Eating Outside the Box

Christopher Yee/Staff
A bowl of hot and sour soup from King Dong Restaurant in downtown Berkeley offers a light, yet fulfilling meal on a chilly day.

When most freshmen settle into the many residence halls a block or two off Telegraph Avenue, they’ll immediately enjoy the freedom and proximity to new people that comes with dorm life. One benefit that sours quickly for new students is the dining commons buffet. In the beginning, an unlimited amount of mass produced food sounds good, but having chicken fingers everyday gets tiresome. Inevitably, these newcomers will seek sustenance from the many eateries in the surrounding area, especially from the Durant Food Court — better known as the Asian Ghetto. But freshmen foodies can venture outside the popular food court by exploring the Berkeley area, a city that loves its food almost as much as its politics.

Sandwiches

Bronze Medal: Subway, 2618 Telegraph Ave.
Silver Medal: Foley’s Deli, in Sam’s Market, 2312 Telegraph Ave.
Gold Medal: Cheese ’n’ Stuff, 2442 Durant Ave.

Hungry students rushing to class from Southside will no doubt be tempted to pick up a sandwich from Subway — it’s an undeniably quick and easy option. What more could you want? Well, for starters, freshly baked bread, quality cold cuts and fresh veggies. Foley’s Deli has tasty and affordable sandwiches, but for the pinnacle of deli delights, look no further than Sather Gate near Unit 3, where Cheese ‘n’ Stuff has been serving students since 1986. A fully-loaded sandwich piled high with high quality meats and cheeses and crisp veggies including sprouts will cost less than that $5 Subway footlong.

Burritos:

Bronze Medal: Chipotle, 2311 Telegraph Ave.
Silver Medal: La Burrita, 2530 Durant Ave., 1832 Euclid Ave
Gold Medal: Gordo Tacqueria, 2404 Telegraph Ave.

Chipotle is the Subway of burritos, hence the long line every day at lunch time. Granted the quality of the food is a touch higher, but so are the prices. Instead, head a little farther away from campus to La Burrita, with locations on both Northside and Southside, for a burrito with a little more character. But freshmen seeking the best should head down to Gordo Tacqueria on Telegraph and Channing Way. A super burrito — which is, indeed, super — runs about $5 and is jam-packed full of flavorful grilled meats or veggies, rice, beans and salsa. You may think a burrito is a burrito, but not all burritos are created equal. At Gordo, the burritos are a purist’s dream, though sour cream and guacamole can be added for an extra kick.

Chinese Food:

Bronze Medal: Chinese Express, 2488 Channing Way
Silver Medal: Lotus House, 2517A Durant Ave.
Gold Medal: King Dong, 2429 Shattuck Ave.

Southside is rife with Chinese restaurants, most of which are cheap, quick and subpar in quality. Lotus House on Durant is satisfying, but if hungry freshmen care to travel just a bit farther to Shattuck Avenue, they’ll find the best of both worlds — well-made, reasonably priced, generously portioned meals at King Dong. Yes, that’s its real name. Yes, it’s next door to massage parlor facing allegations of prostitution. But good food is good food. The No. 1 single dinner plate (again, real name) is a feast, offering any entree on the menu plus rice, soup, an egg roll, a fried shrimp and a fried wonton skin for $8.