But if you’re thinking frozen burgers and heat-lamp pizza, think again: Berkeley’s obsession with fresh eats extends all the way down to the chill lunch spots and no-frill cafeterias. A hearty meal at the following restaurants usually rings in at under $10. Monster-sized salads, gourmet coffee, ethnic delights—you can indulge in it all without breaking the bank.
A Berkeley institution, Vik’s keeps the focus on food. The paired-down industrial warehouse space doesn’t provide fancy settings or even table-side service, but the samosas, curries and chaats are some of the best around. You wouldn’t guess from the modest decor that the restaurant has won awards and accolades from food critics galore—until you dig in to the cuisine, that is.
Chez Panisse may have gotten all the fanfare, but locals know just how important the Cheese Board has been to the local food scene and culture. A worker-owned collective focused on quality, a small menu of cheese and daily pizzas (usually vegetarian) get lines snaking around the block. Be a real Berkeley-ite and enjoy the thin crusts and organic toppings on a patch of grass outside.
Even the college kids eat fresh in Berkeley. The Berkeley institution has been serving up mega-sized salads and sandwiches to long lines of hungry college kids since way before the eating fresh trend exploded. Just try and finish one of the salads…
The Bay Area rivals Seattle for coffee obsession. But here, the focus in on quality over quantity. Just ask the connoisseurs at Local 123, where individually dripped coffee and expertly pulled espresso drinks come from nothing but top-notch, sustainable sources. Snacks include sandwiches and salads made from local, organic ingredients. Ride the third-wave coffee trend.