It’s Sunday, everyone. Many of us are likely hung over. Some of us might be pulling all nighters for midterms. Others might be on the way home from San Francisco; a walk of shame in progress. But either way, it’s morning and we’re all hungry. And that can only mean one thing: BRUNCH. Brunch seems to be Berkeley’s specialty. There are endless options, and even the seniors here at the Clog are finding new places to eat every day. Today, however, we’re going to focus on some of Berkeley’s brunch basics, featuring some of the cheapest and most accessible late morning eats that the East Bay has to offer.
Let’s start with a common freshman fallback, with a review brought to you by Andrew Kwok.
Address: 2400 Durant Ave.
The Berkeley dining halls have been infamous for tendencies to lead to gustatory anticlimax. There’s a reason why upperclassmen don’t renew their meal plans and are usually never found in campus dining halls unless they’ve befriended an unsuspecting freshman. Café 3 is no exception. If it’s any consolation, Café 3 is heralded one of the “less-bad” dining halls, with brunch being one of it’s redeeming factors.
Café 3 fashions the brunch basics; powder derived scrambled eggs, oily sausages, French toast and…pizza? And of course, the golden child of Café 3 is the omelet bar. Freshmen have attested to gaining their 15 pound quota solely from Café 3’s omelet bar. Pick and choose from mushrooms, bell peppers, cheese and sausage bits to be thrown into bubbling ass cheeks of eggs and slathered with oil. But let’s be honest, one could fry anything and pump it with gooey cheese and it’d taste great.
If omelets aren’t your thing (consult a therapist), get the hell over to that DIY waffle iron. Assuming you’re not completely incompetent and know how to make waffles (you learn to finesse it after a while), you can get them doughy and gooey and delicious. And the batter is actually pretty decent. Cafe 3 also offers other basics: bagels, cereal, and the vegan counter rarely encroached by the hands of sensible people.
If you don’t have a meal plan or want to steer clear of dining hall food, Nammi Nadella provides information on a cheap and delicious option just down the street.
Address: 2498 Telegraph Ave.
This prime spot is super accessible, just four blocks down Telegraph from the Berkeley campus. The restaurant features delightfully large portions at relatively low prices, and they even serve burgers and pasta if (heaven forbid) you’re not in the mood for breakfast type food. Try to get in a little early though, because Ann’s Kitchen fills up fast! And bring some quarters for those $0.50 add-ons … they can really pile up.
Overall their specialty seems to be in omelets and pancakes. The pancake menu offers a lot of variety, including whole wheat, banana, raisin, pecan, blueberry and (everyone’s favorite) chocolate chip. If you’re looking for a good recommendation, swipe up their chocolate chip pancakes for $5.95 and add bananas for $1.00 extra. The pancakes are pretty fluffy and large, and we guarantee your stomach will be ready for a nap afterward.
If you’re heading more in an egg direction, aim for the three egg omelet ($4.95) with some cheese and onions ($0.45 each). The omelet is thick and rich in taste, and the onions add a nice crunch to the flavor. Also, if you’re a fan of potatoes, you’ll love the home fries. They’re soft on the inside and crispy on the outside, but are much thicker than your average hash brown. Finally, all the toast is whole-wheat, adding a nice touch to the overall breakfast. Ann’s makes a great weekend brunch spot, but if you want the best deals and the best seats, try it on a weekday too!
Heading a little further west, Eunice Choi gives us the 411 on a spot close to the bottom entrance of campus.
Address: 2136 Oxford St.
This restaurant seems to have a theme based around oranges to portray the whole “sunny side” theme. The space itself is filled with light, air and comfort, and there’s even seating on the second floor! The prices are rather decent for the portion sizes and food quality. Both breakfast and lunch are served; everyone’s happy (but seriously, who eats lunch food at brunch?).
While we didn’t eat all the food in one go, we definitely have a few recommendations up our sleeve. A good place for first-timers to start is the avocado, cheese, and bacon omelet. The omelet itself was hearty and flat-out delicious. It was fat with slices of ripe avocado and crispy, salty bacon. The eggs were well-done and great. Side options included home fries or vegetarian black beans. When opting for the black beans, you’ll find that they’re delicious, mealy and hearty but not overwhelming. Toast options featured organic whole wheat, an English muffin, a pastry muffin (for $0.50 extra), rye and sourdough. A great deal for just about $10.00! We also recommend you spring for some fresh-squeezed orange juice. You can order a small or large (the small is rather small, but it can still be satisfying). The juice was absolutely delicious, brimming with fresh pulp, and refreshingly sweet.
One of the restaurant’s more unique choices is the fried egg sandwich with pesto aioli sauce. It was served Panini style, in the sense that the bread had grill marks (a nice touch), and the over-easy eggs made the yolk runny and brilliant. The sandwich was filling (though somewhat oily) and yummy overall.
Are you looking to scale it up and walk a bit farther? Check out the restaurants near the Downtown Berkeley BART Station. They’re amazing.
Address: 2327 Shattuck Avenue
Venus is all about the slow food movement, and making food that tastes delicious AND nourishes the body. They stay as organic as possible, they support local farmers, and they never use freezers and microwaves. These are all wonderful things of course, but they also mean that there’s going to be a little bump in price for all their menu options.
The restaurant’s ambience is very homey and welcoming. A lot of the space is blooming with plant-life, rows of bricks line the walls, and all the tiles and tables have a relaxed and subdued neutral coloring. If it’s your first time going, you should probably start with one of their omelets (all of which can be converted to scrambles). An easy standout is the Ranchera, which is filled with tons of cheese, avocado, and chipotle cream sauce, and topped with spicy salsa. The omelet is so savory and wholesome, it’s likely to qualm even the most cavernous stomachs.
Consider also the Venus Benedict, a classic brunch plate with vibrant spinach and a luscious hollandaise sauce. The eggs were expertly cooked (just the right amount of explosive runny quality in the egg yolk), and the English muffin was crisped to wonderful perfection. And that’s not all, folks. Venus also has amazing pancakes, including lemon ricotta (MADNESS). You can opt for delicious French toast as well, so wipe the drool from your mouth and hurry over.
Finally, if you’re willing to walk just a bit further (hey, sometimes it’s good for hangovers), head toward the Gourmet Ghetto and stop into a fabulous and unique chain. Deborah Lee has very generously provided all the deets.
Address: 1600 Shattuck Ave.
Image source: Deborah Lee, Daily Cal
Crepevine focuses on sweet & savory crepes as well as brunch-themed items. Everything on the menu is served throughout all hours so you can eat French toast at 11:00 p.m. (Hell yeah). The plethora of menu items includes sweet crepes (served with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream), savory crepes (served with house potatoes and mixed greens), pancakes (with a provided choice between buttermilk and pumpkin spice), French toast sandwiches (served with French fries and mixed greens), pasta, salads, scrambles and omelets.
A great menu option that you might not see everywhere is the Mazatlan Omelet, which comes stuffed with chicken chorizo, avocado, black beans, cheese and salsa
fresca. The best thing about the meal is portion size: you get a large omelet, potatoes and toast of your choice with orange marmalade. It’ll definitely be some bang for your buck. The food itself is pretty decent, but there were a couple hiccups here and there. The salsa fresca was a bit bland, but everything else was on point. Bear in mind that it’s not the best brunch food ever, but the main attraction is the wide range of menu items offered (throughout all hours) and huge portions. And if all else fails, who doesn’t want to inhale a sweet crepe that’s been generously slathered with Nutella?
Earlier: Make me a sandwich!
Tags:ann's kitchen, brunch, cafe 3, Crawling Berkeley, Crawls, crepevine, eating everything with Nutella, food, Sunday brunch, sunny side cafe, Venus
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