Readers Say the Darndest Things: Restaurants and Bars

Best African Restaurant
Cafe Colucci
Delicious Ethiopian food and great service as well. — Liz Brubaker

Enssaro Ethiopian
"You're the best, around! Never ever ever gon' letchya down!" — John Felix Arnold III

That Ethiopian restaurant on Telegraph
— Mike Ortega

Best Bar
Bar Three Fifty-Five
Amazing cocktails, great ambiance, good people, no bullsh*t — zooey66

Cato's Ale House
They have excellent food (now with REAL FRIES) and great staff members, not to mention a great drink selection and cool atmosphere. The people-watching from the covered patio is great, too. And, ahem, trivia night. — David Prosper

Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge
Every drink is made like a science experiment and is designed to knock you on your ass. — Jamie DeWolf

Heinold's First and Last Chance
... Although Merchant's Saloon is a close, drunk, second ... — Rikki Thompson

Missouri Lounge
Stiff drinks, open-mic nights, outdoor patio deck for smokers with a bar, heating lamps, and tables so you can get your drink/smoke/grub on!! YEAH! — Nikki Marucut

Ruby Room
Classic. Cheap. Fun. Not too divey. Dark. Very dark. — Chris Voss

It closes too early, but they really know how to make drinks, and it's normally quiet enough that you can have a conversation. — Liz Brubaker

Best Bartender
Bald guy at Starry Plough
— Beth Binder McClendon

Keli Rivers, Hotsy Totsy Club, Albany
She's fast, friendly, knowledgeable, full of jokes, plays cool music, and sometimes even brings world-class homemade stew to the bar for the patrons. — Matthew Fubar LaPlaca

Yanni at Disco Volante
His vodka gimlet is the best this side of the bay, and this doesn't even start to scratch the surface of the Volante's vast array of drink specialties. — Dave Campbell

Best Barbecue
B Side BBQ!
Holy poop, B Side is good! And beautiful. In a neighborhood that needs some extra TLC, Tanya Holland brings it again. Go there. Now (or as soon as you're hungry). — popijininsky

Brick Pig House, Oakland
Too obscure to be hip, too delicious to go unnoticed. ruthmiller

Double D BBQ
No. Freaking. Contest. — Courtney Supple

Make it come back!! — Pamela Norton

My brother's
— Mike Ortega

Smoke Berkeley
Their smoked brisket is divine and I've heard that the pork ribs are excellent — meaty, lean, tender and full of flavor — and the tea-smoked salmon is amazing. They have a wide variety of sides — the cornbread is fabulous, the blue cheese salad dressing is scrumptious and they can barely keep up with the demand for their zucchini pancakes — and frequently have surprise desserts (the pecan pie is to die for) and cookies. There's clearly a lot of love and pride in all of their offerings! — leilah ali

There is no BBQ in California
— John Felix Arnold III

Best Breakfast/Brunch
900 Grayson
The devil chicken and waffles is awesome, especially if you, like me, demand chicken to be not attached to the bone and minus all the gross cartilaginous stuff. And GREAT COFFEE. — David Prosper

Actual Cafe
Skip the hour-plus wait at all the sit-down brunch places, and get some delicious casual food here. Bacon/parmesan waffle! Poached eggs with polenta and roasted tomatoes! And no laptops on the weekends ... heck yes! — popijininsky

Aunt Mary's Café
Who makes greens like them for breakfast? — andrea thatch

Brown Sugar Kitchen
I'm completely addicted to their shrimp and grits ... and I don't even like grits! — Madeline Bills

Cafe Biere

Fatapple's in El Cerrito
Hometown comfort. El Cerrito's restaurant version of Cheers. Everybody knows your name, what your regular order is, and how you like your coffee. Pumpkin pancakes are the BEST! — Eileen Andrade


Kitchen 388
Amazing breakfast sandwiches. Delicious biscuits. Damn good French toast. Great coffee. Really good staff. — bells & whistles

Lakeshore Café
$2 mimosas!! — Kira

Lois The Pie Queen
You cannot beat the hats during Sunday brunch! — Courtney Supple

Lynn and Lu's Escapade Cafe
The best, cheapest, fastest, most delicious breakfast around! I just wish they were open more hours! — Tanya Leake

Ole's Waffle House
Quality, consistency, good prices and a whole lot of yummy food. The corned beef hash on weekends gets me up to run from Berkeley to Alameda for a to-go order! — leilah ali

Pretty Lady
Fist bumps! — Kiyomi Tanouye

Ruby's Cafe Emeryville
No, I don't Mean Rudy's Can't Fail! — kjbbbf9

Where else can you get a breakfast that is not only delicious but makes you feel like if you never eat something healthy again that you'll still be okay? — Sonja Cahoon

Best Buffet
— eharden

— mike punky

Best Chinese Restaurant
Chef Lau's
Authentic, delicious Cantonese-style Chinese food at reasonable prices in a cheerful and clean restaurant in the heart of Chinatown. — Susan Lo

Great China
Yes, it burned down. But it will be back, with the best wine list in the Bay Area, and I am not even joking/exaggerating. — supergail

Lin Jia
Organic meat and no MSG!! — aleka eisentraut

THE ARK, Alameda
BEST dumplings on planet earth. Addictive!! — Daniel Puertas

Best Cocktail
The Hob Nob
The best Bloody Marys, hands down, thanks to the make-your-own bar! — Alexis Davis

Hotsy Totsy's Pisco Sour
This cocktail competed with the world. — Matthew Fubar LaPlaca

— jdbauer, Arthur Perley, Muey S, Josh Kemper, Lloyd Lavagetto, Shauna Rabinowitz

Oaktown Heat at Penelope
Worth a trip from New York. — Dave Campbell

Penelope's Oaktown Heat is a little sweet, a little spicy, and a lot of fun, just like The Town. — dto 510

Best Coffee
The coffee selection is great, the staff rules, and it's so big and cozy. — David Prosper

Bittersweet Cafe on Broadway!
Funny that the best coffee is to be found at a chocolate shop ... — Christine Boschen Ghodrati

Blue Bottle
We call it "crack in a cup" — Victoria Angello

Cole Coffee
Best selections at the best price by far, without the snootiness. — supergaail

Day of the Dead Café
Like speed in a cup. — Matthew Fubar LaPlaca

Farley's Coffee
I'm actually voting from this place right now. — Armandno Garcia

Mr. Espresso, Oakland
We accept no other in our household. — kiluma

Come on, Peet created the coffee culture in America — Tom Buoye

Best price — Cullen Smith

Best Cupcakes
Angelina's Bakery
Red velvet never tasted so good! — Jenifer Levy-Wendt

James and The Giant Cupcake
Chocolate cupcake with cream cheese frosting, caramel and sea salt is bangin' — Heather Mueller

The best beyond measure. Sea salt and caramel is their specialty, but every one is so exquisitely made. How do they get the cake so light and fluffy? — Lisa Feldman

Best Dessert
Bocanova's chocolate croissant bread pudding with Mexican chocolate ice cream
Or something like that. It's out of this fucking world ooey, gooey chocolatey goodness. — supergail

Casey Dolan's Vegan Cupcakes
Alas, they are not for sale, but one can dream ... — bells & whistles

Best Gay Bar
Bench and Bar
Bilingual karaoke, omg. — Miranda Everitt

Club 1220
It's like Cheers for people on this side of the Caldecott tunnel. — Mollie Ayres

White Horse
Aren't they all a little gay in the bay? Where's best straight bar?! — Sam Khandaghabadi

Best Gluten-Free Dish
Avocado tacos at Disco Volante
Better than crack, trust me. — zooey66

Best Ice Cream
I know, not exactly a sleeper, but it is truly great. — Matti Klotz

Flavor Brigade
A jewel in the Dimond District. The best frozen custard in the land and reasonable prices. — Joy Villafranca

Loard's – Alameda
You can tell they use real cream!!! — Lori McD

Lush Gelato
Ditch the lines at Ici, this place has the stuff. — Tom Holub

Rocky Road
Alyssia Schwartz

Scream Sorbet
Not really ice cream? But close enough? So good! — Ashley Roew Palafox

Best Indian/Pakistani Restaurant
Kabana, Berkeley
Owner is a version of the soup Nazi, which adds to the allure. — Alden Mudge

Best Italian Restaurant
54 Mint, Concord
Outside: strip mall. Inside: Northern Italy. Seriously. Go and be transported. — Christine Boschen Ghodrati

Trattoria Laurellino
Most "user-friendly" Italian joint, not afraid of garlic, over-generous portions, BEST pricing: WE LOVE YOU, CHEF TERRELL! — Carol Longergan

Best Japanese/Sushi Restaurant
Coach Sushi
Sushi is good, but DAMN that $3.50 bottomless sake is irresistible. And Coach is amazing: he bows and bids you good night outside the restaurant as you're stumbling out the door! — Nikki Marucut

Hands-down amazing. They have heated toilet seats and heaters underneath the tables. Not to mention delicious, authentic food. A really spectacular find. — supergail

This restaurant has been consistently the best Japanese restaurant in Alameda since the late Fifties. The food is excellent and well prepared. — Rich Sussman

Sashimi like velvet. Wonderful everything. — Seena Hawley

Low prices for sushi, and other Japanese dishes, but the sushi is very good, leaving your stomach satisfied without the wallet guilt. — Chantal Coronel

Toyo Sushi in Walnut Creek
You wouldn't think it because it is in a shopping center, but the rolls are huge and they do not skimp on the fish and special sauce. Fried and fresh. They know my family by name. Nice family place. — Mollie Ayres

Best Jukebox at a Bar
Hotsy Totsy Club
It's great to see a Wurlitzer Americana filled with 45s in this day and age when every other place is going the digital jukebox route. Oh yeah, did I mention that it's free? — Matthew Fubar LaPlaca

Laurel Lounge
More R. Kelly than I know what to do with. — jwhite04

The Graduate
A good jukebox is a dying art form. — dto 510

Best Locally Sourced/Organic Menu
Chez Panisse
Sorry, trendy upstarts. Alice and her chefs still have it going on, all these years later. Talk about revolutionary — Alice Waters deserves some deep props in this category. — popijininsky

Ask for the sourcebook to learn how far each food item has travelled and what each supplier is doing for its community and the earth. — Raines Cohen

Best Mexican or Central American Restaurant
Gordo Taqueria
Hits the spot when you're way too hungry, for sure. Love the tacos! — Seena Hawley

Juan's Place
Tradition holds — Alden Mudge

Not really Mexican but Berkeley Mex. Fast, good food, friendly people. — Pamela Norton

Taqueria La Bamba
Best pupusa ever! — jsimms

Best Middle Eastern Restaurant
Just under the BART tracks on lower Solano, this place has the best hummus ever. Tiny, lovely. — Seena Hawley

Sunrise Deli
They make falafel the way falafel is supposed to be! — Lexi Babayan

Best Mobile Food Vendor

Adam's Grub Truck
The Falkor sandwich at the Cannabis Cup rocked my world. — storm

Mobile pizza — James' stories are just as good as the pizza. Inventor of the smorezone. And he's hella Oakland. — Gopal Dayaneni

Jon's Street Eats
I think his truck was stolen :( — Hollie Hardy

Tina Tamale
Serving love and lard all over Oakland and the greater Bay Area. — Tina Ramos

Best Pizza
It's the flavor and the crust! — Tanya Leake

Less pretentious and crowded than Cheese Board. — ruthmiller

Cheese Board
RIP Addie's — geek

Rotten City Pizza, Emeryville
Lanesplitter gets all the attention, but this place is incredible. A salumi pizza of the day — really special. — Lisa Feldman

I know, it is old school, not hip, and there are lots of great others, but I love their deep dish and dream of it in the midst of deep meditation retreats. — andrea thach

Really, there is no competition. — Dana Bushouse

Even when slightly off (even they are sometimes not fully up to par), their deep dish pizzas are still heaven on a plate (though probably also a heart attack on a plate, but what a great way to die!) Nothing beats their deep dish pesto pizza. — Claudia Debus

Best Sandwiches
But don't pronounce it like it is spelled ... it's "GEN-o-A." If you forget, don't worry, someone will make you feel like an idiot when you pronounce it "Gen-ove-a." — Dana Bushouse

Montclair's very own "Sandwich Nazi" (ditch your cell phone) grinds out your dream sandwich(es) daily — Carol Lonergan

Stella Nonna Box Lunches
Outrageously good and very consistent in their outrageousness. — bells & whistles

The Breakroom
VEGAN SLOPPY JOE!! — zooey66

Best Southern/Soul Food
Souley Vegan
The best!!! Oh my god it's so good — Chris Voss

Best Taco Truck
I'm not telling
— Pedinoff, Rebecca

Jalisciencia ?
The taco truck by the Coliseum and the East Bay SPCA (Hegenburger and Baldwin, maybe), I think it's called Jalisciencia. As far as I know, that's not actually a word in Spanish, so I'm not too sure about the name, but they have THE BEST FISH TACOS EVER!!!! — Courtney Supple

Tacos El Autlense – Albany
I love this family and their food is delicious. Carnitas are perfect for soaking up a night of cocktails. — Matthew Fubar LaPlaca

Tacos Sinaloa
Three street tacos that are effing delicious and a soda for under five bucks?! WHAATTT!! — Nikki Marucut

Best Thai/Lao/Burmese Restaurant
Burma Superstar
Just trust me on this .... — Carol Lonergan

Best Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurant
Anula's Café
Anula has amazing Sri Lankan daily lunch specials — both meat and vegetarian. She shops for her ingredients locally and supports local businesses such as Semifreddi's and Bicycle Coffee. Great lunch spot for Downtown Oakland! And she's so sweet! — Natalie Ruiz Tofano

Central Vegetarian Alameda
This jewel of a restaurant prepares vegan Vietnamese dishes that are superb, unique and wonderful. — Rich Sussman

Saturn Cafe
Great vegetarian diner food; great place to take the kids (ask for the "Lego table"). — Lily Chien-Davis

Souley Vegan
I dream of Southern fried tofu. — Tina Ramos

Lines out the door, while the hamburger joint next door is empty. Only in Oakland! — Tom Holub

Best Vietnamese/Cambodian restaurant
#87 will take you places you've never been. — K Klingensmith

Champa Garden
Rice ball salad is to die for. — Lily Chien-Davis

Most Courageous Chefs
Are you kidding me?
Cooking doesn't take courage, it takes hard work and creativity. Stop putting these people on a pedestal, and enjoy their delicious food. — popijininsky

Doug Bernstein at Disco Volante
The man fears nothing. — zooey66

John Mardikian
For leaving Mua and opening a sausage place [Telegraph]! — Joe Blackman

Tanya Holland
For opening B-Side BBQ on a sketchy section of San Pablo... — Julia Allenby

Most Creative Drinks
Hotsy Totsy Club – Albany
There are some amazing things happening in here — Matthew Fubar LaPlaca

Alex Conde's a stud. — Tom Holub

The Grand Tavern
The Louisville Luau was created in-house — amazing cocktail with bacon-infused bourbon and a splash of pineapple. Decadent. — Estephania Verde

Most Subversive Use of Ingredients
Vegan? Really? — Chris Voss

Root to shoot, snout to trotters — Raines Cohen

— Cullen Smith

— Mike Ortega

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