these days i occasionally play at restaurant reviewer and have to endure lovely solicitous folk taking exceptional good care of me while i dine on mighty fine food. in contrast, in the bright light of day, i can be found bustering around town nosing out very cheap lunches to nosh on. i have accumulated a few scrummy favorites.
Fournée Bakery • 2912 Domingo Avenue • open daily
Ham & Manchego Croissant
the very best croissants in town with plentiful sweet and savory choices. ham is sourced from niman ranch. i always bring an apple and sometimes some greenery to stuff inside my croissant sandwich. the perfect reward for having climbed to the top of berkeley for a two-mile run around the neighboring track. sun basking also available in their courtyard.
Arizmendi Bakery & Pizzeria • 4301 San Pablo Avenue • open daily
toppings vary (goat cheese, spinach, roasted peppers, etc.) but always a tasteful combination and supported by the oh-so satisfying fresh organic sourdough crust. your pizza will comfort and restore while you recover from the long bicycle ride through bleak neighborhoods. or you could choose arizmendi’s sister location in north berkeley’s ‘gourmet ghetto’.
The Cheese Board Collective • 1504 Shattuck Avenue • open monday thru saturday
Seeded Roll with cheese
some of our favorite lunch spots have been around since we were kids. the cheese board has been in business since 1971. even without plans to spend your afternoon frolicking with swiss goats, a fresh baked hearty bread with a slab of (your choice) cheese will fill you up and lift your spirits. perhaps the two small boys milling about your knees discussing fine cheeses experiences and favorites will help you choose between a drunken goat and a soft teleme. did you bring an apple?
Juice Bar Collective • 2114 Vine Street • open monday thru saturday
around the corner, we have another open since the seventies collective in its same teeny-tiny space emitting big bold aroma. prices have climbed here, like everywhere, but their polenta pizza, with parmesan & garlic mixed into the crust and topped with house-made marinara sauce, cheeses & veggies, is an affordable good choice. just the right amount of whole olives too.
Top Dog • 2534 Durant Avenue • open daily
since 1966, this no-preservatives pork/veal bockwurst has been my go-to comfort food. more recently i have been importing my own raw cultured caraway sauerkraut to crowd dainty dog on toasted bun. durant is the original site, with nearby fountains on campus to sit at while you picnic, but top dog on center street downtown is another option. parklet coming soon.
Koja Kitchen • 2395 Telegraph Avenue • open daily
while you are on the avenue, and since you were thrifty and saved your pennies, i recommend this korean & japanese fusion fare. korean barbecued chicken on a crispy garlic rice bun with pineapple, sesame vinaigrette, lettuce, red sauce, and sesame seeds. also fun to follow their food trucks around and in & out of town.
Elmwood Cafe • 2900 College Avenue • open daily
Soup of the Day
not just a lovely coffee served in latte bowls and fresh baked goodies destination. the elmwood cafe has an extensive and wholesome breakfast and/or lunch menu. i found the cup of soup met my budget. mushroom barley soup served with acme baguette. i could have asked for butter but i ate it up too quick.
Sweet Adeline Bakeshop • 3350 Adeline Street • open daily
the second choice of quiche will vary from day to day but ham & swiss spinach is always on the menu. and there is nothing wrong with that.