Smackdown: Rick and Ann’s v. Bette’s

These are both beloved breakfast and brunch establishments in the East Bay with a cult-like following. Criticizing someone else’s favorite may cause me to lose esteem in your eyes. I get that.

But I gotta be honest here. The hands-down best place for breakfast (if I can get in) is Bette’s Oceanview Diner. I have cajoled, tricked, flirted, and phoned ahead. I have sent my husband as an advance scout, and I have finagled a table in the rain by tricking some tourists (ok, I am kidding about that one, but you get me?).

If I have 20 minutes, I will opt for the apple brandy souffle pancake. If I don’t, I’ll take a special. Or something “plain” like pancakes or eggs. Because it is all phenomenal. Yes, it’s pricey. Yes, it’s crowded. Yes, it’s worth it.

In my love letter to Bette’s as a place for rookie parents, I mention that if your baby gets you up before 6:30, you should run — not walk — to Bette’s because they, too, are up at the crack of dawn.

And on the other side of town, there seems to be a whole different set of folks blindly devoted to the many charms of Rick and Ann’s. Similar to Bette’s, there is a cute children’s clothing and toy shop adjacent where you can kill a few minutes while waiting for your table (if it is open at the crack of dawn when you try to go, which it won’t be). Similar to Bette’s, there is a Peet’s across the way to keep you caffeinated if there’s a line. And similar to Bette’s there will be a line if you time your visit incorrectly.

But, as for the food, meh. It just doesn’t do it for me. It is only ok.

The restroom is a huge pain in the butt to get to with a diapered baby or toddler (outdoors, needs a key, always damp).

So, what do you think?? Can we still be friends?

Coming soon… my hipster diner smackdown for parents!

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  1. Anonymous says

    we visit Berkeley three or so times a year. I set out for Bette’s first morning after arrival and eat there every day of our stay. It is phenomenally good- simple food always realized to perfection. We were once advised to try Rick and Anne’s. While the ideas there are good, their execution cannot compare to Bette’s. I’m with you. No contest!

  2. Anonymous says

    This is a smackdown that might have made sense 10 years ago…but seriously, Rick & Ann’s is a pale shadow of its former self. And I say that as a lifetime southsider.

    No, I think there are far better places for breakfast with kids. And I’m not gonna share my absolute rock-solid go-to lock BECAUSE THEN EVERYONE WOULD SHOW UP and we wouldn’t be able to stroll in like we do now.

    Sorry to be selfish, but hey–survival of the best fed, right?

  3. says

    We generally go with Sunnyside on Solano (our favorite) or Homemade on Dwight. Rudy’s Can’t Fail in e’ville is also really good. Sunnyside is great for kids, Homemade is a little more of a zoo. Just don;t get the appeal of Bette’s and my office used to be on 4th…

  4. heather says

    Sorry to hear that the expensive kids’ store shut down. Between losing Cody’s books and This Little Piggy on Fourth Street (which were also not open during early morning breakfasts), I will call it a wash.

    I did eat at R&A’s this summer, but I used the back parking lot and did not pass the front of the street. Guilty as charged.

  5. Anonymous says

    I’m a Bette’s fan HANDS DOWN!
    I had a HORRIBLE experience when my first was 6 weeks old at R&A’s, and despite having a couple nice experiences with the kids since, it scarred me.
    I was nursing my daughter for the first time in public, and I had some really obnoxious host ask me to go outside because the people who wanted the table next time mine didn’t want to sit near me while I was nursing. I declined, and said we were almost done with our brunch and the baby and I would wait until then (literally like 5 minutes). The host seated the couple across the restaurant, but I could still hear the couple talking about me and how ‘gross’ I was because I was nursing in public. Our waitress came and cleared our plates before we were actually really done and waited at our table when she brought us the bill while I got my visa out to pay. The whole thing was so unnerving, I left in tears.

    Mind you, I was nursing my daughter UNDER a wrap, so they couldn’t actually see anything… it was all just implied by my posture and the location of my arms and baby at the time.

    THAT was my introduction to having a baby out and about in Berkeley. Clearly NOT what it should have been… as I’ve realized since then, but it was really awful.

  6. says

    Oh, I’m so biased I probably shouldn’t even vote. I love Bette’s. I love when Manfred is hosting and juggles people and wishes and reality and somehow it works out. Vince’s latte’s are a thing of beauty, the way the coffee sinks to the bottom and the foam sits like a cumulus cloud on top. And we haven’t even gotten to the food: which is always good. I had a special the other day — BLT with fried green tomatoes. Holy moly. So great.

    But here’s the secret: I never take my kids. I want it all to myself.

  7. says

    Bette’s was the first restaurant I ever ate at when I moved out here! I <3 it! Pre-children Z and I went out for brunch EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND (sometimes twice) so I consider myself a bit of an East Bay Brunch expert which is probably delusional since that was 6 years ago. But that won’t stop me from saying that Bette’s is definitely better. The food is always good, the staff is great and the wait is long, but not as long as at Rick and Ann’s.

  8. Anonymous says

    We are regulars at R&As. We go because it is close to us and they love (they make us feel that they love) our toddler! I will give that the food is much better at Bette’s but the people and people watching are so much more cool at R&As than Bette’s. R&As has a better mix of people for us – racially, dress up/dress down, poet to politician… and we have felt that we are always hurried at Bette’s.

  9. Anonymous says

    I’ll admit to not being in any particular breakfast-loving cults but I prefer Rick & Ann’s… the style of the place and the food. Bette’s is “refined” but and I always walk away with a more full feeling in my belly from Rick & Ann’s.

    They both have long waits so the truth is I’m rarely going to either of ’em, sorry. Other breakfast places around will do the trick for me & family.

  10. Anonymous says

    I have to admit, for breakfast, I prefer Rick and Ann’s. Their food has a generally healthier feel over Bettys. I also prefer the wooded setting of R&A’s. I have to say I’m biased because I live in Elmwood, not West Berkeley, so R&A’s is a much more convenient breakfast haunt.

  11. heather says

    Ryan and Jennifer, thanks for sharing your dissent. Perhaps we can find a place we all can agree on… Homemade Cafe, anyone?

  12. Anonymous says

    wow. i cannot believe i’ve spent 2+ years as a mama, searching for an early breakfast spot, and didn’t know that Bette’s opened so early!! we’d finally resolved ourselves that we can’t really go out to b’fast anymore, because we’re up at 6:30 or 7 and can’t wait so long to eat. no longer!!! we’re off to Bette’s diner, maybe even this weekend!

    now, i wonder how busy it is at 7:30 am…

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