These five great spots have debuted in Berkeley just as school has let out, which means they need your patronage now more than ever.
2050 University Avenue
A proper BBQ hall serving up smoked meats and a staggering selection of craft beer is just what University Avenue needed, and Perdition has created a bright and inviting spot. If you’re intimidated to order a whole pound of meat, you can order just shy of a pound and try a few different items within one Phineas Gage, a sandwich made with a heap of juicy chopped brisket and killer hot links stuffed with roasted serrano chiles, plus a tangle of slaw and pickles. It’s impossible to eat without a fork, but your efforts will be rewarded. (See photo above)
2370 Shattuck Avenue
This Cajun-tinged cafe has quickly become one of the better seafood-by-the-pound spots on either side of the Bay for crab, shrimp, and crawfish. And while you’re still eating with paper on the table, the offerings are slightly more luxe than average. This includes the choice of escargot butter as a sauce as well as three types of crab (Dungeness, King, and snow, the latter two tasting impossibly fresh for not being anywhere near local).
2328 Bowditch Street
The quick service and low priced options near campus remain fairly dreary, but this new handmade Chinese dumpling spot offers great value and a solid product; prices average $6 for a dozen dumplings. We tried a proper batch of the Shanghai soup vareity that contained a righteous amount of “soup” and a pleasingly thick yet pliable wrapper. The name Dumpling Express is a bit of a misnomer, for you will wait at least 10 minutes as your selection is steamed to order, but the time goes by quickly if you get lost in watching the methodical process of the little packets being made right there.
3105 Shattuck Avenue
Dilsa Lugo, last seen cooking and creating recipes and a garden program at the lovely Copita in Sausalito, has opened up her own spot for her five-year-old Los Cilantros inside the La Peña Cultural Center. She’s done so with the help of La Cocina, the Mission-based business incubator that helps take minority women owned food businesses to the next level. It’s open for breakfast and lunch with a menu that includes tamales, tacos, tortas, and hand-made tortillas.
1280 Gilman Street
Gilman Street’s long awaited biergarten wisely arrived just in time for a full schedule of World Cup viewing parties. It’s all made even more thematic with the help of the onsite Brazil Cafe serving up salads, sandwiches, and rice bowls optionally spiked with veggies or proteins like linguiça sausage and carnitas.
Amazing Crab, Dumpling Express, and Perdition Smokehouse photos by Tamara Palmer, others by the establishments.
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