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MICHELIN Guide's Point of View

A legendary address among the foodie set, Alice Waters’ Arts and Crafts bungalow continues to flourish as the Bay Area’s temple of Californian cuisine....
Read more on MICHELIN Guide
The MICHELIN Plate: Good cooking
Comfortable restaurant; one of our most delightful places.
US$ 25 - US$ 100
Special Diets
Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options
Lunch, Dinner, After-hours
French, American
Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Accepts Credit Cards, Table Service
Reviews (1,449)
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Reviewed 10 July 2020

If you ask a Berkelerian, what is the best restaurant in Berkeley they'd probably say Chez Panisse? Chances are, those who give you this advice have never been to Chez Panisse. It is just the most famous restaurant in Berkeley, the first one that started...the farm-to-table movement, well known around the world, etc.etc. It is also known as the priciest restaurant in town, so people automatically assume it has to be the best. I was one of those people - I have recommended Chez Panisse to many out-of-towners, but I had not actually visited it. As I said earlier, it is a bit on the pricey side, so I was waiting for a special occasion. So, on our 10th. wedding anniversary, my husband and I made a reservation for Chez Panisse and expected to be blown away. Well, the problem with waiting for something too long, is that you build up expectations. The other problem is that you go to other places and discover plenty of other great restaurants in Berkeley, and you get used to certain standards. When the actual event happened, it was really underwhelming. First, we were sited at a very small table, with no elbow room, uncomfortably close to other people, and with no view of anything but another person's neck. Second, the portions were minuscule, as if the place was built for dwarfs. We expected to pay hundreds of dollars, but we didn't expect to go home hungry. The menu was limited, to say the least. The food was tasty, but not memorable. There was nothing that stood out, like texture or combination or presentation, or anything else. It was very...ordinary. The service was good, our waitress was very friendly and very fast. The people were very polite. The reservation was easy to make. So, would I recommend it to out-of-towners again? Probably yes, because it is the most famous restaurant in Berkeley, but would I eat there again? Probably not.More

Date of visit: October 2019
Reviewed 16 March 2020 via mobile

Really enjoyed the pre-fix menu this past Sat evening. The flavors and ingredients are spot on. The service is outstanding too. I visited Chez Panisse many years ago and found this most recent visit equally as good. The ambience is upscale but not stuffy, so...it’s very comfortable and inviting. Very likely to try the cafe upstairs.More

Date of visit: March 2020
Reviewed 10 March 2020

We had a friend in from New York and thought that he would enjoy Chez Panisse as one of the original greats. Very disappointing. The staff fawned on regulars and ignored the rest of us. The food was boring even the normally very reliable vegetables....The waiter practically pushed us out to make his second seating. In a town with great restaurants, go elsewhere.More

Date of visit: January 2020
Reviewed 5 March 2020

Had ski high expectations, but the restaurant fell flat. CRAZY expensive for what you get. Felt like I had entered the Mecca of Pretentiousness. Everything seemed like it was dipped in gold (price-wise.) Did not enjoy the menu that evening (it rotates based on what...they feel like serving). It was packed and I could not help but feel that I would have liked to have asked the tables around us if they enjoyed their dinners. I think the restaurant is over-hyped. Perhaps it was once much better...but our dinner was slight and seemed lazy. For $300+ for two people eating dinner, I expected more...and honestly would have preferred to have spent $40 and had a great burger from Barney's on Solano.More

Date of visit: January 2020
Reviewed 23 February 2020

This is our third time at the cafe. As usual, the dinner was delicious. I had coq au vin, which unlike most coq au vin dishes, was served without any liquid. The chicken (leg and thigh of a normal sized chicken) had clearly been marinated...in red wine and was delicious. It was served with perfectly cooked carrots and spinach. My persimmon pudding was moist and flavorful. My husband and a friend had the lamb,which came with a yummy caper/garlic sauce. Another friend had the butternut squash ravioli, which was quite good. Usually ravioli has a thick pasta and hardly any filling. Here, the pasta was thin and tender and there was plenty of filling. Service, as always, was impeccable.More

Date of visit: February 2020
Reviewed 21 February 2020

This is a popular restaurant in Berkeley and must rate well with a certain crowd, but there is nothing exceptional about it, in my opinion. We had a simple two-person lunch followed by a light dessert that we shared with only water served as a...beverage and the bill came to a whopping $126, not including tip! The food was presented well and made with fresh basic ingredients but was only average in taste. I have been to a number of good restaurants that fare much better without such exorbitant pricing. We do not plan a return visit.More

Date of visit: February 2020
Reviewed 12 February 2020

I much prefer upstairs - more informal, you get to choose what you like - downstairs is chef's fixed price deal

Date of visit: February 2020
Reviewed 12 February 2020

"Reliable" is the wrong word to apply to Chez Panisse Cafe, because it implies mediocrity and predictability. Well, the cafe is certainly not mediocre, and the only predictable quality is just that: its quality—of food, of setting, of service.

Date of visit: December 2019
Reviewed 6 February 2020

Although some things have changed over the years, the food is always fresh and very good, the service attentive and the atmosphere warm and lively in the cafe. I haven't had as good an experience in the more expensive downstairs dining room.

Date of visit: November 2019
Reviewed 3 February 2020

My 3rd trip over many years, and not sure what has happened to the food. Our green pasta with mushrooms was overcooked, oily and tasteless. The accompanying items were a relatively fancy mixed salad at best. The Scallops were fine, but nothing exceptional.

Date of visit: February 2020
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Questions & Answers
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Thelma Moody M
13 May 2019|
AnswerShow all 3 answers
Response from gary1212015 | Reviewed this property |
Monday through Saturday 9-9:30 on its website. call for reservations
Thelma Moody M
13 May 2019|
AnswerShow all 6 answers
Response from Kirk H | Reviewed this property |
Check web site or call them. Parking is the biggest problem. We went for lunch.
28 December 2018|
AnswerShow all 8 answers
Response from BakerStreetInn | Reviewed this property |
I am not positive, but I think at lunch, it was $30.00, but just call and ask! We had a $200.00 bottle of wine as we were celebrating two birthdays, so whatever it was, was worth it!
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Frequently Asked Questions about Chez Panisse

Chez Panisse is rated accordingly in the following categories by Tripadvisor travellers:
  • Food: 4.5
  • Service: 4.5
  • Value: 4
  • Atmosphere: 4.5