It's great to find a good place to have a decent, but reasonably priced lunch near the Civic Center. Canto do Brazil has some great, simple dishes that are affordable. I really like the hot sauce that they provide. The dishes on their own may be a bit simple, but smother it in this stuff and it's spicy and delicious. The interior is also kind of funky and I guess Brazilian.
The food here is ok. It's not especially spicy or flavorful. It's definitely been made blander to reach a broader audience. Though, I must say I am really fond of the vegetarian steamed pot stickers when smothered in chili oil. I would advise against take out. They have a stern warning about this on their menu. It really is not as good when made for take out. Other Chinese restaurants can make take out just as good. Shen Hua is not one of these places. The place is pretty family friendly. Kids and parents are usually on the earlier end of dinner time, about 5:00. They're not open very late, so it's hard to say when the optimal time to go is. The architecture of the space makes the dining room very noisy even when at medium capacity. Don't go here on a date or to have a meaningful conversation. Overall, ok for weeknight dining.
Marmot Mountain Works is a great place to get all sorts of outdoor gear. Like most high quality outdoor gear retailers, it's kind of expensive. They specifically focus on the backpacking, climbing, camping, sking, snowboarding, etc. set. Specifically "mountain" gear. They have a great and varied selection for the small space. Very densely packed.
The place looks straight out of Lord of the Rings. It's located right above Ashby BART.
I went to this place as a sort of random choice. The menu looked somewhat interesting, but turned out to be a disappointment.
I had the braised short ribs which were bland, too mushy, and kind of a mess. Definitely not worth the money.
The atmosphere is ok, but I don't really recommend it.
I have mixed feelings about Trader Joes. On the one hand it's a nice and easy way to get pretty good prepared or easy to make food at a reasonable price. On the other hand it kind of ruins the flavor of Rockridge. It's a big chain store that has it's own culture around it. It makes an already congested area even more congested. Zachary's is already nearly impossible to park at let alone when Trader Joes is open.
Their wine is suspiciously cheap. Everything is over-packaged. In environmentally conscious Rockridge and Berkeley, Trader Joes is ideologically a bit out of step.
Yasai has a little bit of everything. Their produce is surprisingly good all year round. They also have fairly good non-fresh items like spices, cereal, drinks, and snacks.
Their cheese and ice cream selection is surprisingly good for such a tiny market. The prices aren't really that different from any other super market.
This is *the* place I go to when I need just a couple of random vegetables.
It's a great Safeway alternative.
Cesar is a quintessential Berkeley night spot. The menu items are very Spanish but also very interesting and good. The complimentary olives are a much appreciated appetizer.
Their French Apple Sour is delicious as are all of their cocktails. The Cuban Sidecar is also great (who doesn't love Calvados?)
The wine menu is massive and can be a bit daunting. Their by the glass fare is usually decent. It can be a bit pricey, but I think it's worth a try. It's a nice date spot.
I remember back in 2006, my girlfriend and I had been waiting quite a long time pretty late when one of the owners (I think his name was Dennis, but I'm not positive) assured us he'd get us a seat. He did indeed and not only that, he comped out entire meal and plenty of drinks. It was fantastic!
These guys serve up traditional American burgers, hot dogs, shakes, and fries.
Everything is kept extremely simple but extremely good.
A double cheeseburger, fries, and a large soda will run you about $10. It's totally worth it. It's like In-N-Out, only better and more authentic. They've been serving Berkeley since 1951.
The outdoor picnic tables are a great place to relax with lunch on a lazy weekend.
I highly recommend the Smokehouse.
The Wood Tavern is an upscale, relaxed, and inviting bar and restaurant. They offer small plates and drinks. Their wine and on-tap beer selection is respectable. Their cocktails are the main attraction though.
All of the food is very good and pretty inventive. Their fries are awesome. The staff is always friendly and helpful.
It is a bit on the expensive side, but you can find some inexpensive appetizer and lunch items.
This place is always busy in the evening.
The food at the Terrace Cafe isn't bad, but it isn't good either. It's nice to have a salad bar option near the Civic Center. You pay by the pound so you can easily customize your portion size. Since it's government subsidized, it's abnormally cheap.
My biggest complaint is their grill. The cook is terribly slow and refuses to put more than one order on the grill at once! When it's busy at lunch time, the grill is always at least 5 orders deep. So be prepared to wait, or just make a cold sandwich.
Nothing brings back the feel of a university dining common quite like the Terrace Cafe.