Dining well in Berkeley: The Butcher’s Son

By Midge Raymond on

Midge Raymond

Ashland Creek Press co-founder Midge Raymond is the author of the award-winning short story collection FORGETTING ENGLISH and a novel, MY LAST CONTINENT. Learn more at MidgeRaymond.com.

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The Butcher’s Son on University Avenue is a vegan deli but also feels like a “classic” deli, with its huge portions, its “meats” and “cheeses” behind glass cases, and the preparation of all the foods just over the counter.

It’s a small space, with about a half-dozen tables inside and a few more on the sidewalk outside. Sandwiches and salads (including bacon macaroni, creamy coleslaw, potato salad) are served all day, and brunch on weekends includes pancakes and a “steak and egg hoagie.” Appetizers include fried mozzarella, and there’s a kids’ menu and a mouth-watering selection of desserts, from cupcakes to cannoli.

The menu changes regularly, which is a good reason to go back as many times as possible. (If you’re looking at the menu online, check out the little camera icon to see what certain dishes look like.)

On the day we were there we had three delicious (and gigantic) sandwiches. (Important tip: Consider sharing meals so you’ll have room for dessert.)

I had the tuna salad sandwich on rye (I’d ordered the tuna melt but got this instead, and was not even slightly disappointed; I think I liked it even more than I might’ve enjoyed the melt). The sandwich comprises perfectly prepared and spiced tempeh tuna salad on rye with vegan mayo, mustard, onion, lettuce, avocado, and tomato. The bacon macaroni salad was delicious, and I got a side of bleu cheese (which normally goes with the melted version), and it was absolutely delicious — tangy with a crumbly texture.

We also sampled the chick’n pesto…sliced chick’n with pesto mayonnaise, hot cracked pepper chick’n, grilled mozzarella, and tomato. The bread was lightly toasted, the mozzarella perfectly melted, and the creamy coleslaw on the side was delicious.

And finally, the turkey grinder, which was even more gigantic than the other two overwhelmingly large sandwiches. This one is a toasted French bun with “grinder meat” (thinly sliced vegan turkey, gorgeously spiced), cracked pepper turkey, bacon, melted nacho cheese, pickled jalapeño, and iceberg lettuce. Because it was impossible to finish in one sitting, we discovered that taking home the leftovers is well worth it; it was just as delicious the next day.

For such a busy and popular place, the service is quick and efficient. And if you don’t save room for dessert, be sure to get some to go, along with plenty of vegan “meats” and dairy-free cheeses.

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