Nerd on Wednesday

Hit up Oaktown for barbecue with James at [email protected]

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The student body of this university

never ceases to amaze me

with its intellectual prowess and

cultural diversity. That’s why it’s so

frustrating to open the Daily Cal’s

“Best of Berkeley” issue every year to

discover a farce of culinary achievement.

If ever there were an occasion

to bury democracy, this is it: By mistakenly

equating “best” with “popular”

and “Berkeley” with “three blocks of

Telegraph,” this well-meaning guide

unwittingly reduces the great adventure

of fooding to a chore of convenience

and familiarity.

That being said, I offer an abridged

personal guide to the best of Berkeley.

Since convenience is no trifling matter,

I’ll focus on affordable places

within sporking distance of campus

(sorry, Juan’s Place).

Best Slice—Anything Not on Telegraph:

Cheese Board Pizza. Arinell’s

Pizza. Pie in the Sky. With three distinctly

amazing choices for pizza, why

do students vote the greasy abomination

of Blondie’s Pizza into first place

time and again? Please, make a trip on

over to flavor country—I particularly

recommend Pie in the Sky’s signature

“Sky Pie,” a gourmet treat of spinach,

feta, walnuts, tomato and eggplant

that’ll make your taste buds cry.

Best Mexican—Monte Cristo

Taqueria: To anyone who takes Mexican

food seriously, La Burrita is the

ultimate joke: a less-than-mediocre

taqueria with a reputation solely based

on location. While Cancun Taqueria

and La Fiesta are sensible alternatives,

Monte Cristo at University Avenue and

Acton Street offers well-prepared standards

along with delicious homemade

chips and one thing that truly counts:

good carnitas. Simultaneously crisp,

tender and chewy, this savory miracle

of meat is nonexistent in most of

Berkeley, but here they know how to

roast a carcass right.

Best Sushi—Kirala: Though it

may not offer the sake-bombing exhibitions

you can only enjoy at Joshu-

Ya, Kirala is widely hailed as one of

the best sushi restaurants in all of the

Bay Area. Its understated building on

the corner of Shattuck and Ward is a

15-minute walk from campus and

always has a crowd of diners waiting

to get in when it opens for dinner at

5:30 p.m. Prices are a bit high for college

fare, but when it comes to sushi,

sometimes you gotta put your money

where your mouth is.

Best Thai—Racha Cafe, Lucky

House: If you want quality Thai food

without the faux-exotic decor, ditch

Thai House and walk five minutes to

either of these fine establishments. At the Racha Cafe, you’ll be greeted by

the most laid-back employees ever

and served quickly with a wide range

of delicious Thai dishes. At Lucky

House, you’ll receive equally down-toearth

service with one particular highlight:

“spicy” dishes that are actually

spicy. I can’t stress this enough:

There’s no greater feeling than a

curry-drenched salmon fillet melting

in your mouth as your glasses fog up

from the heat of the sauce.

Best Cafe—Au Coquelet Cafe:

Cafe Milano is popular for two reasons:

It’s 10 seconds from campus and

is within reach of AirBears. I have yet

to see another compelling reason to

spend more than an hour inside a

place that dank and poorly stocked.

Au Coquelet, on the other hand, is

open until 2 a.m. and offers plenty of

clean, well-lit study space with a full

selection of teas, coffees, and desserts

oh my, the desserts). They may not

have wireless, but I’ll be damned if I

don’t find myself crawling back to

University Avenue and Milvia Street

when my soul needs recharging.

Honorable Mention: A’Cuppa Tea at

College Avenue and Alcatraz Avenue.)

Best Soul Food: Oakland is the

true destination for this category, but

I’m insulted that the Best of Berkeley

doesn’t even recognize the existence of

America’s greatest invention since

Benjamin Franklin’s guide to international


I could go on for pages, but my

point is simple: Berkeley offers us a

rich collage of affordable, delicious

foods, and it’s unacceptable to surrender

to the forces of proximity and

habit when deciding where to eat. The

next time you’re on the hunt, do yourself

a favor: Walk that extra block.

Throw down that extra dollar. Make

your stomach proud. And when you’re

through, stop off at Gregoire for

potato puffs, because you deserve it.


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