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Dec 9, 2013 10:06 AM

Dinner before the Berkeley Rep

LA Hound coming up for a long Bay Area weekend at the end of December. Very familiar with SF restaurants, but on Friday night we're attending a play at the Berkeley Rep. Prefer someplace close to the BART station, so I can leave my car across the bay. What are my best choices (price not really an issue)?

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  1. Best food in the immediate area, for eating before, Revival, Belli Osteria, or Ippuku.

    1. I second Ippuku. That and Comal are our favorites before Berkeley Rep (and among our favorite Berkeley restaurants, period).

      But while Ippuku takes reservations, Comal only takes them right when they open (5:30 pm--which works for us on Sundays, w/ a 7 pm Berkeley Rep curtain). There's likely to be a significant wait for walk-in's at 6 or 6:30 (aiming for an 8 pm Friday curtain). You might grab a 5:30 pm reservation, be done by 7 and then browse in the bookstore and have a coffee and sweet in the lobby/courtyard @ the theatre. Not ideal, but ....

      6 Replies
      1. re: sundeck sue

        Getting to Comal by 5:30 would put you right at the peak of rush hour sardine-packing on BART. Good choice if you want to eat after the show.

        1. re: sundeck sue

          Not sure if it's changed, but I thought Ippuku only takes res for 6 or more people?

            1. re: rubadubgdub

              I've made reservations for two, though not recently.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Good to know! I've avoided it pretheater for this very reason.

              2. re: rubadubgdub

                We got reservations for four last Tuesday at Ippuku, and with only a few hours of notice. Note that they don't sell all items throughout the week--- the chicken tartare, for one, isn't on the menu on Mon and Tuesday, but is available on Wednesday and some other days.

            2. Since you're looking for options, I'd look at Venus and Gather. Both are good to very good and close by but not super special. I'd check the menus and reviews.

              Otherwise, if you have time, there is Chez Panisse Cafe. Dinner starts at 5, so you should have time but you can get a cab back to avoid the walk. It's like a 10 block walk.

              3 Replies
              1. re: ML8000

                CP is something to consider, if you want to eat after theatre. They're open late (that said, if you're BART-ing, that could make it tight). But we've gone there many a time, post-Berkeley-Rep. Obviously an easier res. @ that hour. And if you're wanting something lighter for a late night repast, a shared nettles pizza and salad and glass of Red and Green Zin, with a piece of beautiful fresh fruit for dessert can feel pretty perfect.

                Rather than Venus or Gather (neither, as ML8000 says, anything to write home about), we sometimes grab some sushi before theatre. There are a few B-B+ sushi places around the Rep--two on Shattuck, one on MLK between Addison and University (my preference, the latter, Sushi California, I think it's called, a space that's cozy & a bit funky, with decent sushi).

                And if you did want to do something bigger after the performance, a pre-theatre beer and a few pieces of sushi at Sushi California or a margarita and chips/homemade salsas/guac at the Comal bar could tide you over.

                1. re: sundeck sue

                  A lot depends on when the show starts. If it starts at 8, I think that's plenty of time before the show since CP Cafe opens at 5 p.m., but not the nicer downstairs (opens at 6). 1.5 - 2 hour meal, should give you plenty of time to get to the Rep. If it's bad weather or don't want to walk, they'll call you a cab.

                  1. re: ML8000

                    Fridays this month, showtime is 8pm.

                1. re: Cynsa

                  Have you eaten there since the chef change?

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Probably not, it's been a year since we were at Berkeley Rep to see Mary Zimmerman's The White Snake... but we enjoyed our convenient pre-theatre dinner and excellent service at FIVE.
                    Did Stephane Tonnelier start in July?

                    1. re: Cynsa

                      Banks White left in May and Tonnelier started in August.

                2. Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. My wife ended up surprising me and saying that it was OK to snack before the play and then again afterwards, so we grabbed some banh mi sandwiches at Saigon Sandwich after the Asian Art Museum closed, and then went to Comal after Tristan ended at 10:15p. No problems being seated right away then, and the food was very good. This wine drinker very much enjoyed his "Juarez Sour" cocktail. The mushroom quesadilla was particularly good as well.