Barney’s Gourmet Burgers on Solano Avenue, Berkeley, CA
Left Coast, Best Coast, ‘Frisco, Bezerkely — whatever you call it, I’m a NorCal girl at heart. I’ve dropped the cats in the Philly ‘burbs for their summer vacay with The Fam (don’t feel bad for them, they’re living the high life complete with enclosed back yard and two bemused humans on door duty — thanks P and K!) and flown due west to chill Cali-style for a few weeks. Not surprisingly, I just may have time for a few good eats. You’ve missed out on the first week of good grub because I didn’t have my photog hat on properly, but I will try to catch you up.
Here’s what you missed. If you are in the area, check out the links and see for yourself:
Veggie Cheeseburger at Kwik-Way by Lake Merritt in Oakland. Doesn’t sound good, but it is. My favorite veggie burger, in fact, and I am not inclined to veggie burgers. Sort of a cross between a black bean burger and a falafel, it’s a mess of creamy, crunchy, cheesy goodness. Comes with bacon upon request! I hanker for hamburgers and it’s a blue moon that persuades me to deviate from beef; turkey, occasionally, chicken almost never, but this veggie burger came with a referral, and I am mighty glad it did so I am referring it on to you. You’re welcome.
Carnitas Burrito at Gordo’s Taqueria on Solano Avenue, Albany. Carnitas is really all you need to know. I’ve been coming here since middle school just about and could count on one hand the number of times there HASN’T been a line out the door. People say it’s not the same since the new crew came on (“new” being relative since it’s been almost 10 years, prolly), but it’s still one of the first places I go when I hit town.
Midwestern Burger at Barney’s Gourmet Burgers on Solano Avenue (photo above). Cheese,Thousand Island sauce, and a flying saucer sized onion ring. ‘Nuff said. Well, that and a milkshake. I don’t believe this was part of their regular menu, but I bet you could sweet talk your way into special-ordering one if you had to.
Black and Gold Sundae with a side of coffee, San Francisco Creamery, Walnut Creek, CA
New try: Black and Gold Sundae with a cup of coffee on the side at San Francisco Creamery in Walnut Creek. It’s not Fentons, which actually has its own Wikipedia entry detailing its illustrious history, including an arson fire and its mention in the Pixar film, Up, but I had to give it a whirl. Ever since Ortman’s Ice Cream Parlor closed (I, along with generations of other Albany High School students, did my time behind the counter there hawking sundaes and grilled sandwiches), Fentons has been the go-to for a seriously old-fashioned, genuine ice cream experience and it still delivers every time.
By the way, nobody calls it ‘Frisco so don’t be trying that noise if you visit. And, bring a decently heavy jacket. It’s Northern California, not Miami! Trust me.