BERKELEY’s BEST ●Restaurants
Chez Panisse 1517 Shattuck Ave./Cedar St.; Gourmet Ghetto. Opened in 1971 by U.C. graduate Alice Waters as a hangout for her friends, this fabulously famous restaurant inside a converted art deco-style house features the definitive California cuisine--simply prepared food made with the freshest ingredients. A different fixed-price menu is served each night in the legendary, hard-to-get-into downstairs dining room (Paul McCartney, the Dalai Lama, and President Obama have all eaten here, and limos are often seen parked in front). A less expensive upstairs cafe serves a seasonal menu of simple items such as baked goat- cheese salad, Spanish-style grilled chicken with lentils, and almond cake with poached Bosc pears and sour cherries. (Filmmaker Werner Herzog once prepared his own shoe for consumption here and recorded the event in his documentary “Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe.” Meals in both venues are usually a perfect 10. A 17% service charge is automatically added to the bill and divided by the entire staff, so no need to tip more unless service was above and beyond.
Out front is an unusual bunya bunya tree with a trunk/foot like an elephant’s. The area surrounding this restaurant is known as the “Gourmet Ghetto.” Allow time to explore.