Last weekend, four of my college roommates came to town for a reunion. There are 7 of us who lived together in college who now live in 5 different states and 2 different countries, so when we are able to get a critical mass together, it is a truly special event. Since I was hosting and because I have FOMA, I packed the itinerary with lots of my favorite Berkeley eating/grocery spots. I am definitely not as good at taking pictures of food when I’m at home, but here’s a list of my favorite places to get food in Berkeley. I’ll try to update with photos later:
Cheeseboard – This cooperative is my favorite place to buy cheese, bread, and pastries. The people who work here know an incredible amount about cheese and are completely unpretentious about it. They expect you to taste lots of cheese before deciding what to buy and appear genuinely happy to tell you about cheese. They also bake their own bread, which is delicious. My favorites are the plain baguette (the word “plain” is a misnomer. This baguette is the best one you will ever eat and I have eaten baguettes in many European countries!), the chocolate thing (a brioche type bread with chunks of melted chocolate inside), the cherry corn scone, the cheese scone, and the Berkeley bun. They also have a sister cooperative next door by the same name that serves a different type of DELICIOUS vegetarian pizza every day.
La Note – There is ALWAYS a line out the door for breakfast on weekends, but it is worth it. My favorites are the La Note Pain Perdu (semolina french bread sprinkled with lavender honey) and Les Oeufs Lucas (eggs lightly scrambled with goat cheese, chives, served with roasted tomatoes). I’ve never been here for lunch or dinner, but if it’s anything like breakfast, it’s delicious.
Berkeley Bowl – This is the greatest grocery store on earth, especially the bulk and produce sections. There are actually two Berkeley Bowls now. I go to Berkeley Bowl West, which is a little nicer because it was just built in 2009, but both are great. Berkeley Bowl West also has a pretty good cafeteria.
Vintage Berkeley – This wine shop is adorable and unpretentious. The knowledgeable staff never fail to give me good wine suggestions (I know pretty much nothing about wine.)
Gregoire – The potato puffs at this tiny little “restaurant” are delicious! It’s mostly a to-go place, but they have a few small tables if you want to eat there. The other food is pretty good too, but I often just pick up some potato puffs to go. Yum.
Picante – Their watermelon agua fresca, salsa verde, and guacamole are SO delicious. I usually get the vegetable burrito or the fish tacos, which are great and if you eat meat, the carnitas tacos are wonderful. It’s a super family friendly restaurant and the service is super fast, so don’t be deterred by long lines.
Sea Salt – If you’re looking for a fancier restaurant, this is one of my favorites. The grilled squid is terrific.
Yogurtland – I know, I know, it’s a chain, but Yogurtland is a FOMA sufferer’s best friend. I love tart yogurt and there are so many different flavors to choose from, but you don’t have to choose – you can have them all!
Berkeley is an unpretentious foodie’s paradise. Enjoy!