Stretching between Berkeley and Oakland, from Elmwood to Rockridge, College Avenue is home to countless restaurants, bookstores and boutiques. As an area known for its artistic and intellectual residents, the avenue provides a way for visitors to soak up some cultural diversity while enjoying a good meal. It’s easy to spend an entire day on College Ave, here are our tips for the best places to stop on your journey.
A stop at Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary & Garden Arts bookstore is the perfect way to start your day on College Avenue. Founded by a group of close friends, the shop is every book lover’s dream. Floor to ceiling shelves line the walls and every empty surface displays books ranging in genre from fiction to nonfiction, children’s literature to gardening and floral arts. In addition to their wide collection, Mrs. Dalloway’s provides regular events such as live readings and book-release parties. National poetry month is the best time to visit since shoppers will leave with complimentary pocket poems!
Known all over the Bay Area, Gordo Taqueria is arguably one of the best places to eat Mexican food, and is a must-visit when on College Avenue. Although the shop is often standing-room only and with a long line out the door, the burritos, tacos and quesadillas are well worth the wait. Flavorful, fresh food to go is hard to come by, but diners will find it quite plentiful at this quaint taqueria.
If in the mood for pita and hummus, feta cheese filo parcels or baklava, La Méditerranée is the best on College Avenue. Popular for their beautiful décor and patio seating perfect for people-watching while enjoying the sun, it is a great place to relax and refuel. Known for their Meza plates, lamb meatballs and filos, La Méditerranée promises not only a delicious meal but an overall enjoyable experience. One step inside and diners are instantly transported to the Mediterranean, complete with fabulous outdoor seating and authentic cuisine.
If looking for an after-lunch dessert or cold treat, a stop at Ici Ice Cream is an absolute must. The shop is aptly named Ici, meaning ‘here’ in French, as all of the ice cream, sorbet and cones are made on site. Local and organic preservative-free ingredients make it easy to enjoy not only the ice cream but the pastries, cookies and cakes guilt-free. The flavors change daily but often include options such as: ‘Chicory-Whiskey,’ ‘Honey Lavender,’ ‘Burnt Caramel’ and ‘Peach-Muscat Sorbet.’ One trip will have you coming back to Berkeley just for an ice cream cone; but expect a line out the door and down the block!
Anything from antique one of a kind furniture, unique baby clothing, handmade jewelry, vintage chandeliers, an assortment of painted greeting cards and even a stuffed buffalo head can be found at Maison D’Etre. Prices can be steep but worth it when compared to the quality and diversity of merchandise. Be prepared to spend the afternoon browsing the shelves and fighting the urge to buy everything in sight. Come ready for a successful treasure hunt, because window shopping is not an option!
Body Time has provided the Oakland/ Berkeley area with all natural cosmetics for over 40 years. Customers are surrounded by soothing scents of lavender, sandalwood and jasmine while browsing through handmade artisan soaps, perfume and essentials oils, vitamin infused moisturizers, sweet-smelling body washes and even men’s shaving creams. Customer service is taken to the next level at Body Time with their custom scenting option. Customers have the option of custom scenting any of the unscented products or creating their own special blend of perfume oils to be held on file and refilled at any time! Body Time is not only the best place to shop for reasonably-priced, unique cosmetics but also the best when going green, as all of their materials are recyclable.
By Chloe Miller-Bess
Chloe Miller-Bess is a Bay Area native, poet, aspiring copy writer, record collector and expert door wreath-maker.