As a self-designated foodie, trying new restaurants around Berkeley is how I spend most of my money. Last year, my friends and I even created a bucket list of different restaurants we wanted to try, and we got through quite a few of them! Whether I’m grabbing a quick snack between classes or sitting down for a hearty meal with a friend, I always want to make sure I’m having quality food — as I’m sure you do too. So without further ado, here are my top 5 favorite restaurants in Berkeley!
Think delicious fragrant wontons topped with spicy chili oil, perfectly seasoned pork fried rice and scrumptious flaky scallion pancakes. I cannot rave enough about this place. As someone who grew up eating top quality Chinese food and lived in Taiwan for a year (which was basically a Chinese food tour), this is one of the best Chinese restaurants I’ve been to. I recommend going with a large group of people so that you can order half of the menu and try all different types of flavors. Also, their Beijing yogurt drink is a must-try.
Toss Noodle Bar
I’m beginning to realize that this entire article is going to be full of hyperboles, but I have no way to prevent that from happening. I genuinely can only recommend one thing on the menu because no matter how hard I try to make myself branch out, the Toss Garlic Noodles always seem to be calling my name. Made with melted butter and garlic spread over perfectly thick and chewy noodles, this dish is just the absolute best thing to satisfy my craving for comfort food any day. Bonus points if you get the Thai iced tea with it!
Berkeley Social Club
This one is a more well-known choice, but I love it so much that I have to include it. It’s also a great option for a sit-down brunch/dinner out with friends. The menu items are a fusion of American classics with Asian (mostly Korean and Japanese) flavors. I love a good Bulgogi Scramble or Ahi Benedict for brunch, and the Lemon Ricotta pancake is so fluffy — it’s to die for. I honestly haven’t been for dinner, but I really want to try the Bulgogi Nachos and the Udon Sauté. While this restaurant is pricier, it’s a great one for special occasions.
This Mexican taco shop is a smaller store that does still have limited seating but is a better option for to-go orders or a quick snack. The carnitas has the perfect amount of crunch and tenderness, and I love topping it off with as much lime as I physically am able to. Also, they have $3.50 tacos that are a perfect afternoon pick-me-up. I haven’t gotten the chance to try a drink here yet, but I’ve heard that the agua fresca and horchata are both amazing.
Last but not least, this Middle Eastern/Mediterranean spot in Elmwood is delicious and hearty. I love their plates because you get a taste of their delicious skewers, rice pilaf, hummus and pita all in one dish. I love to make bites of chicken with the perfect toppings of sauce and rice or pita all mixed together. The dishes from here are definitely very filling, but it’s perfect for a night where you just need a filling, hearty meal. I’m honestly glad I’m writing this article because I haven’t been here in a while and I want to go soon…
So there you have it. Even though I really need to stop spending all of my money on food, at least it makes for a great article! I seriously get so much joy out of trying new places and finding amazing new favorites. And as much as I joke about how I need to stop, I don’t think I will be anytime soon. Hopefully through my recommendations, both our wallets will be a little less full, and I can feel just a tiny bit better about my spending habits.