Famed chef Alice Waters, of the renowned restaurant Chez Panisse, is often credited
|(photo: Simone Anne)|
Berkeley's "Gourmet Ghetto" Tour (Tel: 415/806-5970; www.edibleexcursions.net)
Begin your visit with a culinary walking tour. It's a great way to orient yourself and scope out a variety of good eats. The tour stops at several yummy spots in North Berkeley’s "Gourmet Ghetto" including: Saul's deli, The Cheeseboard Collective (pizzas & all things cheesy), Grégoire (French savories, known for their potato puffs) & Peet's (great coffee).
www.gatherrestaurant.com) - One of Berkeley’s top farm-to-fork restaurants. La Note (2377 Shattuck Ave., Tel: 510/843-1535; www.lanoterestaurant.com) - A lovely French-style bistro with a charming outdoor patio; perfect for brunch.
Wat Mongkolratanaram - Thai Temple (1911 Russell St., Tel: 510/849-3419; Sundays, 10am-1pm) - For Sunday brunch, locals in the know head to Berkeley's Thai Temple for a delicious dish of mango sticky rice, coconut puffs, green curry, pad thai, & beef noodle soup. Dine at picnic tables in a tented backyard. It ain't fancy, but it's fun and all the proceeds benefit the temple. On arrival, exchange your cash for tokens ($1=1 token); dishes run 5-7 tokens, beverages 1-2 tokens. Get there early!
After a scrumptious meal, soak up some culture:
The Blank Tapes Botanical Garden
2025 Addison St.; Tel: 510/647-2949; www.berkeleyrep.org
Since 1968, Berkeley Rep has presented cutting-edge plays. Many of the shows have gone on national tour, had on and off-Broadway runs, graced the London stage, and been turned into films. See those groundbreaking shows here first!
Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse
2020 Addison St.; Tel: 510/644-2020; thefreight.org
A great venue for music lovers. Over the past 40 years, Freight & Salvage has become world-famous for presenting folk and traditional American music such as bluegrass, blues, and jazz, along with Celtic and other world music. On any given night, you might hear a music legend and/or some rising star.
Tel: 510/642-9988; calperformances.org
The University of California-Berkeley has a number of performing arts venues which present incredible music, dance, theater, and special events throughout the year. One of the best known venues is the Greek Theatre, a huge, outdoor amphitheater where everyone from famed actress Sarah Bernhardt to the Grateful Dead have performed.
200 Centennial Dr.; Tel: 510/643-2755; botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu
Strolling through this beautiful, tranquil spot, with one of the most diverse plant collections in the country, is a lovely way to spend an afternoon. On summer evenings, enjoy a diverse line-up of folk, pop, rock, blues, jazz, and world music concerts in an amphitheater surrounded by redwoods--bring a picnic!
ARTS & CRAFTS & MORE
Chocolate & Chalk Art Festival
Each year, on a Saturday in spring/summer, the sidewalks along Shattuck Avenue in North Berkeley become canvases for aspiring artists to create chalk masterpieces. To keep up your strength as you stroll by, festival tickets entitle you to all kinds of chocolate goodies from local vendors; enjoy everything from chocolate éclairs & gelato to chocolate soup & chicken molé.
East Bay Open Studios
During two weekends in June, you'll see an amazing array of creative artwork in all mediums at over 400 local artists' studios. Check out: Berkeley Potter Studios (1221 8th St.; Tel: 510/528-3286) - Itsuko Zenitani, Jacqueline Proulx, and fellow potters make incredible ceramics; Sculptor Robert Abrams; Painter Barbara Moffat.
Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive
BAMPFA exhibits historical and contemporary international art and is a major center for film: current, cutting-edge, and retrospectives. Its' Babette Cafe is also a popular spot.
Berkeley Chocolate & Chalk Art Festival
Walking Tours: This is one of the best ways to explore the town.
Berkeley Historical Society - Offers 2-hour walking tours in the spring and fall.
|(photo: Visit Berkeley)|
Where To Stay:There are some nice boutique hotels in town: Hotel Shattuck Plaza, Graduate Berkeley, Berkeley City Club, Bancroft Hotel.
Getting There: Fly into Oakland or San Francisco, then take the BART (Richmond line) to downtown or north Berkeley.