TOP 10 BERKELEY
Finally made my way back to Cheeseboard after a long hiatus. Not much
has changed - and that's a good thing. Still an employee-owed spot
that takes great pride in using the best ingredients and fantastic creations. The only downside is that my crust was a little too hard and overcooked. Also, cash only is a pain.What's left for me to say that others have not said already? I have to agree with every rave… En savoir plus
Arizmendi's Pizzeria blew me away and, ironically, with pizza with no meat and no tomato sauce. It's the kind of hippie pizza that would make Berkeley heads swoon. And the formula is simple, just fresh, local and organic ingredients, planned perfectly to create a unique creation. Reminds me of Cheeseboard, another pizza that blew me away. This makes sense of course, since Arizmendi's is part of the same worker cooperative family. If you like Cheeseboard, I'll bet you'll like Arizmendi's as well.
Like Cheeseboard, Arizmendi's pizzeria only makes one type of pizza per day. At $2.50 per slice, $9 for half and $18 for whole, it's a steal.
We tried the Artichoke Hearts, Basil, Red Onions, Spinach, and Pesto Pizza. The toppings seriously tasted like they were just plucked off the ground, cleaned and baked on a perfectly crispy and perfectly chewy sourdough crust.
I'm a big fan and I think you will be too. To steal an ending line from our beloved yelper, Jessica T., "Trust."
The adage that we're known by the company we keep is especially true in Gregoire's case, given its location at the heart of Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto, just across the street from Chez Panisse, Cheeseboard, Philz Coffee, and other quality restaurants.
Gregoire's philosophy is simple, but rare: make quality French-American upscale sandwiches and entrees affordable for all (especially college students), while adhering to the commitment to using natural, organic & locally sourced ingredients. That's Berkeley for ya.
I'm sold. I'm kicking myself for spending two stints at Cal without finding my way here. The grilled pork with bacon & avocado in pantofolina sandwich was absolutely divine and was pure larceny for $8.00. We also shared the baby spinach salad with lemon & chili dressing and baked steelhead. That was splendid - very light and refreshing - top 5 salad material. You'd have to shell out over $15 at the Ferry Building for this type of food. Here, there are no items over $9.
Ironically, the lone disappointment for me was their most popular item, the potato puffs. I thought they were just too bland and were not much more than fried mashed potato balls. The aioli was pretty good though, but the puffs fall apart easily when dipped. Then again, I'm clearly the minority on this one, so don't take my word for it.
Finally, be warned, Gregoire is not a restaurant, but a small take out spot with sparse bar and outside seating. Other than that, "for here" means eating on the sidewalk. Also, as you can imagine (4.5 stars after over 900 reviews), Gregoire is immensely popular, and deservedly so, some wait time should be expected. They also offer a pretty convenient on-line ordering system.
I am a carnivore.
And a big one at that. My friends and family are well aware of that. Turns out, the best Mexican dining experience I've had in a long long time does not even have meat. The taco was stuffed with so much "meat" (I'm a little bit in denial)...great flavor. Plus Flacos is really serious about their avocado salsa, especially the hot variety. Very very impressive.
Vik's was downright impressive. Just about every dish we ordered had that wonderful aroma and perfect blend of seasoning, flavor, herbs, and spice.
KEEMA SAMOSA AND SAMOSA CHOLLE - the magic is in the crust...fresh, crispy, flaky, warm, soft...and, wait for it...HUGE! With a nice price tag of $4.75 for an order of two, can't fail.
CHICKEN KATHI KEBAB - perfect medley of spice and flavor. Outstanding.
MASALA DOSA - the savory, fluffy and warm crepe. It is as delicious as it is simple.
DAHI PAPDI CHAAT - again, sorry to sound like a broken record, sorry to sound like a broken record, but sooo lively, flavorful, and spicy. Sorry to sound like a broken record.
CHOLLE BHATURE - part of the fun is watching them roll and fry this thing. As soon as you pierce into this big, puffy thing, notice a cloud of smoke puff out and take a good sniff of the pleasant aroma. Totally fresh, crispy and delightful.
MANGO LASSI - a must order and sweet. More on this later.
I've never eaten a meal on top of an ironing board before. Come to think of it, I don't even use an ironing board for ironing. I'm glad that my first ironing board experience was a huge success, thanks to Betty and her awesome fried chicken sandwich.
Betty's Fried Chicken Sandwich features two large and meaty slabs of crispy fried chicken on top of a bed of slaw...oodles and oodles of slaw.
The fried chicken itself had wonderful flavor and was nice and crispy. I'm normally not a fan of chicken breast, but this one blew my negative sentiments of bland white meat clear out of the water. Honestly, the only reason I'm stopping short of five stars is because I was not a fan of the temperature of the fried chicken patty. I wasn't sure if my sandwich was supposed to come a little on the cold side or if I was just served a bad batch. Judging from the reviews, I think it was supposed to be served that way (thanks Marti). Regardless, I think the sandwich would have been so much better had the fried chicken been served warm. Warm or cool, however, it's clear the the fried chicken sandwich rocks, easily one of the top five sandwiches I've had.
The strawberry shortcake did not disappoint. Two of my concerns instantly went away after the first bite: the whipped cream was not too sweet and the strawberries were not too tangy.
On top of all of that, I was warmly greeted by smiling faces as soon as I walked in the door. Free coffee too. Finally, these guys badly need a sign. Don't drive around the block looking for this place like I did. They are located at the very corner of 51st and Telegraph. I think I'm going to use my ironing board as a dining table tonight, just to remind me of my meal.
It didn't take long for La Note to win me over. To think I spent around seven years in Berkeley and never once visited this place until long after I left town.
First, breakfast at La Note would require you to spend a substantial part of your morning waiting in line, especially if you go around peak breakfast hours on the weekend. So you don't have control over where you're seated. I agree with Kathy that the place is not terribly inviting from the outside. Inside, the decor is nice. Even on a busy day, the place is lively and festive.
On to the food - after all, this is what the wait is for - the breakfast is very very good. Omelettes were light and fluffy and the pancakes and french toast were so awesome, even Mr. Atkins might have a change of heart. I think they take french toast to a whole new level.
All the other bell and whistles that go with the overall dining exerience were up to par. Service can be a little slow at times. Decor and ambiance were lovely.
If I were to play the 100,000 pyramid and was asked for "Things I associate with Top Dog," I'd say:
Late night munchies...
The reason for the late night munchies...
Take home exams...
A frank discussion about what a chicken apple is...
Sneaking in a few for the A's dollar Wednesday game...
By the way, these are all good things (well, except for take home exams). Oh, the memories...and I still don't know what a chicken apple is...
[Featured: Chowdown Countdown (Travel Channel) at youtube.com/watch?v=VHFv…
Fentons has a soft spot in my heart. Here's the scoop. This was a place we visited quite frequently back in my college and grad school days (part of the "freshman 15" culprit - see also cheeseboard collective). They've renovated the place to accommodate more people (and after the fire that brought them down). The high quality of their ice cream and desserts stayed the same. In the days when yogurt and gelato are gaining more popularity, it's nice to have a place you know you can get to for regular ice cream. Their ice cream has a fresh distinct flavor, not too sweet, not too creamy. I do not recommend the food, unless you're really hungry and you don't mind food that you'd get from Denny's. As far as ice cream is concerned, I'd take Fentons any day...and every day when the weather is warm.