Local Flavor: Corned Beef and Cabbage at a Revamped Berkeley Institution

Meredith Brody
The corned beef and cabbage: Impeccable.
What are the chances that a venerable institution is forced to vacate its beautifully preserved location of 50 years, only to find another historic venue right next door? Last October, family-owned Brennan's -- Berkeley's beloved cafeteria and hof brau -- moved across the parking lot to the Southern Pacific railroad building, built in 1913 as the city's main train station.

Hof braus once peppered the Bay Area, but most have disappeared, and survivors such as S.F.'s Tommy's Joynt (1101 Geary at Van Ness) are shadows of what they once were. Nostalgia isn't enough: We want really good food!

On a recent visit to the new Brennan's, we missed the carefully waxed wood paneling and Chinese chefs of the old place. But we loved the impeccable corned beef and cabbage, served with boiled new potatoes ($13.25), and a hearty open-faced sandwich of brisket with homemade mashed potatoes and gravy ($9.15). And roasted turkey wings ($8.95), necks ($8.75), and legs ($8.95) were so good, they just about trumped nostalgia.

Brennan's 700 University (at Third), Berkeley; (510) 841-0960

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