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#21 kandeya

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 12:43 AM

I'm (hopefully!) attending Berkeley for an M.A/Ph.D in South and Southeast Asian Studies. Just waiting on the results of the FLAS fellowships to come out so I know whether I have any funding or not (eek). I'm excited to be going to Berkeley! It seemed like an incredibly friendly and interesting place when I visited, and I think it'll be a fantastic place to be in for the next few years. My initial impressions were that Berkeley's an expensive place to live--is this true? I'm not talking so much about rent (perusing craigslist has convinced me that if one's willing to live with people, rent's not too destructive), but about cost of living--food and transport and such. Any insights? And do people often go to San Francisco? Having gone to Chicago for my undergrad, I really enjoyed having the city to explore when I wasn't sunk in the library.
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#22 Jae B.

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 09:58 PM

I'm (hopefully!) attending Berkeley for an M.A/Ph.D in South and Southeast Asian Studies. Just waiting on the results of the FLAS fellowships to come out so I know whether I have any funding or not (eek). I'm excited to be going to Berkeley! It seemed like an incredibly friendly and interesting place when I visited, and I think it'll be a fantastic place to be in for the next few years. My initial impressions were that Berkeley's an expensive place to live--is this true? I'm not talking so much about rent (perusing craigslist has convinced me that if one's willing to live with people, rent's not too destructive), but about cost of living--food and transport and such. Any insights? And do people often go to San Francisco? Having gone to Chicago for my undergrad, I really enjoyed having the city to explore when I wasn't sunk in the library.


Berkeley is an expensive place to live, but that's true of the Bay Area in general. The sales tax in Berkeley is pretty high, but that's what makes certain parts of Berkeley so nice....

Don't worry about finding cheap eats -- there are plenty of options near campus. And there's Trader Joe's for groceries, which is popular, or you could go to El Cerrito's market places.

With your AC Transit bus pass, a sticker that goes on your student ID, you'll be able to ride nearly all AC Transit buses for free. This has equaled major savings for me, because the bus system here is quite good -- it's easy to get most places. (Unfortunately, Berkeley does not get you any kind of BART discount.)

Yes, we go to San Francisco. I go every day now. The F bus (I still giggle at the name) goes there, so you can ride that free if you're not in a hurry and don't mind some extra walking. I usually opt for BART to go to SF, because it saves so much time. Whenever I go to Japantown, one of my favorite hang-outs, I recognize other Berkeley (undergrad) students there. So people get around!
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#23 kandeya

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 03:37 AM

The F bus (I still giggle at the name) goes there, so you can ride that free if you're not in a hurry and don't mind some extra walking.


I laughed out loud when I read that. Yay for (admittedly juvenile) senses of humor! :D

And thanks for all your super-helpful information! I saw in your signature that you've been admitted to Berkeley too. Are you going to attend?
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#24 Jae B.

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 04:10 AM

I laughed out loud when I read that. Yay for (admittedly juvenile) senses of humor! :D

And thanks for all your super-helpful information! I saw in your signature that you've been admitted to Berkeley too. Are you going to attend?


You're welcome! I'm an SF Bay Area native, but from the North Bay, not the East Bay where Berkeley is. So I've had to get acclimated to the area, too. Over my past two years of undergrad at Cal, Berkeley quickly became one of my favorite cities.

I'm probably going to attend Berkeley. I love their Journalism school, know I'd be happy there, feel completely welcomed, and they offered me impressive funding for a master's program. During my time as an undergrad, I have always been enamored with Berkeley's J-school. When I was in community college -- considering transferring to Cal -- people told me, no no, don't go there for undergrad if you're interested in graduate school there -- they won't admit their own! But I was stubborn and went anyway. I'm so glad I did! Go Bears!
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#25 appliqed

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 07:15 AM

I like the North side, it's pretty. But everything seems more expensive over there. I've also found it to be snobbier, rather boring (I prefer a city-vibe, but I guess that's just, ahem, a "supposed 'cool factor'"), and I dislike the food and coffee spots (coffee being my vice), which means I end up meeting up with people on campus -- and I like to get off-campus as much as possible.

In my opinion, as someone who doesn't party or drink, and eats healthy vegetarian food, I've found plenty of quiet, safe, cheap places on the South side, and can't start ruling it out because of the bad rap it gets.

But does anyone have good off-campus meet-up suggestions on the North side?


As long as it is not near the South-East side (where the dorms are), and that you don't go further down towards the borderline of Oakland, the area near the end of the strip malls on Telegraph (near the Andronico's on telegraph, like Parker street) the housing is pretty decent and quiet. I lived on Parker for two years and while it was a bit of walk to the campus, as a Berkeley student you walk at least 10 blocks a day anyway, I had good times there.

By the North side meaning near the North Gate? I didn't spend much time there as all my courses were taken place at Dwinelle, Wheeler, etc. I used to walk a lot to North Berkeley though. As for the meeting spot, is Berkeley Espresso on Shattuck & Hearst too far? :)

Class of 2008 Film Studies major here, Go Bears! XD
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#26 kandeya

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 02:59 PM

Speaking of the Bears, how big is the football culture? I definitely plan on going to a game or two, but I just wanted to know if it had a larger presence in the campus culture as a whole. Granted the grad students I met from my department laughed off my desire to take in a football game, so maybe it doesn't really affect things. My only points of reference are the teams in the SEC (I'm from the deep south), and Chicago (which spurns athletics as much as it can), so my take on things might be slightly warped.
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#27 RunnINcircles

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 06:28 PM

Speaking of the Bears, how big is the football culture? I definitely plan on going to a game or two, but I just wanted to know if it had a larger presence in the campus culture as a whole. Granted the grad students I met from my department laughed off my desire to take in a football game, so maybe it doesn't really affect things. My only points of reference are the teams in the SEC (I'm from the deep south), and Chicago (which spurns athletics as much as it can), so my take on things might be slightly warped.


haha I'm totally with you on the sports thing- I'm from Chicago as well so I asked about the sporting teams too... aaand got the same response. So I second your question!!
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#28 Jae B.

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 09:27 PM

By the North side meaning near the North Gate? I didn't spend much time there as all my courses were taken place at Dwinelle, Wheeler, etc. I used to walk a lot to North Berkeley though. As for the meeting spot, is Berkeley Espresso on Shattuck & Hearst too far? :)


Definitely know what you mean about walking! And somehow it always seems to be 75% uphill and 25% flat or downhill....

I haven't spent but a little time at North Gate, too, but that's going to change. Shattuck & Hearst is great! Thanks for the suggestion.

Speaking of the Bears, how big is the football culture? I definitely plan on going to a game or two, but I just wanted to know if it had a larger presence in the campus culture as a whole. Granted the grad students I met from my department laughed off my desire to take in a football game, so maybe it doesn't really affect things. My only points of reference are the teams in the SEC (I'm from the deep south), and Chicago (which spurns athletics as much as it can), so my take on things might be slightly warped.


I've never been to a game myself, but I got invited a lot, if that's any indication. There were all sorts of popular football parties and meet-ups on "cheap-skate hill" to watch games, from what I heard. I followed basketball more than football, however I gauge from that that we have a healthy -- but not entirely pervasive -- sports culture in general.
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#29 kandeya

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 12:47 AM

I've never been to a game myself, but I got invited a lot, if that's any indication. There were all sorts of popular football parties and meet-ups on "cheap-skate hill" to watch games, from what I heard. I followed basketball more than football, however I gauge from that that we have a healthy -- but not entirely pervasive -- sports culture in general.


That sounds excellent--it's definitely a change from my undergrad, but in a good way. I'm glad I'm going to Berkeley! :D
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#30 Slorg

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Posted 23 April 2010 - 01:29 AM

Where and with who is everyone planning to live? E.g., graduate housing, off-campus with people you know, off-campus with strangers? It seems to me that graduate housing might be a better way to make friends new students, but it also seems more expensive. :(
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#31 Jae B.

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Posted 23 April 2010 - 06:56 PM

Where and with who is everyone planning to live? E.g., graduate housing, off-campus with people you know, off-campus with strangers? It seems to me that graduate housing might be a better way to make friends new students, but it also seems more expensive. :(


I'm not deciding until this summer, because, being a J-Schooler, I'll get a newsroom assignment then. If my assignment is for San Francisco, I'll consider moving there to make reporting easier, but in a location that makes my commute to class as simple as possible. I've heard some other journalism students do this as well, so maybe it wouldn't be lonely out there.

Otherwise, I'm pretty bent on an apartment super close to campus. No in-between for me. Either I'll stick with the Telegraph Ave. edge of campus and get a little exercise walking across campus for class, or I'll be lazier and move as close to North Gate as possible. :P

In terms of Berkeley, I really haven't considered graduate housing. I like the idea of being close to campus so it's easy for me to work on my friendships there, but keep my home-life fairly separated from my social life at the same time. That said, considering Columbia, my other potential school, I have been very interested in a nearby graduate student International House. Anyone interested in Berkeley's I-House?
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#32 kandeya

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 02:03 AM

I'm not deciding until this summer, because, being a J-Schooler, I'll get a newsroom assignment then. If my assignment is for San Francisco, I'll consider moving there to make reporting easier, but in a location that makes my commute to class as simple as possible. I've heard some other journalism students do this as well, so maybe it wouldn't be lonely out there.

Otherwise, I'm pretty bent on an apartment super close to campus. No in-between for me. Either I'll stick with the Telegraph Ave. edge of campus and get a little exercise walking across campus for class, or I'll be lazier and move as close to North Gate as possible. :P

In terms of Berkeley, I really haven't considered graduate housing. I like the idea of being close to campus so it's easy for me to work on my friendships there, but keep my home-life fairly separated from my social life at the same time. That said, considering Columbia, my other potential school, I have been very interested in a nearby graduate student International House. Anyone interested in Berkeley's I-House?


I would've liked to live on campus, but it just looks really pricey compared to the stuff you find off-campus, and I anticipate being supremely broke most of my time in grad school. that being said, I-house looked like a really pretty building, I would've liked to live there! I'll probably end up house-sharing with a bunch of strangers, which could go either way, but I figure as long as there's a door between me and any potential crazies, I'll be okay. I'm not sure where I want to live though, I haven't really researched neighborhoods that much...>_<. I figure I should wait to hear final word on funding before making any moves.
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#33 Jae B.

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 04:11 AM

I would've liked to live on campus, but it just looks really pricey compared to the stuff you find off-campus, and I anticipate being supremely broke most of my time in grad school. that being said, I-house looked like a really pretty building, I would've liked to live there! I'll probably end up house-sharing with a bunch of strangers, which could go either way, but I figure as long as there's a door between me and any potential crazies, I'll be okay. I'm not sure where I want to live though, I haven't really researched neighborhoods that much...>_<. I figure I should wait to hear final word on funding before making any moves.


Hmm...I know I-House has some scholarships, though! http://ihouse.berkeley.edu/l/aid.html

I know what you mean -- I've always cringed at the on-campus costs. And, other than I-House, I'm also extremely underwhelmed by the on-campus options for grad students. I'd rather live in a co-op, except I don't think they'd like my cooking. :P

I also expect to be extremely broke no matter what I do. But it's so worth it. After looking at other universities, Berkeley is such a deal. I can't help but feel good about it.

You haven't heard the last about your funding yet? :( I couldn't relax until they told me. I hope you get good news!
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#34 appliqed

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 04:27 PM

I also expect to be extremely broke no matter what I do. But it's so worth it. After looking at other universities, Berkeley is such a deal. I can't help but feel good about it.


Any Bear knows that there is no place like Berkeley. I got accepted three out of four and whenever I did a campus tour, despite that Berkeley doesn't even offer a degree in my field, I kept comparing schools to Berkeley! Argh!

Good luck for your funding! I'm on the same boat. Might choose a more expensive program over another because I don't feel like I'm ready to commit to a life of researcher yet :(
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#35 kandeya

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Posted 26 April 2010 - 05:14 AM

Any Bear knows that there is no place like Berkeley. I got accepted three out of four and whenever I did a campus tour, despite that Berkeley doesn't even offer a degree in my field, I kept comparing schools to Berkeley! Argh!


I'm super pumped to see that people love Berkeley so much. :D yay!

in the interests of hunting out places to eat (and because I'm watching iron chef right now and getting kinda hungry...) I wanted to throw this question out to current/former Berkeley-ites. What are your favorite places to eat out in Berkeley? and are there any good places for late night eating and studying, like some late night cafes or diners?
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#36 Jae B.

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Posted 26 April 2010 - 06:51 AM

in the interests of hunting out places to eat (and because I'm watching iron chef right now and getting kinda hungry...) I wanted to throw this question out to current/former Berkeley-ites. What are your favorite places to eat out in Berkeley? and are there any good places for late night eating and studying, like some late night cafes or diners?


I'm a vegetarian, so I can't tell you where good meat dishes are. :unsure: And I don't eat out late. But (lol)...

I like Café Durant a lot for Mexican. Some people complain it's not authentic enough, but some of the veggie, bean and egg dishes are really good. Also, it's the only place I've found in Berkeley to get Mexican hot chocolate. They keep funny hours sometimes, but stopping by is definitely worth it.

Smart Alec's is a popular place and easy to get to on Telegraph & Durant. I think they'll give you free fries with your burger if you bring in an A paper. (I never remember to!) I love their salads. Bongo Burger is probably better for burgers, though -- delicious food there.

Expresso Experience on Bancroft is really nice, and I love their sandwiches. (They charge a small fee for credit / debit cards, though.) All-Star Café on Shattuck is nice, and has an awesome selection of muffins. Nowadays I'm pretty lazy and get my coffee on campus at Peet's, sometimes the new Tully's.

I'm not sure, but the Free Speech Café in Moffitt Library stays open pretty late -- maybe all night during finals. (Someone else know for sure?) It's close to Gardner Main Stacks, which is my favorite on-campus place to study when it's not too busy.

Café Panini is great for -- guess -- paninis! And it's kind of hidden away near Shattuck. But they close really early.

There's a crepe place near Sproul on Telegraph that also has nice paninis. (I've never had a crepe there -- I always worry about being messy with those and use too many napkins....)

If you like nuts as toppings, Pie in the Sky on Center is a good place for pizza. Don't make any strict dates there, though; sometimes they're randomly closed. A bit of a bus ride from campus, Zachery's gets some buzz for their pizza, but I personally don't care for it.

I've been to a lot of nice places in the Asian Ghetto, but I'm really bad at remembering names. :( There's a great Italian place on the corner there, though, and an excellent Korean place.

Now for the sweet stuff. There's a bubble tea / Double Rainbow ice cream shop on Bancroft that's my favorite for tea between classes! (They don't take credit or debit cards, though.) There's also Tapioca Express on Shattuck (which also has warm snacks like onion rings), but they are really, really slow for some reason, and the place is usually crowded with high school students.

Nation's is popular for pie. I loved it the one time I went, but it seemed so unhealthy and filling I haven't dared to go back!

Yogurt Park is my favorite frozen yogurt place. The new self-serve places are popular, but...I don't necessarily trust the cleanliness of those machines. -_- My worries could be completely unwarranted, but, ya know....

Finally, the $1 scoop ice cream place on Shattuck is a great deal, compared to the prices at other nearby ice cream places. I've been to Ben & Jerry's a few times (Chunky Monkey...) but that's for special occasions!

Oh, and in the food court of the MLK building, the café there sells lovely simple fresh cookies baked by one employee's mom. I hope they stay on through the renovations!

...I love food. :P

/ longest food post ever.

Edited by Jae B., 26 April 2010 - 07:08 AM.

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#37 appliqed

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Posted 26 April 2010 - 11:29 AM

Jae B, I am thoroughly disappointed at you for not mentioning Arinell Pizza on Shattuck & Addison!!! Hahaha. I see she primary mentioned eateries near the campus. I will add a few notable ones in the general area of Berkeley/Oakland/North Berkeley. And...please keep in mind that I had a rather spoiled foodie life in Berkeley...those are not the cheapest places.

I will start with the Berkeley Bart Station area:

1. Arinell Pizza on Shattuck & Addison: it is a NY style thin crust pizza. My ex, a hardcore New Yorker, approved of this place, so it should mean something :)

2. Jupiter on Shattuck & Allston: this is a regular joint for Berkeley students. Serves pizza and live music.

3. Gelato Naia has two locations in Berkeley. One is in the student center, the other one is on Shattuck & Addison. They give you a free gelato on your birthday (also the Bear's Lair in the campus).

4. Taiwan Restaurant on University & Shattuck is a preferred dining place for student clubs.

5. However, it is Great China on Fulton & Kittridge that serves a great Peking Duck at a reasonable price. They have an excellent Double Skin as well.

6. Next to Great China is a wrap place. Their chicken plate is amazing. It is an organic place, not a cheap place, but they serve good wraps.

7. Craving for vietnamese? Pho Hoa on Shattuck & Bancroft is the place to go. Cheap pho and the best broth amongst many Vietnamese places in Berkeley.

8. Across the street from Pho Hoa is Angeline's Kitchen which serves decent Louisiana food. I like their shrimp po boy, but I am not a southerner to judge!

9. At Durant and Shattuck lies Venus, a somewhat expensive brunch place. I have to mention this because they have my favourite biscuits. Their menu is all organic, vegan/vegetarian friendly.

10. Past Durant & Shattuck is La Note. It's the best French cafe in the area. Amazing brunch but it is on the pricy scale. I personally recommend their Ratatouille. Expect a 30m waiting during the weekends.

Now moving to the West Side,

11. Au Coquelet Cafe on University & Milvia. It's one of a few places that opens until 1-1:30am. An excellent spot for studying as it has a large cafe/dining area. Easy to spot students studying here.

12. Chaat Cafe on Martin Luther King & University. I loved their wrap with Indian fried cheese. Great Biryanis here.

13. Cafe Venezia on University & Grant: it is a rather expensive Italian place, but I had a great rabbit pasta there...maybe for a special occasion?

Alright, moving onto North Berkeley Gourmet Ghetto. Going to skip through the streets on this area since it's quite far from the campus.

14. Cheese Board: along with Zachary's in Oakland (and North Berkeley, which is further north than Gourmet Ghetto), this is THE pizza place in Berkeley. Also sells breads and Italian cheese/cold cuts.

15. Cafe Gratitude: I never ate at this place. Don't know if the food is good, but it is an organic vegetarian/vegan restaurant. In case, you are.

16. Thai Delight Cuisine: as a Thai restaurant, this is on a pricy scale. But they use the freshest seafood.

17. Gregoire on Shattuck and Cedar: it is an French sandwich joint. Only two seatings available, so you will want to take out. Their potato puff is fantastic! (not cheap, though).

18. Lococo's Restaurant & Pizzaria: it is also a somewhat pricy (but not three star pricy) Italian place in North Berkeley. Handmade pasta, and they also bake their own bread which is worth trying at once at least. Excellent pasta, which my half Italian ex called "just as like the way his mum made it."

[and of course, I must mention Chez Panisse, the birth place of California Cuisine...extremely expensive ($60-80 per person), Clinton dined here. However, it is relatively doable during the lunch, if you want the experience. A small but filling portion of a modern-styled, delectable pasta was my lunch experience.]

Ok, now all the way back to the South side.

19. I can't recall the name, but next to Moe's bookstore is a bakery where you can buy fresh croissants. Not so buttery, highly recommended.

20. Cafe Racha is a cheap thai place on Telegraph & Blake. Good egg rolls.

21. Tandori Kitchen on Telegraph and Parker. This is a cheap, and excellent Indian place. Also opens quite late.

22. The Drunken Boat on Telegraph and Charleton: it is a French cafe that turns into a more pricy restaurant in the evening. Serves an impressive hot chocolate with handwhipped cream. Excellent breakfast menu as well.

Our final destination to College Ave in Elmwood area near Oakland-

23. Tratoria La Sicilliana on College and Webster: Best Southern Italian restaurant in the area. Extremely crowded, expect a long wait.

24. La Mediterranean on College and Ashby: excellent, excellent Mediterranean food here. Next to it is a pet shop :)

25. Accross La Mediterranean is Beanery, an independent coffee house. Many seatings in the backside area. Lots of students study here.

26. Also, Cafe Roma on College and Ashby. A much larger space, crowded with students.

Well...as you can clearly tell, I spent more time, money, energy in eating than studying while I was at Berkeley. It is a wonder I didn't change my major to J school and became an apprentice under Micheal Pollan. And I haven't even started on SF eateries! Sigh...and now I am hungry too!

Edited by appliqed, 26 April 2010 - 11:40 AM.

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#38 appliqed

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Posted 26 April 2010 - 11:32 AM

Oh, and I almost forgot: FSM (Free Speech Movement) Cafe is generally open until 10pm. The libraries (Moffit and the connected underground Doe main library) are open until 2am. During the final week when the library opens for 24 hours, the FSM also opens for 24 hours to accommodate the students' need. It should be the same...can't imagine the budget cut affecting the school in such a lame way.
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#39 kandeya

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Posted 26 April 2010 - 10:51 PM

Wow! Thanks, Jae B. and appliqed! Now I'm a wee bit worried I'll end up eating my stipend away in all those places, hahahaha. I'm sure it'll be worth it, though. :D nothing better than a happily full stomach.

(and Jae B., no food post is too long, in my opinion.:P)
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#40 Jae B.

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 01:30 AM

Jae B, I am thoroughly disappointed at you for not mentioning Arinell Pizza on Shattuck & Addison!!! Hahaha. I see she primary mentioned eateries near the campus. I will add a few notable ones in the general area of Berkeley/Oakland/North Berkeley. And...please keep in mind that I had a rather spoiled foodie life in Berkeley...those are not the cheapest places.


I don't think I've been to Arinell. :P But I forgot to mention Bobby G's Pizzeria on University! I love that place.

I second Pho Hoa (although pho is another messy food I'd rather eat in private) and Tandori Kitchen. And I've accidentally overspent at Gelato Naia a couple times, ha. The sesame flavor is nuts!

My class schedule is so overloaded, I generally stay close to campus for eating. The furthest I've gone during the day is Zachery's, and it wasn't worth it, IMO. But all my other non-walking-distance favorites are in Marin County (especially coffee shops) and a few in SF (like On The Bridge restaurant in Japantown, and Sushi Rock near Chinatown and the Financial District). Although I usually just wander around in SF, forever, trying to decide where to eat...there are too many places!

My thing is, someday, for some special occasion, somebody -- I don't care who -- has got to take me to eat at Neiman Marcus's Rotunda Restaurant in SF, because I once wrote a massive research paper on that rotunda. If I'd written a little more from the notes I had, it could have been my thesis. I should get to eat under that dome! But the restaurant seems expensive. The most I've gotten from Neiman Marcus is chocolate chip cookies from their café. -_-

Hmm, Oakland. I don't even remember where I ate when I worked there, except I went to Fat Cat Café near the 19th St. BART a lot. There was a really good pizza place on the edge of the downtown plaza -- next to a nice crepe place -- and that was about all I could afford in that ritzy spot! I did go to a yummy place by Oakland's Chinatown, though, called Golden Lotus Vegetarian, I think.

My budget is almost too tight for eating out -- I thought my list would be short -- but apparently I make it work. ;)

Oh, and I almost forgot: FSM (Free Speech Movement) Cafe is generally open until 10pm. The libraries (Moffit and the connected underground Doe main library) are open until 2am. During the final week when the library opens for 24 hours, the FSM also opens for 24 hours to accommodate the students' need. It should be the same...can't imagine the budget cut affecting the school in such a lame way.


Thanks! Haha, yeah, the administration started to cut the hours last semester. But thank goodness some nice couple donated to Moffitt to keep it open! Yay for them.

Edited by Jae B., 27 April 2010 - 01:41 AM.

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