A night-owl nest since the 1970s, Au Coquelet features a cafe out front and a real restaurant out back that serves delicious full meals until 1:30 a.m. — a godsend in a town that otherwise pretty much hits the hay at 10 p.m. Skylights, soaring ceiling, sound-sucking wall-to-wall carpet, and DIY Christmas-bulb chandeliers facilitate the effect of dining in some warm foreign courtyard, but a diverse menu makes the location of that courtyard up for debate. Lasagna and thick-crusted pizza say it's Italy; quesadillas and burritos and two-bean chili say it's Mexico. A rich, soft-crusted quiche says it's France. Reuben sandwiches say it's Anywhereville, USA. Grilled-eggplant sandwiches sporting mushrooms, peppers, and tomatoes say it's Berkeley — as does the clientele, which ranges from local cops to pontificating activists wearing Abu Ghraib-silhouette T-shirts to UC Berkeley students in various states of wakefulness. Want dessert? The cafe serves liqueur cocktails and pastries, including what might be the East Bay's best brownies.
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