Sunday, November 15, 2009


the mealticket is my favorite restaurant. the owners, jimmy and carolyn, own the building and live upstairs. i have worked for them, mostly on call for the last seven years. before mealticket jimmy, the cook was an olympic swimmer and later worked at several of the hottest east bay restaurants in the 80's. Carolyn, his partner in life and business was some kind of punk-rock lawyer who bought all of her suits at the thrift store.

the original mealticket was on blake street and had maybe eleven seats. now mealticket is on san pablo at gilman in berkeley, and seats eighty in good weather. the entrance is on the side of the building down the driveway that leads to the patio.

i go to mealticket for the food, but it is like a second home to me and one of the most special places i go. i see certain people at mealticket, and i feel like i'm visiting family when i eat there with nate the great and my donut man. i like going there by myself on wednesdays after exercise class to read the new york times food section while i eat.

it's all about the specials. they're known for their grilled fish, egg dishes and their pancakes, but i always tell people, "you really can't go wrong." they grind their own hamburger and make their own sausage and corned beef hash. the salmon burger is really good too. not really diner fare, jimmy's food is one cook making what he likes.

twice a year mealticket is closed for three weeks when they travel; sometimes to europe or new york, but usually to asia. they buy a lot of folk art and i've heard stories about jimmy catching squid with his bare hands and them riding mopeds without helmets. i miss them when they're gone; my larger than life heroes who are my friends. mealticket is a little bit more than a restaurant, but it's hard to explain why.

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