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8 Best Berkeley Restaurants

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There are so many things to do in Berkeley, including going on a gastronomic adventure. So, if you’re on the hunt for delicious and inventive Berkeley restaurants, then you’re in for a treat—literally. 

Berkeley is credited by many gastronomes as the birthplace of California cuisine. They were farm-to-tabling back in the 1960s when America hardly cooked anything that wasn’t frozen. Pioneering chefs in this historic city took fresh, local Bay Area ingredients and made magic happen—and America took notice. 

Since then, Berkeley has attracted some of the most talented chefs from around the world to craft award-winning dishes at every price point. 

So whether you’re ducking out for a work-from-home kale caesar salad, impressing the parents with an upscale burger in one of the best Berkeley neighborhoods, or filling the roster for go-to Friday night pizza, we’ve got you covered. Here are the best Berkeley restaurants this culturally-brimming city has to offer. 

#1. Chez Panisse

Okay, we teased the birthplace of Californian cuisine thing, so we couldn’t leave you hanging without sharing where it all began: Chez Panisse. Founder and head chef, Alice Waters, is world-famous for opening this groundbreaking farm-to-table Berkeley restaurant in 1971. 

The menu changes with the season, but expect everything on it to be fresh, local, and delicious. This quintessential establishment in Shattuck Ave is a must-see if you’re visiting or new to the city. 

  • Neighborhood: North Berkeley (Gourmet Ghetto)
  • Cuisine: California cuisine
  • Price Point: $$$$
  • Environment: Upscale cozy
  • Good For: Date nights and adult family outings (probably not the best for kiddos) 

#2. Via del Corso

To be honest, we’d come here for pretty much any occasion—but we love Via’s expansive counter that makes solo diners feel right at home. And if that’s not enough, the food is comfort in a bowl. There is no shortage of fresh pasta or Mediterranean flair in this light-filled neighborhood spot. But our favorite part? Their extensive wine list. Perfect for enjoying before heading back to Common Bosco for a nightcap on the rooftop deck. 

  • Neighborhood: North Berkeley (Gourmet Ghetto)
  • Cuisine: Northern Italian
  • Price Point: $$
  • Environment: Airy European
  • Good For: Solo dining

#3. Top Dog

And now for something completely different—because we all deserve a Tuesday night hot dog (or three). 

This Berkeley icon opened its doors in 1966 and now slings sausages from its two inner-city locations. Everything on the menu is as greasy, salty, and satisfying as any splurge dinner should be. Arriving for pick-up after a night of drinking, studying, or Netflix binging, you’re sure to meet plenty of other Berkeley locals at the condiment bar. 

  • Neighborhood: Downtown, near Southside
  • Cuisine: Fast food
  • Price Point: $
  • Environment: No-frills counter service
  • Good For: Late-night bites

#4. La Note

Looking for delicious food near Shattuck Avenue? Then, say hello to LA Note. 

Combine brunch and a garden party in the south of France, and you’ve got La Note. If we’re impressing visitors for a weekend in Berkeley, this is where we’re taking them. The outdoor dining area or patio is as effortlessly charming as the colorful interior. 

Speaking of colorful, that’s one of our favorite things about the menu: classic brunch dishes with fresh, flavorful ingredients to wake up your palate—and your roommates after last night’s bar crawl and karaoke. 

  • Neighborhood: Downtown Berkeley
  • Cuisine: French-Californian, Brunch
  • Price Point: $$
  • Environment: Elevated diner and plant-filled patio
  • Good For: Brunch with friends 

#5. The Rare Barrel

Now that we have beer on our minds, may we introduce you to our favorite taproom in Berkeley? 

This off-the-beaten-path haven is packed with its award-winning barrel-aged beers and an award-winning environment to match. Come for the light bites and thirst-quenching sours; stay for the expansive summer patio for outdoor dining (dogs welcome!). When you’ve had your fill, stroll 10 minutes west to explore the Californian coast. 

  • Neighborhood: Southwest Berkeley
  • Cuisine: Barrel-Aged Sour Beer and New American Bites
  • Price Point: $
  • Environment: Expansive warehouse taproom with picnic-table patio 
  • Good For: Meeting new people 

#6. The Butcher’s Son Vegan Delicatessen & Bakery

The Butcher’s Son is a staple in Berkeley’s famous restaurant row, the Gourmet Ghetto. You’ll find students, families, and empty-nesters alike cozying up with coffee and mile-high breakfast sandwich options here.

 This place does it all: open from 11 am until 8 pm most days, they offer a huge deli menu of breakfast, lunch, and dinner that you’d hardly know is completely vegan. 

  • Neighborhood: North Berkeley (Gourmet Ghetto)
  • Cuisine: Plant-based sandwiches, salads, and baked goods
  • Price Point: $$
  • Environment: Chic urban counter service and cozy outdoor seating
  • Good For: Vegan, vegetarian, and health-conscious food

#7. Nabolom Bakery – Pizzeria

It seems impossible that any restaurant can perfect both a morning bun and a superbly crispy homemade pizza, but Nabolom Bakery has. The vibes here are immaculate and bound to impress even your born-and-raised Berkeley friends. 

Keep in mind that they are operating on a to-go-only basis for now, but don’t let that deter you. Take two focaccias and run, don’t walk, home. 

  • Neighborhood: Claremont
  • Cuisine: Housemade pizza and baked goods
  • Price Point: $
  • Environment: Casual carryout 
  • Good For: Friday night pizza and Saturday morning croissants

#8. La Marcha Tapas Bar

That cooking class with the Common community worked up an appetite, so you and some other community members are in search of shareables. Where to? La Marcha. 

The menu fuses traditional Spanish flavors with the freshest ingredients California has to offer. They’re known for their lively happy hour, inventive tapas, and decadent paellas. Perfect for the group grazers, foodies, and adventurous eaters. 

  • Neighborhood: Northwest Berkeley
  • Cuisine: Spanish tapas and cuisine
  • Price Point: $$
  • Environment: Elegant, warm, and lively 
  • Good For: Dining with groups

Eat your way through Berkeley with help from Common

There’s no denying the bustling restaurant scene in Berkeley. Whether you’re in town for a short visit, just moved in, or you’re as local as they come, there are so many exciting menus ripe for the picking.

We’re Common: your guide to the best of city living. We know exploring a brand new city (or even planning on it) can be overwhelming. That’s why we’re here to help you take advantage of the great cities of the U.S. without the added stress. 

Common is a new kind of residential manager. We’re people-first, city-centered, and committed to making city living easier for any kind of renter. Our coliving homes put you right in the heart of downtown Berkeley in a fully-furnished, household-supplied, amenity-packed community, so you can focus on living. 

Discover all that Berkeley has to offer at Common Bosco. 

 

Sources: 

  1. Smithsonian Magazine. Fifty Years Ago, Berkeley Restaurant Chez Panisse Launched the Farm-to-Table Movement. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/fifty-years-ago-berkeley-restaurant-chez-panisse-launched-farm-table-movement-180978181/

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