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Restaurants & Bars 14

First Two Weeks in Berkeley (re: Gilman/San Pablo prior post)

pm | May 15, 200611:12 PM

Here's the rundown of eats in my first 2 weeks in the 'hood (in no particular order). I've been to a few of these prior to moving here. All, fortunately, are walkable from home.

Cafe Raj. They were open late. What more can I say? It was better than the Khana Peena on Oxford. They were open late. Did I say they were open late and I didn't want another plate of late Fonda wings? Food wasn't bad, but wasn't anyplace to run back to until I'm hungry and they will be open late. If I recall correctly, shared a lamb masala, some tandoori chicken breast pieces, and the most bizzare onion rings I've ever seen, which will never be ordered again.

Happy Donuts. On a weekend morning, they were fresh, and enjoyed by 4 people. Not my favorite donut, but decent enough.

Meal Ticket. An outstanding brunch. 4 of us thoroughly enjoyed our meals - mine was a grilled salmon w/eggs, and was just delicious.

Indus Village. Probably the best food of this region I've had in some time. Shared 3 dishes - tandoori breast pieces, and two other sauced dishes (lamb, and maybe there were 2 other lamb). While not outstanding, it was definitely in the "return to" category.

Casa Latina. Have stopped in for panes dulces twice. I haven't tried any of the savory food. The pan dulce is ok, but not really that great. The custard on one of them reminded me of some powdered european mix I must have made 20 years ago.

Solano Cellars. After a brisk 20 minute walk from home, a white flight with a charcuterie plate was just the right evening snack. The white flight of last week was very good. Someone new is working the bar a few days a week, and she was a lot of fun.

Picante. I wanted to like it. I've been before, and always want to like it more than I do. Today's carnitas needed some flavor help. Maybe if they just put them on a grill for a minute instead of a soggy (ok, juicy) bland lump on the plate ... maybe I'm missing something, maybe I don't order the right thing. I just was unimpressed with my meal, although at least I didn't feel guilty afterwards.

Gioia. Had to have a slice - it was the end of the day that day and he was down to just a few slices. I continue to like his pizza, although my last visit wasn't "the best."

Socca Oven. I liked the idea. I liked how it looked. I wish I liked the flavor a bit more - it was missing a little something, maybe just salt and pepper, but something that kept me from loving my food. I had pork, and tasted the lamb.

The Chocolate Place next to Socca Oven. I have a mortgage payment to make, and so I looked at the price, and walked on.

Soop. I took a taste from the lady, and have to say, I enjoyed what I tasted. (Tortilla soup) I'll return for a whole bowl sometime soon.

Virginia Bakery. The flat (old-style) scharffenbergeresque chocolate chip cookie was pretty darn good, but needed a touch more bake time.

Monterey Market, Monterey Fish, Magnani, and Tokyo Fish - all the source of the raw materials for some very decent home cooking.

Toot Sweet. Been twice. If desparate, may go back.

Boogie Woogie Bagel Boy - a decent bagel sandwich - cashew chicken salad. Tasty, and under $5.

Westbrae Deli - A respectable meatloaf sandwich on a sour roll for under $5. After I ordered, a guy came in asking for hot roastbeef - the clerk said "Juicy Roastbeef?" He replied yes, and so I think they cook fresh roastbeef, which I'll have to return to try.

With all the moving/walking, I've lost a couple pounds in spite of myself!

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