11 Shuttered Berkeley Establishments Cal Alumni Still Cry Over

Every Cal graduate was once a UC Berkeley student with preferred watering holes and places to grab a quick bite to eat. Time, however, has changed the foodscape around Berkeley. Many of these old haunts are no longer in business. Here are eleven shuttered Berkeley establishments that alumni still cry over.

Campus Eats

Caffe Mediterraneum

Caffe Mediterraneum

Caffe Mediterraneum opened its doors in 1957 to generations of Berkeley’s finest. The cafe’s patrons included poet Allen Ginsberg; activists protesting during the Free Speech Movement and at anti-Vietnam War protests; members of the Black Panther Party; and actor Dustin Hoffman in the film The Graduate. Owner Craig Becker passed the lease to a group of restaurant owners, but not before he hosted a send-off which included guests like Berkeley mayor and Cal graduate Jesse Arreguín ’07. Caffe Mediterraneum closed in January 2017.

Crepes A-Go-Go

Crepes A-Go-Go

Fun fact: Founder and owner of Crepes A-Go-Go, Linda Gilman, began selling crepes in the Bay Area in the early 1990s from a food truck. She opened Crepes Ooh La La on University Avenue in 1994 before expanding to Telegraph Avenue with Crepes A-Go-Go. The location on Telegraph served UC Berkeley students affordable, fresh crepes with both savory and sweet options, including one named after Gilman’s son called “The King ‘Lias.” Students appreciated Crepes A-Go-Go not just for its convenient location close to campus and its $6 crepes, but also its speedy service that allowed them to get to class right on Berkeley time. Crepes A-Go-Go closed in April 2016.

Smart Alec’s Intelligent Food

Smart Alec’s Intelligent Food

Since 1996, UC Berkeley students knew to save their A-graded papers and exams to bring to Smart Alec’s for a bag of free, air-baked fries. Students without As still frequented Smart Alec’s for their affordable, healthy food offerings including salads, soups, and sandwiches. Founder Alex Popov sold Smart Alec’s in 2010 while he continued to oversee Pappy’s Grill. Due to rent increases and competition, Smart Alec’s new owner decided to close, but Popov reassures students that Pappy’s will continue to serve some of Smart Alec’s favorite selections—like its cornbread. Smart Alec’s closed in November 2016.

Pubs and Bars

Beckett’s Irish Pub and Restaurant

Beckett’s Irish Pub and Restaurant

Martin and Mary Connolly opened Beckett’s in 2001, back when the building was being rehabilitated. The bar didn’t just offer drinks; it also hosted regular live music performances where students and locals gathered and formed a community. The Connollys ultimately decided to close Beckett’s, not because there was a lack of customers, but because the space was too large for their needs. Beckett’s Irish Pub and Restaurant closed in February 2011.

Brennan’s Restaurant

John Brennan opened the iconic Brennan’s Restaurant back in 1959, and before the restaurant’s closing in 2018, his granddaughter Margaret Wade was the third generation of their family to own the restaurant. Wade ultimately made the decision to close because of rising rent prices, citing decreasing numbers of people who drink as much as they did in the 70s and warmer winters that kept patrons from craving their classic, heavy meat-and-potatoes dishes. Up to Brennan’s closing day, locals went to enjoy the sports bar and the most famous Irish coffee in the East Bay. Brennan’s Restaurant closed in September 2018.

Brennan’s Restaurant

Restaurants

The Blue Nile

Seyoum Kebede opened The Blue Nile in Berkeley in 1982, just two years after he opened the restaurant’s first location in Oakland. The original Blue Nile was the Bay Area’s first Ethiopian restaurant and quickly became the gathering spot for the Ethiopians living in the area. Students in Berkeley loved The Blue Nile, and alumni who remained in the area continued to patron the restaurant for years. Most notably, the restaurant was known for its rich tej honey wine, which many have failed to find elsewhere since the restaurant’s closing. Based on Yelp reviews, The Blue Nile closed in January 2007.

Oscar’s

Oscar's

In 1950, Oscar’s began serving burgers, fries, and other standard diner food to the Berkeley community. Students and professors alike frequented the reliable restaurant, where little changed during its 65 years of service. It was founded by a family who never chose to share their names, but carried on for one generation before they decided to close their business. Oscar’s closed in November 2015.

Cafes

Sufficient Grounds

Sufficient Grounds

For 30 years, Sufficient Grounds served UC Berkeley students from its Sather Lane location with sandwiches served on housemade, one-of-a-kind bread. Many students were regulars and frequented the shop from their first to last year at Cal. The Daily Californian readers even voted Sufficient Grounds as “Best Sandwich” in the Best of Berkeley awards in 2001, 2009, and 2010. Owner Anthony Tasoulinh said his decision to close his shop was driven largely by the rising rent prices and declining revenue. Alumni still report that they miss the bread. Sufficient Grounds closed in April 2010.

The Beanery

The Beanery was frequented not just by Elmwood community members, but also Cal students and professors who spent many hours studying and writing in the cafe. While The Beanery still has storefronts in San Francisco and Alameda, its Berkeley location on College Avenue was sold after 18 years. Co-owner Sima Navaie sold the cafe because she wanted to dedicate more time to her family. Navaie and her husband, however, chose carefully when they sold their business, ensuring that Organic Greens, which would take over the location, would fill the needs of their loyal customers and community. The Beanery closed in February 2018.

Sweets

Ici’s

Ici's

Many freshmen at Berkeley will always remember fondly riding the 51B from their dorm down College Avenue to stand in a line that stretched several storefronts, to get their first taste of a Berkeley classic. Ici Ice Cream opened in September 2006. Founder Mary Canales had finished a nine-year tenure as pastry chef at Chez Panisse and was looking to create her own place, where she could express greater creativity with her food. For all 12 years of Ici’s time at Berkeley, the store was known for its fresh ingredients, rotating daily flavors, and homemade waffle cones. Ici’s closed in November 2018.

Virginia Bakery

The Virginia Bakery many Berkeley alumni came to know and love began in 1954, when Charles and Dorothy Erdmann bought the location from its previous owners (the Poechel family, who had owned the bakery location since 1925). After Charles’s unexpected passing, the business was handed down to John Erdmann, one of the Erdmann’s sons, in 1976. After 42 years, John and his wife retired to spend more time with their families. Loyal customers—everyone from Berkeley students to Black Panther co-founder Huey Newton—will forever remember this mom-and-pop bakery for its beautifully decorated cakes and cookies. Virginia Bakery closed in April 2018.

These eleven establishments are only a handful of the restaurants that have closed their doors over the past couple of decades in Berkeley. If your favorites didn’t make it onto this list, please share them with us! You can also find a complete story about Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto from CALIFORNIA magazine.

Comments

You know you’re old when half the places above opened after graduation :-) My list would include Blondies and Kips. They can all disappear but as long as Top Dog is around, I’ll keep visiting.
Mario’s La Fiesta (at Telly & Haste) was a personal fave I visited long after graduation.
Why is Spenger’s not listed? It was around before any of those on the list.
I recently heard that Spenger’s also has closed its doors … right under the on-ramp north from Brennan’s
Not enough history here, covering places that OPENED in 2000 and 2001. I recall Caffe Mediterraneum, Brennan’s, and Oscar’s. Virginia Bakery was there I guess but I don’t remember being there. If Kips is no longer there, it deserves an article of its own. So does Top Dog, even if it’ is still there.
I miss McCallums Ice Cream on Solano the most. Many people miss Ortmans on the corner, but my family went only to McCallums. The best mint chip! Kips, where the German club met weekly. To really show my age, my professor father took me to the True Blue Café one year when we were Christmas shopping together. I was maybe seven years old? And, sob, Brennans and Spengers are no longer, the most recent to depart.
Kips is still around!!! Blondies “sort of” is with the same pizza but different name.
Happy to say that Top Dog is still here!
There was a time when Telegraph ran all the way to Sather Gate. Directly across from Sproul Hall were a barbershop, a typewriter (remember those?) shop and “Upper Kip’s”. “Upper Kips”” made walking to a coffee date much shorter than down to “Lower Kip’s”, which was a couple of blocks south and around the corner from Telegraph. (Yes, we’re talking late ’50s.)
If Spenger’s has closed, it deserves an entire issue, with ads only for Top Dog to make certain it stays open.
Intermezzo on Telegraph. The veggie delight salad with poppy seed dressing was addictive. I found the recipe for the dressing and made it myself but didn’t compare. Plus the hunks of bread that came with it! I used to go there at least 2-3 times a week in the 90s.
Bears Lair (Not the terrible one they have now) Blake’s Naan N Curry Intermezzo (When it was actually good)
Just as some of us know we’re young when several of these already closed before our freshman years! Thanks so much for reading. We feel the same way about Top Dog though. :)
La Villa Hermosa (right next to People’s Park). Best Mexican food in the Bay Area. And inexpensive for a college student. Closed New Year’s day in ’87 or ’88 when rent control went away for businesses and their rent tripled. Also, the original Raleigh’s.
The Taiwan Restaurant on University would be at the top of my list.
Also Hong Fu on Center Street and Larry Blake’s
Mario’s La Fiesta on Telegraph.
You forgot Spengers
Sather Gate Books was incredible and an institution in Berkeley while I lived there in the late 60s early 70s.
The Dynasty Restaurant (Chinese) on Euclid was my go-to spot for a great meal of their fantastic won-ton soup. Have not found anything to match it since. It was so good that I always forgave the owner’s wife for wadding up my paper bill change before handing it to me!
No love for Pappy’s Pub (AKA Bear’s Lair)?!?! Pappy’s deserves a special mention, if not a whole article. The best place to buy a quart of beer in town.
Bertola’s in Oakland on Telegraph just over the city line from Berkeley was a great place for a cheap meal, as well as cheap drinks. Opened in 1932, it’s been gone quite a while.
Just so you know, Blondie’s sold their business to their employees, who are still making the same great pizza in the same location under the name “Abe’s”. Abe and the other folks are great people, come back in on one of those visits!
I was a grad student at Berkeley from 1979 to 1985, and the Blue Nile was one of my favorite restaurants in Berkeley - or anywhere. I fondly remember the Tej honey wine, which was an absolute favorite for me and everyone I knew who tried it. Very sorry to see that both are gone. I spent many hours drinking coffee and eating pastries in Caffe Med, while reading or talking with my friends. It also was reported to be one of the sites for filming of the iconic movie, “The Graduate”.
Does anybody remember Spud Brothers? It was there at least from 1999-2000 but I don’t know any dates. It was on Bancroft Way where “Sunrise Deli” currently exists to the right of the Wells Fargo ATMs. I thought it was a clever idea: take an enormous baked potato and give students the ability to add a huge variety of toppings.
Ditto on that! If Kips, how about Cy’s? Hey, is LaVal’s Pizza still in business? How about the King Pin . . best cinnamon rolls around, and their fritters . . wow . . still in business? How many of you remember LB’s (Larry Blake’s)? The cellar with whatever it was on the floor and beer, beer beer … does it still make you want to cheer? Remember Vaughan’s “The Student’s Clothier” ? The splendid old student union: Stephens Hall Were those good years? Best thing about getting old: Unreeling the old videos in you head . . : -)
How about the Berkeley part of Solano Avenue?Those ice cream cones at Ortman’s and those delicious yummy fudge flavored ice creams at McAllums! Sadly, long gone.
How about the Berkeley part of Solano Avenue?Those ice cream cones at Ortman’s and those delicious yummy fudge flavored ice creams at McAllums! Sadly, long gone.
As long as Fat Slice and Yogurt Park survive I will continue to drive to Berkeley every time I come to California.
Kip’s closed!?
I was in the Blue Nile in 1983 or 4 when Carlos Santana came in and jammed for the patrons. Pretty cool!
Most of these restaurants opened after I graduated. Brennan’s was great; I thought it would last forever. Spenger’s closed and then reopened. Unfortunately, the second incarnation didn’t match the first. It’s been a while, but is Larry Blake’s still operating?
Swenson s and Edy’s ice cream. Responsible for 10 of my freshman 15# weight gain!
The Rathskeller- in the basement of Larry Blake’s, where they used to ladle Caesar salad out of huge barrels onto your plate. And GiantBurger, for your midnight food run. Or, for really good bad food, the Terrace on campus, where you could buy a 25-cent tuna sandwich that was ironed to about a half inch thick, together with a glass of mysterious pink liquid purported to be lemonade…
As I graduated in 1955, I haven’t heard of most of these places. But, from my era I do miss McCallums with the help dressed in their plaid skirts and hats. Also, on Shattuck in a small strip mall near Rose was a great little cafe/ice cream store called McCurdy’s. And long live the Larry Blake Rathskellar with their schooners, free peanuts and weekend Dixieland bands. Down in the San Pablo/University Ave. area were two inexpensive restaurants for Sunday dinners-Granata’s and La China Poblana. And for a cocktail in a comfortable lounge setting beyond the one mile hard liquor ban was Berkeley Square on University.. Those were the days!!!
ah, Bertola’s. Doubles for fifty cents and triples for 75 cents. The health department finally shut them down.
Cy’s was spelled Si’s. What abut Jules’, on the first block of Telegraph. And Robbie’s, next to Blakes. Really cheap, and guaranteed to give you a stomach ache. Leonard Cohen worked there briefly before he became big. Aslo, Charlie Musselwhite. I saw him working there once.
What about Edy’s on Shattuck with those great hot fudge sundaes?
It’s back! And so is Raliegh’s.
Man, it closed a billion years ago, but I still miss Anar-Kali’s. My first taste of samosas (and illicit beer).
Aiieee, these postings bring back memories. I remember Larry Blake’s so well, and, just for my information, wasn’t Cafe Med originally Il Piccolo?
Giant Hamburger aka “Grossburger” Euclid Northside. Open to 3am and a lifesaver oh-so-many times.
Oh woe! No Scharffenbergers. Also gone Tsing Tao on Solano. Our kids (now in their 40-50s still mean over that loss whenever we’re in Berkeley and Fenton’s of the Black and Tan and market price and with it crab salad sandwich
Pizza Haven was a treat but a luxury on a tight budget.
There was Zona Rosa which later became Nan’ and Curry… which then became something fancy… and boom. Closed. There was la Cascada on Center street. There was La Fiesta on Telegraph. La Val’s under Tower Records (this would be where that German Bar is now below that Canadian Potato mash place across from Asian Ghetto). La Val’s pizza was awesome and their recipe was amazing - pizza was quality not like what it is now in Euclid. And don’t forget HEAVENLY FOODS- they were under MLK next to BEAR’s Lair … they eventually (along with the other restaurants there) got pushed out for those new horrible, non-sustaining restaurant businesses after MLK was remodeled. Heavenly Foods eventually became a food truck at Telegraph and Bancroft. They were later pushed out to College and Bancroft… and finally UC kicked out all food trucks? They were great, delicious, and very affordable. I wonder whose idea was to rid of these legit, sustained mom/pop restaurant businesses for the horrible ones that replaced them. …but I digress. Remember Cody’s?
I enthusiastically second Giant Burger, Intermezzo, LaVall’s and old Kips. And I’ll add a couple names I didn’t see here: Manuel’s (my first-ever burritos and taquitos) and Persian Bongo Burger.
Casa da Eva (gone so long I can’t remember how it was spelled!) on Telegraph had the best Mexican food in the late ‘60s and ‘70s. Many people came just to buy the taco shells.
Casa de Eva had the best cheese taquitos I ever had. Wasn’t it a little past Derby, across from Willard Junior High? If that’s where t was I remember in 1969 or 1970, there was huge riot, I think over Peoples Park, lots of tear gas, and my girlfriend and I went there just to have some sanity and get away from all the crazy turmoil just a few blocks away. I could be wrong, but when I was really young (I grew up in Berkeley), I think it was on Durant, just below Telegraph, where those high-rise dorms are now
Re. Casa de Eva: just past Derby on Telegraph.
Loved Pizza Haven, tucked in that alley off Bancroft. Had the feeling not a lot of folks knew about it. Came and went during my 4 years at Berkeley.
I was an undergraduate from 1959 to 61, and my favorite restaurant was the Ground Cow on Shattuck Pl. just south of University. FABULOUS burgers and shakes! When I returned for grad school in 1965, I beat a trail down there, only to find out it was now an Impy’s Big Boy! Now that is gone too, and you can’t hardly find a Big Boy any more. Other student favorites from that era were Si’s Charbroiler (several around campus), Pland’s (Telegraph & MacArthur in Oakland), and the new student union cafeteria (which now sells only junk food if it is still open). A more recent one to bite the dust is Hs.Lordships out on the edge of the bay. Spenger’s was arguably the best seafood place in the Bay Area (certainly in the East Bay) and Brennan’s was one of the few remaining HofBraus (if not the last). These closures have left a real void in Berkeley and East Bay dining.
Along with the other great and memorable establishments mentioned, I would add Caffe Venezia (University Avenue).
Jim, bad news: Brennan’s closed maybe 4-5 months ago . And yes, I remember “How now, Brown Cow.”
Yah! Fiesta had the best flautas I have eaten anywhere, especially the cheese flauta . How they kept the cheese from leaking out in the fryer may have been done with clothes pins.
Mediterraneum gave me my first taste of borscht. Heaven!
What about Yogurt Park, Larry Blake’s, and La Val’s?
I loved Edy’s hot chocolate. You not only got a cup, but they gave you a pot that had another full cup.
Their poppyseed dressing was everything! ‘92
I remember Lordships! Zachary’s Pizza is still around, both north and south side as far as I know and that place beats out Chicago joints IMO. Hopefully La Mediterranee hung in there also.
Wilkinsons on Shattuck, just south of the Ground Cow, was under the radar for many folks. I cannot begin to estimate how many bowls of chili I ate there during 1959 to 1962.
No mention of Cafe Intermezzo? That’s where I was introduced to dutch crunch!
Berkeley also had three very good sea front restaurants in the early seventies - His Lordship, Solomon Grundys and my favorite Mexican restaurant, Tia Maria. I wonder if they still serve the UC community. There used to be a long wait on weekends.
Meh, most of these places are pretty recent. “Old-timers” like me still miss Swensen’s Ice Cream on Northside!
Actually, Intermezzo is technically no longer closed! It finally reopened last year as “Mezzo”, and all the favorite menu items are pretty much unchanged. That bread. <3
Larry Blake’s salad dressing
The Blue Nile was SOOOOO GOOD!! I haven’t been able to find another Ethiopian place as good as that one. :(
Jeff, it’s true that Intermezzo burned down several years ago along with Raleigh’s and La Fiesta. However, Mezzo opened in its place a couple years back. Same honey wheat bread, poppyseed dressing, and most of the same offerings. Got a huge bag of end pieces for $1 and it sent me back in time.
+1 for Bertola’s. 75¢ triples. No wonder I have no brain cells left.
Ann’s Kitchen on Telegraph, La Fiesta, Beckett’s, I loved those places. I also loved Spat’s and I’m so glad it’s back.
Yes! I went there when they just had a stand. On that note, Cielo Veggie burritos from their little stand. (circa 94-98).
Yes to Spud Brothers I mean.
La Val’s on Durant is gone, but the location on Euclid still exists. I was very sad when the one on Durant closed (according to the employees there, due to higher rent). The place remained empty for years and has since had a revolving door of places go through there.
INTER-FREAKIN-MEZZO!!! it was the best deal….GIANT hunk of bread and a heaping salad for a whopping total of $3.75. Still dream of that poppyseed dressing.
WAIT WHUUT?! it’s back?! YESSSS
I absolutely LOVED Intermezzo. I never thought bread and salad could be such a divine meal until I went there my freshman year. One of my regular spots for sure.
Thank you for this. I was mostly a La Fiesta fan, but I also ate at Villa Hermosa in the early ‘80s and couldn’t remember the name. I loved their Plato Verde, with one flairs and one enchilada plus rice and beans.
Bott’s ice cream on College just past Ashby was the best.
Isn’t Kip’s still there? I was on Durant last month and thought I saw it.
Yes they forgot Spenger’s, but ALSO… Larry Blake’s Rathskellar on Telegraph, Edy’s Ice Cream on Shattuck, Giovanni’s on Shattuck, Dryer’s Ice Cream on College, The Sunshine Inn on Durant, Top Dog on Northside, McCallum’s Ice Cream on Solano, Egg Shop and Apple Press on Euclid, Bridge Creek on Shattuck for the heavenly hots.
I miss Vivoli’s Italian Ice Cream, in the same complex where Jupiter’s is now.
Kip’s is still there.
How about Emil Vila’s Hickr’y Pit down Telegraph well into Oakland. Really great ribs. And if you really craved Mexican food at 2:00 in the morning, there was Mexicali Rose across from the Oakland City Jail. At that time of night, the pimps were bailing their girls out of jail and taking them for a bite to eat thee. Quite the show back in late the late 60’s.
And in Chinatown in the City, Sam Wo’s featuring Edsel Ford Fong, the world’s rudest waiter. What did it seat, maybe 10-12 people? and you had to walk through the kitchen to get upstairs where the tables were. The food wasn’t very good, but it was sure cheap.
Same, I was sad when I visited and I saw the remains of the building that use to house Raleighs/Intermezzo/and Marios. All three were favorite stops of mines. Garden Delights from Intermezzo, burritos and fresh chips from Marios, and after finals beers with my campus coworkers and study buddies at Raleighs.
Edy’s was on my list as well. Hot fudge Sundaes there were terrific.
Right, I walked by their the other day trying to figure out where the Italian ice cream place was, without being able to recall the name.
Don’t forget Larry Blake’s!!
Not fine dining, but Armadillo Pizza was a fixture in the dorms around 1980. I believe the collection of shops it was in burned. Also, there was a Giant Hamburger on Southside that was open all night. Lots of 2-4 a.m. cheeseburgers during all-nighters. Good times.
LB cellar, I’d ordered their fried oysters sandwich, only place that served them. Also remember Vaughn clothing, but didn’t go in very often..197os
Same here…nostalgia demanded Mario’s so much one night that I drove up from from Fremont to see that the building had burned to the ground. $1.80 for a chicken enchilada, beans, rice and all the chips and salsa you can eat. All,the waiters were there for decades. Miss you Mario’s La Fiesta.
What? No Manuel”s or Anarkali’s??
Blondie’s closed?! Is Fat Slice still there?
Anyone remember “Vegi Food” on Vine Street? I swear those potstickers were literally the best thing I’ve ever eaten. Great hot and sour soup and some back bean noodle dish was crazy good too. They closed down and I miss them, super nice family owned it. I would drive for hours to pick up massive to go orders to hold me over until I could get there again!
Yes indeed. The only real restaurant our family frequented for “eating out.” They had curtained booths with red checkered table cloths.
My fiance and I loved Intermezzo during our student years and were so sad to hear it burned down. I’m happy to report that Intermezzo 2.0 recently opened. It’s called Mezzo and serves the same salads (they actually seem like even bigger portions now) with the same poppy seed dressing and bread. We’ve already gone back a couple of times and it’s just as good as we remember. ; )
So pleased to read that Top Dog is still there! I probably averaged 1 meal per day there during my 2 years at CAL.
So pleased to read that Top Dog is still there! I probably averaged 1 meal per day there during my 2 years at CAL.
Yes! The salads were huge and the poppy seed dressing was epic. A healthy and affordable meal for a student budget. So sad it’s gone.
I do indeed remember Cody’s as well as food trucks. Remember the Greek “hole in the wall” that had meat called souvlaki cooking on a rotating spit aka gyro in the doorway on Telegraph? Likewise affordable and, no doubt, long gone, the immigrant proprietors priced out of the market or run out on a rail by PETA :)
Good call!
My friends and I were commuter students. We would meet at Dynasty for dinner M-F before studying at Moffett. It was a $5 meal with enough variety not to get bored.
Blondie’s Pizza. Weekend Special 18 inch all meat for $10. ¡Ay, Caramba! Delicious, gigantic carne asada burritos. Larry Blake’s
I can’t believe Virginias Bakery is closed. They had the best chocolate chip cookie I have ever had and have never had since! Ugh! I wish I knew the recipe!
So what happened to the asian and Latin food places on this list. You could get a burrito as big as your head at Mario’s La fiesta. What about Manuel’s in the Durant food court? No mention of Zona Rosa. Taiwan restaurant on University Avenue and a great Chinese place down by where sunshine fashions used to be.
It’s not all about restaurants — I miss Rather Ripped Records at Hearst and Euclid on the north side. Lots of music — new and old — to be discovered and they had very knowledgeable staff. Sort of like the John Cusack movie “High Fidelity” but much less in-your-face attitude.
There also The Egg Shop Apple Press (located on Euclid near Hearst), Edy’s On shattuck. is Giovanni’s still around?
The old, 80s, Bears Lair, with all the wood and the “hunters” with wood , the Comedy nights, Manuels on Durant, the old Kips, Larry Blakes and the Jazz music club downstairs, even the old elegant Henry’s Pub where Men at Work, Frank Zappa and other notables drank amongst us mere mortals.
Yes, Intermezzo should be on the list. So sad to hear it burned down. The tossed salad with poppy seed dressing was definitely the best! Where can we find the recipe??
Fat Apple’s?
There are so many horrid eateries in Berkeley these days. I had the most disgusting sushi of my life only recently, ended up throwing it in a trash bin on the corner—someplace on Shattuck, thankfully I forget the name. Very sorry that Ici has closed—wonderful ice cream. Waaay back when, there was a cart in Sproul every day, “Crazy Dave’s Freshly Squozen Orange Juice.” And the lunch counter at the Berkeley Health Food store on Shattuck, serving carrot juice and the like. Long gone, fondly remembered through the purple neural haze.
The comment on Emil Villa’s brought back memories. Great ribs! There was also an Emil Villa’s in Walnut Creek. I think it is still open as the” Hickory Pit” with much the same menu. I remember the after hours, knock-on the-door-to-get-in Mambo Sessions on weekends at the North Gate cafe on Euclid just up from Hearst. It featured a make-up band of South American students from I House. It was the destination of my first date with a girl who later became my wife of almost 41 years( and mother of my 7 children).
Intermezzo is actually back! same location on Haste and Telegraph but now it’s called Mezzo and shares a space with Raleigh’s bar. It’s been about 6 years since I last had it due to the fire but I think the bread and salads surprisingly taste the same!
I never ate anything but breakfast at Wilkinson’s but I still think of it as the gold standard of morning food. Also, Wilson’s, a hole-in-the-wall hamburger joint on Bancroft just west of Telegraph.
How did Wall Berlin not make this list? I loved that place. So bummed when they closed!
It’s back as of this year!!! Same exact menu. Now called ‘Mezzo.’ Definitely go visit.
Ah…. Intermezzo… that bread was to die for! So sweet, it felt like you were having dessert with your salad (which was amazing too).
INTERMEZO Breakfast Burritos. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!
Manuels on Durant (all you can eat tortilla chips and cheap pitchers) and The Fence that was on Sproul Plaza. I funded my way through senior year working the early morning shift at The Fence….
How about “The Good Earth” on Oxford?
What no mention of Kingpin Donuts? Depending on the time of day, okay night, that you get there, you might get them freshly made. The best apple fritters, some kind of buttermilk donut/muffin thing that no one makes anymore. And of course, run across the street before/after, to get your Top Dog fix.
Re: Spengers - if I’m thinking of the same place, it was a fantastic seafood restaurant down on the bay. Making you as old as I am. If not … never mind.
I (in late 60’s & early 70’s) would have starved without Robbie’s - an asian food cafeteria where you coukld fill up for 65 cents. Never gave me a stomach ache. Anyone out there know when it closed?
I meant “could”.
I lived in an apartment over Top Dog in the 60s and still stop there for a brat when I’m in town. Long Live TD!
Intermezzo was great value. The half sandwich and salad could feed two. Agree the poppy seed dressing was great. I guess it closed after a fire.
I miss Zona Rosa. It’s been gone for a while. I remember a quesadilla I had there. To die for.
Thank you so much for bringing back those delicious memories of UCB…..Telegraph Avenue, Kip’s (we would come up there from Berkeley High to get our hamburger fix), Moe’s, Larry Blake’s free beer on your birthday, La Val’s on Euclid and the tiny movie theater next door…how about the Espresso place on Hearst at Euclid? I have always appreciated my years here (and yes, I’m still here). Go Bears!
My roommate and I went to LaVal’s on Euclid at midnight so I could get my first “legal” drink in 1963. I loved the Coffee Crunch Sunday at Edy’s.
Mezzo has the poppyseed and all the original recipes! Totally worth it. Prices are more and staff seems at lot cleaner than I remember, and the circle croutons have changed - but other than that still awesome giant salads with poppyseed!
Coffee Renaissance was the best, and Dave’s Smoke Shop on Bancroft. Neldam’s Danish Bakery.
Oh what about Flints bbq?
Yes!!!! Definitely one of my favorites!!!! Also loved Cafe Intermezzo
I know this dates me” egg shoppe and apple press
Yes! Larry Blake’s was the bomb.
Giant Burger and Top Dog forever! Do ya want a burger or a dog?
Well if Kip’s and top dog are still there, and the former blondies is owned by former employee, that’s pretty damn good staying power from the 1980s. Any idea when Manny’s closed? Or the hotel Durant? Add on La Val’s, and that was pretty much the heavyweight half dozen of junk food and cheap beer.
I loved Cafe Giovanni on Shattuck Ave. Their focaccia and minestrone soup was amazing.
Anybody remember Boss-man’s café, a little hole-in-the-wall right by people’s park, in the mid-to-late 80s? I think it was actually called “the republic of eat-more”, but everybody called it boss-man’s, after the owner, who called everybody “boss”. He was a really nice guy, the food was good and cheap.
‘89 grad. When I was on campus recently I saw that Poulet was still on Shattuck. Over 40 years serving roast chicken?! Respect. Another vote for Intermezzo and that insane bread. Shout outs to Muffin Mania (too many blueberry muffins). Café Roma. Bongo Burger (pancake-flat slabs of meat). Yogurt Park. Café Milano (still there). Blondies (ditto). There was some Turkish coffee bean place near the Unit 3 dorms where I bought raw beans. Some place I bought mediocre falafel. Café Fanny on San Pablo and those poached eggs that took forever. I know I ate a ton of Mexican, but I don’t remember where. Flynt’s BBQ in Oaktown where it was like stepping into an inferno.! Sam Wos!? Thanks for reminding me what happened when I went there 30+ years ago.
Anybody remember Hunger Pang up a few blocks right off Telegraph? I’d get 3 bao for a $1 in the ’70s….good little hole in the wall.
Some antediluvian South Side history: The Great Shanghai Steel and Iron Works served mostly old-school Hebei provincial style vegetarian cuisine (and homemade yogurt with fresh fruit for dessert). The Shanghai was in business from 1969 through at least 1972 or 73, at 2517 Durant Avenue, behind what is now Cafe Durant, in the back unit now occupied (I think) by Chang Luong Restaurant, and was the successor to the the Avalon Ballroom’s “Great Shanghai Banking and Drayage Company,” the upstairs food concession during the Grateful Dead’s Acid Tests. I worked there for close to two years as a dishwasher and food prepper while an undergraduate in Wurster Hall (a dollar an hour and very good meals), and it was without doubt one of the more exotic food venues in Berkeley during the Tear Gas Years. Both Shanghais were founded and run by Darryl Schoon and his wife Andrea (Bambi) Leonardi. Darryl was also our only ethnically Chinese cook. Our other wok stars included Zenaïda Junio (Pilipina), Michael Aroner (blonde and Jewish), and Bob McAfee (black; “Man, I’m from South China!”). Two of our waitresses had doctorates in Psych and (alas, quite legitimately) had been granted monthly SSI stipends. My fellow dishwasher-prep guys were usually on other shifts and I rarely saw them; one was named Jim Hayes, and the other was Jackie Leary, Tim’s son. The food, inspired by traditional Hebei recipes from Darryl’s grandmother’s generation, was always fresh and delicious. It included the seldom-seen luxury of fresh water chestnuts year-round, which I learned to peel with a 7-inch cleaver honed on the foot rim of a porcelain soup bowl. Our high quality produce and other cost overruns were defrayed by a silent partner of Darryl’s, a prominent and cheerfully radical young San Francisco attorney who had need of healthy tax write-offs. We never failed him. Although the food really was delicious, our service was impressively sketchy even for those cosmically addled times. While we had many loyal customers, not all of them Deadheads, some people who wandered in expecting a more conventional Chinese restaurant experience eventually stormed out in rage before they tasted our very good reasons for staying. Darryl liked to brag that “We have the best food and the worst service in the entire East Bay!” But we’ve all passed a lot of water since then.
I will always fondly remember and still miss Kim’s Super Burrito, on Dwight just off Telegraph. In the early 1990s this was the greatest place to have a burrito. I loved it so much that I had my graduation lunch there in ‘96. Mr Kim himself joined the party.
Kim.s Super Burrito The Bison Brewery The Med
Anybody remember Cruchon’s? I remember it being on Shattuck north of University. First time I ever had spaghetti fra diavolo—or spaghetti of any kind other than very traditional spaghetti and meatballs.. First integrated wait-staff (1967-1968). Owned by a member of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion of the International Brigade! Anybody remember Beggar’s Banquet, on San Pablo (as I remember)? Excellent soupe bonne femme. My girlfriend (later wife) and I used to go there on rainy winter Sunday evenings… —Art Eckstein
In 1966 we called cafe Espresso place on Hearst at Euclid Cafe Depresso. Glad someone mentioned Sam Wo’s in Chinatown in the City. It was closed by the health department many years ago, but they re-opened it on Clay street about a year ago. it’s not the same now, without Edsel Ford Fong, the world’s rudest waiter.
I am glad somebody mentioned Wilkinson’s on Shattuck. That was a great place for breakfast. Alas, they were closed by a fire. They reopened on Center Street under new ownership, but it was never the same. But the place I REALLY miss is the old Fuji Inn on Telegraph, just south of Dwight, my introduction to Japanese food. It felt like something from a different century.
in the late 70’s, the Renaissance Cafe on Durant made the best mushroom crepes ever. I spent many Friday nights at the Melting Pot for fondue with friends or at Tijuana Joe’s on Telegraph for guacamole enchiladas.
Cafe Renaissance was run by Alex Fischenko, a Bulgarian with a passionate hatred of scorched coffee beans. He once sent back an entire 100 pound sack of freshly roasted beans that his elderly San Francisco roaster’s son had let go too long. For several days Alex served tea but no coffee until the shameful error was rectified. Alex’s other great crepe plate was just a simple filling of finely chopped parsley and shredded gruyere cheese. I still miss it.
Kip’s is not nearly the same. Top dog is till open on North side. Grossburger, Larry Blake, Robbie’s Hofateria. All gone—-much to my cardiologist’s relief, I’m sure!
Blake’s, cafe intermezzo, the beanery,….so many good memories! Glad Top Dog is still around!
A gang of misfits from Oxford Hall used to march up to Pizza Haven at least twice a week after a long night of card playing. That’s where our money and grades went!
Yes there was a scene in The Graduate filmed in the Med. In the movie you could see through the front window the old Moe’s Books building across the street on Telegraph. This was quite a thrill for me and my friend because we not only ate frequently in the Med but we also lived upstairs in the Moe’s building. Single rooms. Bathroom down the hall. What a dump!! (But cheap.) The building was thankfully torn down many years ago and replaced by a new building that now houses Moe’s.
Phil….I’m also from the late 50s and early 60s era too….I believe there was also a UC Extension office right on the NW corner, and I remember the upper Kip’s you mentioned….but on Telegraph below Bancroft there was Robbie’s Chinese restaurant, Larry Blakes, theater Studio A/B, Rexall Drugs and many other shops…played pool and ate burgers at lower Kip’s…..but today they are all gone or changed almost 100%…I don’t recognize anything else today….that’s the price of progress!!!… But, I have one burning question in my mind for you…I remember there was an old movie theater on Bancroft just a few doors down from Telegraph….I have been trying to find any pix to recall its name, but to no avail…would you by any chance remember the name of that theater???….it had a typical neon marquee, and I would walk past that theater every once in a while way back then… Go Bears… Milton
Phil…I’m from the late 50s and early 60s era too….I believe there was also a UC Extension office right on the NW corner, and I remember the upper Kip’s you mentioned….but on Telegraph below Bancroft there was Robbie’s Chinese restaurant, Larry Blakes, theater Studio A/B, Rexall Drugs and many other shops…played pool and ate burgers at lower Kip’s…..but today they are all gone or changed almost 100%…I don’t recognize anything else today….that’s the price of progress!!!… But, I have one burning question for you…I remember there was an old movie theater on Bancroft just a few doors down from Telegraph….I have been trying to find pix to recall its name, but to no avail…would you by any chance remember the name of that theater???….it had a typical neon marquee, and I would walk past that theater every once in a while then… Go Bears… Milton
I’ve been looking for someone to say Wall of Berlin!!! I loved the people playing chess outside and they had this coffee that was amazing… but I’ve since forgotten the name of!
What about Potluck on San Pablo? All the soup and bread you could eat for $1.25. Also, Lenny’s Butcher on Shattuck Ave.
Does anyone remember the Steppenwolf bar on San Pablo in the early 70s? Cheap beer, exotic characters, great music. Then to Oscars on the way home for a cheeseburger. The restaurant in Larry Blake’s was where my parents took me if they were in town, either there or Spenger’s.
Does someone remember The Black Sheep restaurant?
What about the Rathskeller (Ratskeller) basement pub on Telegraph Avenue (east side)? I haven’t seen that since the mid-70s….
YES! I loved that place. Thanks for the memory. 1975 grad.
The Soup Kitchen at Dwight and Telegraph (I think) was a good place to get a quick and cheap lunch.
I read a number of these and failed to see LaVals Pizza mentioned. When my fiancé and I were going to school there and I was working for NASA at the Rad Lab in the early 60s, we would often have dinner and a bottle of wine from LaVals for under $12. The pizza was always fresh and made to order with six toppings and kept us going through long nights of studying. We have moved out of the area so I have no idea if it’s still operating, but it was popular then.
Oh my. Not a SINGLE mention of the long-departed Cafe Renaissance on Dwight Way (?) off Telegraph. Burlap bags on the walls, croissants with butter and apricot preserves, and 1960s-70s signs informing patrons that “no establishment-type coffee served here.” Nostalgia.
The Come Back Inn. It hosted drinks (!!!) during freshman orientation and I met my first college sweetheart there that night. It was our go-to pub throughout my time at Cal until it closed (probably for serving so much beer to so many underage students for so long) and became the Southside face of LaVal’s Pizza.
The Come Back Inn. It hosted drinks (!!!) during freshman orientation and I met my first college sweetheart there that night. It was our go-to pub throughout my time at Cal until it closed (probably for serving so much beer to so many underage students for so long) and became the Southside face of LaVal’s Pizza.
The Come Back Inn. It hosted drinks (!!!) during freshman orientation and I met my first college sweetheart there that night. It was our go-to pub throughout my time at Cal until it closed (probably for serving so much beer to so many underage students for so long) and became the Southside face of LaVal’s Pizza.
What was the name of the drive-in on Telegraph that had the best hot apple pie with cinnamon frim-fram sauce back in the late 50s. Art’s Steak House was a favorite as was Berkeley Square on University.
What happened to Gross Burger? A great place to go for a very tasty (greasy) burger with grilled onions.
I miss “The Black Sheep” on Bancroft as well as “Orange Julius” on the SW corner of Bancroft and College. Used to frequent both places in the 1950’s as a grad student.
Shakespeare and Company was my favorite bookstore and I would then go to the Cafe Med and peruse my purchases. Books and coffee in that order. I ate my pizza at Lavals and/or Blondies and got my dessert at the Yogurt Shack. Great memories.
Cafe Roma (cappuccino and bagels with a 1/2 inch thick square of cream cheese)! Manuel’s (on Durant)- was always a wait, and Bertolas baby!
Edy’s, Hot Fudge Sundaes on Shattuck.
Remember Sandwich A GoGo (on Bancroft west of Telegraph)? “Great sandwiches for 50 cents”. A quick meal on the go between classes.
’84 grad, great times at Bertola’s, loved Spenger’s. At least Bette’s Oceanview is still there, though Bette passed in 2017.
Le Bateau Ivre (the sign now says The Drunken Boat) is still there—splurge for fancy date when I was a student, now a regular brunch spot for my friends and me. As a science major my study spot was “Cafe Depresso” on Hearst—dirty man owner (used to have word fencing matches with him—he enjoyed being insulted), the family who ran the mid-day shift with their infant in a play pen (sometimes I took a 5-minute break to hold and play with her—made up for missing my own babe in childcare while I finished up my last quarter). There was the “3 CS” on Hearst—best espresso, but they decided to turn fancy and expensive, perhaps too expensive for the niche. My beloved Northside Books, which made doing laundry around the corner so much more expensive. La Val’s is still there—their pizza is still too oily. I miss the Northside theater so much. My introduction to Fellini, Bergman, Truffaut…
Thanks for bringing up so many memories-all marvelously unique spots for great eats and atmosphere! Besides McCullums, I recall my parents took me to The White Horse for Chinese in Oakland in the 50’s.
I was there a couple of years ago and went to a game. Kips was still there had a couple of beers after the game. Didn’t look for Top Dog, but gosh best hot dogs ever.
Wow I remember them when they were a food cart on Sproul in the early-mid-90’s.. Mmmmm
I worked there for a while when I was a student. Great people
That’s the one I’d nominate as well. Man I miss that salad.
Another great place was Mel’s Drive-in at Channing Way and Shattuck. You could dine in or use the “car hop” service.
Fondly remember Tsing Tao. Taught me that there was more than chow mien to Chinese cuisine.
There was the Red Star on University for liver and red soup.
The number of responses to this article is amazing. Truly it’s not only armies that march on their stomachs.
Thanks Dad.
As a student, had many a meal at Bertolas!
The Egg Shop and Apple Press is gone?!
Yesss!!! Cafe Intermezzo and it’s copycat Coffee Source were the BEST!!!
I had a friend who loved to eat at the Greek place, and say “I ate a falafel and I feel awful”. This used to totally crack us up. Food humor! I also loved La Val’s subterranean pizza.
Yes, I remember Spud Brothers! It was such a great concept, quick and reasonably priced. I had lunch many times there. I recall it only lasting a few years. I’m c/o ’01.
Between 1959 and 1963, I ate lots of hamburgers at Oscars because it was located in a parking lot in front of Unit #1 (Putnam Hall) when I walked to classes on campus. Then I ate more burgers at Kips— they were the best charbroiled, thick meat paddies. On Sundays when no dinner was served at the dorms, it was to Robbie’s Cafeteria for Chinese or to Lichee Won (sp?) further down Telegraph for more higher quality Chinese food.
For all of those wondering, the Stone (where I saw many great concerts) and the Horizon (where I…never mind) are both long gone. :(
I remember both Cruchons and Beggar’s Banquet as well as most of the other places in this long list of memories! I especially remember the Brownie Pie at Cruchon’s. My sone was eating dinner there one night when the diner next to his table dropped dead of a heart attack, just as my son’s steak was delivered. As for Beggar’s Banquet, it was a special treat, expensive for my student budget. The hedge enclosure is gone. Kip’s. The owner opened a burger/American food cafe in Orinda Village….Village Pizza. He remembered us from Kip’s! Thanks for your in-depth posting and a peek into behind-the-scenes goings-on of the place you worked. I also worked in a restaurant in Berkeley where there was alot going on besides work.
Art, I just posted a reply to your message, but much of my comment was in response to Will Chandler’s account of the restaurant he worked in…..sorry for the error of attribution.
Art, I just posted a reply to your message, but much of my comment was in response to Will Chandler’s account of the restaurant he worked in…..sorry for the error of attribution.
I frequented Mario’s La Fiesta at least once a week from freshman year 1970 until 1989 when I moved away. Mario’s was a family operation but I don’t think they were Mexican. I believe they were from Peru. They made the best chicken enchiladas with green sauce. I can’t find their equal today. I miss not only the food but the prices. I’d get an enchilada verde and chicken flauta with rice and beans and a fresh strawberry fruit drink, all for less than four dollars.
WOW - so many of the old haunts closing. Never had a chance to bring my children to them from out of town. Great memories, sad closings.
LaVals at north gate and Kips for the best quick food. Also LaVals for beers when coming back from a soccer game. Then of course the Mediteraneum for the nightly shot of caffeine for the all-nighters. This was in the 60”s.
Hi Will, Thanks for the amazingly accurate recounting re The Great Shanghai Steel & Iron Works. Even though a lot of water’s passed since then, it’s still running, see www.drschoon.com.

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