Sometimes you want a Louisiana link that sends your tongue on a one-way trip to New Orleans, or a decent kosher frank. That is what the owner wanted when he opened up this small stand: a taste of New York's famous ethnic sausages from its German, Italian and Polish neighborhoods. And they ship bulk orders around the world, too! Not surprisingly, this joint is a hit with local students grabbing a quick bite between classes or a satisfying break during a late-night study session. Place your order at the front and hang out while waiting for your link. Lemon Chicken, Kielbasa and the turkey "Bird Dog" are among the several appetizing selections.
Welcome to a cafe that is synonymous with Berkeley itself. Located directly across the street from the University, and open late, this is the perfect place to study, relax, rev up or just congregate. There is a large front patio outside, making this the perfect spot for sipping delicious coffee drinks al fresco. There is no telling how many famous novels, poems and quantum mechanic theories have been formulated, hammered out and perfected right here. Find a strong and inexpensive assortment of coffee and espresso drinks. There are pastries, including muffins, scones, croissants and the ubiquitous macaroons.
El Farolito is one of the Mission's most beloved dive taquerias. The lighting is alright, the decor is bargain-basement, but the burritos are huge and the filling is a delicious, slow-cooked Carne Asada, tender chicken, spicy pork, or veggies and guacamole. You will also find tacos and enchiladas. It is a popular place with locals and people looking for a quick meal, especially late at night when most other spots have closed down. The service is quick and efficient. Only cash accepted.
Shan Dong Restaurant located in Oakland's Chinatown specializes in Mandarin cuisine. Especially popular are the fresh, homemade dumplings, pancakes and rolls, as well as their tasty hand-made noodle dishes. The decor, however, is minimal and showcases the traditional Chinese culture. Try the special Shan Dong dumplings or the always delicious sesame noodles. Shan Dong also offers an extremely affordable lunch special, all lunch entrees served with rice. If you live nearby, they offer free delivery for dinner within one and a half miles.
Already an institution in the East Bay, Bakesale Betty has local families, hipsters, and sweet teeth forming a line out the door for delicious baked goods. Everything tastes great, but the words you'll hear coming from the lips of everybody waiting are "fried chicken sandwich." The unbelievably filling sandwich is piled high with delicious fried chicken covered with a faintly spicy, not at all soggy jalapeno coleslaw. Other favorites are the carrot cake cupcakes, the strawberry shortcake, and the bake-at-home chicken pot pies. The staff, including Betty, the eponymous owner (you can spot her by the blue wig), are all friendly and more than willing to make recommendations to newcomers. Don't let a long line put you off- they usually move fast, and people waiting to order get free cookies and lemonade. No seating inside can be a problem, but outside are stools and ironing boards serving as makeshift tables. Stop by and see what all the fuss is about.
Tacos Mi Rancho is a popular late night spot to enjoy a delicious burrito or tasty tacos. This food truck is perfect for a snack after going to the nearby bars. However, don't forget that they're open for lunch too and their massive burritos and cheap prices are perfect at any time.
This Inner Sunset neighborhood co-op, affiliated with Berkeley's Cheese Board, just may ruin you for any other bakery. They bake a wide range of breads, with a whole list of specials every day. They turn out specialty scones and muffins all baked with tender loving care. Kids love the crispy and cheesy bread sticks. If it's more than just a snack you're looking for, join the throngs filing in from the far reaches of the city for a slice or four of Arizmendi's famous pizza. They top each one with a different combination of the freshest of locally raised veggies and the creamiest of specialty cheeses every day. Have a good meal!
With a cult like following and lines wrapping around the block, Bi-Rite is a San Francisco staple. Offering a wide range of flavors, the Bi-Rite Creamery and Bake shop's menu uses only organic and local goods. Along with the staples like chocolate, vanilla and mint chip, Bi-Rite offers an eclectic mix of seasonal scoops like honey lavender, salted caramel, and tangerine. Whether seated at the wooden bar inside the tiny shop or lounging below the palm trees outside, this is a great place to taste a variety of sweets.
The first of these gourmet bakeries in the Bay Area (they now have stores in San Francisco and Emeryville), Arizmendi bakes up amazing fresh breads and gourmet pizzas daily. Some baked goods are regulars, while others change daily, like Irish Soda Bread and fig-Fennel Sourdough. The huge draw here, besides the urge to overstuff your breadbox are the fresh, specialty pizzas which change daily. Whether its a more basic version like Tomato Sauce, Olives and Rosemary, or slightly more daring and unusual, like Pasilla Peppers, Red Onions, Zucchini and Cilantro Pesto, the pizza will please any palate. Pizzas can be bought by the slice, half-pizza, or a whole and can be heated up there for immediate consumption, or half baked for you to finish yourself when you get home.