Chez Panisse is a bucket-list restaurant that everyone should go to once, but for return trips, our first choice is Chez Panisse Cafe. This place is upstairs from the mothership restaurant and unlike downstairs, it’s much easier to get a reservation at because it hasn’t reached near-mythic status (yet). Also unlike downstairs, the menu up here is a la carte, so you’re not stuck with whatever they’re serving on the tasting menu with no other options. The food is as close to perfect as you can get with things like pizzas with salt cod mousse, incredible lamb, and chocolate cake that we want at our birthday parties for the rest of our lives. And that’s an option too because it’s much more affordable up here and absolutely worth crossing the bay for if you live in SF.
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Pho K & K
Pho K & K in Berkeley is your go-to for a hangover curing Vietnamese brunch or an affordable, casual dinner.
Ippuku is a small, casual yakitori spot in Berkeley that might leave you smelling like smoke for days, but the food is worth it.
Berkeley’s Top Dog is an institution: an anarchist hole-in-the-wall that serves incredible hot dogs late into the night.
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Chubby Noodle’s North Beach location is a great place for a group dinner or bottomless dim sum brunch.
State Bird Provisions
You’ll want to book a table in advance for the dim sum-style small plates at State Bird Provisions in the Fillmore.
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Rich Table is a restaurant in Hayes Valley that, no matter how many times you go, will always surprise you in the best way possible.
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