I can’t count the number of times I’ve received a text reading something along the lines of: “My parents are coming this weekend. Where should we go eat?” As college students, the majority of our food-related decisions typically revolve around two things: convenience and speed. Most of us don’t have the hours in our schedule or the budget to do very much fine dining in our day-to-day lives. That is, unless you consider Top Dog to be a “gourmet” hot dog joint. I, personally, do not.
Whenever any family members come to visit, my life feels like a rapid-fire Berkeley food tour. Every moment we aren’t eating, we’re waiting to eat again. It’s better than my birthday and what my Jewish self imagines Christmas to be, combined. My 12th grade economics teacher loved to remind us that “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” While that might be true, weekends when parents visit are the closest thing to a free lunch (and breakfast and dinner) we’ll ever get. Cherish it. Carpe diem the hell out of it. Order an appetizer and have a glass of wine too, because tomorrow, it’s back to the library and Crossroads.
Whether you just got accepted to Berkeley and are coming to visit, are planning ahead for move-in or are simply hosting family for a spring semester visit, be sure to check out some of these amazing, parent-worthy restaurants. Having family in town is a special occasion, and there’s no better way to celebrate than with a fabulous meal.
Location: 1788 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA 94709
My very first night living in the dorms, my parents took me to Corso. It was a cold Berkeley evening, I was incredibly anxious, and everything about that meal made me feel at home in the daunting new world of college. The menu at this modern Tuscan trattoria changes seasonally, but Corso is consistently simple, comforting and, most importantly, absolutely delicious. While the restaurant itself is on the nicer end, it’s still incredibly casual, which makes it ideal for a family spot. My dad loves the extensive wine list and my soul loves the homemade pasta.
Location: 6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618
Nestled among a beautiful wine bar, a flower shop and a French bakery, Wood Tavern is located on my absolute favorite block of College Avenue. Even though you’re just a quick drive away from Units 1 and 2, you really feel like you’re on vacation somewhere special.
And then there’s the food. Serving up produce-driven California cuisine, there’s not one thing on the constantly evolving menu that I wouldn’t be happy to eat. Be sure to save a little room for dessert, as the molten chocolate lava cake, usually a lackluster option, is sensational. So good, in fact, that one of my housemates emailed the restaurant for the recipe after she went with her mom. And they sent it to her! Talk about great customer service.
Location: 1539 Solano Ave., Berkeley, CA 94707
From the beautiful garden setting to the crisp portobello mushroom fritters (basically, a mushroom french fry), Rivoli chef Wendy Brucker can do no wrong. A Berkeley gem, everything Rivoli does is very intentional. The menu is short, but it’s anything you could ever want in a meal — we’re talking New York steak with black truffles and burrata salad with fresh pear, hazelnuts and watercress — they’ve got it! You’ll definitely want to make a reservation in advance, and, if given the option, ask to be seated as close to the garden as possible.
Contact Natalie Abber at [email protected].