The Meal Deal

Eating out is far more than an excuse to avoid washing dishes. It is a lifestyle. Where you eat, as much as what you eat, epitomizes your inner being. But on a student’s low budget and busy schedule, this high standard occasionally falls short. For breakfast, you may find yourself procuring the sugary staple of a Pop Tart. Alas, this need not occur. For, our writers have cultivated Berkeley’s best dishes so you may be able to dine in style.

Best Brunch:

1. La Note

I’m a big brunch person, and La Note is one of the best brunch places. It has the cute and quaint ambience, friendly wait staff and that delectable Frenchness to it. It’s the only place in Berkeley where I feel delighted to bring my girlfriends, dates and parents. La Note provides the regular brunch-goer a wide variety of options: lemon gingerbread pancakes with poached pears, hot chocolate in big bowls topped with whipped cream, fresh baked pastry baskets. This is not just brunch; it’s an event.

Cecilia Wong

2. The Sunny Side Cafe

While walking on the western side of campus the other day, an unruly craving for breakfast food came over me. It was 2 p.m. and fatefully, I saw The Sunny Side Cafe. Feeling adventurous, and gluttonous, The Alameda was my choice. It is essentially country ham, tomatoes, and mushrooms sandwiched by two pieces of French toast — complemented with eggs and hollandaise sauce. When the server brought me the dish  I was hooked at the first bite. For those on the adventurous side this is a great dish that requires an appetite.

Sybil Lewis

3. Venus

Named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty, the Downtown Berkeley restaurant Venus lives up to its affectionate name.
This warm and cozy restaurant is filled with bustling staff and plates of Harajuku scrambles, farmer omelets and French toasts galore passing every second. I ordered a plate of Luxury Flapjacks, complete with Scharffen Berger chocolates and fresh raspberries. With a menu to delight, an atmosphere of yummy smells and plates to fulfill all, I advise any brunch-goers to experience the delights of  Venus.

Alex Berryhill

Best Lunch Under $5

1. Heavenly Foods

While virtually any type of sandwich is available within a few blocks of campus — deli, panini, hoagie and more — only one place offers banh mi, Vietnamese sandwiches that feature a choice of meat or tofu topped with pickled vegetables, cilantro and jalapeno. Students seeking a quick and tasty lunch need only travel to the intersection of Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue, where the Heavenly Foods cart can be found on weekdays. The sandwiches, packed with fresh grilled chicken, beef, pork or tofu, are a steal at $3 each.

Christopher Yee

2. Top Dog

No list of inexpensive lunches is complete without Berkeley institution Top Dog. Regardless of how good other hot dogs are, nothing ever seems to live up to any of Top Dog’s tasty offerings served up in pretzel buns for $3 apiece. The people who work the grills are master multitaskers, remembering countless orders at a time and serving them up when they’re perfectly grilled. While there are options for every taste, including vegetarians, the namesake dog is still my favorite, dressed perfectly with mustard and sauerkraut.

Christopher Yee

Best Dinner Under $10

1. Crepevine

Just a short walk down to the corner of Cedar Street and Shattuck Avenue, Crepevine boasts a far-reaching selection extending well beyond its namesake, including pastas and sandwiches. My favorite is the Sante Fe, $9.50, a savory crepe bursting with grilled chicken apple sausage, scrambled eggs, green onions and provolone, topped with salsa fresca.

Andrew Steinsapir

2. Vinnie’s

Having visited Philadelphia and had the pleasure of chowing down on an authentic Philly cheesesteak, I know the standards of quality. Vinnie’s cheesesteaks are the best west coast sister to those fabulous hoagies in the east. Buns are grilled, with steak, mixed with peppers and onions topped with melted cheese. Hearty and full of flavor, you can’t go wrong with a $6.03 cheesesteak, tax included.

Shanna Holako

Best On-the-Go Meal

1. Yali’s

From Oxford Street to Stanley Hall, to the Valley Life Sciences Building, you can find Yali’s all over campus. For a meal on the go, their Greek salad is my favorite. With cucumbers, tomato, kalamata olives and feta cheese, it’s light and filled with great texture. It is definitely one of those meals that make you feel wholesome and satisfied from every bite. The salad is $5.75, and if you have the extra cash, their fruit smoothies are to die for. Topped with whipped crème, they offer mango, strawberry banana, peach, pear and apricot, for $3.50.

Shanna Holako

2. Crepes-a-Go-Go

Fast foods were invented because the average person has become busier and busier. As a student, a sit-down meal is no longer a viable daily option. However, just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you have to forego taste and nutrition. Crepes-A-Go-Go takes the conventional, somewhat tedious-to-eat crepe and turns it into a eat-and-walk commodity. Sweet and savory crepes filled with fresh fruits, vegetables and meats are freshly hand-made right in front of you and prepared within a few minutes

Cecilia Wong

3. SF Soup Co.

Need a quick meal between your late afternoon lectures? Stuck in studio and craving a bite to eat? Heading up to Greek row from the gym? Here’s your go-to on-the-go restaurant: the SF Soup Company. First, it’s cheap. For about $5 you can get a warm bowl of freshly made soups and a perfect hunk of sourdough bread. Second, it’s quick. With their secured soup bowl lids, sturdy paper bags and pre-prepared soup all day, Soup Co. employees ensure you can be in and out in a second. Lastly, SF Soup Co. is just plain good.

Alex Berryhill

Best Date Restaurant

1. Filippo’s

Filippo’s also receives an A-plus for romantic setting. The first thing you want to ensure when taking out the crush across from you in Demography 220 is that you will feel comfortable enough to eventually make a move. Filippo’s ensures just this (well, not that you can make a move, but you at least can’t blame the atmosphere). Secondly, the fact that Filippo’s is approximately 5 seconds away from Ici Ice Cream, along with an array of other cute boutiques, art collections, and bookstores allows your dinner date to extend into a romantic stroll around the neighborhood. Sound like a picture-perfect evening yet?

Alex Berryhill