Why all the talk of lemons? Meyer lemons grow abundant in Berkeley. I have seen them even growing on the side of my neighbor’s driveway. I use them in so much of my cooking. They are sweet & sour, fragrant, and brighten up any dish. The zest is incredible for adding flavor in baked goods. I really love them so much that I might have a slight obsession with them.
If you find yourself coming to Berkeley, here are a few of my favorite food-related places to visit ( other than our beloved Meyer lemon trees). I have so many favorites but these are shops and restaurants that I frequently visit throughout the week and where you will find me hiding out.
If you can’t make a trip out here, you can order online but I highly suggest coming soon and engaging in your own culinary adventure. There is so much for your taste buds to enjoy here in Berkeley! PS- I am not getting paid or sponsored by listing these spots. I simply just adore these neighborhood joints.
Monterey Market– http://www.montereymarket.com. This tiny, bustling market is the number one reason, hands down why I started my love affair with organic, seasonal whole foods. Everything is so fresh that even simple meals; i.e roasted potatoes taste out of this world. You can’t beat the quality and variety of their produce. Ten different varieties of one type of fruit or vegetable, many organic, mostly locally grown from Northern California farms can be found glistening in the aisles here.
Monterey Market also carries specialty groceries and a great bulk bin section. If you are lucky, you will most likely run into some great local chefs. On several occasions, I have found myself shopping next to Cal Peternell, Micheal Pollan and Alice Waters although I never dared say anything because I was too shy!
Magnani’s Poultry Shop– http://www.magnanis.com. Magnani’s Poultry was founded in 1917 and is well-known for its high-quality organic, all-natural meats, olive oils, artesian vinegar, and deli foods.
They are located across the street from Monterey Market in an old brick building on a charming tree-lined strip of Hopkins Street with an exceptional cheese shop, bakery and pizza place all in a row. Magnani’s has awesome butchers and it feels like an old school, unpretentious and friendly neighborhood butcher shop. They also provide marrow bones and organ meats.Their customers are loyal and have been returning to Magnani’s for years.
Berkeley Bowl– http://www.berkeleybowl.com. Berkeley Bowl began in 1977 as a small neighborhood market. Presently, there are two large locations which offer a phenomenal selection of bulk, organic and whole foods & groceries. Large grocery stores are hard to find in Berkeley due to limited space but this one does not skimp on size nor quality of groceries. There is also a wonderful meat, poultry and seafood section, as well as a cafe serving fresh food for lunch. You can get lost in this supermarket because it’s that BIG!!!
Tokyo Fish Market– http://www.tokyofish.net This is such a cool market.It is a family run business and the staff that work here know their FISH. The seafood is so FRESH and beautiful. They have a large selection of Asian groceries and even a small produce section. Next door, they have a gift shop which I highly recommend checking out. It is my go to place for holiday gifts and Christmas stocking stuffers. Such unique, fun products such as hand crafted bowls, pottery, tea accessories and food-related fun.
Amphora Nueva– http://www.amphoranueva.com. Berkeley Olive Oil Works features the largest, freshest selection of single varietal extra virgin olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars on tap. Family owned & operated, they have had a presence in the olive oil industry for the past 90 years. This is my absolute favorite olive oil shop. It is like a toy-store for food-happy adults. I make a special trip to stock up on their oils & vinegars. Some of my favorites include their butter olive oil which is great for allergy-friendly baking or those of us who cannot have dairy. It tastes exactly like butter! Their vinegars are exceptional I love the Premium aged Balsamic. It has a sweet, syrupy consistency that I use to flavor homemade jams, vinaigrettes, tomato sauce or simply drizzled over ice cream, it’s that GOOD! Make a visit, you will not be disappointed!
North Berkeley Farmer’s Market(s)- North Berkeley hosts a weekly farmer’s market every Thursday on the intersection of Shattuck and Rose streets. It is a lovely small, farmer’s market and makes for a wonderful afternoon. There are a few food vendors and on a nice day, there may be music and almost always happy faces. For more information- http://www.ecologycenter.org
Mission Heirloom- http://www.missionheirloom.com. Mission Heirloom is located in North Berkeley in what once was a defunct Chinese restaurant. Why defunct? It always looked vacant and rundown. I never once thought about dining here. So when I heard new owners were moving in, bringing a holistic, earthy vibe AND building a garden in the back, I couldn’t be happier and a bit skeptical. I just couldn’t see past the run down exterior.
The storefront is gleaming; natural light flooding onto the shelves which are stocked with homemade soups, broths, nut milks, teas and more. The back garden has plenty of seating and feels like an oasis. It is the one place I go to when I want to feel zen. The food is mostly paleo, organic, local, and nourishing.
“Dietary requirements are culinary opportunities”. This is the tagline displayed on the outside of their storefront. The first time I read this, I burst into tears. I’m unsure if I was feeling tired or weepy in general. However, when you care for two young girls with severe allergies, one of them being food related, all you think about each day is food in relation to one’s health and safety. I’m thankful that there are places such as Mission Heirloom who are thoughtful in their approach to healthy eating.
Pizzahhh!- We are so lucky to live in a town where there is access to such good quality pizza. I have many favorites but this little campus joint is by far our go-to pizza place. It is located close to the North Gate entrance of campus, tucked away in a lively food court, mostly a gathering of students, happily munching away on their gourmet pizzas. The pizza here is made to order and they use fresh, high quality ingredients. They have very unique daily specials. There is outdoor bench seating which is a fun option if you come with a group or your family.
You can get a gourmet type pizza for a not so gourmet price. Truly delicious and worth the visit. Plus, afterwards you can take a scenic walk on campus and stop at nearby Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt( http://www.menchies.com) for some soft serve delights. You can find Pizzahh!, with a complete update of their daily specials, online on their Facebook page:
Come visit Berkeley!!!!