and you are in Jack London. Nido, Chop Bar might be a bit too pricy, but Souley Vegan is in your range. Now that I think about it, actually, can't think of much that isn't going to be more than $15-20 person for dinner around there... hmm (market opportunity?)

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: hungree

                            For this week, I'm meeting someone who works near MacArthur, hence wanting to meet north of downtown Oakland. But I'll definitely save these Lake Merritt recs for the future!

                          2. Chef Yu aka Yuyu Zha Zang for Korean-Chinese. Dirt cheap. My favorites are the chap chae, gan poong ki, double skin (which they call something else and is maybe not on the paper menu but only in the photos over the kitchen), and dry zazang mien.


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              the Korean name is Yang Jang Pi described as Pork & vegetables in mustard sauce

                              This thread says "double" is the wrong translation of "liang" (Chinese dish name is Liang Zhang Pi) and that it should be "cold" or "cool"

                            2. If you are okay with spicy food, we enjoyed Spice Monkey quite a bit. However, I think your price point is really too low. We don't even get out of La Calaca Loca Taqueria for that amount, and although you can barely manage it at Juhu you'll probably still be hungry.

                              Spice Monkey
                              1628 Webster St
                              (between 17th St & 15th St)
                              Oakland, CA 94612
                              (510) 268-0170

                              1. I'm bumping this up because I have a similar question as the OP.

                                I will be carless and staying at the Homewood Suites Oakland Waterfront for about a week. That being said, most of my time will be spent around the Lake Merritt Bart and around Jack London Square. I am mostly looking for lunch places as I will likely be busy for most dinners, within walking distance or Bart distance from where I will be staying and visiting. That being said, my definition of walking distance is liberal - I don't mind a 45 minute walk to get lunch if it's worth it.

                                More important information:
                                - Price range - would like to keep it reasonable but if there is something exceptional that costs more, so be it.
                                - Food preferences - I'm from Montreal so we have French/Italian food pretty well covered. I'm not really interested in trying your Montreal bagels place. I am looking more for Asian-based flavours, California/South West, Mexican/Central American/South American. If there is something exceptional that doesn't fit into my description, I'm open. Also, while our skin is white as snow, we can handle (and enjoy) very high levels of spice.
                                - Food non-preferences - I'm a pescatarian. My husband eats everything.
                                - Misc - If there's a good pub/bar we should know about near where we're staying, that would be great too. Is Brotzeit Lokal Boathaus & Biergarten any good? Also, because we'll be walking, if a place that you're recommending is in an area that is dangerous to walk during the day or at night, please let me know.

                                Your help is very much appreciated!

                                17 Replies
                                1. re: captain_vegetable

                                  Nido is an easy walk from Lake Merritt Bart.

                                  1. re: GH1618

                                    I actually went there on my last visit to the area, which I think was just a few weeks after they opened. I liked it. It was cute.

                                    Probably also worth noting - last time we went to and enjoyed Spices II (or was it III?) and some food trucks (which at the time were prohibited in Montreal)

                                  2. re: captain_vegetable

                                    There's nothing in the immediate area but Brotzeit, which is very nice. Chai Thai Noodle, Jalisco Cafe, Banh Mi Ba Le, Nido, and Chop Bar are all around 20-25 minutes. Chinatown's a little over half an hour.

                                    Beer Revolution and Trappist are two of the best beer bars in the Bay Area.

                                    That's a very car-oriented hotel in the middle of nowhere, separated from downtown by an 8-lane freeway and rail yards. If you can stay somewhere else you'll spend less time walking through industrial and abandoned areas.

                                    The area around that hotel is pretty deserted at night, and hobos camp in some of the abandoned areas, but I think it's more creepy than dangerous. There's major freeway construction going on, so the road under the freeway to Lake Merritt BART / International Blvd. might be unsafe or even closed to pedestrians. There might be pile driving and other construction noises at night, since that's when they work.

                                    Seriously, stay somewhere else.

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      I think the hotel has a shuttle that can take them downtown. If you walk over the 16th Ave. overpass there's a decent Vietnamese place at 15th and E. 12th (Pho Huynh Hiep 1 - Kevin's Noodle House), and on 14th and International there's the little shopping center with Cambodian food. At 17th and International is Jalisco, which a lot of people swear by for their carnitas. There's also Ba Le at 19th and International for banh mi (closes late afternoon).

                                      That said, I'd agree with Robert that it's not a safe area to walk after dark and not a nice place to walk at any time.

                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                        I don't see any mention of a shuttle on the hotel's web site, though there are reports of one (weekdays only?)) on TripAdvisor. That would be a lot nicer than walking to BART.

                                        Except maybe for walking through the temporary underpass detours due to the freeway construction, I don't think it's unsafe, just the kind of deserted industrial / abandoned area that creeps a lot of people out.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          I'd hate to be overly optimistic when it comes to safety.

                                          As I noted, I think walking over the 16th Ave. overpass is the best bet. Lots of good eats there, and you can also catch a bus going towards downtown.


                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                            The overpass is the most direct route to Jalisco and Ba Le, but if you're going to walk 20 minutes to catch a bus downtown, it's more direct and a much nicer walk down Embarcadero to the 58 / 72 stop.

                                    2. re: captain_vegetable

                                      Consider getting a cheapo bicycle off Craigslist or somewhere. For a month it will be worth it and will make getting to BART and food a lot easier/faster and it can help with the safety stuff. Walking might be iffy but riding door to door shouldn't be. There's a bike shop in Jack London Sq that might be of help. They do rentals but on a daily basis it's expensive.

                                      From where you're staying you can easily get to downtown (Chinatown, Old Oakland, Uptown), Fruitvale and Alameda.

                                      1. re: ML8000

                                        Week, not month. Though the Embarcadero is a great bike route.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          In that case (a week), I'd consider renting a bike from the place in Jack London Sq. It really will help get your around quickly and cover more area. It has to be cheaper than a car rental.

                                            1. re: ML8000

                                              Unfortunately, while I can do many things, I cannot ride a bike. Never learned and now I'm just too freaked out.

                                              1. re: captain_vegetable

                                                Me, either!

                                                It does have a shuttle. The hotel's website lists "Local Area Transportation" under amenities, and it was mentioned in a TripAdvisor review.

                                          1. re: captain_vegetable

                                            I'd recommend Bocanova on Jack London Square for one dinner, at least, but they also do lunch. Nice waterfront location.

                                            1. re: captain_vegetable

                                              Had a great plate of chilaquiles at Southey, which is a few blocks from Rockridge BART stn. The pulled porked sandwich looked great too.