Recipes from two guys who have always loved cooking.
Looking to dine out today? We have some suggestions. We might point you to our regulars, or somewhere very special. Whether it’s lunch or dinner, here are some local eateries that deserve to be mentioned. Keep in Ryan and I are based in Monterey, and Berkeley respectively.
Robert’s San Francisco Picks
Seven Hills – If you looking for an up scale place to bring a date, take them to this Italian Restaurant in Nob Hill. The owner Alex is a awesome person who and along with his team of lovely people, they ensure that you have a great time during your visit. Their pasta is amazing; I suggest getting half servings so you can try a couple of them while you’re there. But my favorite dishes are actually starters; The Chicken Liver and Pork Riblets are out of this world.
Robert’s East Bay Picks
Homeroom – Are you a sucker for mac and cheese? I am. I make it at home, alot. But if you want to kick it up another level, you will find at Homeroom several mac and cheese variations, and choice of toppings if you want to go overboard. The interior is themed after an elementary school homeroom, so it’s definitely a fun place to have lunch and reminisce!
Every time I think of Cheeseboard, I nod my head and say to myself “what a good business model”. They serve only one pizza a day, and you order how many slices of it you want. It’s always good and reasonably priced. Vegetarians, here’s something nice for you because you guys deserve it. The only down side is waiting in line, but it moves fast.
My friend Kelan used to work here, and threw so many potato puffs our way. They are so divine. It’s a “treat yourself” place and definitely good for a lunch picnic. The buttermilk chicken sandwich is the go-to choice.
Simply put, if you need a fix for Chicken Tikka Masala or any other Indian/Pakistani food, this is the “to-go” place because it has an easy going atmosphere, and frankly good food. Sometimes it feels like a chore to dine out, but it’s never like that going here. Get the Lamb Biryani.
A new place that has a simple business model; everything on their menu is about 2 dollars, and so it’s easy to mix and match things, and control how much you want to eat. Really good, fresh meat in burgers (they by default make them rare because of this). And they have tatertots—TATERTOTS. Oh and the portabella mushroom sliders are unbelievable.
I’m not a big coffee aficionado; honestly I don’t even drink coffee. But I put this on the list because there has never been a place where I thought the coffee was actually good, and not “just coffee.”
Jupiters Restaurant and Bar
Every group of friends has a set of bars they go to; the set is essential to cater our diverse preferences or situational needs. I’m not talking about the selection of drinks. I’m talking about what we need after a long day of work, or where we want to take visitors. Jupiter’s beautifully lit back patio equipped with a fountain that makes us forget our troubles, and it’s not because of the beer. It’s the great service and the buzz of locals that makes you feel at home while enjoying gourmet pizzas and great beers.
This place is a Japanese restaurant that my friends frequent when we aren’t sure about other Japanese restaurants. This is place has consistently good sushi and the service is very friendly.
Revival Restaurant and Bar
If you’re feeling particularly down, Revival always puts a smile on my face. This is because the service is always amazing; the place says to me “dress up, check your problems at the door, and have a great time.” It captures the classiness of old time restaurants, where you would feel out of place if you were not wearing your best suit or dress. The food is creative and excellent. I go here if I want to eat duck and drink a Sazerac (two of my favorite things in the world).
The Pho Bar
There is something magical about a bowl of hot Pho. This place steps it up. They offer a warm cozy environment to even further the relaxing powers of Pho with great staff and a cool noodle bar. It is on the pricy side, definitely worth a try.
Top Dog is a Berkeley icon; it embodies the free spirit mentality of the hippies of the 70’s but remains accessible to everyone in the area. Everyone goes here, professors, professionals, drunk students, and the occasional crazy person. But that’s Berkeley. I’ve literally tried all ten of their dogs, and my favorites are the Louisiana Hot Link and the Veggie Dog. It doesn’t help that my good friend Becky works at one of their locations…I’m there any chance I get. But there is something special about being a regular and enjoying a hot dog with friends and locals.
I wish I could try more Puerto Rican restaurants so I can say for certain Sol food is the best place to have Puerto Rican cuisine. I even want to say that it is the best place to eat in general. Sol Food has such a lively atmosphere with great South American music that sets the vibe and grand food that blows your mind. Whatever you order, it will be amazing. They have their own hot sauce that they make, and every time my friends and I go to Sol Food, I always try to decipher what is in it so I can make it at home–and put it on everything, because that’s what we do at the restaurant. We go through bottles of that stuff.
After one of my favorite sports bars closed down a year ago (RIP Meridian), Zaika moved into the neighborhood. They have a very extensive menu and even though I’ve only tried a couple of things, so far so good. I’ve never taste a Chicken Tikka Masala quite like this place. I also like how they offer different level of spicy for dishes. My friends and I also come here to drink the $3 draft beers, sit on very comfortable couches, and watch football their TV’s on Sundays.
This place is nestled away near the industrial parts of Berkeley. It is a perfect treat for breakfast or brunch. My friends really like the Date Shake they serve, and the Egg’s Benedict is great.
Their philosophy is simply anti-fast food. No it won’t take a hour for you to get your Pulled Pork Sandwich. It’s all about the freshest ingredients and simple foods. When I first tried this place, I read “pickled watermelon” in the Pulled Pork, and I was scared because I’ve never heard of that before. But it was such a great, creative sandwich. I still hold great memories of lunch dates here.
Bette’s Oceanview Diner
This diner is extremely popular with the Berkeley yuppies. Although I was disappointed by their meatloaf sandwich, I was very impressed by their omelets, which were creamy and delicate, and full of flavor. A great breakfast place.
Le Mediterranee – Great interior and great food. I’ve been back several times since my first visit. They serve amazing Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food that is definitely a treat for a great weekend. Reasonably priced, I really like the Phyllo Dough Combo plate.