NFT San Francisco Berkeley (East)

Berkeley (East)

Overview
The city of Berkeley, famous for its university and seismically sensitive land, has a long history of community activism. And while the memory of radical ideas still permeates the air, as you get closer to the center and its many academic establishments (besides the UC, there are also the Graduate Theological Union, Vista Community College, and various vocational schools), you're now more likely to encounter a Starbucks than a protest. Shattuck Avenue, the commercial street that runs the length of the city, hosts a staggering array of restaurants and bars (but beware; prices increase as you move further north). Telegraph Avenue, extending southward from campus, is where the out-of-towners shop, the punks beg, and the freshmen eat. Most of the properties in North Berkeley are occupied by studious grad students who don't even have time to enjoy their fabulous views; West Berkeley is a residential mecca; and artistic creativity thrives in gritty South Berkeley. Each neighborhood has a different feel, but the city has an almost unmatched cohesive pride.See more.

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Berkeley coffee shops, once hotbeds of activism, have made a seamless transition into 21st-century café culture: Brewed Awakening (1807 Euclid Ave) is filled with students typing papers; at Au Coquelet (2000 University Ave) you can play scrabble and get a hot meal until 1am; at the Free Speech Movement Café (Moffit Undergraduate Library, UC Berkeley Campus) you can learn about Berkeley's most famous social movement and sip a great latte; and you can sit and blog away your concerns at Caffe Strada (2300 College Ave). Visit the original Peet's Coffee & Tea (2124 Vine St) for a strong cup of joe and a taste of a true Berkeley institution.

For cultural experiences, there is no shortage of activity: La Peña (3105 Shattuck Ave) hosts performing arts showcases, poetry slams, and documentaries with a focus on Latin American politics and culture. Next door, Starry Plough slams poetry on Wednesdays over a pint of Guinness. At Ashkenaz (1317 San Pablo Ave) you can rock your body to world and roots music. The Pacific Film Archive, located on campus, screens rare and rediscovered prints of movie classics, new and historic works by great international film directors, restored silent films, and indie fiction and documentaries. On-stage entertainment in this town ranges from neighborhood theater companies like the Shotgun Players and the nationally renowned Berkeley Repertory Theatre to original punk rock at 924 Gilman.

Food
Famous for both its fancy eateries like Chez Panisse, and its cheap on-the-go bites like La Burrita, Berkeley offers the palate variety that mirrors the diversity of the town's population. Visit the Farmers Market (Sat, Tues, Wed, Thurs; check www.ecologycenter.org/fm for locations) for organic veggies, tree-ripened fruits, and handmade artisan breads. Sit on the grass and have delicious mango sticky rice at Thai Temple's popular Sunday Brunch (Russell St & MLK Jr Wy). Order a slice of gourmet vegetarian pizza at The Cheese Board (1504 Shattuck Ave), or try the Chicago-style deep dish at Zachary's (1853 Solano Ave). If you're looking for the perfect sandwich, visit Elmwood Café (2900 College Ave), and don't miss the homemade quiche. While you're at it, ask any of the college kids, and they won't deny: no outing is complete without a cheap, low-fat indulgence at Yogurt Park (2433 Durant Ave).

Outdoors
To get away from the rumble, walk up Euclid Avenue. Extraordinary views of San Francisco across the Bay will accompany you on your stroll. Less than a mile uphill sits the Rose Garden, and then, through the tunnel, you'll discover Cordonices Park's playground and picnic area. If you have a car, explore Tilden Park. Just a bit higher is the expanse of Tilden Park: there's hiking, a golf course, and even Lake Anza with a beach (yes, it's fake). Climbers and sunset-lovers prefer the crags of Indian Rock at the northern end of Shattuck Avenue. For more of the bay's magnificent views, take a relaxing hike or run up the fire trail behind the stadium, past Strawberry Canyon, and pick blackberries on the side of the road (when you get to the bench at the top, continue to Lawrence Berkeley Labs on 1 Cyclotrone Road, or head back down). On the other side of town, you can rollerblade or bike from North Berkeley BART all the way to Richmond on Ohlone Greenway.

How to Get There
With BART stations at Ashby, Downtown, and North Berkeley, and AC Transit running from San Francisco and Oakland, getting to Berkeley on public transportation is easy. However, be aware that BART trains stop running around midnight, and AC Transit service runs on a limited schedule in the late night/early morning hours. If you're arriving by car, exit on University Avenue from I-80 E, or follow Hwy 13 into town from the east. Street parking is tough around campus and on the main drags of Telegraph and Shattuck Avenues, but patience and persistence often pay off. For lot parking, the UC Berkeley parking lots or the Telegraph/Channing Lot (2431 Channing Wy) are always good options, but be sure to get your ticket validated or prices will be steep.




         


This Neighborhood Featured in...
No Cover, No Minimum

By Deborah Crooks
Music in San Francisco: It's crazy, but true. See the city's fledgling musicmakers now before they molt, grow wings, take flight and make for the Northwest Passage, never to return.

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On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Emilie Russell
Photo:  Emilie Russell

Revival Bar + Kitchen
As an ex-Pentecostal, I've attended many revivals (a series of church services dedicated to creating a religious awakening [they're an evangelical thing]). So when I hear "revival," I think: extra-fervent preaching, speaking in tongues, and full-body baptisms. However, having checked out Revival Bar + Kitchen, I think my connotations may be shifting. Revival serves thoughtful cocktails and food crafted from local and seasonal ingredients, and embraces a "snout-to-tail" approach when preparing animals. The inspiration for Revival's name is twofold: the building's history, dating back to 1901, and the local revival of farm-to-table ideals. I sat at the bar and snacked on beef marrow flatbread (Lord, it was good--oily and crispy, topped with arugula and shaved asparagus) and an avocado/bay shrimp/shaved fennel/hearts of palm salad with a tarragon dressing that made my taste buds wanna shout hallelujah. As for drinks, I was asked what spirit I liked and informed that something unique would be crafted for me. Instead of a spirit I chose champagne, and was served a lovely mojito-esque cocktail. Clearly, there's a "Revival in the land" (to quote Carman, an evangelical singer big in the 1980s), and this is definitely one you should attend.



Posted By:  Valerie Ng
Photo:  Valerie Ng

Venus Restaurant
Being a devotee of La Note and its pancakes and homefries, I'd long overlooked Venus, just a block away. So one morning as a friend and I were planning on meeting at the former, we were anticipating a lengthy wait when we decided to head over to Venus instead. We joined a small crowd, but were seated pretty fast. Before long we were digging into lemon ricotta hotcakes, which were lovingly smothered in lemon curd, maple syrup, and blackberry sauce, and a ranchera omelette stuffed with avocado, cheese, and chipotle crema with a side of potatoes and biscuit. Not a bad alternative to our trusted favorite. We should make a point of stopping by more often.



Posted By:  Valerie Ng
Photo:  Valerie Ng

Elmwood Cafe
It was a sad event when Ozzie's closed, leaving Elmwood without its beloved pharmacy and soda fountain. Part of the store was swallowed up by neighboring Mrs. Dalloway. But the neighborhood has reason to rejoice now that it has been reincarnated as the Elmwood Cafe, preserving Ozzie's counter, among other things. Those nostalgic for an old-fashioned soda will be happy to know that the new cafe makes its own, as well as an amazing selection of artfully crafted baked goods. While the prices are high--a small glass of soda will run $2.50, a thumbnail-sized square of a truffle brownie sets you back $3--so is the quality of the goods, with its managers being veterans of Cafe Fanny. But if you find the prices extravagant, your money will be going to a worthy cause--50% of the profits are donated to charity, which customers get to vote on.



Posted By:  Valerie Ng
Photo:  Valerie Ng

Cupkates
Unlike New York, we in the Bay aren't used to getting gourmet food served from a kitchen with wheels. OK, so there are the rotisserie chicken and Belgian waffle trucks, but they just park themselves at the farmers markets and don't traverse the city the way that artisan ice cream and Taiwanese food make their way around Manhattan. Cupkates is pioneering the trend in our neck of the woods, bringing its simple yet delectable little cakes to the denizens of Berkeley and Oakland. With no fixed location, the Cupkates truck roams the East Bay, making its route known via Facebook and Twitter. My personal favorite is the lemon raspberry, with its moist, luscious lemon cake specked with vanilla bean topped with a creamy dollop of raspberry frosting. It's pure heaven.



Posted By:  Bon Vivant
Photo:  Bon Vivant

Little Gino's
Since I've never been to Chicago, I've never had a proper Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich. Still, that doesn't prevent me from enjoying said style sandwich at Little Gino's Hot Dogs located in Downtown Berkeley. There are other Chicago specialties to be found at this small food stand (including the famous Chicago Dog of course) but so far I haven't been able to extricate myself from ordering this particular sandwich that I'm genetically predisposed to like. It may sound threatening to hear the owner say, "Do you want giardineria wit' dat?" i.e. "You better get giardineria wit' dat!" but really he has your best interest at heart: do not even think of ordering this sandwich without it! The pickled peppers and vegetables really add a nice balanced acidity (sounds like I'm writing a wine review) to the sandwich meaning it gives it an additional oomph. You can get your roll dry or dipped in the beef juices but I haven’t really noticed a difference in the two styles. This place gets bonus points for being a block away from the "Berkeley" BART station.



Posted By:  Valerie Ng
Photo:  Valerie Ng

Alohana Hawaiian Grill
 $5 doesn't get you very far on lunch these days. You could get a burger without fries or a drink, or an order of chicken tenders. Needless to say, if you want a full stomach, as well as a balanced meal, you'll need to pull out a few more bucks. Unless you happen to be in downtown Berkeley, and head to Alohana Hawaiian Grill. Even if the food isn't as wholesome as some of the other places in the environs, it's still decent, and you'll get plenty of bang for your buck. Even the smaller portion will yield a large bowl of rice topped with a decent amount of meat entree plus a side of steamed (albeit bland) vegetables. As if you needed to justify a meal of deep-fried chicken slices and white rice, along with some broccoli and cabbage for good measure, you could feed yourself pretty well for the price of a small organic sandwich. There's no need to go hungry when you're pinching pennies.



Posted By:  Valerie Ng
Photo:  Valerie Ng

Kitchen on Fire
 Dream of honing your culinary skills but don't have the dough (no pun intended) to enroll at the California Culinary Academy? Even if you don't intend to open the next Zuni Cafe, you can still sharpen your kitchen skills without the commitment of a culinary program. Kitchen on Fire offers classes for cooking enthusiasts of all skill levels, on everything from French pastry to Modern Thai cuisine. Classes involve just one three-hour session (unless it's part of a series), beginning with lectures and demonstrations followed by hands-on cooking by the students. Their efforts are rewarded at the end with a feast of the dishes they prepare, which can turn out to be better than restaurant quality. After a class here, you'll be able to jazz up your nightly meals without resorting to take-out.



Posted By:  Valerie Ng
Photo:  Valerie Ng

Summer Kitchen Bake Shop
 Even when it's not summer, I always enjoy a freshly prepared meal in a setting that emanates the warmth of the season. And though not exclusively a bake shop, the Summer Kitchen Bake Shop is just the kind of place that I would enjoy on a cool winter day, with a cherry, welcoming interior in which the chefs whip up a healthy selection of locally sourced foods that change daily. The menu offerings are made with love, and even otherwise bland ingredients like cauliflower and carrots are dressed into delicious sides, and low-key chicken tenders are sophisticatedly crusted in herbs. With few tables available, most diners take their meals to go. While some of the salads and sandwiches can be a bit pricey, most of the menu is priced by weight, so you can order whatever you feel is sufficient. And even if you don't like sharing, consider doing so if you intend to try one of the cupcakes--they're substantial, but oh so good, especially the lemon meringue.



Posted By:  Valerie Ng
Photo:  Valerie Ng

A Taste of Africa
If you like prompt service when you dine out, don't expect to get it at A Taste of Africa, which lives up to its name. Run in true laid-back West African style, we arrived fifteen minutes before opening time, but were invited inside to hang out and make ourselves comfortable. It was about half an hour before the affable chef gave us our menu options, but we were happy to wait, especially when there was African reggae playing for us. By the time our food finally came out, we were eager to dig in. It was well worth the wait--the stewed chicken, sweet potatoes in coconut sauce, swiss chard, black-eyed peas and plantains, all served on a bed of rice were delicious, a reminder that good food isn't fast. If you ask for a dollop of hot sauce, be aware that there's no mild or medium--just straight up hot sauce. My Africaphile friend assured me it was all an authentic taste of Africa, right down to the friendly service.



Posted By:  Valerie Ng
Photo:  Valerie Ng

Saul's
Saul's is known for producing a lot of tasty, freshly-made, if not overpriced, items. Like heaping deli sandwiches, latkes, knishes, and cheesecake. Now it's branching out into the homemade soda scene, crafting soft drinks in changing flavors like lime, apple, ginger, celery, and even cardamom. I'm normally not much of a soda drinker but with the new trend of the hand-crafted variety, they've become a tastier, sweet-but-not-too-sweet, and sophisticated alternative to water. Even if you have misgivings about eating at Saul's because of the high prices, it's worth going in to give the sodas a try. They're the exact same price as the conventional fountain sodas of Coke, Sprite, and even club soda, although there won't be bottomless refills. But seriously, why go for the artificially flavored, corn syrup-laden crap when you could have a fresh product made with genuine ingredients?



Posted By:  Valerie Ng
Photo:  Valerie Ng

Amanda's
Mention the words "healthy fast food" and you're likely to be met with plenty of skepticism. You probably would have reacted the same way before discovering Amanda's. Even if it's not completely fat-free, it's about as wholesome as a quick meal can get. The specialty burgers are made from fresh, organic, all-natural ingredients, with vegetarians also accommodated with a mushroom and walnut burger and a few delicious salads. And the fries are in fact baked, but still taste great despite not having been saturated in oil. Or, you can try Amanda's fresh raw organic apple "fries" or warm almonds as an alternative. Items can be ordered individually, or go for one of the combos, none of which can be supersized. There's no Coca-cola or Sprite to be found on the menu either--all sodas are freshly made. And to make this place even better, the restaurant is kind to our bodies and the environment--all utensils and food packaging is compostable and the facilities are built from sustainable materials.



Posted By:  Valerie Ng
Photo:  Valerie Ng

Chick-O-Pea's
Vegetarians, here's a place just for you where even your fiercest carnivore friends wouldn't mind tagging along to. There's no way they can turn down a place that serves seven varieties of specialty fries in addition to its healthy organic meat-free sandwiches and salads. At Chick-O-Pea's, ordering the falafel pita gets you a trip to the salad bar, where you can stuff your sandwich with an assortment of fresh vegetables and beans. Even the tofu burger can't be too bland when it's topped with pomegranate or spicy zhug sauce. If you've got room for dessert, there's house-made baklava, including vegan-friendly and apple versions. For those who thought that fast food always involved meat and grease, this place proves otherwise.



Posted By:  Valerie Ng
Photo:  Valerie Ng

Almare Gelato
I really loved the minimalist decor of this place when it was Gelato Milano. It had hands-down the best authentic Italian gelato I'd been able to find outside Italy. Then after the management changed, obtaining a new name in the process, I was hesitant to go back, sure it just wouldn't be the same. When I finally got around to visiting the shop under its new name, I discovered that some Americanized flavors like peanut butter had entered the mix, bucking its former trend of producing only traditional tastes like panna cotta and strawberry. I skipped the new flavors and stuck with my old favorites, enjoying the Italian music playing in the background, just like old times. Though distracted by the bright red walls, the experience was more or less still the same, with the ice cream's texture staying true to its roots. If you're looking for a cheap dessert after a meal in downtown Berkeley, you can't go wrong with gelato.



Posted By:  Valerie Ng
Photo:  Valerie Ng

Jupiter
I'm really not much of a beer drinker, so I don't care how many varieties of house brews Jupiter has on tap on any given night. But that doesn't make it any less of an all-around great place for me to catch up with friends and chill out to live jazz. The brick oven-fired pizzas are creative and delicious, as are the salads. If beer's not your thing, try the cider, which come in tasty choices like pear and pomegranate. And now that it's late spring, you can also enjoy the "Americana Unplugged Sundays" summer bluegrass series, which will run through October. Another reason to look forward to the imminent arrival of summer.



Posted By:  Elizabeth Hollis Hansen
Photo:  Elizabeth Hollis Hansen

Café Clem
It's hard for me to be in the neighborhood near Cafe Clem and not be tempted to stop in for a cafe au lait and pastry. This little cafe is a bit off-the-beaten path on Berkeley's south side, but it is well worth a trip to sample the delectable baked goods, savory egg dishes, and gourmet sandwiches. Inspired by the cafes of France and sister to Berkeley's well-loved La Note restaurant, Cafe Clem is a cozy place to sip your coffee slowly and linger over a newspaper and perhaps an almond croissant. On sunny days, grab a sidewalk table and hope you get there just when the chocolate chip cookies come out of the oven. Or order a toasted baguette with brie and a fresh fruit tartlet with a glass of French wine, and any old afternoon turns simply delightful.



Posted By:  Elizabeth Hollis Hansen
Photo:  Elizabeth Hollis Hansen

Triple Rock Brewery
A real brewpub for serious pub goers, Triple Rock Brewery is said to be the oldest original brewpub in the United States and the fifth brewpub to open in the country. It's the only brewpub to still be owned and operated by its founders. Located in Berkeley's downtown district, Triple Rock is not a hidden gem. It's well loved and can get very crowded, especially on Thursdays--the only day when the pub serves its beloved Monkey Head Arboreal Ale. Other days there is no lack of good beer, however. In fact, this is my favorite locally brewed beer. I put up with the crowds, the always-on-sports flat-panel TV screens, and the spotty service just to drink the beer. Triple Rock does not bottle and sell its beer elsewhere, although you can buy a box o' beer to take home with you and drink at your leisure. The food here is typical salty, greasy pub fare. It does the job, but this place is really about the brew.




Posted By:  Valerie Ng
Photo:  Valerie Ng

Rick & Ann's Restaurant
I rarely have the pleasure of enjoying a proper American breakfast. I'm always too lazy or not hungry enough, to whip it up at home. And eating out for the first meal of the day seems so unnatural, especially when you have to wait. Ideally, I'd like to roll out of bed and have my morning meal within minutes. So it might seem odd that I was willing to wait 40 minutes for brunch at Rick & Anne's, but my friend assured me it was worth it so we sat with our empty stomachs, choosing not to pick anything up from Peet's to save room for what was to come. When our food arrived, I devoured my fresh-pressed apple juice and buttery ricotta orange pancakes and housemade turkey sausage. Sometimes, it really is worth the wait.



Posted By:  Valerie Ng
Photo:  Valerie Ng

Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen
I have yet to make a trip to Louisiana, and I'll never know what New Orleans was like in its pre-Katrina days. For now, an evening at Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen will suffice. Food and music are what The Big Easy is known for, and the restaurant succeeds in presenting both in an intimate setting. The menu boasts all of the traditional Cajun and Southern favorites like gumbo, jambalaya, po' boys, and catfish. As a starter, my friend (whose family hails from Louisiana) and I ordered hush puppies, served crisp and golden with honey butter. My crawfish etoufee had the right amount of Cajun kick, and we topped off the night with beignets, covered in powdered sugar. All the while, a New Orleans soundtrack serenaded us with the likes of "When the Saints Go Marching In." That night, I was able to pretend for the duration of your meal, that New Orleans will never change.



Posted By:  Valerie Ng
Photo:  Valerie Ng

Yogurt Harmony
Berkeley doesn't lack many culinary institutions. Whatever it is you're craving, there's someplace in town that serves it. But one thing that has yet to arrive here is a Pinkberry. If LA and New York can have that sour frozen yogurt with fresh, all-natural toppings, why can't we? But fortunately, there are independent fro-yo joints popping up, including Yogurt Harmony. The eco-friendly place provides more or less the same goods as the more famous franchise. The (relatively) guilt-free treat doesn't come cheap, even for a small portion with one topping. To get more bang for your buck, gather a few friends and order the shaved ice--the huge serving provides enough yogurt, shaved ice, and toppings to satisfy all.



Posted By:  Dan Bollwinkel
Photo:  Dan Bollwinkel

La Mediterranee
Aside from night clubs, ice cream, new video game systems, concert tickets, public executions, the DMV and first run movies, breakfast is one thing that I refuse to wait in line for. As seems to be the trend these days in the East Bay, if you serve eggs and bacon on weekends--no matter how mundane the fare or how poor the service--mobs of hung-over individuals will line the sidewalk, willing to wait all morning for whatever hyped-up hash you're slinging. Thats why I've been finding myself at La Mediterrannee on weekend mornings. I wouldn't call it dead by any means but it's certainly a mellow scene (of course, this little treatise will probably remedy that), probably because they're best known for lunch, dinner and catering at their two SF locations, but brunch here is a welcome respite from crowds and lines as well as standard calorie-choked breakfast offerings. The brunch menu is a healthy smattering of traditional Mediterranean day-starters from house made sausage to steamed eggs to hummus and mammounia, an oatmeal-like concoction covered in cinnamon that they occasionally sell out of, mellow crowds and all.




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