Cheese Board Collective by Christina Diaz
The pizza from this much-loved Berkeley restaurant is what put the place into Yelp’s new Top 100 list. Photo: Christina Diaz

Berkeley may be a foodie’s idea of heaven, but just one of the city’s restaurants made it into a recently released Top 100 restaurants in the country ranking — and it’s not the one you probably thought of first.

Move over Chez Panisse, it’s Cheese Board‘s sought-after pizza that puts the collective in the no. 16 spot in the Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. list compiled for the first time by Yelp.

The list is is something of a riposte to more elevated rankings like the Michelin Guide, in that it is based on the views of the ordinary man or woman on the street rather than food critics.

Peter’s Kettle Corn, one of three East Bay eating spots to earn a place in Yelp’s new Top 100 ranking. Photo: Peter’s Kettle Corn

So, while the world renowned Napa restaurant The French Laundry is included, many of the restaurants in the ranking are under-the-radar neighborhood spots that ordinary folk return to again and again — for good food and good value.

Yelp compiled the list by combining the star ratings and number of reviews, both of which are created by the site’s millions of users.

Along with the Cheese Board — which every Berkeleyan will tell you has lines down the block every day for a reason — two other East Bay eateries made the list: Oakland’s Peter’s Kettle Corn (#56), run by Peter and John Ngu, whose Horchata and Sea Salt Seaweed snacks are sold at farmers markets and at Off The Grid; and Wally’s Café in Emeryville (#66), whose Mediterranean food, including gyros and baklava, earned rave reviews, but which even fans describe fondly as a “dive,” and which has neither a website nor a Facebook page.

San Francisco snagged eight spots in the inaugural list, though, again, it was not necessarily for the familiar names one would expect to see. The SF winners were: Gary Danko, Roxie Food Center, Lou’s Café, Arizmendi Bakery, Ike’s Place, Little Luca Sandwich Shop and Deli, Kokkari Estiatorio, and The Codmother Fish and Chips.

New York’s top restaurant is not Jean Georges or Per Se, but a vegan food truck called the Cinnamon Snail that earns praise for its vanilla crème brûlée donut and maple mustard tempeh sandwich.

And the overall winner that earned the number one spot in the country? A humble place called Da Poke Shack on Hawaii’s Big Island whose $8.00 poke bowl salads are, it seems, wildly popular.

The Yelp ranking may throw up some genuine surprises, but it would seem to represent the democratic choice — and that can only be a good thing.

Cheese Board Collective: 40 years in the Gourmet Ghetto (07.08.11) 
The best pizza in Berkeley? Our readers have decided (06.10.11)
Where do you get the best pizza in Berkeley? You tell us [06.03.11]
Out in Berkeley: Delectable blues with Cheese Board Pizza [4.21.11]
The lunchtime music scene at the Cheese Board [09.04.10]

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...