Local Information

Where to go for lunch

One of the best things about Berkeley is the good, cheap food! The three main food areas near campus are: Northside (corner of Hearst and Euclid, 2 minutes walk), Southside (starting at Bancroft and Telegraph, 10 minutes walk), and Downtown (around Shattuck and University, 15 minutes walk). Here I will list a few of my favorite places:
  • NORTHSIDE: Berkeley can rival Paris in the number of cafes per capita. For a true Berkeley experience head for Brewed Awakening (on Euclid, first block from campus) for an assortment of coffees, pastries, freshly squeezed juices (try grapefruit!) and wonderful smoothes. Cross the street to Cafe Nefeli for a more intimate Greek cafe experience (and a chance to spot a Turing Award winner or two). Try their wonderful (albeit overpriced) sandwiches and, for dessert, Gelato Amaretto. For cheap yet delicious sandwiches, salads, fruit smoothes, freshly squeezed juices (orange, carrot, apple, and water melon, among others) visit the Hummingbird Cafe, a deli shop run by a friendly Syrian-Armenian. There is no seating inside, so take your sandwich to go, and sit at North Gate or on the patio above Sibley. Good and greasy Middle Eastern food can be had at Bongo Burger (try the falafel). The food court on Hearst (at Euclid) has a range of ethnic places (Thai, Chinese, Korean, Japanese) of average quality.
  • SOUTHSIDE: Head south across campus to Telegraph Ave. where hippies and yuppies peacefully coexist in this colorful neighborhood. For the biggest salads in town, go to Cafe Intermezzo (Telegraph at Haste). They bake their own bread and make their own dressings. For variety try their half-salad, half-sandwich combo. Thai House (2511 Channing Way, at Telegraph) serves good, cheap Thai food in a nice, quiet setting (try to get a seat outside and enjoy the sun). For students on a budget, there can be nothing better than a $2 fatty slice of pizza from the notoriously rude Blonde's Pizza, or for fatter slices try Fat Slice (on first and second block of Telegraph). On Durant St. (East of Telegraph) Cafe Durant serves pretty good Mexican food and other stuff like crepes, Eat-A-Pita is a good Middle Eastern place, and there is also a food court of medium quality. For a more sophisticated lunch experience, try the Musical Offering Cafe and Record Shop (2430 Bancroft), where the local Bach lovers come to have a sandwich and browse a large collection of classical CDs.
  • DOWNTOWN: Go to University Ave. between Oxford and Shattuck for a number of wonderful restaurants. The owner of Crepes-a-Go-Go (first block of University) used to sell crepes on the streets of Paris. Now he is in Berkeley, and his sweet and savory crepes are the best in town (plus, he now stocks Gelato Classico, the best ice cream west of Florence)! Across the street Cambodiana, a delicious Cambodian/French restaurant serves dishes with amazing sauces (try the fish!). Further down, Plearn Thai (2050 University) serves good Thai food at reasonable prices.
  • GOURMET GHETTO: A bit too far for lunch, there is the famous Gourmet Ghetto (Shattuck at Vine) with lots of great restaurants. Notably, Cha Am (Shattuck at Cedar) is the best Thai place in Berkeley. And, of course, if you have an expense account, try Chez Panisse where chief Alice Waters started the whole California Cuisine.
  • In the evening

    Although it's spring break and few people are around, it's still possible to experience the Berkeley soul by taking a stroll on Telegraph Ave. Make sure to stop by Cody's Books for the best selection of new books and at Moe's Books for used book bargains. Rasputin's Music and Ameba Music both have a huge collection of new and used CDs and vinyl (Ameba has an especially good collection of used classical CDs upstairs).
    And if you get bored in Berkeley, all the excitement of San Francisco is just a 20-minute BART ride away!

    On the Weekend

    If you are staying for the weekend, there are plenty of things to do around the Bay Area. Visiting San Francisco is, of course, a must. Take a walk around China Town and North Beach. Climb atop Coit Tower for a wonderful view of the city (see if you can spot the Berkeley Campanile!). For big waves and breathtaking sunsets, go to Ocean Beach (BART into the city, transfer to MUNI metro N, and take it to the "Ocean Beach" stop, which is the end of the line). From there walk north to Cliff House and take a stroll along the path to Land's End for amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
    Back in Berkeley, hiking in Tilden Park (up in the hills) or picnicing and kite flying on the Berkeley marina (at the end of University Ave.) is a great way to spend a Saturday. Either way, we hope you will have a good time!

    Internet Access

    Some of the cafes have internet access. The Engineering Library one floor down from Sibley has a few computers with World Wide Web access [you can trick a web browser into starting a telnet session for you by typing: "telnet://your.address.edu" as the URL]

    Written by Alyosha Efros. Find him for more info on these and other local attractions.