Start the day by…sleeping in late. Hey, you’re on vacation! Today is the Savory Course,
starting with brunch at La Note, a bit of Provence in downtown Berkeley. The food is
French, and quite revolutionary.
While you're downtown, why not “savor” Berkeley’s amazing architecture before
heading north on Shattuck to the Gourmet Ghetto, where Berkeley’s culinary travel
credentials were originally hewn. Since 1967, the Cheese Board Collective has defined
what a successful, worker-owned business looks like. Plus they sell more than 400
varieties of mind-blowing cheese from local makers and around the world, amazing
artisan breads and delectable pastries. Here, you can taste any cheese before you buy. A
few doors down, the Cheese Board Pizza Collective spins a daily pizza that you’ll have to
line up with the locals for.
Just across the street, Epicurious Garden is a food court that has evolved with a Berkeley
twist, of course. Kirala 2 is a take-out counter for the noteworthy Japanese cuisine of
Berkeley’s Kirala Restaurant. Sushi, rolls, bento boxes, and noodles. Also of note:, Indian
bistro fare at Mint Leaf, and handmade soup from Soop. Food from any outlet can be
enjoyed al fresco at the hidden tea garden next to the Imperial Tea Court.
Surrounded by classic California wine country, Berkeley’s grape trade is under the radar
but well worth exploring. The local focus on artisan, handmade cuisine extends to wine,
including local retailers like the renowned Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Donkey &
Goat and Vintage Berkeley. At Vintage Berkeley’s Vine Street shop, nightly tastings
present free sips of limited production wines from small importers, local wineries, and
independent distributors. You’ll find affordable wines from California, France, and
West Berkeley’s Takara Sake, the largest sake distillery in the United States. Takara
Sake’s tasting room is a Zen-blend of exquisite design featuring reclaimed lumber and
recycled glass, and is open daily from 12 to 6. Fourth Street is just around the corner. It’s
one of Berkeley’s hottest shopping and dining spots, a destination in its own right.
Want to get hands on this afternoon? Kitchen on Fire offers cooking classes at Epicurious
Garden. North Shattuck is also where Berkeley’s all-organic Farmers’ Market takes place
every Thursday. Cooking can build up a powerful appetite, and as dinner time draws
near, return to downtown Berkeley for a great range of “savory” choices including
Revival Bar & Kitchen (fresh seafood and additional entrees artfully prepared, lively
bar). Or, go west and explore a rich array of options including Riva Cucina, Spenger's,
and Vik's Chaat Corner.