Downtown Berkeley food scene picks up pace

Downtown Berkeley: ranked number one for walkability in new survey. Photo: Sharon Hahn Darlin
Scores of new restaurants are joining downtown Berkeley classics like PIQ, above. Photo: Sharon Hahn Darlin

By Arielle Gordon-Rowe

“Visit Berkeley. Come for the culture, stay for the food,” reads a large blue sign as you exit the Downtown Berkeley BART station. And, with the food revitalization currently underway in downtown Berkeley, this sign rings true. Over the course of the past few months, a slew of new restaurants have joined classics like Gather, La Note, PIQ, Revival and Angeline’s (just to name a few) among the ranks of downtown Berkeley’s go-to spots.

To help get you up to speed, we’ve compiled a list of recently opened and soon-to-open restaurants in the neighborhood. Whether you are a sweet-toothed doughnut connoisseur or a vegan salad aficionado, there is a new restaurant for you to try. Hear of anything else in the works? Let us know in the comments.

Now open downtown

Bucatini u' picuraru is one of the pasta dishes offered at the D'Alo family's new restaurant, Agrodolce, located on TK. Photo: Kate Williams
Bucatini u’ picuraru, one of the pasta dishes offered at the D’Alo family’s new restaurant, Agrodolce, which opened on Shattuck Avenue earlier this month. Photo: Kate Williams

AGRODOLCE The D’Alo family-owned restaurant had its grand opening last Thursday in the former Café Gratitude location on Shattuck Avenue. Unlike its sister restaurant, Trattoria La Siciliana, which offers a more wide-ranging Italian menu in the Elmwood, Agrodolce serves exclusively Sicilian-style dishes, with an emphasis on both seafood and vegetarian options. The D’Alo family has paired this traditional Sicilian fare with a 100% Italian wine list and a variety of beers, and they hope to add cocktails to the beverage menu in the coming months. Agrodolce is at 1730 Shattuck Ave. (at Francisco Street), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.


Joan Ellis and Patrick Hooker, owners of Babette, the café that has moved from the old BAMPFA to its new location. Photo: Tracey Taylor
Joan Ellis and Patrick Hooker, owners of Babette, which moved moved from the old BAMPFA to its new location. Photo: Tracey Taylor

BABETTE BAMPFA (Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive) recently moved, and along with it went Joan Ellis and Patrick Hooker’s café. The beloved museum café sits perched above Center Street, offering coffee, drinks and food to museum visitors and the public alike. Babette is at 2120 Oxford St., Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.

Octopus and chorizo from B&B Kitchen and Wine Bar. Photo: B&B
Octopus and chorizo from B&B Kitchen and Wine Bar. Photo: B&B

B&B KITCHEN AND WINE BAR Abraham Masarweh and Julia Joslyn, owners of Oakland’s Bourbon & Beef, recently opened this seafood-focused sister restaurant on Shattuck Avenue near downtown’s BART station. The menu features classic American seafood dishes, ranging from a butter-poached lobster with squid ink linguine to a classic shrimp cocktail. B&B also serves meat, and provides vegan and gluten-free options as well. B&B Kitchen and Wine Bar is at 2116 Shattuck Ave. (between Addison and Center streets). Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.

Every Wednesday, The Sandwich Spot holds a pop-up doughnut shop, serving cronut-style doughnuts out of the deli's storefront on Shattuck Avenue. Photo: Eric Wong
Every Wednesday, The Sandwich Spot holds a pop-up doughnut shop, serving cronut-style doughnuts out of the deli’s storefront on Shattuck Avenue. Photo: Eric Wong

BOMBA DOUGHNUTS The Sandwich Spot shakes up Wednesday mornings with Bomba Doughnuts, a weekly pop-up shop located in the deli’s front dining area. The shop sells cronut-style doughnuts in a variety of flavors ranging from traditional, glazed varieties to more creative options, like a bacon and maple combo. Bomba Doughnuts is open Wednesday mornings from 9 a.m. until they sells out, so go early and get ’em while they’re hot. Bomba Doughnuts is located in The Sandwich Spot at 2106 Shattuck Ave. (at Addison Street), Berkeley. Connect with the pop-up on Facebook and Instagram.

The Jon Lum (steak, bacon, onion rings, cheddar). Photo: Ike's Place/Facebook
The Jon Lum (steak, bacon, onion rings, cheddar) from Ike’s Place. Photo: Ike’s Place/Facebook

IKE’S PLACE The highly popular sandwich spot recently opened a Berkeley location in Togo’s old storefront. Each of Ike’s locations boasts its own menu of original sandwiches served on baked-to-order bread. Ike’s Place is at at 2172 Shattuck Ave. (between Center Street and Allston Way), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.

za'atar salad: chopped romaine, parsley + mint, tomatoes + cucumbers + onions, raw beets, roasted chicken, za'atar pita chips and creamy sumac dressing. Photo: Sweetgreen/Facebook
The za’atar salad is one of the many locally sourced, healthy options offered at the new Sweetgreen location on Shattuck Ave. Photo: Sweetgreen/Facebook

SWEETGREEN The D.C.-based restaurant Sweetgreeen is open for business in the old Oscar’s building on Shattuck. The restaurant offers fresh, healthy salads and warm bowls in a fast and casual setting. Sweetgreen is at 1890 Shattuck Ave. (at Hearst Street), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Mark Rhoades and Nathan George (right) re-opened Spats. Photo: Katie Gladstein
Mark Rhoades (left) and Nathan George re-opened Spats last fall. Photo: Katie Gladstein

SPATS Business partners Mark Rhoades and Nathan George took on the project of bringing back the Berkeley mainstay, which has existed at 1974 Shattuck Ave. in some form since the 1950s, formerly under the name Oleg’s. Rhoades and George have preserved much of the bar’s original charm — such as its signature drink, The Fog Cutter, and its Alameda flea market décor — while adding a modern bar and a contemporary food menu. Spats is at 1974 Shattuck Ave. (between University Avenue and Berkeley Way), Berkeley.

This fried mozzarella and meatball sandwich was heavy and hearty, just like the real thing. Photo: Alix Wall
The vegan fried mozzarella and meatball sandwich from The Butcher’s Son. Photo: Alix Wall

THE BUTCHER’S SON The Butcher’s Son is a new and welcome addition to the vegan food scene in Berkeley. The delicatessen takes a nuanced spin off of the traditional butchery, offering 100% vegan versions of classic deli meats and cheeses. Hearty sandwiches, like the vegan meatball and mozzarella sandwich, are crowd favorites. The Butcher’s Son is at 1941 A University Ave. (at Bonita Avenue), Berkeley. Connect with the deli on Facebook.

Coconut noodle soup from Tharaphu Burmese Street Food. Photo: Kate Williams
Coconut noodle soup from Tharaphu Burmese Street Food. Photo: Kate Williams

THARAPHU BURMESE STREET FOOD Earlier this month, owners of BOBO drinks decided to make a swift business transition, and within a matter of days, converted the former bubble-tea spot into a restaurant specializing in Burmese cuisine. Tharaphu offers a simple menu of classic Burmese dishes, including tea leaf salad, coconut noodle soup and Shan noodles. Tharaphu Burmese Street Food is at 2037 Shattuck Ave. (at Addison Street), Berkeley.

For it's 30th anniversary, Triple Rock Brewery opened an expanded addition, boasting increased brewing capacity and a revamped menu. Photo: Kate Williams
For its 30th anniversary, Triple Rock Brewery has expanded, boasting an increased brewing capacity and a new menu. Photo: Kate Williams

TRIPLE ROCK EXPANSION For its 30th anniversary, downtown’s popular Triple Rock brewpub has expanded into the space next door. Triple Rock’s addition is officially open for business, with a larger bar area that has a new industrialized look, as well as a spiced-up menu. Triple Rock Brewery and Alehouse is at 1920 Shattuck Ave. (at Hearst Street), Berkeley. Connect with the brewery on Facebook and Twitter.

Coming soon to downtown

Photo: Perdition Smokehouse
Taps at the former Perdition Smokehouse, which will be in use at the new Berkeley Social Club. Photo: Perdition Smokehouse/Facebook

BERKELEY SOCIAL CLUB In mid-October, Berkeley Social Club will replace Perdition Smokehouse, which closed suddenly last fall. Local restauranteur Steven Choi says Perdition’s replacement will offer a classic American breakfast and lunch menu and then convert into a Korean restaurant at night, retaining Perdition’s legendary draft beer selection. Berkeley Social Club will be at 2050 University Ave. (near Shattuck Avenue), Berkeley.

Photo: Blue Bottle Coffee/Facebook
Any day now, the highly popular Bay Area coffee company is opening a new location in the WeWork building at 2011 Shattuck Ave. Photo: Blue Bottle Coffee/Facebook

BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE Any day now, the third-wave coffee brand is opening its first Berkeley location. Since its conception 15 years ago, Blue Bottle has opened a network of cafés throughout the Bay Area. Each location sells Blue Bottle’s original blends, signature coffee drinks and house-made sweets — such as the all-too-tempting Belgian waffles drizzled with chocolate. Blue Bottle Coffee will be at 2011 Shattuck Ave. (at University Avenue), Berkeley. Connect with the coffee company on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Cornerstone Craft Beer and Live Music is set to open in Thalassa's former location this fall. Photo: Cornerstone Craft Beer and Live Music/ Facebook
Cornerstone Craft Beer and Live Music is set to open in Thalassa’s former location this fall. Photo: Cornerstone Craft Beer and Live Music/Facebook

CORNERSTONE The former Thalassa space in downtown Berkeley is transforming into a restaurant, craft beer garden and live music venue. It’s a project from Alex Popov, founder of Smart Alec’s and Pappy’s Grill. Stay tuned for more details on the venue’s opening. Cornerstone will be at 2367 Shattuck Ave. (between Channing and Durant). Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.

Draw Billiards Club will be at 64 Shattuck Sq. Photo: Berkeley ZAB
Draw Billiard Club is coming to Shattuck Square in mid-December. Photo: Berkeley ZAB

DRAW BILLIARD CLUB  This December, business partners and Berkeley locals Paul Revenaugh and Jason Kung plan to open the first dedicated billiards venue in downtown Berkeley since the closure of Thalassa (see above). The 1920s-themed billiards club will offer a space for patrons to shoot pool and eat Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. Draw Billiard Club will be at 64 Shattuck Sq. (between University Avenue and Addison Street), Berkeley. Connect with the club on Facebook.

Giovanni's after fire, April 24, 2015 . Photo: Tracey Taylor
Giovanni, pictured after the fire that closed the restaurant last April. The Berkeley mainstay is scheduled to reopen around Christmas-time as Gio’s Pizza and Bocce. Photo: Tracey Taylor

GIO’S PIZZA AND BOCCE The restaurant’s shortened name isn’t the only thing changing at the former Giovanni’s. Gio’s Pizza and Bocce is set to reopen around Christmas with numerous improvements, including a revamped menu, a bocce court and — perhaps — even a secret bar. Gio’s Pizza and Bocce will be located at 2420 Shattuck Ave. (between Channing and Haste streets), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.

Chesapeake Tonkotsu Ramen, a dish served at Ippudo in the East Village. The restaurant group is opening its first West Coast spot in downtown Berkeley. Photo: Ippudo NY
Chesapeake Tonkotsu Ramen, a go-to dish served at the high-end ramen restaurant, Ippudo, which is set to open this fall in downtown Berkeley. Photo: Ippudo NY

IPPUDO RAMEN The Japanese ramen restaurant is set to open its first West Coast branch in downtown Berkeley this coming fall. The restaurant will specialize in silky, pork-rich tonkotsu, but has yet to reveal its other menu items, so stay tuned. Ippudo will be at 2118 University Ave., Berkeley, next door to the soon-to-open Blue Bottle (see above). 

Image: Courtesy of Lucia's
Lucia’s Pizzeria: coming soon. Image: Courtesy of Lucia’s

LUCIA’S PIZZERIA This wood-fired pizza joint with a “Brooklyn vibe” is coming to downtown Berkeley early this fall in the space formerly occupied by Belli Osteria. It will serve authentic Neapolitan-style pies topped with produce sourced from the restaurant’s own Oakland garden, as well as local farmers and purveyors. Lucia’s will begin by serving wine and beer, and is in the process of applying for a full liquor license. Lucia’s will be at 2016 Shattuck Ave. (at University Avenue), Berkeley.

Cheese plates like this one will be served at Maker's Common. Photo courtesy: Maker's Common
Cheese plates like this one will be served at Maker’s Common. Photo: Courtesy Maker’s Common

MAKER’S COMMON The charcuterie, cheese and wine spot is set to arrive in downtown Berkeley this coming February. Business partners Sarah Dvorak, Oliver Dameron and Eric Miller envision Maker’s Common as a market, restaurant and outdoor space specializing in sustainably produced, locally sourced food and spirits. Maker’s Common will be at 1954 University Ave. (at Bonita Avenue), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

The facade of Half Bay Brewing Company's Taproom, Pacific Standard, slated to open this fall. Photo: Half Moon Brewing Company
The façade of Half Moon Bay Brewing Co’s Taproom, Pacific Standard, opening this fall at 2055 Center St. Photo: Half Moon Bay Brewing Company

PACIFIC STANDARD  Half Moon Bay Brewing Company is opening a taproom and bottle shop in the location formerly occupied by La Botella Republic this fall. The taproom will offer 15 to 20 local and regional beers on tap (half from Half Moon Bay), in addition to a range of ciders and Northern Californian wines. The kitchen will be serving up a menu of snacks, and growlers will be available for purchase in the bottle shop. Pacific Standard by Half Moon Bay Brewing Company will be at at 2055 Center St. (at Shattuck Avenue), Berkeley. Connect with the brewery on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

A Chinese chicken salad from Tender Greens. Photo: Ellen Lu
A Chinese chicken salad from Tender Greens. Photo: Ellen Lu

TENDER GREENS The southern California salad-centric restaurant is coming to University Avenue this fall. It will offer fresh salads and sandwiches at affordable prices, sourcing many of its ingredients, coffee and spirits from local vendors. Tender Greens will be at 2071 University Ave. (at Shattuck Avenue). Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Arielle Gordon-Rowe, a student at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, is a fall intern at Berkeleyside.

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