Where can vegans and meat eaters break bread in the East Bay?
July 20, 2011 9:16 AM   Subscribe

Where could we have a nice, large family dinner in the East Bay on a Saturday night for a party of 10?

A few weeks back my partner and I got married without telling anybody. Now that the shock is wearing off, we're going to have a big family dinner in a few weeks (August 6) to celebrate with both of our immediate families. The problem is the restaurant we want to have it at, Gather, doesn't have room for a party this large on that night. Rather than change the date, we'd like to change the venue.

What we're looking for: A place that could sit a party that large, has good options for vegans and omnivores (partner and I are vegans and don't feel like making do with salad and pasta with red sauce for this night), and nice enough to appease the parents who want to make this a somewhat formal affair. I sort of just want to go to Saturn and be done with it, but I know that's probably not special enough for the parents. We're in Berkeley and would like to stay in the East Bay, though I guess anything BARTable would work.
posted by kendrak to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I've had just the same dilemma, and I can tell you about the places we looked at.

Oakland Chinatown has a number of higher-end places that do really amazing banquet meals for groups of 8 or more, at really reasonable prices; you'll find several on Yelp. And certainly you'll have lots of vegetarian and vegan options here.

We also had very good luck at some of the places on Solano Avenue in Berkeley - there are several excellent Chinese and Indian places up toward the top of the street, in the Solano/Colusa area, which are excellent and affordable, and seem to fit your criteria. And most restaurants in this neighborhood seem to do especially well on the vegan/veg front, well, maybe not Barney's or Britt Marie, but everyone else. Kirin, in this neighborhood, is especially good for groups - get the big table in the window - and has lots of veg options and terrific service (it's also quite fancy, as far as Chinese goes in the Bay Area). Rivoli, a bit further west on Solano, is a bit more expensive but does have a large table that can do groups and will definitely appease the parents. Fonda, near Rivoli, is less expensive and less formal but might also do what you need.

Cha-Am in Berkeley on Shattuck is an old standby if you like Thai, with a seafood emphasis. They have a large selection of vegan and vegetarian items available. However, it's probably not formal enough.

Lalime's, also in Berkeley, has one big table that can take 10, and might be just what you want as well. Not as inexpensive as some of the other spots, but good food, lots of vegetarian (tho not sure about vegan) choices. It's very small and does fit the formality requirement without being stuffy, but remember this is the East Bay and nothing is going to be really formal.

Email me for more recommendations.
posted by luriete at 9:30 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Le Cheval could be perfect for this.
posted by AlliKat75 at 10:16 AM on July 20, 2011

Le Cheval would be perfect for this, if

A) it wasn't about 1/10th the quality it was 10 years ago, and

B) wasn't so noisy on most nights that you can't hear yourself think.

Sorry to be a hater, but it used to be one of my favorite restaurants, and I'm so disappointed how far downhill it's gone.
posted by luriete at 11:16 AM on July 20, 2011

I ate there two nights ago (the Le Cheval in Oakland), and I had a great time. It was not loud (and every table was full), the food was great, the prices were reasonable, and our waitress was awesome. I highly recommend it.
posted by AlliKat75 at 1:18 PM on July 20, 2011

Maybe Le Cheval is improving ... thanks for the update y'all!
posted by luriete at 8:25 PM on July 20, 2011

Best answer: All the vegan+omnivore places are pretty informal in the East Bay. Asian restaurants in Berkeley and Oakland Chinatown will have vegan options, but they don't get very fancy, either. I think the closest you'll get is Fellini on University, which has vegan options beyond salad and pasta with tomato sauce.
posted by CCCC at 10:45 PM on July 20, 2011

Open Table has a lot of options for 10 people on August 6th. Dona Tomas is a wonderful restaurant, and I've eaten there with vegans. Pican can also probably accomodate you.
posted by judith at 11:45 PM on July 20, 2011

China Village up in Albany looks like a generic, not-that-great Chinese place but do not be fooled, their hot Szechuan menu is amazing.

Flora in downtown Oakland has excellent ambiance and fancy drinks for a special dinner, and one large booth in the back that could probably accommodate your party.
posted by migurski at 12:31 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions. We ended up going with Fellini because it's really close and I forgot they do something other than brunch. Oops!
posted by kendrak at 11:15 AM on July 21, 2011

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