BEST OF BERKELEY: Dishes
Thursday, April 15, 2010
BEST SANDWICH: Sufficient Grounds
I know I'm not the only student who struggled to find sustenance after moving out of the dorms. Sufficient Grounds made that transition to self-sufficiency easier to bear. Their homemade honey wheat bread is fantastic, as is their pasta salad side. The sandwich combo may seem pricey for frugal students, but when you consider that you're basically getting two meals' worth of food, you realize it's totally worth it. And while you wait for the friendly owner, Anthony, to take your order, you can snack on free samples of donuts. I recently found out that Sufficient Grounds is closing within a matter of days. This is terrible news. Where else will I find a most un-kosher and delicious ham and cheese sandwich? Sufficient Grounds, you will be missed.
BEST HOT DOG: Top Dog
Simplicity is Top Dog's biggest virtue. In keeping with the ultra-libertarian slogans and literature scattered about, Top Dog offers the straight forward, no-nonsense essentials of an American meal. Incredibly savory dogs, crispy buns and (depending on the time of day) the welcoming sounds of Telemundo or Death Metal greet the customers as they walk in the door. When it comes to producing the best bratwurst or hot links, no other place in this commie town can beat the right-wing hounds of Top Dog.
But you have to watch your step at the shop. Be sure not to screw up the ordering system, which the people behind the grill run with military efficiency, and be careful when consuming the deadly Beaver Mustard-it's a deceitful beast.
Plus, where else can you read the musings of Ward Connerly, the former UC Regent who ended affirmative action, while waiting in line?
BEST PIZZA: Cheeseboard Pizza Collective
When it comes to pizza, Cheeseboard shouldn't even be compared with other pizza places. Or maybe other places shouldn't be compared with Cheeseboard. When it comes to pizza, Cheeseboard acts like it's the only pizza place in the world-and to be honest, if it was then nobody would have reason to complain. Why? Because Cheeseboard's pizza is irreplaceable. It's quality on a level you've probably never tasted. Its approach to pizza is so mind-bogglingly simple, you'll be left wondering why its impressive-looking lines aren't longer still.
Cheeseboard isn't located in the small radius surrounding campus known as the "Berkeley Bubble." If you want to try the best thin-crust vegetarian pizza, you'll have to walk all the way to the Gourmet Ghetto.
A few months ago, a good friend of mine and I concluded that Berkeley is probably the best college town to live in, food-wise-including New York. That conversation took place at Cheeseboard.
BEST COFFEE: Caffe Strada
On a sunny California morning, there's nothing nicer than sitting outside and sipping on a cup of coffee. OK, a cup of coffee and one of those black-bottom muffins. If only there was a sweet little cafe where we could do just that ... kind of like Caffe Strada. Let's be real, here. Exactly like Caffe Strada.
Stroll on over to meet friends for a light breakfast. Bring a few books or your laptop and use the ample patio space to do some studying. Maybe you're in a bit of a rush to get to class, but that's not a problem, seeing as Strada is literally across the street from campus-perfectly located for you to stop by for a quick pick-me-up. Looking for a great cup o' joe? Make it Strada.
- Jillian Wertheim
BEST BURGER AND FRIES: Smart Alec's
Since the dawn of genetically modified foods, vegetarians have watched their meat-eating friends spit out veggie patties in disgust. Blah, they say, tastes like blah. Someone at Smart Alec's must've heard the complaints of herbivores and carnivores alike because damn, their burgers are good. It's a rarity to have a veggie burger listed before some sort of dead animal, but the homemade patty makes you wonder why they even bother putting meat on the menu at all. Top that off with the best baked fries you've ever tasted and oohhh heaven is a place on Telegraph.
BEST FROZEN DESSERT: Yogurtland
No, Yogurtland is not a magical utopia where endless frozen yogurt falls from the sky. But for a frozen yogurt shop that is less than a block from campus, it's almost too good to be true. As a self-serve establishment, you get to design your yogurt exactly the way you want it. Want five flavors and eight toppings in one cup? You got it! And with new seasonal flavors continually rotating in and out, like eggnog and pumpkin pie, there is always a new flavor to try. Rest assured, Pinkberry traditionalists; plain tart and other staple flavors like coffee and peanut butter remain constants in this flavor revolution.
Don't be discouraged by the long lines of fro yo frenzy … you can "sample" (a.k.a fill the tiny cups with as much yogurt as possible) everything from tiramisu to red velvet cupcake batter while you wait in line.
BEST DONUTS AND PASTRIES: King Pin Donuts
Why do we love King Pin Donuts? It's close. It's convenient. It's open 'til 2 a.m. Oh, and did we mention it's fan-frickin'-tastic? Four out of five dentists (and just about every Berkeley student with a decent sweet tooth) agree: Nothing hits the spot like a late-night donut run to King Pin. Jelly-filled, chocolate-glazed or old-fashioned, you're bound to find something that tickles your fancy. I recommend the donut holes, but maybe you'll live life on the wild side and try an apple fritter. No one can resist King Pin's delectable little morsels-one is never enough. Heck, forget what your mother said about sweets before dinner ruining your appetite and head over to King Pin as soon as class gets out.
BEST SOUP: San Francisco Soup Company
If you're like me, and firmly believe that soup should not be relegated to the status of a side, the recently added San Francisco Soup Company is a godsend. There is finally a place where the dish is king. About five dollars buys a bowl of pure deliciousness and a sizable hunk of sourdough bread to fill you up right. For those who prefer sticking with a usual, grab an order of creamy tomato bisque or savory Mexican chicken tortilla (complete with cilantro, cheese, and tortilla chips). Both are part of their seven daily signature soups. They also feature terrific specialties that vary daily. I personally recommend the Italian wedding soup, with its hearty meatballs and soft pasta.
If you're unsure about your order while inside, that's what the free samples are for.
BEST SALAD: Cafe Mattina
BEST BAGELS: Noah's
BEST BREAKFAST: Ann's Kitchen
BEST FALAFEL: Sunrise Deli
BEST SEAFOOD: Spenger's Fish Grotto
BEST BURRITO: La Burrita
BEST BOBA: Sweetheart Cafe
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