…Now, say that 10 times fast…. 😉
If you know me you know I’m a hugeee foodie. I literally judge countries I’ve been to by the quality of their food haha so I knew I had to dedicate a post to some of my favorite restaurants…and contrary to popular belief, East Bayers don’t need to head all the way to San Francisco or San Jose to experience diverse and delicious fine dining.. The East Bay (particularly the Berkeley/ Oakland area) has some great (and affordable) dining options.. below are some of my favorites along with various recommendations I’ve obtained from other food enthusiasts. Enjoy!
1. Burma Superstar – 4721 Telegraph Ave Oakland, CA 94609
There’s nothing I don’t like about this place. Great ambiance, fantastic service, and amazing food are guaranteed when dining here. Burma Superstar offers exceptional Burmese Cuisine (Burma is an Asian country located to the south of China by Bangladesh and Thailand) that is both affordable and unique. Think Thai food- but even MORE flavorful and delicious. I especially love their salads, which have been featured on the food network. They don’t take reservations but do call ahead (for a spot on their wait list) because they get full, especially on weekends.
2. MUA Lounge – 2442a Webster St. Ste a Oakland, CA 94612
Another Oakland favorite, Mua is a really chic urban restaurant constructed in an old warehouse with a DJ spinning an eclectic variety of music during your dinner. It reminds me of a place I’d eat at in New York. I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed with a dish I’ve ordered and I’ve brought several friends and family here and everyone has liked it, as well. My favorite dishes are the ahi tuna sashimi, the crab cakes, butternut squash mac and cheese and mussels! I’m also a fan of the salmon, which is surprising because I don’t usually like salmon, but Mua cooks it deliciously :). The flour less chocolate cake and pecan tart are also mouth watering.
3. Umami Burger– 2100 Franklin St Oakland, CA 94612
Umami Burgers are pretty goood. When I went, I out did myself on the truffle haha and got the truffle burger and truffle fries. Both were delicious! My server was also super awesome and friendly. The only downside I found about Umami was that it is super expensive. I paid almost $30.00 just for myself (A burger, fries and a beer). This is a place to go if you plan on splurging on your meal.
4. Cinnaholic– 2132 Oxford St Berkeley, CA 94704
I never knew vegan could taste SO good! Cinnaholic makes 100% vegan cinnamon rolls with a TON of different toppings and icing flavors. You can basically build your own cinnamon roll. I’ve gotten a roll with strawberries and cookie dough ( a bit too sweet) but the one below was with regular icing and oreo cookies.. it was PERFECT. Pretty sure the epitome of what heaven would taste like. Go here!
5. Paradiso– 685 Bancroft Ave San Leandro, CA 94577
Located in San Leandro, Paradiso is a cute Mediterranean/ Italian restaurant with a romantic feel ( thanks to dim lighting), a wine room and an open kitchen with an exposed and beautifully constructed rustic brick oven. The restaurant itself is very nicely decorated and the service is friendly as well. My favorite dishes to order here are the rack of lamb (absolutely phenomenal), linguini with clams and pan seared scallops. The creme brulee is also one of the best creme brulee’s I’ve ever had!
6. Bakesale Betty- 5098 Telegraph Ave Oakland, CA 94609
Home of, seriously the best fried chicken sandwich I’ve ever tasted, Bakesale Betty is an unconventional bakery that’s only open three hours a day (11 AM-2 PM) or until they run out of sandwiches. Basically, they only offer fried chicken sandwiches, cookies and strawberry shortcake. I know.. sounds pretty bland, BUT, Bakesale Betty still manages to alwayssss maintain a long line out of the venue, their sandwiches are THAT good. The strawberry shortcake is also incredibly delicious and worth a try. Fun fact- they use ironing boards as tables to eat on =)
7. La Note – 2377 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA 94704
With plates such as cinnamon orange water brioche french toast with honey lavender, raspberry oatmeal pancakes and lemon ginger pancakes with poached pears and blueberries, how can one not be instantaneously attracted to this cutesy french restaurant? As you may have already noticed, La Note is known particularly for its brunch menu and boasts and excellent array of fresh and rich ingredients. It also has a nice outdoor patio, perfect for a warm and sunny day.
8. Homeroom – 400 40th St. Oakland, CA 94609
Homeroom is a great restaurant completely dedicated to one of the simplest and most loved dishes in American culture: Mac and Cheese! The restaurant allows you to either build your own plate (adding ingredients such as bacon, sriracha, sauteed mushrooms, chorizo and more) or pick from their signature and hand crafted, unique cheesy concoctions that make their menu so amazing. They also offer hearty salads and homemade sweets.
9. Barlata – 4901 Telegraph Ave Oakland, CA 94609
I love spanish tapas restaurants. Tapas- style dinners are probably my favorite because they give you the opportunity to order several small plates and try multiple dishes in one sitting. Plus, I often find myself feeling full without having the sensation of overeating that commonly happens when eating out. Barlata offers an array of spanish small plates including ceviche, paella, patatas bravas (potatoes), octopus, chorizo and more. The restaurant has a modern feel and is nicely decorated with wooden tables and open windows everywhere. Also, it is located in the Temescal area of Oakland with many more shops and restaurants to try out.
10. Jupiter- 2181 Shattuck Ave Berkeley, CA 94704
Great food, awesome vibe, lovely outdoor seating in the back, friendly service and even live music! Jupiter has it all! I recently had lunch here with my boyfriend this past weekend and sat outside to enjoy the great 75 degree weather. Not only was the ambience chill, but the food we ordered, artichoke and spinach dip to start off with then the Xanthia Pizza (which included thinly sliced potatoes, bacon, garlic, mozzarella, ricotta cheese, crushed red pepper and olive oil) was absolutely delicious! We will deff. be back!
11. Isushi- 20649 Rustic Dr Castro Valley, CA 94546
This sushi restaurant is known particularly for its creative and unique menu (see dishes below). It’s a tiny, yet cozy place with great service. Owner, Stanley Chan (known as Stan) takes very good care of his guests. Stan is incredibly welcoming and very involved in the day to day operation of his business. If there is some problem with your meal or if you are dissatisfied by your dining experience for whatever reason, he will make sure to handle the matter and take good care of you. When I think of excellent customer service, I think of Isushi. Try it for yourself!
12. Bocanova – 55 webster Street, Oakland CA 94607
Bocanova is a Latin American cuisine restaurant located in Jack London Square. The inside is spectacularly decorated with a very nice outdoor patio overlooking the water and heating lamps to warm you up. The dungeness crab deviled eggs are amazing as well as the ceviche and chicken with mole. It is an idle place if your looking for a trendy spot with a nice little view of the bay.
13. Pampas- 529 Alma St Palo Alto, CA 94301
Pampas is a Brazilian Churrascaria located across the dumbarton in Palo Alto.. a little farther out, but worth mentioning. It is, essentially, a carnivore’s dream! Their Rodizio menu basically incorporates a plethora of meats and poultry being brought around to your table (several times) allowing you to try a little bit of everything (from chicken hearts to bacon wrapped turkey). The amount of meat served can be a little overwhelming, but the experience is worth trying at least once in your life. What I enjoy about Pampas is that their other entree plates (aside from the Rodizio) are delicious, as well. When I went, I tried a pork-chop plate (and I’m not normally a pork-chop fan) and it was amazingly good! Deff. check this place out if you find yourself in the area.
14. Simply Fondue- 2300 1st St Livermore, CA 94550
Located in downtown Livermore, simply fondue is a trendy and romantic restaurant offering a delicious fondue service. They allow you to choose your cheese type, meat or seafood as well as offering a vegetarian option with loads of fresh veggies to enjoy with your melted cheese. My favorite, though, is thier extensive list of melted chocolate which is served with moist rich pound cake, jumbo marshmallows, triple chunk brownies, maraschino cherries, strawberries, banana chunks, fresh pineapple chunks, chocolate chip cookie dough, rice crispy squares, rolled cookies, and cinnamon sugar balls… A dessert lover’s dream!!! The food is slightly on the pricey side, but still excellent.
15. Asmara – 5020 Telegraph Ave Oakland, CA 94609
Asmara is an authentic Ethiopian restaurant. The food is exotic and comforting and the service is very friendly and reasonably priced (with generous portions). A typical Ethiopian dish consists of various (and often very spicy) meats, veggies and sauces gathered on an injera- a large sourdough flatbread. In typical Ethiopian fashion, food is consumed with your hands using the pieces of injera to pick up the meat.
16. Residual Sugar- 1684 Locust St Walnut Creek, CA 94596
Residual Sugar has a very classy, but fun ambiance…perfect for a date night! The service is great, the staff is friendly, the food is good and the restaurant boasts an extensive wine selection. They’re known for their cheese plates that pair excellently with a nice glass of wine. Their portions are light, but enjoyable, and enable you to order serval different plates without filling up too quickly. A reservation may be needed, as it tends to get packed weekend nights!
17. Cheeseboard- 1512 Shattuck Ave Berkeley, CA 94709
Cheeseboard is an interesting take on gourmet pizza; the restaurant serves only one type of pizza everyday (strictly vegetarian) but still boasts long lines of customers waiting to try the day’s authentic “flavor”.You can also check online or call ahead to see what the special is for the day. Every bite, no matter the type of pizza, is crispy and flavorful! The perks of waiting in line? They give you your food right when you order! In addition, they have outdoor seating and occasionally live music, as well.
18. Chop Bar- 247 4th St Oakland, CA 94607
Chop Bar is a neighborhood favorite near Oakland’s Jack London Square, serving breakfast, weekend brunch, lunch and dinner. Using the finest ingredients found in the Bay Area, the establishment is known for making affordable food designed to be enjoyed by everyone. The place may look ridiculously busy alllll the time, but the service does not reflect it. Their staff is attentive, but the restaurant is still small, so call ahead to avoid a long wait time. Overall, the atmosphere is very warm and rustic with a unique list of menu choices.
19. Thai Garden Restaurant- 20955 Mission Blvd Hayward, CA 94541
I’ve tried quite a few Thai restaurants in the Bay Area, and Thai Garden still remains my absolute favorite. Located on Mission, its outdoor appearance may seem disinviting ( it looks like a little hole in the wall lol) but I assure you, the food and service are exceptional. My favorite plates are the BBQ beef, fried calamari, combination soup, cashew chicken and teriyaki wings. The fried banana with cocnut ice cream is also a great choice for dessert =).
20. Off the Grid- Check http://offthegridsf.com for their various locations
I love that street food is making a comeback in the Bay Area. Off the Grid does a great job at gathering some of the best local food trucks and compiling them all up in one location, for visitors to enjoy and experience. Described as a “mobile- food extravaganza”, Off the Grid currently operates 23 weekly markets (including locations in Hayward, Oakland, Berkeley, Burlingame, Vallejo, Menlo Park, Alameda, Concord, several in SF, and many more), and works with over 150 vendors weekly. The food choices are extremely diverse and range from Mexican, Indian, Korean, Peruvian or Greek to Malaysian, Chinese, American and Vietnamese. Not to mention, the special trucks they have dedicated to desserts (such as the Creme Brulee Truck or the Candy Bar Truck) are amazing. Check out their website to find a location near you. =)