Everywhere I ate and drank in the Bay Area

May 22 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

I'm fresh off the red eye and in far too much of a daze to get any work done, but suffice it to say that my trip to the Bay Area was everything I wanted and more. I made some great new professional connections at my meeting, got to visit with old friends, new friends, internet friends, and cousins, and ate and drank until I couldn't eat and drink anymore. There were multiple Portlandia moments. In case you've got a Bay Area trip coming up, here's the list - not a miss in the bunch. Stars for standouts. Unless otherwise noted, everywhere is in San Francisco.


Summer Kitchen & Bake Shop (Berkeley)
Dona Tomas (Oakland)
Taqueria Cancun***
Mission Chinese
Two Sisters Bar & Books
State Bird Provisions***
Jasper's Corner Tap & Kitchen
Kusinia Ni Tess
Out the Door
King of Thai Noodle House
Humphry Slocombe***


Cole Coffee (Oakland)***
Blue Bottle
Sight Glass


The Graduate (Berkeley/Oakland border)
The Library
Wilson & Wilson
Trick Dog***
Two Sisters
Burritt Room***
Bourbon & Branch

47 responses so far

  • dr24hours says:

    What do the stars mean?

  • becca says:

    My Dad used to say "You will not get a bad meal in San Francisco".


  • Jekka says:

    Glad you found Outerlands and Burritt Room!

  • Cleyde says:

    Loved how you went to 'almost' more cocktail places than food places!

  • Cousin L says:

    No Starbucks at all? Or that doesn't really count?

  • Ola says:

    Holy Crap that's a lot of eating out! I'm guessing somewhere around $700-1000 total tab? You must either be: (i) child free, (ii) very well paid, (iii) debt free, (iv) all of the above. If so, congratulations! I hope this was personal out-of-pocket and not charged to a grant/account?

    Sorry if it sounds overly critical, it's actually a pet peeve of mine - colleagues spending way more while out on a professional gambit, than they ever would in "real life". If you wouldn't order a $35 entree while out with your family, why does the fact you can claim it back on an expense account make it OK to do so? For the same reason, I never claim for lunch on conference trips - the $8 I pay for a sandwich at the airport is precisely $2 more than I would pay for the same sandwich at work. Anyone in my lab' submits a $25 receipt for lunch, it goes in the trash. Anyone in our Department orders a >$25 bottle of wine at a visiting speaker dinner, be prepared to make up the difference from your own pocket. By all means, splash out, but not on someone else's dime.

    rant over

    • April says:

      Wow, it must be terrible to have you as a boss. Hate to see what happens when someone is at a conference in a city they don't live in and chooses a sandwich shop closest to where they're staying and it just happens to be more expensive than what you deem necessary. Screw their responsibilities, they should have searched the whole town over for a cheaper sandwich!

    • Ilovepigenetics says:

      I'm much more loyal and productive with a generous employer than a stingy one. Being generous with my lab pays off way more in productivity during the long term. Think gig picture, Ola. A few hundred dollars at a conference can easily transition into thousands of dollars in extra productivity during the rest of the year. I see it as a reward for a job well done.

    • neuropolarbear says:

      These comments show a penny-wise and pound-foolish attitude about money.

      If you are willing to jump in and judge how people spend their grant money, go after the big costs first, especially lazy post-docs who don't produce papers. With benefits, they cost about $50K/yr, enough for a really nice dinner 5 days/week, 50 weeks/yr. Food is about the smallest line item on most grants. The total cost of her hood ($700-$1000) is about the same as what many people pay to have a slightly more convenient flight time.

      Food at conferences is ultimately supported by grants, which have specific travel budgets within them. Those budgets are reviewed by granting agencies (or, the agency abjures that right and decides to trust the scientist). After that, it makes no sense to question the decision-making of the scientist.

      Point is, whoever pays her food bills has decided the optimal strategy is to let her choose how much to spend on food.

      One possible reason why a funding agency might support nice food is to motivate travelling. Travelling is a gigantic headache for a lot of people (especially people with kids!!) and nice food makes it more tempting for many. Funding agencies have an incentive for scientists to travel (otherwise they wouldnt support travel sections of grants), and so maybe supporting nice food is a convenient way to encourage travel.

  • Really? says:


  • cackleofrad says:

    Wow, I am so glad not to be in Ola's lab. It must suck.

    rant over

  • Jonathan says:

    Sucks to work for Ola, I guess. Never heard of a per diem?

  • It costs more to eat while traveling because...it costs more to eat while traveling. You eat out because you don't have a house and kitchen. And because conferences are for the purpose of hobnobbing with your fellow wizards. Nobody networks at McDonalds. If you're at a conference in San Francisco, you're going to pay more for your meals, and you're not likely to hike to the nearest "cheaper" restaurant.

    Per diems are limited to whatever is reasonable, according to the university, for three meals eaten out in the city in question. In my case, I often do the free breakfast and a cheap lunch so I can try one of the restaurants I wouldn't be able to on my own dime. One of the few benefits of academic science.

    And I pity the people who work for you. I would have left your lab mere moments after that first receipt landed in the trash can.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    It only makes sense to limit yourself to the exact amount you spend in your home location, no matter where a meeting might be. I mean, it's not like I let the lab use more than 1 pair of gloves per day or 2 pipette tips of each size! Hang those kimwipes up to dry so we can use them tomorrow! Y'all are just wasters.

  • namnezia says:

    I think all of us child-laden, indebted folks should band together to make child-free academics feel bad about themselves when they go out to eat! Because it is an accepted fact that being judgmental becomes a fundamental right once one has kids, and dammed if I don't choose to use this right!

  • miko says:

    Also, a lot of those places are super cheap. Ola seems to be offended by the concept of restaurants. Tea kettle ramen in the hotel room or you're a parasite!

    • Dr Becca says:

      Seriously! Taqueria Cancun, Shalimar, Kusinia Ni Tess, and King of Thai are all under $10 a plate. The only real splurge was State Bird Provisions, which was well worth it.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Sorry, I would respond to this but my second martini in First Class is kicking in...maybe I'll have a chance in the back of the Bentley once Jeeves picks me up. Toodlooo!

  • Ilovepigenetics says:


    Glad you have time and the wisdom to dictate how other people live their lives. Must be difficult being the keeper of all budgets everywhere.

  • neuropolarbear says:

    Thinking about it more I disagree with all the people who are giving Ola a hard time.

    In fact, these comments have motivated me to change my lab policy for travel.

    1. All students must take Greyhound busses to all conferences. Or come to think of it, hitchhike. Why should we spend more on transportation than we do on a normal workday?

    2. There are homeless shelters that give away food for free. Why should grants pay for food at conferences when they don't pay for food when you are at home??

    3. All lab members are required to rent out their apartments or houses using Craigslist for the time the are at the conference. They are only allowed to use this money on housing in the city of the conference. I myself usually pack a tent and sleeping bag.

    4. Absolutely no one is allowed to dress more nicely at a conference than they would dress on an average day at work.

    5. Printing posters is a huge cost. I insist that lab members use the ancient art of rhetoric to paint a picture in the mind of the people who stop by their blank posterboard. I find that the data are a lot more compelling when people imagine the points themselves.

    6. Also, we sneak into the conference hall without paying registration.


  • dr24hours says:

    I am clearly not the person to comment on whatever it is this thread has become. #povertysucks

  • miko says:

    To be fair, whenever I see someone I know with a new pair of shoes or a haircut, I immediately: 1) Question their personal reproductive plans and status; 2) Ask for their tax returns and FICO score; 3) Silently disapprove by pursing my lips and raising my eyebrows.

  • Ola says:

    Where are all you people working at, with the unlimited food/alcohol budgets? It appears the fiscal crisis just hasn't hit home for some like it has for others. Really, if you're OK in times of single digit pay-lines, to go out with the lab and drop the big bucks on a meal then write it all off against an expense account, then go ahead. But really? That money couldn't be better spent on another air ticket for an extra student to go to said conference? If you and your significant other(s) regularly drop the ka-chings on a fancy dinner then I'm very happy for you, but is it OK to expect others to pay for your foodie habit?

    Just to be sure we're on the same page regarding comments to the tune of me being a tightwad - the speaking honoraria and other fees I earn from grant reviewing etc. go toward these types of expenses. Everyone in the lab' knows this and acts accordingly (i.e., they don't take the piss when it comes to claiming expenses). If you're doing the same and supplementing your lab slush/travel fund to the tune of several thousand a year from your own pocket, with post-tax money that would otherwise be going into your IRA or kids' college savings, then go ahead and call me tight. If you're keeping all that money for your yacht/beer fund and then claiming back for eating/drinking at establishments well above your normal price range, then I have a friend with a glass house and some pebbles I'd like you to meet.

    Bottom line - my money, my rules. If you have the luxury of being in a Department that covers these types of expenses with no limit, good for you! Calling others tight because they don't have that luxury, is not cool.

    • miko says:

      Ola, you might want to reread your original comment. Based on Doc Becca's list of (mostly very cheap) restaurants she ate in while visiting a city known for good food, you interrogated her reproductive status and her personal finances, neither of which is any of your beeswax on any level. None of your blathering about what gets claimed or not in a particular lab/university has anything to do with this, though that, too, is incidentally none of your business.

      No one gives shit how you spend your money. They are making fun of your smug, morally superior view of yourself.

  • Dr Becca says:

    Hey there, Ola. A few points:

    1. You are being incredibly judgmental on a number of levels, and I have to say, I find your "child free" comment to be the most insulting. Yes, children are expensive, and people with children often make sacrifices with respect to indulgences for themselves. But your comment carries a not-so-subtle implication that child-free people have chosen to be child free for the explicit purpose of selfishly eating out at fancy restaurants. The reality is that you have NO IDEA what my child situation might be - maybe I have children and have made the conscious choice not to talk about them on this blog. Maybe I have lost a child. Maybe I have been trying unsuccessfully to have children. Or maybe I am, as you obviously seem to think, child-free by choice. Whatever the case is, to make inferences about someone's parental status based on their eating habits is incredibly misguided.

    2. "Unlimited"?? Where are you getting this? Every single university in this country has a per diem rate for meals eaten when traveling for conferences. I and my trainees are allowed to spend this much money on food a day, and if we go over, it comes out of our pocket. If our per diem is $60 and my student wants to have a $25 lunch she is more than welcome to, but then she only has $35 to spend on breakfast and dinner. Math!

    3. Did you even bother to look up the restaurants I went to before calling them "fancy"? As miko (and I) noted above, I actually ate quite frugally on my trip - many were what would be described as dingy holes-in-the-wall that happen to be known for having excellent food. Would you like to see my receipts? Almost all of my meals were under $25, and many were under $15. Cocktail bars were paid out of pocket, as was anything I ate after the meeting was over.

    4. As my lovely commenters have noted, your position on food finances is a slippery slope into the absurd. You pay $6 for a sandwich? Why not save a dollar and get a $5 footlong from Subway every day? Or better yet, just eat a banana in the morning and then a piece of pizza at night - you could probably make it all day on $2 without passing out if you stay hydrated (with free water, of course). There are no ethical grounds for denying your trainees any less than the per diem your university dictates.

  • dr24hours says:

    This strikes me as the expense-account version of the "Kerned" issue. It's easy to be holier-than-thou about time spent in the lab, expenses, parenting, etc..

    But the more a person insists about any of these topics, the more I suspect there's just deep seated self-loathing, resentment, and anger percolating that it intrinsic to them, and has nothing to do with the actual topic of discussion. I don't know what's going on with Ola. But it feels like externalizing something that isn't really about Doc Becca's eating or reproductive habits at all.

    My take on the ethics of expenditure is here.

  • miko says:

    Yes. Lashing out about children, income, and debt in response to something that has absolutely nothing to do with children, income, or debt tells us a lot more about the lasher than the lashee.

  • JaySeeDub says:

    ...see? It's a good thing I couldn't get a table at the Laundry!

    But, no. Seriously. Next time, I'll try to work on Tom a bit more.

  • MM says:

    I live in the bay area and it is damn hard to eat cheaply around here. Becca actually hit a lot of my favorite places because they are 1) cheap and 2) generally local to where a lot of the conference hotels are (which happens to be local to me).

    Next time be sure to hit Burma Superstar. A bit out in the boonies, but on a main bus line (and quite cheap). And BIG for cocktails (not cheap, but delicious).

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