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Entries in East Bay (15)


Sidebar, Lake Merritt, Oakland

This has to be one of the best Reuben’s I’ve had outside of Portland or Seattle. I had no expectations walking in, I’d simply heard about the place at the bar while dining at Boot and Shoe service the night before.

The entire eating area is situated around the bar. The bar itself has plenty of seats for dining, but my guess is, it’s packed at dinner time and a bomb could drop outside and no one would hear it. Enough on atmosphere.

The Reuben. I love the Reuben. I eat it practically everywhere I go. Of the West Coast Reuben’s I’ve had, Veritable Quandary and Kenny and Zuke’s in Portland are top notch. Hitchcock on Bainbridge Island and Public House in Temecula round out the top Reuben’s I’ve eaten. I may have just found a 5th.

The bread was wonderfully toasted, flavorful, and didn’t disintegrate or mush under repeated bites or pick-ups. The meat, piled high, but not too high and thinly sliced. Cheese was applied to both sides of the bread and probably helped structural integrity. The kraut was used as a condiment, not as a way to make the sandwich to large or to appear over-stuffed. And finally dressing. Dressing was applied as it should be, a compliment to the dish, not as a wet mess to break down bread.

All the items on this Reuben were in balance. Wonderful. This was a classic representation of the sandwich at its highest level.  Bless Sidebar and its chefs.

Sidebar on Urbanspoon


Crogan's, Montclair Village, Oakland

I am a frequent visitor to the Monteclair Village of Oakland. There are several dining options, most of them catering to families and take-away's. Crogan’s is a American pub serving a lot of American classics. I’ve eaten here on various occasions, the food has always struck me as hearty, basic and fills a nitch in the local scene. They also have a bar with big-screens.

For lunch this time in, I ordered a daily special, Crogan’s open-faced, blackened  rib-eye sandwich. It lived up to the basic expectations set forth from earlier experiences. The blackening job was reasonably spicy and with the addition of a chipotle mayonnaise, additional fat and spice were a spoonful away. I didn’t have to trim too much away from the meat and the steak was done at a medium temperature.

The coleslaw was a bit wet and saucy for me, but was probably healthier than French fries.

I’ll probably keep going to Crogan’s for no-nonsense, family dining

Crogan's Montclair on Urbanspoon

Dopo, Oakland

Fresh cod fish sandwich. Doesn’t get more basic than that. The basics of fresh cod and a good fry job make this either an easy dish to screw up or a simple one to churn out. In Dopo’s case, the latter. Good sandwich, good fish, good fry job, quality bread. I was happy.

Dopo on Urbanspoon


Saul's Deli, Berkeley

I was looking for a bite to eat in Berkeley, but didn't have time for a full sit-down lunch or a long line, so I decided on a long-time local deli, Saul's.

I ordered the pastrami sandwich on rye with mustard and house-made potato salad. Normally, I’m a Reuben guy. I thought, I’d change it up a bit and order something more simple. Saul’s makes a good deli sandwich, but there’s nothing dramatic about it. Everything is good, just not spectacular. This is a high quality sandwich with very good potato salad and fresh bread. No downsides really. Just no upsides either. 

Perhaps my expectations are out of whack. When I order a Reuben or a pastrami sandwich,  I guess I want to be wowed like I am at Veritable Quandary in Portland or Public House in Temecula. 

I'd recommend Saul's absolutely. I may just have to go back a few times to figure out where the "wow factor" is.

Saul's Restaurant and Deli on Urbanspoon


Dona Tomas, Oakland

Dona Tomas Chilaquiles Verde were Damn Good! It was just before closing time for Sunday brunch at Dona Tomas’ in Oakland and I was hungry. I ate breakfast a little later than normal that morning with my brother, then had some errands to run in the East Bay, all while I was managing my dehydration syndrome (a.k.a. hangover) from a limited diet the night before of truffle cheese, olive bread, red wine, bourbon and cigars. I keep reminding myself, that stress will kill me, not food.

I rank Chilaquiles as one of my Top 5 breakfast meals. I rarely miss an opportunity to order this simple dish of leftover corn chips with either salsa verde or rojo, some queso fresco, and some eggs. Dona Tomas’ adds a fresh avocado on top for added richness.

Yes, it tastes as good as it looks and I could have eaten another plate of this stuff. 

Doña Tomás on Urbanspoon