Impressing out-of-towners in the East Bay
Here's an exercise: If you had 5 meals to show off the best of the East Bay to out-of-towners who are sophisticated, experienced diners, where would you take them?
Five suggestions only, please. No restrictions on cuisine or price. Upscale or downscale is fine. What would your five-meal plan be?
That would depend on their interests and where they were coming from (e.g. my friend who lives in Mexico won't go to a Mexican restaurant). Short list would include Great China, Dopo / A16, Banh Mi Ba Le / Wood Tavern, Miss Ollie's, Kronner Bistro, Nido / Comal, Ippuku / Kiraku, Anjappar Chettinad, Ramen Shop, downstairs at Chez Panisse, Fusebox
I have a similar need for an upcoming visit (except I'm the out-of-towner, LOL!). I've looked through the website menus for all the suggestions made here so far, as well as some others I've heard of, and I have a couple of questions:
1. Two of the recommendations have websites, but don't have menus on them:
Fusebox - fuseboxoakland.comu – has no menu at all
Commis - www.commisrestaurant.com/menu - this is supposedly their menu but it just lists ingredients, so it sounds like a shopping list, not a menu
Anybody know where I can view a real menu for either of them? (Restaurants do themselves a disservice when they don't post a sample menu on their website!)
2. I've heard about three other places whose menus sound really good, but they haven't been mentioned yet here:
Any opinions on any of those three? They're among my top picks (along with Box and Bells) based on their website menus.
I like to give visitors a sense of place more than trying to impress (which can set you and them up for disappointment). If we had all the time in the world to center around food:
So I'd go to north Berkeley and show them around the gourmet ghetto and either grab a pizza at cheeseboard or go to the chez panisse cafe. If they like wine, there's some great wine stores in N Berkeley.
I'd head to 4th street Berkeley and walk that area to sit down and eat either go to vik's or iyasare. There's a sake factory and some urban wineries down that way along with the Sierra Nevada tasting room.
I'd show them Berkeley Bowl.
I'd head up to Rockridge and walk around that area. Eat at Tara's organic Ice Cream and Wood Tavern.
I'd go up to to Lake Merriit area, to the Fox theater, and then down to Jack London square.
Pizzaioli - what i think of as "california" or "west coast" pizza)
Commis - Great fine dining - i arguably had my best bay area meal there
Chez Panisse - Has its many detractors (see thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9800...), but it's the place I continually bring back to memory when i think of California cuisine.
Miss Ollie's - Consistently great comfort food
Mexican in Fruitvale - El Huarache Azteca, jalisco cafe, taco grill (do a crawl
honorable mentions - brown sugar, cheeseboard, wood tavern
disclaimer -- personally, could not 'buy in' to the notion of "impressing" 'sophisticated' visitors. as for good cooking and hospitality, representative of the soul of Oakland, my birthplace -- Miss Ollie's. confining the boundaries to just Oakland, assuming these were my guests and on my dime, other places to seriously consider would be Pizzaiolo and Juhu Beach Club.
reversing roles, with myself the visitor who's had pretty diverse eating experiences, would not find Pican nor Camino particularly unique nor interesting. Hopscotch would be less pretentious and more interesting than either.