Berkeley Food Adventures: I Woke Up For This

I’d like to dedicate the first part of my multi-part restaurant review list to my partner because he has supported my food-devouring endeavors by waking up at ungodly hours of the morning to join me in my gluttony, and provided the delectable featured image.


This list began as an ultimate culmination – as in, I had originally included every single restaurant that I had frequented over the past three years at Berkeley. When it became clear that the post would be over 3,000 words long, I decided that the madness had to end a bit sooner than that.

My solution: Part 1 of x, featuring the most important meal of the day, second breakfasts, and brunches. (The final value of x will undoubtedly be directly proportional to how wisely I have been spending my parents’ tuition money. And to think — I’ve still got one year to go.)

On the Go:

1. Noah’s New York Bagels3.5/5
You can never go wrong with bagel and cream cheese (or just bagels in general) for breakfast particularly since it’s all under $3, but the wait is killer – particularly if you’re cutting it close before class – and everything else somehow feels a bit overpriced.
Recommendation: Chocolate chip bagel with Honey Almond Shmear

2. Sheng Kee3.5/5

Photo Courtesy of John L. from Yelp
Sheng Kee pastries, Photo Courtesy of John L. from Yelp

This Asian bakery’s got you covered for most Asian pastries and some European varieties as well. Its early hours and convenient location just steps away from campus are perfect for the student looking for breakfast before squeaking into class right on Berkeley Time. The only downside is that they don’t offer a wide variety if you stop by too early.

3. Crepes a Go Go: 4/5
I can’t vouch for how French these crepes are, but to the untrained taste buds, they are undeniably delicious. I’ve yet to run into a flavor combination of theirs I don’t like, and that includes their simplest lemon and sugar crepe. Word of the wise: Don’t stop here before important school things – a few friends and I have all had upset tummy reactions after eating here before. (It was still worth it.)

Cafés:

Waffle with powdered sugar and a side of maple syrup
Waffle with powdered sugar and a side of maple syrup | Photo by Courtney Cheng

1.Mokka3.5/5
This family-owned café is a little ways down Telegraph, and will undoubtedly have a spot for you to study as well as a wide variety of sweet and savory breakfast choices. They serve you just enough food at just the right price – if you’d like to walk that far, that is.

2. Café Milano: 4/5
Though Milano is only one of the many cafes lining campus, this one stands out with its expansive seating. Overall, a great place to grab a pastry to eat and coffee to sip while studying between classes.

3. Lindgren’s Coffee and Café3/5
The numerous tables in this café make for great studying, but their menu offerings are all just a little too pricey for me. Another downside is that you’ll leave smelling like oil rather than coffee.

4. Caffe Strada4/5

Mint Matcha Latte, Photo Courtesy of Irene Kim
Mint Matcha Latte, Photo Courtesy of Irene Kim

Perhaps one of the more well-known cafes around campus, and for good reason. Their wide variety of pastries, yogurts, bagels, cakes, and drinks are consistently wonderful, but because of their popularity, its quite difficult to find a place to sit for you, never mind for a group.

5. Musical Offering: 4.5/5

Photo Courtesy of Joan K., from Yelp
Musical Offering, Photo Courtesy of Joan K. from Yelp

One of the quieter cafés around campus thanks to its faithful patrons who aren’t college students. Their breakfast plates are a bit expensive, but their pastries aren’t too unreasonable. If you enjoy listening to classical music while dining, this place will be right up your alley.

6. Royal Ground Coffee House4/5
If you like bagels, this is the place for you. Royal Ground Coffee House offers a huge variety of bagel-omelette sandwiches all day, all for reasonable prices. Just be careful not to burn yourself – these sandwiches do come out piping hot.

7. Julie’s Café3.5/5
This unique cafe has a fantastic outdoor setting, complete with numerous tables and decently priced breakfast meals – and delectable baked goods – for your study sessions. Just be sure you don’t mind smelling like oil once you leave.

8. Elmwood Café5/5

Pumpkin waffle with cinnamon, and maple syrup on the side
Pumpkin waffle with cinnamon, and maple syrup on the side from Elmwood | Photo by Courtney Cheng

Of all the cafés on this list, Elmwood is undoubtedly my favorite. Although it’s a bit far and occasionally requires regular-patron-acquired skills to avoid the lines, every bite of pastry, sip of drink, and bite of food has more than made up for its any inconveniences. While their plates may look a bit scanty, but even the most epicurean of you will leave satisfied.
Recommendation: Seasonal waffles

9. Northside Café4/5
I’ve only stopped by here once, but it was enough to make me want to stop by again. No, I’ve yet to climb all of campus just to face the inevitable indecision of choosing among a myriad of egg-based breakfast plates (including eggs Benedict), but I’m definitely considering it really carefully. (This is a hint to all you people on Northside to invite me up to visit you.)

10. The Beanery4/5
This place offers good coffee – trust me, I drank it black – and a beautiful case of unique pastries. While the seating arrangements are a little odd, I’d say the struggle is more than compensated with their boysenberry bar.

French:

1. La Note Restaurant Provençal5/5

Lemon gingerbread pancakes with poached pears, and a side of scrambled eggs.
Lemon gingerbread pancakes with poached pears, and a side of scrambled eggs | Photo by Courtney Cheng

If you’re going to wake up at 6am to go to out for breakfast, it had better be this one. La Note offers everything from bread or pastry baskets to egg-based plates, and combination plates including a little bit of everything. There is nothing on the menu that I don’t like, and if you’re like me, you’ll probably have more trouble keeping yourself from choosing your favorites each visit than pulling yourself out of bed. 
Recommendation: 
Lemon Gingerbread Pancakes with Poached Pears

2. Le Bateau Ivre4/5

Waffle served with lemon curd, fresh strawberries, and strawberry jam, all with a side of maple syrup from Le Bateau Ivre
Waffle served with lemon curd, fresh strawberries, and strawberry jam, all with a side of maple syrup from Le Bateau Ivre | Photo by Courtney Cheng

This place truly reminds me of Europe. Its setting in a repurposed house has a sweet, quiet charm to it, and all of the waiters are incredibly friendly and professional. They offer a familiar variety of breakfast plates with some unique spins – like my waffle with lemon curd – and while they’re a bit pricey for college students, the dining experience is worth it.

3. Le Petit Cochon French Café and Boutique4/5
Located on the northwest side of campus, this tiny café is also hugely reminiscent of France with its offerings of Croque Monsieur and Madame sandwiches and pastries. I can’t exactly vouch for its authentic French quality, but regardless, their food is undeniably delicious and fills you perfectly to satisfaction.

American:

1. Bleecker Bistro: 2.5/5

Chicken omelette with avocado and side of home fries and toast from Bleecker Bistro, Photo Courtesy of Nur S. from Yelp
Chicken omelette with avocado and side of home fries and toast from Bleecker Bistro, Photo Courtesy of Nur S. from Yelp

No other place can really compete with Bleecker Bistro’s low prices for a plate piled high with breakfast staples, but then, no other place can really compete with the oil fumes permeating the restaurant either. While the food comes cheap, I find their plates to be overly seasoned and overwhelming. I’ve visited this place three times and haven’t had the best time with their service either.

2. Café Durant3/5
If it hadn’t been for a friend, I never would have realized that the little hole in the wall by Asian ghetto was hiding the stairs leading up to Café Durant. They offer massive breakfast plates all day long for decent prices, but it’s nothing incredibly special, unless you’re looking for reasonably priced and reasonably located eggs Benedict.

3. Crepevine3/5

Alba Crepe from Crepevine, Photo Courtesy of Rose. L from Yelp
Alba Crepe from Crepevine, Photo Courtesy of Rose. L from Yelp

A cute place for brunch with a wide variety of food that all looks and sounds so delectable. If you couldn’t tell from the name, they offer a lot of fancy crepes for the curious epicurean. The main downsides: it’s really out of the way, and everything feels just a little overpriced to this college student.

4. The Sunny Side Café2.5/5
Maybe it’s blasphemy, but I just don’t see a lot of the appeal for The Sunny Side Cafe. The restaurant is cramped and their food combinations are all a bit too oily for my taste. Maybe it would’ve been a better experience if I hadn’t been seated at the edge of the stairwell my first – and only – time there.


Please note that these are all my personal opinions. I have a particular taste in foods that I don’t expect all of you to agree with, so please don’t get upset if I’ve just slammed your favorite breakfast spot. Besides, life would be fairly boring if we all liked the same things — and moderately hectic if we were all waiting in line at the same café before class.

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