Readers’ choice winner


Berkeley Mexican restaurant Comal was our readers’ pick by a sizable margin this year, with one nominee saying the full patio and fire pit kept them coming back even when the weather got colder. Comal’s menu also got praise, with one nominee saying “we get takeout from there a couple times a month and always try something new.”

Cityside’s editorial picks

Chao Thai by the Grand Lake Theatre was there for me during two critical moments this fall. The first was election night, which I and other Cityside reporters spent zipping between campaign watch parties in the pouring rain. It was a relief to duck into this cozy spot for a quick break from the excitement and hail. The pad kee mao and corn fritters I scarfed down in my car were delicious. A few weeks later I got one of the many respiratory viruses going around, and their spicy, sour tom yum soup helped relieve my congestion. My friends and I are also semi-regulars at Cafe Colucci, and few of the other spots I patronized more than once this year include Seoul Gomtang, Eli’s Mile High Club, Schmidt’s Pub (“the pub”), La Guerrera’s Kitchen, and the fruit stands on International. — Oaklandside housing and homelessness reporter Natalie Orenstein

Italian Colors in Montclair. It’s always good, the service is terrific and I know I can get what I got last time because the menu hasn’t really changed. Also: Beer Baron in Rockridge. Good cocktails, tasty food and friendly staff. — Nosh contributor Risa Nye

Anchalee, Vik’s Chaat, Creekwood. — Cityside CEO Lance Knobel

Zachary’s, Barney’s, El Tucan, Smokehouse and Banana Leaf Thai. Oh, and Crixa Cakes. Always Crixa Cakes. — Nosh openings and closings columnist Joanna Della Penna

Boichik Bagels was my constant go-to last year, from its pastrami lox to its whitefish salad to its hatch chile and horseradish cheddar scallion cream cheeses, which I put on everything. And, of course, the bagels: unlike my cream cheese predilections, I don’t mess with the funkier bagel flavors, but when I’m feeling wild I do indeed go for the salt and pepper. Otherwise, I’m poppy seed or bust, an answer I’m establishing here in case Cityside starts requiring random drug tests. — Nosh editor Eve Batey

After a week of work and planning meals, Da Lian Restaurant is our default for when we’re too tired to make any decisions. Our rotation of Chinese comfort foods includes chow fun, potstickers, cumin lamb and the Zha Jiang noodles. It’s not on the menu, but you can order salt and pepper eggplant (similar to their other salt and pepper dishes). — Cityside platforms director Doug Ng

The mom-and-pop downtown Berkeley lunch spot Sandwich Zone is my workday staple when I forget to pack a meal. The chipotle Dagwood is best, but all their classics are made with care and take you out of the hunger zone. The cookies are great, too, but stay clear of the muffins. Other favorites: Gaumenkitzel for a weekend lunch, La Marcha for happy hour, Ippuku for a night out and Vik’s Chaat anytime.  — Berkeleyside managing editor Zac Farber

I stopped asking my boyfriend what he wanted for takeout, because he’d only say, “Can’t we just get the curry noodle soup?” As a food writer, it’s my job to try new things, but it’s inarguably challenging to not keep ordering from Love Khao Swe, the Burmese family-run noodle delivery biz now based in Pittsburg. The incredibly aromatic coconut chicken curry could stand as a rich dish on its own, even before you sink in tender egg noodles, top with crunchy fried noodles, and pile on fresh herbs. Keep an eye on their Insta for preorder details, and don’t be tempted by third-party apps — they actually run their own delivery for a $7 flat fee, which is remarkable. — Nosh contributor Becky Duffett