Tag Archives: Solano Avenue
Café Raj’s open kitchen belongs to one man, whose commitment and concentration are evident as he shakes, stirs and tosses spices into a half dozen pans filled with aromatic curries, simultaneously bubbling on the range-top. He is Raj Raja, owner and chef of the Albany restaurant. Depending on the time of day, five to ten women complement his cooking crew by grinding spices, mixing chutneys and raita, slapping circles of naan dough onto the scorching sides of the tandoor ovens, and plating and serving dishes to eager diners.
During a momentary lull, I approach Raja with questions for our arranged interview, but find him soft-spoken, seemingly more comfortable cooking than talking. He defers my inquiries to his wife, Rosemarie Eichner-Raja, who tells me “My husband is shy.” But he’s also obviously busy, overseeing every single plate that comes out of his kitchen. “He does 200 or more curries a day, Rosemarie explains, “and every dish is made fresh to order, tailored specially for each guest.” … Continue reading »
Local artist Priscilla de Mesa shared these photographs with Berkeleyside via our Flickr group after taking a photowalk on Solano Avenue. (The Berkeleyside Flickr group is a great way to share your great shots with us — we invite you to try it out.) See more from Priscilla here on Flickr. If you have Berkeley photographs you’d like to share with us, and are not on Flickr, you can do so via email (mail to email@example.com) or … Continue reading »
Has anyone shared the sentiment: “We are not going to take it anymore!”
Has anyone noticed the “State law… yield to pedestrians” mid-road yellow floppy bollard signs that are trashed, bent down — destroyed by angry drivers on Solano Avenue? Is this a spontaneous expression of mature activists furiously battering down public property? Individuals or organized?
Are these civic-minded residents fed up — ‘fighting back’ — shocked over the latest imposition of recent street reconfigurations that put cars on a “road diet” by “taking out” a lane … Continue reading »
Update, Dec. 26: The decision has been appealed and appears to be scheduled for the March 5, 2013, meeting of the City Council.
Original story, posted Nov. 9: AT&T wireless customers near Solano Avenue may be one step closer to better cell reception with the approval Thursday night of plans for 12 new antennas to be mounted on the Oaks Theatre.
The Zoning Adjustments Board approved the plans, which city staff said were in compliance with all relevant federal and municipal codes.
According to the project description prepared by city staff, AT&T would install 12 antennas and nine cabinets on a steel platform 12 feet above an existing walkway. (The Oaks Theatre closed in January 2011 after its last owner, Rama Sagiraji, was unable to cover his running costs, and the lease has been up for grabs since then.)
Eight of the antennas would be installed at the southeast corner of the building “behind new Radio Frequency Transparent screening” that would be painted to match the building. Four of the antennas would be installed behind a similar screen at the west façade. … Continue reading »
Laurie Capitelli showed up at Peet’s Coffee on Solano Avenue at 7:30 a.m. on Friday to wait for some trees – 37 of them in fact.
After two years of bureaucratic wrangling involving numerous agencies, including the city of Berkeley Forestry and Public Works departments, Caltrans, Alameda County Transportation Department, the Solano Avenue Business Improvement District, and some utility companies, Councilman Capitelli was itching to see a set of red maple trees be planted along Solano Avenue. His hopes were realized around 9:30 a.m. when a city of Berkeley truck drove up with a set of trees ready to go into the ground.
When the 37 trees are planted, they will join four others on a stretch from The Alameda to Ensenada, eventually forming a 30-40 foot high string of green along the street.
“I think it’s wonderful,” said Robin Dalrymple, the owner of iScream ice cream parlor on Solano. “It will add some ambiance to the street, especially as they grow. They will make the street more pedestrian oriented. The street is moving along.” … Continue reading »
Incumbent Laurie Capitelli and challenger Sophie Hahn will face off in November for the second time in a pitched battle for Berkeley’s District 5 City Council seat, in a race that has been tinged with allegations of distortion and ill will.
In 2008, Capitelli won District 5 re-election by defeating Hahn 4,299 to 3,898. But Hahn said Wednesday she believes her past four years of service and experience will help her come out on top in the polls on Nov. 6.
“I have a strong record of getting things done,” she said. “I do believe one person can make a difference. With hard work, collaboration, and really listening to and involving the community, you get good results for the community. And I think people recognize that. I think people have been waiting for a long time for change in Berkeley.”
So far, both candidates have raised about $30,000 for their campaigns. Each had $14,000 to $15,000 left in their coffers as of the most recent filing. The amount of money raised is second only to the mayor’s race on the ballot in Berkeley. … Continue reading »
Solano Avenue, one of Berkeley’s principal commercial districts, has been hit hard in recent years by recession-induced vacancies as well as more typical business turnover. But among small signs of a turnaround — like the move of Five Star Video to a new location near the top of the avenue — there’s a concerted effort by local businesses, the city and the local councilmember, Laurie Capitelli, to give a boost to Solano.
Some of the improvements — a series of pavement bulb outs — result from a 2009 grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission for “Safe Routes for Transit”. Others are spurred by the Solano Business Improvement District’s (SBID) advisory board.
“We did a poll two years ago,” said Capitelli, “and it’s clear the people want more street seating and more trees. I’m thrilled to see it finally get going.”
The plans for Solano were presented last month at a public meeting of the SBID advisory board. David Peattie, a board member of the Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association, took notes for Berkeleyside: … Continue reading »
Over the last two weeks Berkeleyside has listed almost 100 places where you can taste tachos, slurp soba, and make a meal out of momos (catch up with part 1, A to I and part 2, J to P). Down the track, we will bring you the back story to some of the people behind some of these places.
For now, you know the drill: Chime in below if there’s a nosh spot that’s missing from this list or if there’s a signature dish you want to single out at a particular place.
Oh, and as for the definition of ethnic (some readers quibbled about whether French or Italian joints should be in the mix) we’re thinking chefs who want to showcase a style of cooking specific to a region of the world — versus California cuisine or fusion food, though no doubt there’s some crossover.
Enjoy. … Continue reading »
Who knew there were so many ethnic restaurants around town?
Last week Berkeleyside chronicled choices from A through I, 32 picks in total, and today, in our second installment covering J through P, we bring you 33 more spots.
Careful readers noticed some omissions, including Cyprus, Dara, De Afghanan Kabob House, and Ethiopia. No doubt there are places missing in the mix here too, so feel free to add any favorites in the comments.
Not every country or region of the world is well represented in restaurants around town. East Bay Express food critic Jesse Hirsch would like to see more Polish and Balkan choices among the glut of sushi spots and curry shops. Hirsch’s two favorite local ethnic places so far — he’s relatively new to town — are featured this week. … Continue reading »
Berkeley is an ethnically diverse town. Anyone whose child attends public school here doesn’t need census tract data to know this for a fact. That cultural diversity is also reflected in the range of restaurant choices here. Global grub — from gourmet to grab ‘n’ go — can readily be found in many of our neighborhoods.
But who doesn’t reflexively head to their local curry shop or Thai takeout without giving a moment’s thought to the international offerings all over town?
What follows is the first in an A to Z guide to the many ethnic restaurants in Berkeley, with favorite dish recommendations and tidbits gleaned from local food critics, Berkeleyside interviews, and the restaurant guide by new Berkeleyside partners Lucille and Art Poskanzer.
It’s by no means an exhaustive list. Feel free to add your own global picks in the comments section that follows. Or weigh in with what world cuisine is missing in the mix. Bon Appetit. … Continue reading »
For the past 10 weeks, a group of demonstrators has gathered every Monday at 4:30 pm on Solano Avenue — in front of the shuttered Oaks Theater and outside the Chase Bank – holding aloft banners that read “Tax the Rich”, “Make the Rich Pay More Taxes”, and “Please Join Us”.
The first group who ventured out was just 10-strong but, according to spokesperson Harry Brill, the numbers have now swollen to around 40. The protesters do not affiliate themselves formally with the Occupy movement, although they share some of the same campaign sentiments. “What we have in common is our indignation that the big corporations and super-rich individuals are not paying their fair share of taxes,” says Brill. … Continue reading »
For the past two years he’s served up breakfast standards (think pancakes and eggs) and simple lunch fare (burgers, sandwiches, salads) at a satellite café of the same name in Berkeley.
French bounces between the two popular spots several times a day and jokes that the breakfast-brunch shift is the Rodney Dangerfield of cooking (it don’t get no respect).
Still, he’s proudest of his low carbon emissions menu options and his weekend food specials, a short, seasonal list that emphasizes local farms and calculates food miles.
French isn’t your typical chef. Before he cooked for a living he worked as a scientist. His interest in ecology led him to spend two years living among pygmies in Cameroon, where he studied seed dispersal by monkeys and birds.
An avid nature photographer, he’s also written about the relationship between ecology and food for the Bay Area News Group, where he penned the EcoChef column, as well as for Civil Eats and Fungi Magazine. … Continue reading »
During the month of February, there were 11 vacant storefronts along the top stretch of Solano Avenue, giving the shopping district a slightly beleaguered air.
While the soft economy accounts for some of that vacant frontage, City Councilmember Jesse Arreguín suspects some landlords in Berkeley are keeping rents artificially high, making it difficult for small business owners to find suitable retail space.
Arreguín thinks that Berkeley could minimize the number of vacant storefronts by charging landlords a fee when buildings … Continue reading »