A. Good Choices
Chez Panisse Cafe — 1517 Shattuck (Cedar), Berkeley (548-5049). Chez Panisse’s regular restaurant downstairs is marvelous, but it has long become a “destination” place where we rarely eat anymore. Upstairs in the cafe remains a local favorite.
B. Options By Neighborhood
- College Avenue and Telegraph Avenue
- Oakland Hills
- Piedmont Avenue/Grand Avenue
- Uptown and Downtown Oakland/Jack London Square/Chinatown and East Oakland
- Solano Avenue Area
- Emeryville/West Berkeley/West Oakland
- Downtown Berkeley
COLLEGE AVENUE AND TELEGRAPH/TEMESCAL AVENUE
A Cote — 5478 College (Lawton), Oakland (655-6469). Lively French/American tapas place. Full Bar. Very tasty. Festive. Charming outdoor back patio.
A16 — 5356 College Ave., Oakland. Jazzy vibe. Good starters. Tasty pizza and back room can be reserved for a memorable group dinner.
Barney’s Hamburgers — 5819 College (OceanView), Oakland (601-0444). Popular chain, but not my favorite.
The Barrel Room — 5330 College Avenue (Hudson) Oakland (655-1700). Nice wine bar with good food (albeit limited menu). Lots of inventive wine flights to try.
Belotti — 5403 College Avenue, Oakland (788-7890). Terrific new Italian neighborhood gem.
Bourbon & Beef — 5634 College Avenue (BART) (788-4821). Attractive and lively new addition to the College Avenue scene.
Burma Superstar — 4721 Telegraph, Oakland (652-2900). Classy Burmese in an attractive setting.
Cafe Rustica — 5422 College (Hudson), Oakland (654-1601). Good pizza.
Crepevine — 5600 College, Oakland (658-2026). Excellent salads and outdoor setting.
Dona Tomas — 5004 Telegraph (51st), Oakland(450-0522). A very pleasant Mexican restaurant with a good bar and wonderful outside seating, especially in warm weather.-
Enoteca Molinari — 5474 College, Oakland (428-4078). Small, hip wine bar with nice food.
Filippo’s Pastaria — 5400 College (Taft), Oakland (601-8646). Cheap, casual, Italian.
Golden Squirrel — 5940 College Avenue, Oakland (735-9220). Local pub replacing Barclay’s.
Gordo Taqueria — 2989 College (Ashby), Berkeley (204-9027). Great take out burritos.
Hog’s Apothecary — 375 40th St (Shafter) Oakland (338-3847. Beer and sausages. Not our thing but already popular with others.
Homeroom — 400 40th Ave., Oakland (597-0400). Untried by us but promising reports. Though, we’re not the mac n cheese type.
Juhu Beach Club — 5179 Telegraph Ave (51st), Oakland (652-7350). Noisy but lots of fun. Casual Mumbai food.
Jules Thin Crust — 5804 College, Oakland (597-1859). Tasty flatbreads with wholesome ingredients, disappointing ambience.
King Yen — 2995 College (Ashby), Berkeley (845-1286). Old reliable Chinese.
La Mediterranee — 2936 College (Ashby), Berkeley (540-7773). Informal, Middle-Eastern(ish). Sidewalk dining.
Limewood — 41 Tunnel Rd (in the Claremont Hotel), Oakland (549-8585). Appealing replacement for the Paragon, still with great views and some patio seating.
Marica — 5301 College Avenue (near Broadway), Oakland (985-8388). Seafood restaurant. Attractive setting. Some excellent dishes.
Noodle Theory — 6099 Claremont, Oakland (595-6988). Inventive. Tasty.
Oliveto — 5655 College (Rockridge BART), Oakland (547-5356). Our local has become a “destination” restaurant. The downstairs cafe is good with a fine, but small, bar.
Osmanthus — 6048 College (Claremont), Oakland (923-1233). A new Asian fusion restaurant has opened on College Avenue. Some excellent dishes.
Paragon Bar and Cafe — not on College, but in the Claremont Hotel (549-8585). Great views, an outdoor patio where you can eat, slick bar, good enough food.
Pizzaiola — 5008 Telegraph (51st), Oakland (652-4888). Good pizza and more place. Very crowded, very noisy.
Ramen Shop — 5812 College Ave., Oakland (788-6370). As yet untried by us. Delicious ramen. Sit at the counter. No reservations – irritating.
Shen Hua — 2914 College (Ashby), Berkeley (883-1777). Large attractive Chinese in the Elmwood. Noisy
Soi4 Bangkok Eatery — 5421 College (Hudson/Manila), Oakland (655-0889). Nice Thai food in Rockridge. Quite popular.
Southie — 6311 College Ave, Oakland (654-0100). Great sandwiches.
Trattoria La Siciliana — 2993 College (Ashby), Berkeley (704-1474). Home style fairly simple food, nicely prepared. Informal.
Troy — 2985 College Ave, Berkeley (666-8500). Simple neighborhood Greek. Disappointing.
Uzen — 5415 College (Hudson), Oakland (654-7753). Can be fine sushi. Simple.
Wood Tavern — 6317 College (Alcatraz), Oakland (654-6607). Lively local with a nicely varied menu. Very popular. Very tasty food. Very welcoming hosts. Excellent bar, if you can get a seat.
Zachary’s — 5801 College (OceanView), Oakland (655-6385). Midwest-style deep dish pizza (but not as good as the original). A second Zach’s is located on Solano Ave. We go for slices at lunch all the time.
Bellanico — 4236 Park Blvd, Oakland (336-1180) Italian neighborhood place with very good food and gracious service.
Italian Colors — 2220 Mountain Blvd (Montclair) (482-8094). Ok Italian. Good enough food.
Kakui — 2060B Mountain Blvd, Oakland (338-1188) Hip Japanese. Inventive.
PIEDMONT AVE/GRAND AVE
Adesso — 4395 Piedmont, Oakland (601-0305). A bar with food, open late.
alaMar — 4214 Park Blvd., Oakland (531-4500) informal, well priced, seafood boil and more. We love it.
Barlago — 550 Grand (Euclid), Oakland (836-2424) Italian newcomer. Sounds promising.
Camino — 3917 Grand, Oakland (547-5035). Limited menu very nicely done. Shared long tables. Attractive enough setting. Ambitious.
Cesar — 4039 Piedmont Avenue (40th), Oakland (883-0222) Oakland. Sister to the well-established Berkeley boite, emphasizing Latin food.
Commis — 3859 Piedmont (Mac Arthur), Oakland (653-3902). Fixed price fixed (expensive) meals. Very Ambitious. The “high end” place to go now. On our first visit it was fabulous and on our second it was delicious but the same experience and so less exciting.
Dopo — 4293 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland (652-3676). Very tasty pizza and other Italian items. Attractive place with some outside seating; great for lunch. Very popular.
Grand Tavern — 3601 Grand (Ellwood), Oakland (444-4644). A sort of old time but new American gastro pub in an attractive setting, a remodeled house. Untried by us.
Homestead — 4029 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland (420-6962). Tasty inventive good, lively crowd.
Ikaros — 3268 Grand, Oakland (899-4400). Greek on Grand. Sounds just fine for real Greek food. We must try it.
Lake Chalet — 1520 Lakeside Dr, Oakland (208-5253). Large effort on Lake Merritt. Nice view. Outdoor weekend brunch. Nice feel. Good enough food.
Lo Coco’s — 4270 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland (652-6222). Friendly pasta place.
Michel Bistro — 3343 Lakeshore (Trestle Glen) Oakland (836-8737). Simple French bistro with traditional bistro offerings.
Ninna — 4066 Piedmont Avenue (near the cinema), Oakland (601-6441). Semi-fusion, new American food with Thai overtones. Friendly service. Good food. Quiet.
Penrose — 3311 Grand Ave (Elwood), Oakland (444-1649). Much praised new hot spot from Pizziaola people. Very lively. No reservations yet. Not tried by us.
Shakewell — 3407 Lakeshore Ave (Longridge), Oakland (251-0329) replacing Mezze. Spanish tapas, on our first visit, some delicious tastes and unappealing service; plus disappointingly small drinks from a place with that name.
Sidebar — 542 Grand, Oakland (452-9500). Comfortable food in a nice Lake Merritt locale. Good bar scene.
Spettro — 3355 Lakeshore Avenue, Oakland (465-8320). A very popular, somewhat zany, casual Italian place with OK food.
UPTOWN AND DOWNTOWN OAKLAND/JACK LONDON SQUARE/CHINATOWN AND EAST OAKLAND
Bocanova — 55 Webster Oakland (444-1233). Latin American tapas on the water at Jack London Square. Attractive. Lively. Good food. Eat outside at lunch.
Breads of India — 948 Clay Oakland (834-7684). Good indian food. Said to be (even) better than the original Berkeley locale.
Captain and Corset — 2212 Broadway, Oakland (496-4256). New American bistro. Promising.
Champa Garden — 2102 8th Ave, Oakland (238-8819). Laotian/Thai, out of the way, very neighborhood place. Tasty and lots of fun.
Chop Bar — 247 4th Street, Oakland (834-1904). Great burgers. Fun place. Sit at the bar.
Cook and her Farmer — 907 Washington (in Swan’s Marketplace), Oakland (285-6140). Oysters, and some Southern tastes. Small but attractive. Untried by us.
Delage — 536 9th St., Oakland (823-2050). Upscale sushi.
Dock at Linden Street — 95 Linden (port area), West Oakland (338-3965). Combining beer tasting with evening dining. Could be great.
Duende — 468 19th St., Oakland (893-0174). Paul Canales formerly chef at Oliveto has opened a Spanish restaurant. Terrific Spanish food — both tapas and paellas — in a wonderful and lively setting.
Flora — 1900 Telegraph (19th), Oakland (286-0100). Jazzy-look place from the Dona Tomas folks. Lively and noisy. Very good food.
Faz — 14th and Broadway, Oakland (272-1111). Very attractive setting, including charming outdoor lunch seating in warmer weather. Trying to please staff. Pretty good food from a ‘through the tunnel’ establishment.
Forge — 466 Water St, Oakland (645-9292). Wood fired pizza at Jack London Square good enough in a nice setting.
Galeto Brazilian Grill — 1019 Clay (Old Town), Oakland (238-9488). Brazilian and Italian?? Hey, why not.
Haven — 44 Webster Street, Oakland (663-4400). Excellent Jack London Square waterside dining. Ambitious and sometimes unusual food; tasting menu that does not break the bank.
Hopscotch — 1915 San Pablo Ave., Oakland (788-6217). Small scale, neighborhood place with mostly comfort food nicely prepared and presented. A few quite unusual offerings.
Ichiro — 412 15th Street (Franklin),Oakland (452-1994 ). Terrific and low priced Japanese food (sushi, sashimi and more) in the heard of downtown Oakland. Friendly host,some unusual dishes, & good sake list.
Il Pescatore Ristorante — Jack London Square, Oakland (465-2188). Very traditional on the water at Jack London Square.
Izzy’s Oakland — 59 Grand Avenue, Oakland (452-2822). Old fashioned steakhouse.
Le Cheval — 1007 Clay Street, Oakland (763-8495). Good Vietnamese, but noisy.
Longitude — 347 14th, Oakland. New tropical cocktail lounge looks great. “Trader Vic’s” type food and drink menu.
Lungomare — 1 Broadway, Oakland (444-7171). Ambitious Italian-like, seafood plus, place at Jack London Square right on the water, where alas many others have failed. Bar and music too. Tri it.
Luka’s Tap Room and Lounge — 2221 Broadway (Grand), Oakland (451-4677). Revitalized, even hip place in Oakland’s “updown” district. Very lively at lunch. Good enough food.
Make Westing — 1741 Telegraph Ave, Oakland (251-1400). Big success bar.
Mua — 2442 Webster, Oakland (238-1100) new trendy lounge, good food and more. In what looks like a former car body shop, very Brooklyn.
Nido — 444 Oak (4th Street), Oakland (444-6436). Terrific Mexican informal place at the edge of the Nimitz freeway.
Parlour — 357 19th Street (Webster), Oakland (451-1357). Great look. Good food. Hip.
Pho 84 — 354 17th St, Downtown Oakland. Good Vietnamese food. Occasionally you have to wait for a table.
Pican — 2295 Broadway (Grand), Oakland (834-1000). Southern food in an attractive setting. Dressy. On our one visit so far there was a long wait for our table and slow service but the food was tasty and how nice to have unusual things on the menu.
Quinn’s Lighthouse — 19510 Embarcadero East, Oakland (536-2050). Sit outside on the deck. Eat peanuts – drink. Good enough food. Classic.
Scott’s — 2 Broadway (Jack London Square), Oakland (444-3456), and other locations. Nice for a drink and view; pretty good fish.
Tamarindo — 468 8th St in Old Oakland (444-1944). Terrific family run, Mexican tapas place. Charming and popular.
Tribune Tavern — 401 13th St Oakland (452-8742). Attractive bar and easy food scene, trying to please, in the old Oakland Tribute building downtown. Good burger (unsurprising since Chop Bar owner is a partner here).
Vien Huong — 712 Franklin (Chinatown), Oakland (465-5938). Authentic, casual, Vietnamese place
Yoshi’s — 510 Embarcadero West (Jack London Square), Oakland (238-9200). Said to now offer first rate Japanese food. Jazz club next to the restaurant has great music.
SOLANO AVENUE AREA
Ajanta — 1888 Solano, Berkeley (526-4373). Good Indian food.
Fonda — 1501 Solano Avenue, Albany (559-9006). Tapas and bar scene. Much praised by locals.
Lalime’s — 1329 Gilman, Berkeley (527-9838) Very popular. Some say it is their very favorite in the East Bay.
Nizza La Bella — 825 San Pablo (just North of Solano), Albany (526-2552). French/italian riveria bistro sort of place. Attractive appearance; some pretty good dishes.
Rivoli — 1539 Solano Ave. (Nielson & Peralta), Berkeley (526-2542). Physically attractive, Rivoli is uneven in my opinion. Many praise it as among the very best in the East Bay.
Vanessa’s — 1715 Solano, Berkeley(525-8300). Small, lively, Vietnamese tapas place with a French twist offers a huge number of mouth-watering small plate options.
Zachary’s — 1853 Solano, Berkeley (525-5950). See College Avenue. Pizza!
EMERYVILLE/WEST BERKELEY/WEST OAKLAND
Breads of India — 2448 Sacramento (Dwight), Berkeley (848-7684). Nice Indian cuisine.
Brown Sugar Kitchen — 2534 Mandela, Oakland (839-7685). Both local and hip. Great for breakfast and lunch.
Bucci’s — 6121 Hollis, Emeryville (547-4725). Hip Italian, sometimes with an attitude.
The Bureau 510 — 5800 Hollis # 150 (Powell), Emeryville (595-1000). A new burger place. Simple. OK.
Fuse Box — 2311 A Magnolia St, Oakland (444-3100). A very special non-traditional Korean discovery in the West Oakland warehouse district. Delightful.
900 Grayson — 900 Grayson St., Berkeley (704-9900). Highly popular, lively and delicious for lunch and earlier.
Iysare — 1830 Fourth St (Hearst) Berkeley (845-8100). A marvelous addition to 4th Street. Most inventive Japanese food in a stylish location (of course we badly miss O Chame but Iysare is excellent).
Kabana Restaurant — 1106 University (San Pablo), Berkeley (845-3355). Very unassuming Pakistani eatery with friendly host and good food.
Paisan — 2514 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley (649-1031). Pizza and pasta. Attractive setting.
Riva Cucina — 800 Heinz, Berkeley (841-7482). Hidden away Italian place. Attractive. Tasty. Noisy. You can sit outside at lunch. Very friendly service.
Skates — 100 Seawall Drive (Berkeley Marina), Berkeley (549-1900). Good views and drinks, mixed quality food, great variety.
Spengers — 4th and Hearst, Berkeley (845-7771). Huge. Famous. Mixed reviews.
Townhouse — 5862 Doyle, Emeryville (652-6151). Go for a good time, good food, good drinks, maybe even sit outside in warm weather. Good bar. Not pretentious.
T-Rex — 1300 10th St (Gilman) Berkeley(527-0099). Bar-b-que (ribs, etc.) place by the LaLime group. Gorgeous space. Uneven food quality. Many have been disappointed.
Vik’s — 726 Allston, Berkeley (644-4412). Casual Indian food, best for lunch, lots more choices (and crowds) on weekends.
Zut — 1820 Fourth Street, Berkeley (644-0444). Attractive. Mixed setting. Now owned by Iysare folks.
Bar Cesar — 1515 Shattuck, Berkeley (883-0222). Very animated tapas and bar scene. Lots of fun. Noisy.
Cha Am Thai — 1543 Shattuck, Berkeley (848-9664). Good Thai, but disappointing to some.
Chez Panisse — 1517 Shattuck (Cedar), Berkeley (548-5049). Chez Panisse’s regular restaurant downstairs is marvelous, but it has long become a “destination” place where we rarely eat anymore. Upstairs in the cafe remains a local favorite.
Comal — 2020 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley (926-6300). Very attractive, hard to reserve, good enough Mexican food.
Corso Trattoria — 1786 Shattuck, Berkeley (704-8004). Authentic Florentine food. Very tasty. Nice wines. Noisy.
Gather — 2150 Alston Way (in the David Brower Center), Berkeley (809-0400). A somewhat confused menu, but some nice items in an attractive setting.
Great China — 2190 Bancroft Way (Oxford), Berkeley (843-7996). Re-opened in a new locale (after a fire), Great China is an immediate hit. Long lines reported already. The old place was great.
Gregoire — 2109 Cedar (Shattuck), Berkeley (883-1893). Take way (or two outside tables) of terrific french-inspired snack food at lunch; also dinner take-away.
Ippuku — 2130 Center St, Berkeley (665-1969). Marvelous and unusual Japanese food in charming (and different) setting. Special alcoholic drinks too.
Joshu-Ya Brasserie — 2441 Dwight Way, Berkeley (848-5260). Friendly Japanese near campus.
Kirala — 2100 Ward (Shattuck), Berkeley (549-3486). Some call this the best Japanese restaurant outside of Japan (not me). Long lines all the time.
La Note — 2377 Shattuck, Downtown Berkeley (843-1535). Charming outdoor back garden. Tasty lunches.
Plearn Thai — 2050 University, Berkeley (841-2148). Good Thai.
Revival — 2102 Shattuck, Berkeley (549-9950). Attractive. Good food. Good before the movie or theater OR try eating at 8 or later when it is likely to be calmer.
Sliver — 2132 Center, Berkeley (356-4044). More tasty pizza, still untried by us.
Townie — 1799 University (Grant), Berkeley (356-4903). Disappointing on all counts.
Venus — 2327 Shattuck Avenue (near Durant), Downtown Berkeley, (540-5950). Nice enough for a quick, simple meal before the movies or theater or for lunch.