Restaurant recommendations for East Bay California?

I'll be visiting family in the East Bay next week and would love restaurant recommendations, both adult evening out and toddler-friendly. During past trips we've spent most of our time in San Fran, which we don't plan to do this trip. We might go as far south as San Jose, and we'll also be spending a couple of days in Santa Rosa, so recommendations for that area or Sonoma wineries would be appreciated too!

Lindsay-Jean Hard


Lindsay-Jean H. September 29, 2013
Clearly I'm going to need a longer trip. Thanks all!!
pamelalee September 28, 2013
I must chime in about Fenton's Creamery on Piedmont Avenue, where we have been enjoying Swiss milk chocolate milkshakes ever since college...38 years ago...oh my! They also have delicious crab sandwiches. Last time we were in the Bay Area we went to Chez Panisse for lunch and, unfortunately, were disappointed.
pierino September 28, 2013
Another thought, a stroll through Oakland's Chinatown district on a weekend morning is very pleasant. It's close to the Marriott/Convention Center. There is a Saturday farmers market just outside the convention center doors.
pierino September 28, 2013
I know people still love Chez Panisse but the best "grown up" restaurant in the East Bay is Oliveto. It's just across the street from the Rockridge BART station which is practically the boundry line between Berkeley and Oakland.
Not in Sonoma but not far, Thomas Keller's Bouchon in Healdsburg. It's just down the street from his French Laundry. Unlike the French Laundry it's a zinc bar type place which serves trencherman sized portions. It's a shame that Copia no longer exists.
Greenstuff September 28, 2013
Have you eaten at Oliveto recently pierino? They've had lots of chef changes, and I kind of think the upstairs dining room as way overpriced for what you get. The downstairs cafe though--I eat there a lot, for breakfast, lunch, a glass of wine, or dinner. Further reference to the answers above, Oliveto is in the same building as Market Hall, on College Ave.

Ditto on Copia!
Diana B. September 27, 2013
For the adults, Chez Panisse is still a treat after all these years.
HalfPint September 27, 2013
If you want seafood, Horatio's in San Leandro is great.

For Sonoma winery, check out Arrowood Winery. Really nice unpretentious people.
dinner A. September 27, 2013
Burma Superstar (a long standing favorite in the inner Richmond in SF) recently opened a second location, on par with the original, in the Temescal neighborhood of Oakland. It gets noisy and you have to wait for a table later in the evening, but if you go early might be good with kids. Really spectacular Burmese food.

Gelateria Naia in downtown Berkeley makes great gelato and sorbetto in a cornucopia of flavors, with samples freely and cheerfully dispensed. My favorite is a cup of pistachio gelato and fig sorbetto.

I second the College Ave and Market Hall rec's. La Farine, a bakery on College Ave, is a favorite of mine, especially their morning buns, rye raisin rolls, and rustic baguettes.

In Sonoma, I've particularly enjoyed wines at Unti, Eric Ross, and Frick.

This isn't food related, but you might want to reconsider heading into SF for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in Golden Gate park. It has a really diverse and excellent lineup and it's free, endowed by a SF financier.
Greenstuff September 27, 2013
Adding on to what AJ said, you might consider a walking/stroller "tour" of College Avenue. Cactus and Market Hall are right next to BART, if you're taking public transportation, and there are lots of great options going either direction--restaurants, cafes, chocolate, ice cream. And bookstores and other places to visit along the way.
AntoniaJames September 27, 2013
Toddler friendly favorite (which we love going to, even now that are kids are grown) is Cactus Taqueria across from the Market Hall at Rockridge. (The Market Hall is fun to wander through.) Easy parking in the lots across the street under the freeway, especially on the Market Hall side, in the evening. Evening out: We really liked Homestead, a new place on Piedmont Avenue. Excellent chefs, small but nice menu, house-cured (really tasty!) charcuterie, thoughtful condiments, open kitchen, good food, quite reasonable. If you can swing "adult mid-day out" out, go to Chez Panisse! (I prefer the place during the day.) Get a booth or table near the open kitchen. It's one restaurant that is consistently as good as it's cracked up to be, seriously. Plus, it's of historical importance, from a culinary perspective. ;o)
AntoniaJames September 27, 2013
Sorry, that should be "our kids". Typing way too fast this morning.
Greenstuff September 27, 2013
You are coming to food heaven! I'll start: Camino in Oakland is one of our standards, and you can usually get in at the last minute. Not really a kids place, but if your toddlers are used to eating out, they can go.
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