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Berkeley Eat/Study/Seduction Spot

Hi, there's a cute girl that I'm going to study with somewhere. I want to pick a restaurant on the pre-text of studying but use it as an opportunity to show my worth as a suitor.

Cost doesn't matter because I want to impress her. The scenario needs to look believable. The place should be quiet and allow for some seclusion.

Place needs to be in East Bay preferably Berkeley, but will settle for Oakland, ect.

Ideally breakfast food.

Please help me get cute girl. She's so cute.

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  1. Hi -
    Are you a Cal student? I've always liked Cafe Strada to read at or study - but if you're a student it might be too familiar and unexciting since it's almost on the Cal campus. BUT - it has a very relaxed vibe and some beautiful outdoor seating to sit down at and watch the world go by. There isn't too much food, however. It's mostly coffee and small finger foods.
    If you need breakfast food, most of my favorite spots in Berkeley tend to be pretty crowded in the morning, unfortunately. But I would recommend Bette's on 4th street - Nice casual atmosphere on an upscale retail street. Try to get there before 9am to beat the crowds that show up every day at 10. If you get there around 10 you'll have an hour wait.
    Other breakfast favorites near Berkeley are -
    Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland. Great southern fried chicken, waffles, pancakes. Also crowded on almost all mornings if you show up after 9:30am. But it's got amazing food.
    Aunt Mary's Cafe on Telegraph in Temescal part of Oakland is AMAZING. Hearty southern style food as well. They always have an interesting menu. They also get busy after 9:30am.
    Hope this helps - Good luck w/ your babe!

    4 Replies
    1. re: robbgibbs

      I should also mention 900 Grayson -
      Another favorite in Emeryville - still pretty close to Berkeley. They have a great backyard seating area, and great food - but also tend to get pretty busy around lunch and breakfast.

      1. re: robbgibbs

        Hi robb, thanks for reply.

        I live in Berkeley but I'm not a Cal student - I'm past college age. The person is none native English speaker, so I'm teaching them English and they are teaching me Mandarin. Hence why a bit of quiet is needed.

        It seems the popular places are likely not good study places. I guess this makes sense.

        1. re: Mastove

          I would recommend Cafe Strada then, I think. You won't feel any rush to get out of there because lots of people just hang out there and study in their outdoor seating. Again, the food is just simple cake slices and cookies, but I think you'll have a bit of a tough time finding a spot in Berkeley w/ great breakfast that isn't packed to the gils. The only other spots that comes to mind w/ good breakfast that might be a bit more low-key are Jimmy Bean's on Gilman. However, I believe that they, too, get pretty busy on weekends. The other is Meal Ticket on San Pablo, right near Berkeley. They might be a LITTLE bit quieter, but potentially busy as well.
          Sorry I'm not more help - maybe somebody else on here will know a breakfast gem that hasn't been discovered yet and is still flying under the radar - good luck to you!

          1. re: Mastove

            > I'm teaching them English and they are ...
            > Hence why a bit of quiet is needed.
            now this why came as a surprise to I

            how about Jodie's? :-)

        2. Don't forget to mention Cafe Strada's part in solving Fermat's Last Theorem.
          "Also, quite charmingly, one of the major turning points in the book is a conversation at Cafe Strada in which someone exclaims, “But don’t you see? You’ve done it! All you have to do is add some gamma-zero of (M) structure and just run through your argument and it works. It gives you everything you need.”
          Possibly Fèi ěr mǎ dà dìnglǐ

          1. Whoa, breakfast! Slow down slugger, in the Seinfeld ranking, dinner is a promotion over lunch and one can only assume breakfast would put you in the CEO's chair. Just kidding, of course. I assume your lessons are morning? Also are you looking for a meal or a small bite; a place to go regularly or a one-time idea?

            All due respect to the Strada suggestion --I go there often myself-- I would not choose that place for your purposes. The baked goods are ok, but hardly a place to impress her (or anyone). Plus it is too distracting due to the constant traffic.

            Maybe Elmwood Cafe on College and Russell? A bit pretentious, but isn't that really what seduction is all about? The only issue is that it can be hard to find a table.

            Maybe Strada would be more "believable" than Elmwood Cafe, but maybe not, since I do not know what that means.

            5 Replies
            1. re: MagicMarkR

              I would have to agree with you, MagicMarkR - Elmwood Cafe is a pretty great suggestion. Not too fancy either.
              And I know exactly what you mean by Strada being, "believable", haha. I think that's what I was going for, but you are, again, correct - sounds like Mastove needs to impress here!!
              Also just remembered Rick & Ann's - Which might be a good option because it's a bit fancier than the others I suggested. Can be a bit busy, but I think crowds there have seemed a bit light lately. Worst case scenario - put your name on the list for a table and then start practicing the English while you wait!

              1. re: robbgibbs

                Right -Strada for the second "date" perhaps? I thought about R&A's which prompted my question about if he's looking for a full meal. Local 123 suggested by Milklady is good as well.

                1. re: robbgibbs

                  Rick & Ann's seems good. I'm also within walking distance of there. The prices look more expensive there so perhaps that's a better option. I can make an excellent argument that this place was within walking distance of my house.

                2. re: MagicMarkR

                  Hi Mark, yes I'd like to be pretentious but at the same time I can't make it look like a pure date. If I take her to chez penez she'll catch on. So I need to suspend her in a state that's between a date and studying. I live within walking distance of Elmwood so maybe this is good, there's outdoor seating there also. If I do this route I'll try taking her on a walk on the pretext of pronouncing shop names in English.

                  1. re: Mastove

                    I completely understand --the "believability" point. The fact that it is near to where one of you live is also a plus. She'd also "catch on" --gotta hate it when that happens-- if you take her to a place too far away. Another benefit of Elmwood is that food/drinks can take so long that you'll get to spend more time with her and show her your patient side by not getting angry about having to wait 20 minutes for a cappuccino!

                3. I think the Elmwood Café idea is a great one. I would also consider Local 123 on San Pablo at University.

                    1. Homestead, on Piedmont Ave., serves coffee and excellent doughnuts/pastries/quiches/stratas Tuesday-Saturday, from 8 a.m. to noon. It's still a fairly well-kept secret at this point, and it would be tough to find a more charming spot that won't be packed.

                      In a similar vein, on the other end of the street, Adesso just started a morning coffee and pastry program as well, but I haven't been yet.

                      1. How much time do you expect to stay there, and are you bringing books/laptops or is this just conversational?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: hyperbowler

                          She will probably bring books and a laptop but I don't plan to. I would like to extend the stay as long as possible, at least an hour.

                        2. I think the recommendation of Le Bateu Ivre is perfect!
                          The atmosphere is charming 19th C European, the menu can be breakfast, coffee/pastries, or lunch and there is never a rushed feel so you can linger long.

                          1. This is not really food advice, and I suspect I will get deleted yet again, BUT...

                            Honestly, I think you should just study at your home, or wherever your usual haunt is. Depending on this woman's age and how many suitors she has, if you take her anywhere that doesn't feel like a place you go to all the time, she may or may not be impressed, but she will almost definitely realize that you are trying to impress her. I dunno if you want to make yourself that obvious. I mean, maybe you do, I don't know how you work, but this isn't the smoothest tack you could take.

                            Personally I would recommend studying in your place and then asking her if she's hungry, and if she says yes, just "whip up" breakfast, but nothing so fancy that it looks like you went shopping the day before.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: dunstable

                              I am sure the young lady's mother told her this one.
                              Jìnrù wǒ de kètīng lǐ shuō zhīzhū duì cāngyíng
                              "come into my parlor said the spider to the fly"

                              1. re: wolfe

                                Well, I cannot speak much for Chinese girls, but a lot of the Korean women I've known would definitely draw conclusions (sometimes incorrectly) if they were taken someplace a little too nice, especially if it is obvious that the other person has never been there.

                                But, that's my opinion. It should also be noted that I will not be celebrating Valentine's Day this Friday, so take my advice with a grain of salt...

                              2. re: dunstable

                                This might be the beginning of something, just the beginning. She's away from home, in a new country, culture, language. I would definitely shy away from someone I hardly know inviting me to his home to "study."

                                A public place, nice cafe, is a great place to study, get to know each other better, see what can come of it.

                              3. Pizzaiolo in Oakland (Temescal) is a beautiful, light spot conducive to and believable for studying. They serve delicious coffee and baked goods, including toast with an assortment of jams or honey and brown butter (sexy). And if she likes it there, you could suggest a return trip sometime for dinner, when the atmosphere is completely different & you might share their great pizza (also sexy), or other dishes. I haven't been there lately but have heard the mornings have become more crowded; you can check it out Mon to Sat, 8am to noon.

                                1. Wow - The suggestion of Le Bateu Ivre looks amazing:


                                  I've never been, but it sure looks like it fits the bill. Does anybody know if it gets real crowded in there on weekends?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: robbgibbs

                                    They advertise wi-fi, so that's a plus, and confirmation that it wouldn't be weird to have a laptop open.

                                    I dunno, I agree with dunstable's comment above... if someone invited me to a French-named place that they'd never been to before, it would telegraph date to me... no street pun intended.

                                  2. To be believable you're going to need tables big enough for one, potentially two laptops plus books (assuming), Wi-Fi, and access to plugs. What day of the week? I can't imagine being able to study at Bette's on a weekend day... I'd feel weird pulling out a laptop when people are waiting in line to eat, but maybe that's just me. Elmwood Cafe and Rick and Ann's will work.

                                    1. Update:

                                      Went to Elmwood Cafe and Rick & Ann's.

                                      Elmwood Cafe is good for following reasons:

                                      - Lots of outdoor seating. You can find a secluded spot.

                                      - The surrounding shops provide something to do after.

                                      - You pay up front instead of at the end. This is important because it allows you to pay for the meal before girl can try splitting bill.

                                      - Cute girl likes no-handle coffee cups at Elmwood Cafe.

                                      Rick & Ann's is not as good:

                                      - The seating is claustrophobic - not much privacy.

                                      - You pay after meal like regular restaurant. If girl sees bill she will try paying and you need to fight a little for it. This makes it more formal.

                                      Food was fine at both places.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Mastove

                                        Glad to hear it and thanks for the update --of course you left out the most important part: did your plan "work"? :-)

                                      2. Try Gilman Grill for "classic-type" American diner.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: sydthekyd

                                          Gilman Grill is creepy. You might as well invite someone home to your trailer park, or Dennys.

                                        2. Try Le Bateau Ivre. You can study there then stay for dinner by the fireplace.