You’re far from home and looking for something to fill the food-shaped hole in your heart. Chances are, nothing out here is going beat your mama’s cooking, but lucky for you, Berkeley is chock full of international food to satisfy your cravings. We’ve mapped out some of our favorite places near campus to help you get a little taste of home.
At first glance, you might miss this unassuming Shattuck Avenue spot. Upon entering, you’ll find yourself in a homey little place reminiscent of your Japanese grandma’s house. On a blustery Berkeley day, the cozy warmth of free miso soup will be extremely welcome.
Thai Noodle II (Thailand)
Thai Noodle II is loud, busy and fast, with deep purple walls and a speedy turnaround. It’s the perfect place to grab a bite of excellent, affordable Thai food between a class and a club meeting.
Side note: On Sundays, the Berkeley Thai Buddhist temple, Wat Mongkolratanaram, becomes a busy, buzzing food stand featuring some of the most authentic boat noodles, curries and kanom krok in town! Best of all, the money you spend on tokens goes toward the temple itself.
La Note (France)
La Note serves up the creme de la creme of picturesque and delectable Berkeley brunches while also offering a wide array of lunch and dinner options. If wicker baskets full of pastries and Parisian decor make you cringe, this place might be too cute for you.
Tucked away in a pocket of restaurants down Telegraph Avenue is the incredibly good FinFine. The stacked rolls of injera and elaborate platters of spiced chickpeas and ground beef will be both a reliable Ethiopian meal and one of the more exciting culinary experiences of your college years.
Crunch is a nice spot for a dependable kimchi fried rice or a bowl of bibimbap. A place that calls itself “fusion” is generally a bad sign, but Crunch is consciously silly (it serves up an Oreo tempura ice cream) and a provides a nice, speedy meal in a bright setting when you find yourself Downtown.
Smoke’s Poutinerie (Canada)
Open until 4 a.m., Smoke’s Poutinerie is good for late-night walks home from Main Stacks. An enormous pile of fries covered in cheese and gravy tastes good when you’re stumbling home in the middle of dead week. It’s perhaps even better when you’re exhausted and missing your native land — O Canada!
Indian Flavors Express (India)
If you’re craving good Indian food, lucky for you, Indian Flavors Express is directly across from campus on Bancroft Way. Both its lunch special and all-day menu of flavorful curries and baskets of fluffy naan are delicious. Bonus: free chai. Super bonus: really good bhindi masala.
Brazil Cafe (Brazil)
The cartoon-bright shack you’ve walked past on University Avenue is a purveyor of tasty tri-tip sandwiches and mango smoothies — a little taste of South America in foggy Berkeley.
Great China (China)
Great China is no $5 Chinatown joint where the red rtub of rice is a given, but it’s definitely worth it. Great China is perfect for a big group of friends or for celebrating birthdays or the end of finals with a Lazy Susan full of walnut prawns and Peking duck.
Sunrise Deli (Middle East)
“The best falafel in town,” announces the sign in front of the unexciting storefront that is Sunrise Deli. “Best” is a tall order, but the falafel is really good, as is the shawarma. It’s a great, quick meal, but watch out for the odd hours the restaurant keeps.
Gordo Taqueria (Mexico)
You’re not going to find much good Mexican food in the immediate Berkeley area — for that, you’ll need to trek to the Mission or take a road trip south. That being said, Gordo Taqueria does a solid Sunday-morning burrito and the most delicious quesadillas.
Berkeley really does have a little bit of everything. If you’re craving some mie goreng, Jayakarta is a flavorful option just a little down University Avenue.
Cal Gyro (Greece)
One of the Durant Food Court’s best, Cal Gyro makes a great gyro quickly, making the restaurant perfect for between-class lunch breaks. It also has some nice Greek salads (as in tabbouleh Greek, not why-is-there-an-olive-in-here Greek) and baklava for dessert.
Pho K&K (Vietnam)
Nothing beats a big bowl of pho on a chilly day. Pho K&K is the perfect Vietnamese fix, serving all of your favorites: warm pho, fresh spring rolls and sweet shave-ice drinks.
Contact Miya Singer at [email protected].