Cheap Eats: Amanda’s Feel Good Fresh Food
This downtown Berkeley spot serves up food that's fast and cheap—and healthy.
Amanda’s is sort of like the Bizzaro McDonald's—similar, yet completely opposite as well. The surface similarities are obvious with the primary color scheme, the silly hats worn by the employees, and, of course, the burgers-and-fries fast food menu.
But look just a little closer, and this downtown Berkeley restaurant’s hippie roots start to emerge. There’s a cool tree-of-life mural on the wall, flashes of real wood in the interior (including hardwood floors), and a large family-style table in the center. Instead of Muzak, Bob Dylan wafts down from the speakers, and those bright orange rubber chairs are actually pretty darn comfortable.
Then there’s the food, which maintains fast food-level cheap prices but with all-organic ingredients. Burgers ($3.75 regular, $4.50 with cheese) are made with naturally raised beef, surrounded with all wheat buns and stuffed with tomatoes, lettuce, and pickles. Fries ($1.50 regular, $1.75 for sweet potato) are baked, not fried, the cola is made fresh with real syrup, and even the ketchup is organic. The taste is a little different at first, especially if you’re expecting McDonald's, but it grows on you and you definitely feel healthier after eating it.
There are also several salad options ($2.75 to $6.95), veggie burgers ($3.75), and sides such as warm olives ($2.50) and organic apple “fries” ($1.50). And don’t forget the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies ($2)—really delicious.
In the Neighborhood: The Berkeley Rep is right around the corner, and Amanda’s is a great place to catch a quick bite before a show.
Your Cheating Heart: If those baked fries just aren’t doing it for you, there’s a McDonald's—and those addictive deep-fried taters—just two blocks away.
Free Stuff: The staff has been known to hand out free samples, including chunks of those tasty cookies.
Getting There: Parking is a little tough, but Amanda’s is literally steps away from the Downtown Berkeley BART station.
Tread Lightly: Amanda’s website includes a list of 12 different meal combinations that weigh in under 600 calories.
Amanda’s Feel Good Fresh Food, open 11 a.m.–9 p.m. daily, 2122 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, 510-548-2122, amandas.com.