Berkeley's Cafe Rouge is a classic Californian restaurant, complete with organic vegetables and sustainably raised meats, a wood-fired oven, and smooth and efficient service. Chef-owner Marsha McBride and executive chef Rick DeBeaord create deceptively simple food, but imbue even their hamburgers with juicy, meaty love.
Located along a quiet stretch of Washington Street in downtown Oakland, Caffe 817 — under the ownership of Scott and Emily Goldenberg — offers a European cafe experience with meals worth the relatively high prices. Loyal customers come back for the delicious Italian flourishes in breakfast and lunch offerings, with daily specials that appeal to the palette, the eye, and, when read aloud, to the ear — “Roasted pork shoulder sandwich with arugula and aioli.” The service, though sometimes slow, is solicitous, and the baristas make impressive coffee art, as worthy of display as the latest art show on the walls. On a sunny day, sidewalk seating under umbrellas perfects the experience. Bottled beer and wine selections vary with the season.
Chez Panisse is a legend. There's a reason it sparked culinary revolution and changed the way the Bay Area — and America — eats.
The 25-year-old comedy club in North Beach offers 400 seats along with a full menu and full bar. Many well-known comedians come through the stage at Cobb's; from Patton Oswalt to Norm McDonald and Pablo Francisco. There is usually a two-drink minimum. However, it's rarely enforced. Most acts are eighteen and over.