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Favorite Berkeley Cheapish Dinner?

NYer in Berkeley for medical conference who sadly just learned that cheeseboard, an old favorite, is closed today/tomorrow.

Don't know/remember other places. Your favorites?

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  1. Define "cheapish". If you mean the price of a slice of Cheeseboard pizza, then I'd go across the street to Soop & get a pint of whatever tastes best, still probably $2-3 more than the pizza slice. Also potato puffs at Gregoire could make a yummy (if unhealthy) cheap meal. Otherwise, do a search on burritos to see which are best in Berkeley. Can't think of much else at that price point.

    17 Replies
    1. re: indigirl

      No more than $20 including tax tip etc

      1. re: hotsauce

        That expands your options quite a lot. I would leave Berkeley for a bowl of ramen at Ramen Shop.

        1. re: indigirl

          It was around $50 for dinner for 1 @ Ramen Shop including Tax & Tip
          Appetizer - $10
          Ramen - $16
          Cocktail - $12

          You could just do a bowl of ramen and drink water for $20, but it's not the largest bowl and depending on appetite, you could leave hungry.

          1. re: drewskiSF

            I love Ramen Shop, and think the quality totally justifies the price, but it's at the other end of the spectrum from Cheeseboard as far as bang for your buck.

            1. re: drewskiSF

              I was thinking of someone who would be satisfied with a slice or 2 at Cheeseboard, since that is what OP started with. I get full on a bowl of ramen, no extras, no problem.

              Another good cheap option is Viks.

              1. re: indigirl

                For the price of a bowl of ramen at Ramen Shop you could get six slices at Cheeseboard, which with the "slivers" would be a whole pie.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  By "satisfied" I meant full, hence no need to go over stated $20 limit.

                  1. re: indigirl

                    Yeah I don't know what the OP's appetite is like, and I know everyone is different, but for me, $20 at Ramen Shop would come nowhere near filling me up. Even $50 at Ramen Shop leaves me barely sated.

                    1. re: dunstable

                      Wow! Good to know. So, when you go to Cheeseboard, do you eat a whole pie by yourself?

                      1. re: dunstable

                        I thought this thread was about Cheapish Dinner suggestions in Berkeley... not relatively expensive places in Oakland?

                        1. re: Mission

                          It's only a 4 mile RT. What out-of-town conference goer looking for cheap dinner wouldn't walk to Ramen Shop to drop $50? The bus however is $2.10.

                        2. re: dunstable

                          Clearly Ramen Shop isn't the right choice for the OP, but this idea that you have to spend $50 there to not go hungry, to me, is crazy: If I ate, say, an entire $10 bowl of their (consistently amazing) fried rice + a $15 bowl of ramen + whatever (non-cocktail) beverage I was in the mood for — say, a lemonade — I'd be completely stuffed. YMMV.

                          Obviously if you do cocktails, you wind up spending a lot (that is, best as I can gather, how they make money), but that's true everywhere, and no one trying to keep to a budget needs to buy a cocktail — especially when eating ramen for dinner!

                          1. re: abstractpoet

                            Rather odd that you would say "YMMV," then dismiss my experience as "crazy."

                            Anyhow, I'm not saying i need to have a second dinner afterwards, but it certainly doesn't leave me "stuffed." To be fair, i have a strong appetite (this is why i rarely eat sushi), but I'm not that unusual - any male who works out regularly could easily eat two or three bowls of that ramen. Like you said, ymmv, but it's not that crazy.

                            1. re: dunstable

                              "Rather odd that you would say "YMMV," then dismiss my experience as 'crazy.'"

                              Fair enough. I just wanted to put out there that the portions, in my view, are not as ridiculously tiny as some have made them to be. I don't think my appetite is small, but, like indigirl, I could eat just the one bowl of ramen and feel satisfied, if not completely full.

                              It's only because the appetizers (the fried rice, in particular) are so good that I always feel compelled to order more.

                              Anyway, I don't mean to come off as an apologist -- I totally get that Ramen Shop isn't for everyone. But, as Robert said, I've always found it to be quite a good value, actually. Which, of course, is different from cheap.

                              1. re: abstractpoet

                                I need to try it again.

                                On my one visit the shoyu broth was one note (katsuobushi) and really salty. The noodles were very good. The toppings . . .

                                This is way off topic from the OP, so I'll leave it at that.

                            2. re: abstractpoet

                              OK, sub lemonade and do a $40 dinner :)

                              Those aren't the biggest bowls of ramen so some supplement will be needed for many. I guess if you're not dining solo the appetizer costs can be divided up.

                              Still, I'm not *that* big (160 lbs) or workout that regularly like dunstable and I was not stuffed with the chashu donburi (mostly veggies) & ramen.

                              1. re: abstractpoet

                                If I were ordering dinner from the Ramen Shop menu currently on their web site, it would be $10-12 for an appetizer plus $16 for the pork ramen, plus $5-6 for dessert since I'd have enough appetite left, plus $10 for a glass of wine, so at least $41, or $53 with tax and tip. I think it's good value for the money but the opposite of cheap.

                                Cheap is Cheeseboard Pizza, where you can stuff yourself with two or three slices and a glass of wine for under $20 total.

                  1. I stumbled across Suya, an Afro-Carribean grill on Oxford just south of Center the other day, and had an excellent meal there for under $10.


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ernie in berkeley

                      My associate and I both got a grilled plate and sides for lunch today at SUYA AFRO CARIB. I am happy to say we were both quite pleased with the quality and variety of tastes for ~$10 and the quantity of food was great for lunch.

                      I think the will nicely replace the "hole" left by BRASA CHICKEN (voluntarily?) exiting-the-market.

                      Only about a dozen seats tho. We were there at lunch rush but I dont think the students are back in force yet.

                      I liked the beef skewers I got more than the tilapia I tried. The roasted potatoes seems the best side and even worth the carb/calorie hit.

                      The CHAPMAN beverage or whatever it was called was not that exciting. However I am interested in trying the exotic drinks from DANIEL CARIBBEAN.

                      1. re: psb

                        The Brasa folks said they sold to Brazil Cafe to focus on their new baby


                    2. If near the UCB campus, you might check out Cancun Taqueria. That's my go to cheapish place in downtown Berkeley. A little further away is Slow. Do a search.

                      1. I'll second Cancun. It's on Addison between Shattuck & Oxford. They do the finest Carnitas tacos, a delicious carne asada torta and their salsa bar includes one with crushed toasted squash seeds and another with avocado. Tortilla soup is tasty and cheap and for some reasonable charge they'll put in hunks of avocado.

                          1. re: wolfe

                            In my experience Phil's ends up being a bit expensive ... not white tablecloth expensive, but seems to be more than sando/slice/burrito expensive. I suppose if you get both a sando an dessert at Gregoire, it's about the same range.

                            I can drop $12 there and still be hungry. I dont think I am going to go there any more due to personal-price-perf.

                            I agree doable in $20, per OP's request. But definitely more than Cheeseboard.

                            To the person whose Topdog Onestop is >$20 ... OMG :-)

                            If you are including places as far as San Pablo, La Bedaine (~$8 sando + pastry) or Kim Cafe (VN Sando) are in my rotation.

                            BRASA (RIP) was a good option until last month.

                            Nick Pizza also somewhat interesting for slices. Rotten City is pushing the range a bit.

                            Local Butcher had good sandos for previously for $8 but the bump to $9 kinda annoyed me (and the corned beef went up ~50%!). Sometimes the sandos really good, sometimes a little fussy.

                          2. Anh Hong, Vietnamese, downtown. not close to campus, but a good value, Indus Village (San Pablo Ave. near Univ.)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: moto

                              A 2nd on Indus. Good value and a light touch on Indian and Pakistani food...but as you mentioned, not close to campus. The combo plates are great values at like $7 bucks, enough for 2.

                            2. Lucky House on University between Oxford and Shatuck for cheap (hole in the wall) authentic Thai.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Civil Bear

                                are they still there? it's been ages since I've eaten at Lucky House. any good?

                                1. re: escargot3

                                  As far as I know, yes. I get to Berkeley 4-5 times a month during basketball season, so I make sure to get back a couple of times a year. They haven't disappointed yet - except when they are out of stuff.

                                  Their food isn't as sweet as other Thai places in town and they pride themselves on that. I would say they are pretty good considering the price point and being a bona fide hole in the wall. Good service too.

                                  1. re: Civil Bear

                                    Unfortunately I can no longer recommend this place. After a long hiatus I returned to a different menu and staff. The food was mediocre by Bay Area standards.

                              2. I can almost eat at Top Dog for $20, but not quite. About the fifth or six dog, it starts to add up! ;)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Mike C. Miller

                                  Yup, a couple of Top Dogs then maybe an ice cream sandwich from Cream. Definitely a cheapish Berkeley dinner.

                                2. +1 on Suya, though you should know it closes early (7pm) on Sundays.

                                  I was going to suggest a super falafel at Sunrise Deli, but it seems they're also closed on weekends.

                                  1. Solano is a good street for solo meals under $20 incl tax/tip that I've liked (as w/ Ramen Shop discussion, obviously depends how much food satisfies):


                                    China Village (where I order Village Special Seafood Noodle Soup and take home left-overs)

                                    Britt Marie's (slice of goat cheese tart and a romaine salad--haven't been in a while--but that used to be under budget)

                                    1. One of my Berkeley standbys is the "Persian Burger" on a baguette at Bongo Burger. Three locations - one on Euclid just north of Campus, one west of campus, and one off of Telegraph.

                                      A "half Persian Burger" typically satisfies me, but since you're coming in from out of town, why not splurge for a full. Around $5.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: fadista

                                        Oh yeah, that's a real Berkeley institution.

                                        After Cheeseboard, BONGO BURGER gets the most "likes" from my ex-UCB-but-no-longer-living-in-the-area friends.

                                        Agree if you are there once, the PERSIAN BURGER (ground lamb) is the one to try.

                                        It looks like the egg/homefries/toast breakfast is no longer < $2.

                                        1. re: fadista

                                          Haven't been in a while?
                                          PERSIAN BURGER SANDWICH $6.50/$8.75 with fries and small soda.

                                          1. re: fadista

                                            I never understood the love for Bongo Burger - even on a student budget.

                                            1. re: Civil Bear

                                              For me, BB served better than average burgers, in context to the other competition around. The competition use to be Nations, Kip's, Oscar's and the greasy spoon on Northside that closed. Also I usually got the Persian burger or Kabob sandwich.

                                              1. re: ML8000

                                                For me, all those places mentioned beat BB (admittedly Oscar's was a greasy guilty pleasure). Mo's on the north side was the best hands down though...sorry to see them go.

                                          2. gypsy trattoria for enormous delicious cheap calzone

                                            1 Reply