5 tips for dining out with parents

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Eating at Zachary’s should be a graduation requirement.

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Eating with your parents will be a special experience, as you are up and coming into the world of work, freedom and independence. And while you can make it all the more memorable by bringing them to your favorite restaurant, that’s only the beginning. Here are some tips for having a great dining experience with family:

View from the bar at Ippuku. View from the bar at Ippuku. - Image by shellEProductions under Creative Commons

View from the bar at Ippuku. Image by shellEProductions under Creative Commons


1. Book dinner somewhere nice. Take your parents to Top Dog — but not every night that they visit. Your parents’ visit is your chance to eat at the places that you can’t afford as a starving college student. Book a dinner at one of Berkeley’s astoundingly great restaurants. In the summer, be sure to book dinner seven to 10 days in advance; otherwise, it’s hard to get a reservation at the time and place that you want. Here’s a list of some places (by no means authoritative) to take your parents for dinner.

Chez Panisse — The legendary restaurant whose founder, Alice Waters, recently dined with Michelle Obama when she was in town. Book far in advance for the restaurant or upstairs diner.

Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen — This place is for the omnivores, with big, hearty portions and delicious sides, complete with a lively atmosphere.

Belli Osteria — This place offers delicious homemade pastas and boasts a Saucier like no other. Order multiple courses and wine to get the full experience of this delicious, impressive new restaurant.

Ippuku — This place has the most unique atmosphere and rarest style, described as Japanese soul food. Like other restaurants on this list, it is somewhere to eat before graduation multiple times. Be sure to book at least a week in advance.

Zachary’s Chicago Pizza — This restaurant is nice in a different sense. It has some of the greatest pizza ever conceived and is bustling all night. It’s definitely a family place.

Eating at Zachary’s should be a graduation requirement.

Eating at Zachary’s should be a graduation requirement. Image by da5ide under Creative Commons

2. Bring your friend(s). When your parents visit, introduce them to your friends. The dinner table at a nice restaurant will spur interesting conversations and bring out new things in you and your buddies. Let your parents know ahead of time so that you don’t surprise them. Bring one or two friends to a nice restaurant, but bring as many as you want if you eat somewhere like the Cheese Board, which has a great laid-back atmosphere. If dinner with parents and friends doesn’t strike your fancy, entertain the idea of going out for drinks at Freehouse, which is impressive, or Pappy’s, which is a throwback.

3. Encourage your parents to choose their favorite place. No one doesn’t like good food. Bring out your parents’ inner foodie. Send them links to some of the restaurants in Berkeley to get them stoked about dinner. Plus, it gives your parents the chance to eat some of their favorite cuisines.

The Legendary Breakfast at Brown Sugar Kitchen.

The Legendary Breakfast at Brown Sugar Kitchen. Image by swnktstic under Creative Commons

4. Know where you want to eat in San Francisco and Oakland. Plan lunch and dinner into your trips to San Francisco to avoid eating at the lame eateries that swarm many of the tourist sites in San Francisco and Oakland. It’s also a good way to make sure that you don’t miss out on every possible opportunity to eat the best meal of your life while your parents are visiting. For breakfast in Oakland, we recommend getting the chicken and waffles at Brown Sugar Kitchen. For lunch in San Francisco, we recommend the open-face sandwiches at Tartine (which are big enough to split) in the Mission District. Reservations not needed or taken at either establishment.

5. Get dessert; order a drink. When you’re eating in Berkeley with your parents, don’t hold back. Take no prisoners. Go to Babette’s at the Berkeley Art Museum for desserts baked daily by the head chef Joan Ellis herself. Grab a house-crafted brew at Jupiter after dinner. Wherever you are, grab a drink — beer, coffee, or boba tea. Order the homemade lemon scones or triple-chocolate, gooey apricot upside-down cake with vanilla ice cream. YOLO.

What are your favorite places to take your parents out to? Let us know in the comments!

Contact Josh Escobar at [email protected]