Chez Panisse is a legend. There's a reason it sparked culinary revolution and changed the way the Bay Area — and America — eats.

The little house in Berkeley where Alice Waters served her first French prix fixe back in 1971 is still the epicenter of Northern California's local foods movement. The nominally more formal downstairs dining room serves a nightly menu that, as always, is like a GPS locator for the current season. Meanwhile, the upstairs cafe feels a bit like a museum devoted to California Cuisine. Wood-fired pizzas still wear unorthodox toppings (sorrel and anchovies, say). Then again, baked goat cheese with garden lettuces has been around so long it feels familiar in the way the best things are — the way that constantly delights.

— John Birdsall

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Extra Info: Uses organic and sustainably raised meat, and organic produce. Participates in the Community Alliance for Family Farmers' "Buy Fresh, Buy Local" campaign.

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