Nation’s is a Bay Area restaurant chain offering burgers, fries, breakfast and pies. Mike and I have been eating at Nation’s ever since college – there was one near the UC Berkeley Campus, then we were within walking distance of another, when we lived in Richmond, and we found yet another one here in San Leandro.
I don’t know if Nation’s burgers have declined in quality since we were young, or if our expectations have risen, but I don’t think the burgers are nearly as good now as I used to think they were back in my 20’s. Still, they are better than anything else you can get at a fast food joint.
Nation’s menu is very limited: burgers, hot dogs, chicken and salmon sandwiches. They also have eggs and pancakes for breakfast. And they have pies and shakes. Prices are good, from $4.10 for a plain burger to $6.80 for a bacon cheeseburger.
The regular burgers come with very generous portions of mayo, lettuce, tomato and onions. They are huge and quite tasty. Their fries, fried in canola oil, are pretty good though not outstanding.
Their pies are quite good, with flaky crusts and thick centers. We particularly enjoy the chocolate cream and banana cream, though we dislike the artificial topping with which they are covered. Their lemon merengue pie is also very good and doesn’t suffer this problem (pies start at $1.80 for a small slice).
Mike has had breakfast once or twice. The breakfast are huge but, as you can expect, not particularly high quality.
Another advantage of Nation’s is that it stays open late.
Nation’s Giant Hamburgers
San Leandro Plaza
1335 Washington Ave.
San Leandro, Ca.
Hours: 6am-3am Daily
Breakfast served till 11am
Mike, my 11-yo daughter Mika and I, enjoyed a nice family dinner at Tsuru Sushi a few weeks ago. We hadn’t gone in years, and we had, overall, a very good experience. It was expensive – very expensive – but we had won several gift cards so most of the dinner was covered. Good thing, as it came to close to $100 for 3, and only one of us actually ordered sushi.
I deciced to make a dinner out of appetizers and ordered the gyoza ($5.75), the fried chicken wings ($6.25) and the beef kushi ($7). The portions are small enough that while I had some food leftover for Mike to share with, it wasn’t much. The gyoza, in particular, were delicious. The filling was full of flavor and I could have gone on eating them forever. The chicken wings, on the other hand, were very plain and monotonous. You probably could do better at Pioneer’s chicken. The sauce helped a little, but grew boring too. I wouldn’t order them again. The beef kushi, on the other hand, was quite good. It wasn’t too different from teriyaki, but without the sticky sauce, and I enjoyed it.
Mika had the combination dinner ($20) with gyoza, shiu mai and a california roll. The enjoyed the roll, loved the gyoza but the shiu mai was sort of plain.
Mike had two orders of unagi ($5.50 each), which we all enjoyed, though it wasn’t a particularly outstanding version. He also had some kind of roll that he thought was very good.
In all, it was a good meal. Service was good and efficient, though they could have done a better job of timing the food.
The one thing I found a bit tacky is that they actually charge you for the after-dinner mints.
1427 East 14th St.
San Leandro, CA
M-Sa 11am-2:30 pm, 5-9:30 pm
Su 12:30 – 9:30pm
Four Seasons Cafe & Deli is the latest incarnation of the cafe and sandwich bar that was once Mr. Bagel and, before that, Planet Coffee. The cafe has been remodeled a little bit and the menu has been updated. The Middle Eastern owners, for example, have replaced the Vietnamese sandwiches with me Middle Eastern equivalents. You can order chicken, lamb, falafel or hummus plates for $8, lamb or chicken shawarmas, falafel, chicken or turkey wraps and traditional sandwiches for about $6. Vegetarians will have plenty to chose from, including a Mediterranean veggie sandwich that comes with fresh mozarella, Kalamata olives, spinach, tomatoes, red pepper pesto and balsamic vinaigrette on toasted focaccia. I haven’t had it, but it sure sounds good 🙂
What I did have was the lamb shawarma. It was good without being extraordinary. Pretty much what you would expect a lamb shawarma to be. The portion was pretty large, in particular considering the $6 price. I’d have it again.
Four Seasons also offers breakfast bagel and croissant sandwiches, fresh orange and carrot juice and your basic coffeeshop drinks. I had their coffee once and it was pretty good, but I’m not demanding coffee wise.
The new menu seems to have quite a few fans, in my last visit, the place was busier than it used to be. The service was good and the cafe still a great place to meet up with friends – as well as have a cheap lunch in San Leandro.
Four Seasons Cafe & Deli
1423 E. 14th St.
San Leandro, CA
Free local delivery with $20 order
M-Sa 6 am – 6 pm
Su 7 am – 5 pm
This is just an update on what’s going on in San Leandro’s dismal restaurant “scene”. Please comment if you have any more info.
– Smiling Jack Station is a new Filipino restaurant at the old Straw Hat location on Washington Ave. In addition to Filipino favorites, it offers boiled and fried seafood, BBQ and burgers. They have a banquet room and karaoke and dancing on weekend nights. There is a $5 off $25 coupon on their website.
– Dick’s Restaurant and Lounge has changed ownership. The owners are keeping the name and apparently, most of the menu. Even the chef will be staying transitionally. One change: they’re adding TVs both to the dining room and lounge. Alas, that, to me, is a reason *not* to go. If you need a TV to distract you from what you’re eating, that says quite a bit about the quality of the food.
–Harley’s / JD’s Burgers, you know, the restaurant on Washington and Marina that looks like it used to be a drive-in restaurant, has a new name. Maybe it means it’s changed ownerships. Hopefully it means the food won’t be as atrocious and expensive. Unless I hear lots of good reviews, I probably won’t give it a try, though
–La Bella Italia. The placed turned into a Mexican restaurant some time ago, but it doesn’t seem to have lasted much as that, and now it’s up for sale. I hope someone with some vision – and a good cook – buys it. Really, I would LOVE it if someone would turn it into a modern-day Pring’s. Find the old menu, get a great chef, and give it a try! I’d go for sure.
–Ploughmans is up for sale. I’m sure some people will be sad, but I don’t think it’ll be that great a loss. San Leandro does need a good breakfast place, hopefully whoever buys it will turn it into one.
–Vila Cereja is *still* up for sale. That place has so much potential! I wish San Leandro’s Business Development department would actually do something useful for once and entice a San Francisco restaurant to open a second branch here.
–Vo’s, that stylish Vietnamese bistro on Parrot has closed down and another Vietnamese restaurant (Song Huong) has opened in its place. I’m not surprised that Vo’s didn’t make it. They had pretty good food, but it was very overpriced, even when using restaurant.com coupons. Song Huong is said to serve more traditional Vietnamese food.
Update Oct. 2013
Mr. Bagel is no more. Four Seasons Cafe & Deli has taken over the space.
Mr. Bagel is the cafe that replaced Planet Coffee on East 14th in downtown San Leandro. The small cafe offers all sorts of coffee drinks, as well as lots of bagels and bagel sandwiches, some pastries and cookies and a full menu of hot and cold sandwiches ($5 to $7). Best of all they have Vietnamese sandwiches as well. My friend got one a while back and it was very yummy.
In the last few weeks Mr. Bagel has become my “to go” cafe in San Leandro when I want to have a private talk with someone. I love Zocalo, of course, but it’s impossible to go there and not run into a friend or acquaintance and have an uninterrupted conversation with any one person. Mr. Bagel, fortunately or unfortunately, it’s pretty much empty all the time so it’s a great place to meet. It’s also quite comfy, their coffee drinks are great (I liked their caramel latte more than Zocalo’s zahlua) and the people who run it could not be nicer. It’s really a gem of a cafe, and I really wish more people would stop by.
I still have to try their sandwiches – and bagels! -, I’ll make a point of it next time I visit.
Mr. Bagel Café
1423 East 14th St.
San Leandro, CA
M-F 7am – 5 pm
Sa 8 am – 5 pm
Su 8 am – 3 pm
Last night we went to Round Table Pizza on East 14th. I’d gotten a $24 worth of pizza for $12 gift certificate at Got Daily Deals, and I wanted to put it to use. We got a large cheese pizza and a medium King Arthur supreme (a meats/veggie combo), a couple of drinks, and it come out to about $10 over the gift certificate. Definitely pricy, but we didn’t use any other coupons.
I thought the pizza was pretty good. The cheese, in particular, was quite nice and there was plenty of it, specially in the cheese pizza. The King Arthur pizza was a bit too salty for me, but that’s what happens when you get multiple meats in a pizza. In all, we felt the pizza was OK, but only marginally better than Papa John’s, which is much cheaper (and closer to us). I may go again to Round Table, if there is a very good deal, but otherwise I wouldn’t bother.
The restaurant, btw, is a bit divish. You order at the counter, and can seat in a booth or table. They have a TV showing sports and it’s sort of dark. It has no decor to speak of. When we were there, a Saturday around 6 PM, the place was quite empty.
Round Table Pizza
15255 East 14th Street
San Leandro, CA
– I hear Angelina’s has changed ownership. It has significantly declined in recent years and we hadn’t been there for years. Hopefully the new owners will do something good with it.
-Also for sale: El Amigo (Mexican restaurant), Arby’s.
–San Gaspar is undergoing construction after a fire that shut them down and will re-open.
-I still haven’t been able to try Mae’s, as it never seems to be open when I want to go (before 2 pm for lunch and after 6 pm for dinner), but I hear Mae’s temper is getting even worse. Complaints of Mae’s offensive behavior, bad customer service, long waits and unavailability of menu items continue to plague it on Yelp. I still wonder if it’s a legitimate business.
-The city of San Leandro is considering banning styrofoam containers, restaurants are barking. Most cities in Alameda County have banned them already.
I have lived in San Leandro for over a decade, and yet I’d never gone to Sabino’s Cofee – even though it’s a San Leandro institution. This is not terribly surprising, it’s not within walking distance of my house and I do spend too much time at Zocalo as it is. I love Zocalo, but it’s not always the best place to go when you want to have a private conversation as you are bound to run into someone you know. So, when Aamani and I got together this morning for some girl talk, I suggested we give Sabino’s a try instead. It was a great choice.
Sabino’s is a super small cafe on MacArthur Ave. It has a tiny sitting room around the bar area, and a simple small patio on back. That’s where we headed on this beautiful spring morning. We sipped our very good caramel lattes ($3.50 for a double) and relaxed and talked for a couple of hours with no disturbances at all. It was heaven.
I will definitely be coming here again.
1273 MacArthur Blvd.
San Leandro, CA
M-F 6 AM – 7 PM
Sa-Su 6:30 AM – 6 PM
I just stopped by the 88 Supermarket to buy some frozen banana leaves ($1.20), and while I waited for Mike to finish the purchase, I did some quick browsing. I was happy to find one aisle with a bunch of African items. They had manioc, cassava, semolina and plantain flours, some manioc couscous, flour for fufu, egusi, groundnut butter (peanut butter but African), lots and lots of palm oil (starting at $4 for a small jar). You can see some of the other products they carry on the picture below. I originally thought they didn’t have maggi cubes, but clearly this picture shows that they do.
14405 E 14th St
San Leandro, CA