Entirely biased overview of Berkeley’s best food

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Daniel Kim/Senior Staff

A quick scroll through UC Berkeley Memes for Edgy Teens will show you the multitude of things that we complain about here at Berkeley. So what’s a demoralized UC Berkeley student to do? Eat, drink and be merry, of course. It’s easy to take for granted that we don’t have to drive for 15 minutes to get to a restaurant, or that we have multiple food options open until 2 a.m. (I can attest — I’m writing this from outside of Berkeley, living off bread and peanut butter and desperately missing being able to walk to real food.) Honestly, there are too many great places to name, so for those of you who are reading this to find somewhere to eat instead of scrolling through Yelp, you should probably scroll through Yelp.

Disclaimer: These places may not have the best food in Berkeley, but they are the best food places in the city because of the moments of love and laughter and good vibes that you will experience within them.

Elmwood Cafe

Summer is a time for copious brunching and people watching, and Elmwood Cafe is the perfect place for both. The food is relatively cheap but still pretty enough to Instagram, and the Elmwood area is lovely to walk around. If you’re lucky, you might pass by a garage sale at one of the houses in the area and find a giant beanbag named Norbert to take home.

Berkeley Social Club

    1. Go here
    2. Get the mascarpone blueberry stuffed crunch french toast.
    3. Look up at the ceiling and wonder if it actually dropped from heaven onto your plate.

Berkeley Social Club is a Korean-American fusion place where nearly everything on the menu looks good. It’s spacious and light-filled and a wonderful place to venture for brunch when you can’t get into La Note (which is always).

The Stuffed Inn

A cheerful family-owned sandwich place on Northside, Stuffed Inn has cheap sandwiches that taste amazing and are also healthy. I recommend Normal Ned’s on dutch crunch. Avocado! Sprouts! Tomatoes! Cucumbers! What a time to be alive.

Ike’s Place

All I can say is that there is actual magic in these sandwiches. At most sandwich shops, you can sneer at the sandwiches and say, “I can make that at home,” if you are the kind of person who is inclined to sneer at sandwiches. But at Ike’s, even sandwich-sneerers will be bamboozled. What is the secret sauce? You’ll have to keep eating until you figure it out.

Julie’s Cafe

Julie’s is another place with an eclectic range of cuisines — you can get pad thai, burgers, pasta, sandwiches and kebab all in the same place. Go there often enough and the kind and wonderful owner will start recognizing and greeting you. It will warm your heart, especially on days when you need an encouraging smile while contemplating the 1,234,230,498 midterms and papers you have coming up.

Indian Flavors Express

This place has been nothing short of a second home to me and my friends. Whether you opt to come here for the lunch buffet or simply order paneer tikka masala, IFE will welcome you, inundate you with free tea and put you in a food coma when you’re done. From its weird lamps that look like bacon to the coveted table by the outlets, there is no better place for heart to hearts or gossip sessions over chai (other than my apartment). The hours you spend grazing here are well worth it.

Cafe Durant

When half your friends want breakfast and the other half want Mexican food, Cafe D is the only place to go. For the volume of food that shows up on your plate, prices are extremely reasonable. Plus, if you’re over 21, it is fully equipped for your day-drinking needs with different deals every day — Taco Tuesday and Wing It Wednesday are highlights. Even if you don’t remember half the times you come here, rest assured you had a good time.

Taco Bell

Taco Bell is an innovator, which is something that we appreciate near the Silicon Valley. Where else can you find a taco with a shell made of fried chicken? Or chips also made of fried chicken? Who else could have come up with the genius that is the Cheesy Gordita Crunch (with Doritos Fiery Shell — try it, this is the item that made me a Taco Bell convert)? Come here after midnight and you will run into a good chunk of the Berkeley population drunkenly waiting in line — maybe you’ll rekindle old friendships, or even make new ones.

Contact Shreya Chaganti at [email protected].

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  • tomrigid

    Taco Bell? Ok. This city doesn’t really exist for you, does it? I don’t blame you, I guess; college is a herd-like experience and it’s hard to really be a part of the surrounding community. Still, and even if it was meant as an ironic joke, I choked a little at this.

    • Marc

      I used to crap on Taco Bell too. But after living abroad for many years I came back to the US and had it for the first time in many years. Man…it’s good. It’s a very unique fast food experience and yes they are innovative. Just because it’s a chain doesn’t mean you can’t like it…really dude…it’s ok. Come in here tiger, get a hug.

      • tomrigid

        I’m not crapping on Taco Bell. But it has nothing to do with Berkeley. Or anyplace, really. It could be anywhere.