Every birthday calls for a unique celebration. But the thing about birthdays is … they happen every year — and to all of your friends. It can get difficult to think of new things to do and, especially, new places to eat. So we’re here to help you change it up and find the best places to eat and celebrate with friends. This list will help you narrow down your options and find the perfect place for the kind of breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert you’re looking for.
1. Dessert first: Fentons Creamery and Restaurant
Fentons Creamery and Restaurant is the ice cream sundae Mecca of Oakland. The sundaes at this old-fashioned diner are enormous and perfect for a large group. Order a few, and give everyone a spoon to dig in. Watch your friends devour the delicious dessert before it can even start to melt. It’s a fun and festive way to celebrate without spending much per person. Fentons also features a full menu of diner hits such as wings, burgers and fries. Just be sure you don’t fill yourself up with too much fried goodness, because you’ll want to leave room for the black and tan sundae.
2. Make your own pizza: BUILD Pizzeria
BUILD is conveniently located in Downtown Berkeley near the BART station. While it’s a bit on the expensive side, birthdays are the perfect excuse to break your budget and splurge a little. What makes this place special is that all the people in your party can get exactly what they want. Each person creates an individual pizza and watches it being made right before his or her eyes. Not only is the food delicious, but also the aesthetic of BUILD is perfect for facilitating celebration. As an added bonus, the staff is super friendly and will bring the guest of honor a free birthday tiramisu.
3. Better-than-eating-in takeout: Zachary’s Chicago Pizza
Zachary’s is also a pizza place — but of a very different variety. The establishment serves large deep-dish Chicago-style pizza that will satisfy not just your stomach but also your soul. If you’re looking to have a celebration in an apartment or house but don’t want to sacrifice a quality meal, then stop by Zachary’s. Pick up a few of the half-baked pizzas, and cook them fully in your oven. These pizzas will make your home smell delicious and are sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Make sure you don’t go overboard, though — the slices are generous enough to just eat two.
4. Family-style dinner: Trattoria La Siciliana
Trattoria La Siciliana is a beautiful little Italian restaurant located on College Avenue between Ashby Avenue and Webster Street. It serves deliciously authentic family-style dishes, making it easy to order a few things for everyone to share. That being said, Trattoria La Siciliana is rather expensive. It’s good for a large group and features incredible pastas and salads as well as complimentary bread and olive oil that will fill you up before your entrees even arrive. Because it’s small, it’s very conducive to group conversations.
5. Upscale lunch: Chez Panisse
Chez Panisse is without a doubt one of Berkeley’s most famous dining establishments. It is completely out of the typical college student’s budget, but if you’re really in the mood for a unique blend of flavors, it’s worth the splurge. We recommend going during the day, when the cafe is open, and only bring a small group of a friends. Order a salad, an appetizer and an entree to share. This will keep the meal from being too exorbitant, and you won’t have to sacrifice taste.
6. Birthday brunch: Saul’s Restaurant & Delicatessen
Saul’s is the perfect place for a birthday brunch. A classic Jewish deli, this place is a hit just for the pickles. We recommend the Challah French Toast or any of the egg dishes. If you’re a carnivore, the corned beef, pastrami and salami deli hash is quite possibly one of the best breakfasts you’ll have. The restaurant is a bit on the expensive side, but for the amount of food you get, neither your stomach nor your wallet will be able to complain.
Contact Rachel Feder at [email protected].