by Julia Sommer
Getting tired of those same old lunch spots? Want something new for the new year?
Here are five lunch options you might not know about that share several desirable characteristics: on- or almost on-campus location, low prices, good to excellent food, hardly any wait, pleasant to beautiful surroundings, and both indoor and outdoor seating.
Three of them-Cafe Zeb, Cafe Olam, and I House-are within a stone's throw of each other at Bancroft and Piedmont. The other two-Jimmy Bean's and the Faculty Club-are also at the east end of campus, giving west campus people a chance to walk and work up an appetite.
In alphabetical order, then:
Cafe Olam Just opened in December at the Berkeley Hillel (open to all), Cafe Olam is strictly kosher, but that doesn't mean boring.
Because the kitchen is dairy kosher (no meat), there's plenty for vegetarians and even vegans here, including vegetable couscous, roasted vegetable lasagna, teriyaki tofu, eggplant parmegiana, stuffed squash, and burekas-all at a top price of $4, including green salad. A fish platter for $4.50 includes herring, lox and gefilte fish.
Baked goods, made daily on the premises, include such Old World favorites as rugulach, babka, and mandlebrot
The cafe is quiet, light-filled, and spacious-perfect for unwinding.
Come February, Cafe Olam plans to feature different Jewish cuisines from around the world each month tied in with cultural events.
Cafe Zeb Daryl Ross, owner of the ever-popular Caffe Strada (and Cafe Olam), has opened an eatery at the Law School that features pizzoli (Italian grilled sandwiches on fresh foccacia) and Strada's full choice of hot and cold beverages. Salads, soups and stuffed potatoes are also offered, with a top price of $4.50.
The name Zeb was chosen by law students in honor of Uncle Zeb, the school's resident mentor. All questions submitted to Uncle Zeb (actually law librarian Robert Berring) are answered within 24 hours. They range from professional to very personal. The cafe even has a drink named in his honor: "Zeb's Loco Cocoa."
Indoor tables are somewhat limited, but you get to dine under the watchful gaze of alumnus and former chief justice of the Supreme Cout Earl Warren in the company of budding lawyers.
The Faculty Club THE Faculty Club, as opposed to the Women's Faculty Club, is open to all for lunch.
You can go through the cafeteria line and then sit in the historic, Maybeck-designed Great Hall (under the glassy watchfulness of a moose head), or move outside to a leaf-shaded patio with a view over Faculty Glade. It's downright civilized.
Entrees include fish, pasta, stir fries and specials with a top price of $5.50. Burgers, sandwiches, and soups are always available, and the salad bar, at $4.95, is the best I've found in all of Berkeley.
The Kerr Dining Room serves fancier fare (e.g., lamb cutlets, salmon, pastas, Mediterranean platter, tandoori chicken) at slightly higher prices ($5.95-$10.95) on white table cloths. Reservations are required: 540-5678.
You can also eat in the cozy pub, where there's table service from the Kerr Dining Room menu, a full bar and a selection of wines by the glass chosen by the club's wine committee.
International House Most people know about the International Cafe at I House, but did you realize that you can also have lunch in the I House dining hall, surrounded by students and scholars from all over the world?
This is a place for hearty appetites: cost for the all-you-can-eat cafeteria/buffet is $5.25, or less if you buy a "passport" for at least 20 meals.
Besides the usual American fare (burger and salad bars, sandwiches, yogurt, cookies, fresh fruit), there are always hot meat and vegetarian entrees and rice. On the day I went, chicken pot pie, bean soup and pasta marinara were offered. Soft drinks, milk, coffee and tea are on tap.
You can eat indoors in a lovely, spacious dining room (and maybe brush up on your second and third languages), or outside on tree-shaded patios. Built in the late '20s, I House is one of the most architecturally distinguished buildings on campus.
Jimmy Bean's For fans of Jimmy Bean's at 6th and Gilman streets in Berkeley (and there are many), you've got one right here on campus at the Haas School of Business.
Choices include salad bar, not-your-usual-sandwiches, rice dishes, quesadillas, various croissants, and smoothies at prices from $2.25 to $4.90. Ambiance is high tech and high energy. Quarters can get cramped indoors, but patio tables with parasols provide more leisurely dining outside.