Chez Panisse is a bucket-list restaurant that everyone should go to once, but for return trips, our first choice is Chez Panisse Cafe. This place is upstairs from the mothership restaurant and unlike downstairs, it’s much easier to get a reservation at because it hasn’t reached near-mythic status (yet). Also unlike downstairs, the menu up here is a la carte, so you’re not stuck with whatever they’re serving on the tasting menu with no other options. The food is as close to perfect as you can get with things like pizzas with salt cod mousse, incredible lamb, and chocolate cake that we want at our birthday parties for the rest of our lives. And that’s an option too because it’s much more affordable up here and absolutely worth crossing the bay for if you live in SF.
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Thai Basil is famous among Berkeley students as a perfect spot for late-night eats, but their pad thai is great any time of day.
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Comal Next Door in Berkeley is a casual counter service spot with things like tacos and burritos done to perfection.
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You’re going to wait in line at the Shake Shack in Cow Hollow, but at least there are awesome burgers and ice cream at the end of it.
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Roam Artisan Burgers is where you should go in Cow Hollow when “I’m not really hungry” turns to “I could really use a burger.”
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Rich Table is a restaurant in Hayes Valley that, no matter how many times you go, will always surprise you in the best way possible.
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