You know how every third restaurant in the Bay Area says it serves “Californian cuisine”? You have Chez Panisse to thank for that. This restaurant started the whole let’s-use-local-produce thing back in the 1970s, and is still going strong. Chez Panisse is a prix-fixe situation that costs between $75 and $125 per person depending on the night, so it’s a great place to celebrate a special occasion. The menu changes a lot, but whatever you have will be fresh, seasonal, and excellent. It might not seem like an original concept anymore, but just remember that this is the place where it all started. And if you don’t want to do the full $100-ish menu, try eating at the cafe upstairs, where you can either order a la carte or do a less expensive daily menu.
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Berkeley’s Top Dog is an institution: an anarchist hole-in-the-wall that serves incredible hot dogs late into the night.
Jupiter in Berkeley is known for its amazing patio and live music situation. It has a ton of beers on tap and serves decent pizza.
Tomate Cafe might be a bit hard to find, but you should keep looking - they do one of the best breakfasts in Berkeley.
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Nook is a solidly on-price, reliable neighborhood hang in Russian Hill. Even if they do weird things with granola.
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The seafood and vegetable-focused Mexican food at Cala is some of the best in San Francisco.
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