Berke­ley

Su­perb din­ing and per­form­ing arts thrive in this cel­e­brated univer­sity city

Travel Guide to California - - CONTENTS - BY DAVID ARM­STRONG

WORLD-FA­MOUS as a his­toric cen­ter of free speech and 1960s counter-cul­ture, Berke­ley, on the eastern shores of San Fran­cisco Bay, has mor­phed into a foodie des­ti­na­tion and unique shop­ping mecca. But it’s still Berke­ley, proudly off­beat, quirky and fun to visit, es­pe­cially now. The Down­town Arts District on Ad­di­son Street show­cases the Aurora The­atre Com­pany and the na­tion­ally known Berke­ley Reper­tory The­atre. The Freight and Sal­vage Cof­fee­house—which is both a per­for­mance venue and folk-mu­sic learn­ing cen­ter—has re­cently upped its al­ready ro­bust game, pre­sent­ing the likes of Ricki Lee Jones, Lady­smith Black Mam­bazo and Richard Thomp­son on stage.

Two more ma­jor venues opened down­town in 2016: the 83,000-square-foot Berke­ley Art Mu­seum and Pa­cific Film Ar­chive (BAMPFA), at 2155 Cen­ter Street near the Berke­ley BART sta­tion. Run­ning through mid July on BAMPFA’S art wall is a large-for­mat mu­ral by South African artist Karabo Poppy Mo­let­sane. Another down­town draw, at 2036 Univer­sity Av­enue just west of Shat­tuck Av­enue, is the 101-year-old UC The­atre, a cin­ema-turned-mu­sic space, with its su­perb, made-in-berke­ley Meyer Sound sys­tem. North Berke­ley along and near Shat­tuck is the city’s Gourmet Ghetto, with its jewel in the crown, Chez Panisse, founded by the doyenne of fresh, lo­cal, sea­sonal Cal­i­for­nia cui­sine, Alice Wa­ters. The 1966 orig­i­nal Peet’s Cof­fee and Tea shop is right nearby, as are ex­cel­lent food mar­kets, the Cheese Board cheese shop/bak­ery and invit­ing ca­sual restau­rants.

One-of-a-kind shop­ping abounds on Fourth Street, north of Univer­sity Av­enue in West Berke­ley; stand­outs in­clude Miki’s Pa­per, which fea­tures hand-made Ja­panese sta­tionery and wrap­ping pa­per. Also on Fourth, long-time fa­vorite Bette’s Ocean View Diner serves high-qual­ity Amer­i­can com­fort food, whipped up by some of the most skilled and speedy short-or­der cooks in the land.

Gor­geous brown-shin­gle wooden homes and pub­lic build­ings by cel­e­brated ar­chi­tects Bernard May­beck and Ju­lia Mor­gan—who adapted Arts and Crafts de­sign to form the Bay Re­gion style in the early 20th cen­tury— en­rich the city. May­beck’s serene 1910 First Church of Christ, Sci­en­tist, just east of Tele­graph Av­enue and south of the UC Berke­ley cam­pus, is an ar­chi­tec­tural hymn to si­lence.

Near cam­pus on Du­rant Av­enue, the ven­er­a­ble Ho­tel Du­rant is re­born as the Grad­u­ate Berke­ley ho­tel. On cam­pus, the circa 1903 Greek The­atre presents head­lin­ers in its out­door am­phithe­ater, while Cal Per­for­mances brings in­ter­na­tional acts to Zeller­bach Hall. You can toast the artists and de­bate the true mean­ing of art in a plen­ti­tude of craft mi­cro­brew­eries near cam­pus and be­yond. The new Gil­man Brew­ing Com­pany pours ex­cel­lent, of­ten cre­ative riffs on beer. Down­town fa­vorite Triple Rock, dat­ing to 1986, has ex­panded its space by 50 per­cent for the in­house pro­duc­tion of quaf­fa­ble brews.

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