Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Bounty in Berkeley

It will come as no great surprise that Berkeley, California has some great spots to eat and explore. Having left a grey and frosty Vermont a week ago, I am thrilled to find palm trees, deep purple flowers and green grass here in sunny, balmy California. After walking through some residential neighborhoods, I found on one of the main avenues, La Note Restaurant Provencal, with a promising menu. I had the special, “Rustique Au Saumon” which was an open face sandwich on fresh, herbed levain bread (yes I broke my gluten-free diet for this incredible meal). One half had goat cheese with a pile of smoked salmon and grated onions with capers, the other half also had goat cheese, but with three slices of roasted, fresh tomatoes and garlic, all served with a side of fresh, mixed salad greens. All I can say is, c’est magnifique! Hmm, was that good! My neighbor got a classic French bowl of a divine smelling latté, which was very tempting, but I stuck to my caffeine-free mode.

After walking around for another hour, I stopped in at Herbivore, and my waiter, Gaston, was a delight. It was warm enough for me to sit at one of the outside café tables and drink my vegan smoothie and indulge in a slice of berry pie. When in Rome do as the Romans, so I had them add spirulina to my fruit packed drink adding a little virtue to the affair.

At Pegasus Books selling new, used and remainder books, I picked up the EcoMetro Guide for $20. Most of this thick guide is filled with coupons to local eco-minded stores in the Berkeley-Oakland area, including a 20% discount at Pegasus Books! The first fifty-six pages of the guide offer tips about reducing your carbon footprint with handy area maps of local eco-stores, the days, times and locations of the local farmer’s markets, and public transportation information and coupons. While not comprehensive, the EcoMetro Guide is a great tool in helping to discover all the green possibilities in the area. The coupon section is extensive, and the coupons are pretty generous so you can quickly recoup some of the $20 cost of the book.

Whole Foods super markets are plentiful in the area and there is one in Berkeley at 3000 Telegraph Avenue, a bit south of the main drag. The local health food superstore, around since 1977, is the Berkeley Bowl, so named because it is housed in a former bowling alley. It is a massive store lined with aisles of natural and regular foods and a fairly extensive bulk section. For organic dried mango lovers, buy your supply at the Berkeley Bowl as I have found the Whole Foods variety to be lacking in taste. Elephant Pharm, a full service pharmacy selling natural as well as allopathic remedies also carries a variety of natural foods, green cleaning products and gift items.

There are groovy café’s and restaurants galore including the famous Chez Panisse, whose founder and chef Alice Waters was at the forefront of the slow and whole foods movements; Venus restaurant serving slow, organic meats, seafood, grains and vegetables; Cafe Gratitude, The Café Muse at the UCBerkeley Art Museum, Raw Energy Juice Café, and countless others dot the city serving up organic and local foods. The Bread Workshop on the corner of University and Acton streets is just that – a bakery and eatery with something unexpectedly rare in Berkeley, free wifi. Here you can watch them bake while you eat - the fresh bread smell is intoxicating. And for dessert or a late night treat, the Gelateria Naia is really not to be missed. They offer delicious gelatos made from local ingredients and serve traditional dairy based flavors, as well as sixteen dairy-free flavors, four of which are soy–based and the remaining twelve are fruit sorbets. Chocolate lovers take note - the Scharffenberger soy-based gelato is heavenly!

The other eating boon in Berkeley is the wide variety of ethnic options, from Turkish, Brazilian, Thai, Mexican, Salvadoran, Ethiopian, and more. Suffice it to say that you will not go hungry or get bored of eating in Berkeley!

In addition to an abundance of organic and healthy places to eat, second-hand clothes and books are fairly plentiful. Out of the Closet is a chain of thrift stores that has supported HIV/AIDS health care since 1990. Goodwill is up University Avenue (#2058) just west of Shattuck Avenue and the Salvation Army is also on University (#1824). Serendipity Books, selling used and rare books, is farther west on University Avenue by Chestnut Street. Consignment stores are profuse as well. The Crossroads Exchange is a chain of consignment stores throughout CA ( with a large store at 2338 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley, and there is also the Buffalo Exchange (

There is a large interest in Buddhist and Tibetan philosophies in Berkeley, and there are close to two thousand Tibetans living in the area. The Tibetan Nyingma Institute has public programs on Sundays. There is a Tibet Justice Center, countless, small boutiques and gift shops selling Tibetan goods, and the BCA (Buddhist Churches of America) Bookstore at the new Jodo Shinshu Center selling a range of books on Buddhism. Om Treasures in the heart of things on Shattuck Avenue (#2278) is crammed full of Tibetan and Himalayan goodies and a sweet Tibetan man runs the store. The Asian Museum in San Francisco has an impressive collection of Buddhist artifacts from all over Asia.

Berkeley is a happening place – enjoy it if you get here.

La Note Restaurant Provencal, 2377 Shattuck Ave. (near Channing Way), Berkeley, 510-843-1535;

Herbivore, 2451 Shattuck (at Haste Street), Berkeley, 510-665-1675; (Herbivore also has two locations in San Francisco)

Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; 510-548-5525

Raw Energy Organic Juice Café, 2050 Addison Street (by Shattuck Ave), 510-665-9464

Venus Restaurant, 2327 Shattuck, 510-540-5950

Gelateria Naia, Shattuck Ave.; (locations in San Francisco and Walnut Creek also)

Café Muse, 2625 Durant Ave, Berkeley; 510-548-4366;
Berkeley Bowl Marketplace, 2020 Oregon Street (by Shattuck Avenue); 510-843-6929;

Elephant Pharm, 1607 Shattuck Avenue (at Cedar Street), Berkeley; 510-549-9200; (two other locations as well)

Bread Workshop, 1398 University Avenue, Berkeley; 510-649-9740;

Out of the Closet, 1600 University Avenue (at California Street), Berkeley (they have stores throughout California)

BCA Bookstore, 2140 Durant Avenue, Berkeley; 510-809-1435;

Serendipity Books, 1201 University Avenue, Berkeley; 510-841-7455;

Pegasus Books, 2349 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, 510-649-1320; (Pegasus has another location in Berkeley and one in Oakland)

Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Place, Berkeley; 510-809-1000;

EcoMetro Guide –

The free East Bay Natural Pages is a semi-annual guide available at many stores –

1 comment:

Elephant Pharm said...

Welcome to Berkeley! Thanks for visiting Elephant Pharm. Come back again soon (this weekend is our Friends & Family discount; Nov 14-16 everything is 25% off for our Loyalty members and friends & family. You can sign up in the store).
Healthy regards,