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Updated by Spanish Food Lover on Apr 21, 2017
Headline for The 10 Best Restaurants in Berkeley, CA
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The 10 Best Restaurants in Berkeley, CA

With so many to choose from, what IS the best restaurant in Berkeley? Whether you're a native (like me) or visiting for Cal graduation, find the tastiest food in the city on this list.

1

Chez Panisse

Chez Panisse

Chez Panisse was founded by Alice Waters in 1971. It is probably the famous Berkeley restaurant, but it also comes with a price tag to match that reputation. On Fridays and Saturdays, you will pay $125 per person, not including a beverage, tax, or the 17% service charge. The Café upstairs is a more affordable option if you want to try the food on a budget.

2

César

Right next door to Chez Panisse, César serves an ever-changing menu of Spanish tapas. There are no reservations, so you have to take your chances, which means you should always have a backup plan. The wine and spirit list is constantly rotated, which makes this a fun place to come over and over... if your wallet can take it.

3

Grégoire

Grégoire

Just around the corner from Chez Panisse, you'll find one of the most popular places to pick up takeout food. With reasonable prices and runaway hits like their crispy potato puffs, Grégoire is a great spot to grab a sandwich and go. It's a small shop and in-house seating is limited, so plan to take your picnic to the park if it's busy.

4

La Marcha Tapas Bar

La Marcha Tapas Bar

As you can see from the photo gallery on their website, La Marcha Tapas Bar is definitely one of the best restaurants in Berkeley for a visual (as well as literal) feast. Have your phone ready, because you're going to want to take an Instagram before you chow down. They serve several kinds of paella, from the traditional paella valenciana to a vegetarian special with seasonal vegetables. As the name implies, they also make authentic Spanish tapas classics. They're open Tuesday-Sunday for happy hour (4-6 pm) and dinner service. There's a second happy hour from 10 pm-midnight, which is great if you want late-night eats.

5

Cheeseboard Pizza

Cheeseboard Pizza

The Cheeseboard is a favorite with locals and has enjoyed positive national press as well, for very good reason. Primarily a cheese shop and bakery, this worker-owned collective began serving pizza made out of their leftover sourdough to lucky customers after regular store hours on Friday nights in 1985. Now they serve pizza Tuesday-Saturday, 4:30-8 pm (or until they sell out, which happens regularly), but only one kind of pie per night, so check the menu before you go. Seating is very limited, so plan to carry out.

6

Vik's Chaat

Vik's Chaat

Very popular for weekend lunch, Vik's Chaat offers a huge menu of Indian food. It's a great place to go with a group, because there's something for everyone. Order at the counter and seat yourself, then collect your dishes as they're made fresh. Vik's also has a market in the front of the building, where you can find some of the cheapest prices around on bulk spices and dry goods.

7

La Note

If you're a brunch person, you must try La Note. The thick slices of pain perdu or famous lemon-gingerbread pancakes will both satiate and satisfy. You can reserve a table for breakfast Monday through Friday, but on the weekend it's first come, first served, so bring a friend who likes to chat and doesn't mind waiting in line.

8

Top Dog

Top Dog

Sometimes, you just need a hot dog. When that moment comes, head to this Berkeley fixture. Popular with city natives, UC Berkeley students, and visitors alike, Top Dog is definitely the place to go to get a brat. It may not be a sit-down, fine-dining establishment, but if you've never been there, it should be on your list of must-tries. The best way to enjoy your sausage is to head over to the UC Berkeley Campus and find a grassy spot to people-watch... if the food even makes it that far.

9

Zachary's Pizza

Zachary's Pizza

Zachary's is legendary in the Bay Area. People have been known to drive to the East Bay from San Francisco just to pick up a pie. Like Cheeseboard, they are a worker-owned company, but they make a very different style of pizza. Their deep-dish is stuffed with fresh ingredients and incredibly filling. You can also pick up a half-baked pie to take home and stick in the oven.

10

Rivoli

Rivoli

This fine dining establishment is a great place to celebrate with your partner or an intimate group. Like many Bay Area restaurants, Rivoli's menu focuses on the local and seasonal. Entrées cost between $20-40 and the extensive wine list runs from $20 all the way up to $600 a bottle.