Berkeley’s Westbrae Wakes Up
The Fourth Street approach to food, fun, and shopping migrates eastward for Block Party.
Yohsien Li shops at Westbrae Nursery.
Once known as Ocean View for its sweeping views of the Golden Gate, West Berkeley has been many things: a stagecoach stop, an offbeat arts community, an industrial hub, and, most recently, a premier East Bay shopping destination, thanks in part to Fourth Street’s still-growing stretch of stores and restaurants.
It’s hard to decide where to start in this bustling area, unless you know you want to take it slow. In that case, head down Gilman Street—watch out for those frantic North Face–outlet shoppers darting across the street—and cross San Pablo Avenue for the Westbrae neighborhood. The area’s Main Street quaintness and handful of recently opened businesses make what’s old new again.
Big news on the block is the opening of Westbrae Biergarten, on the corner of Gilman and Curtis streets in June. Brazil Cafe and RoliRoti plan to regularly dish up tasty rice bowls, sandwiches, and juicy meats from food trucks in the airy garden that includes an ordering station, a fire pit, restrooms, and ample seating. Wash down your meal or snack with a selection of local and international beers on tap. www.WestbraeBiergarten.com.
Alternatively, skip the street food for fresh oysters at upscale Lalime’s (www.Lalimes.com) or sushi and bento boxes over at Kiku Sushi (510-525-5458), a pillbox-sized restaurant that is always packed for lunch and dinner.
If you don’t indulge in the mango sherbet or green tea–flavored mochi after sashimi at Kiku, head a few doors down to Coffee Conscious (510-526-2204) for a cup of fresh drip coffee and a doughy treat from Pepples Donuts. While you’re there, buy tea and coffee in bulk, or browse a selection of French presses and other gift-worthy wares. The store, which has been on Gilman for more than a decade under the same name, re-opened in March with new ownership.
After all that food and drink, unwind with a facial or massage from the Nourish Healing Arts Collective, an appointment-only spa above Toot Sweets Bakery that turns 1 this month. The center is composed of three suites run by licensed estheticians and massage therapists that help you find your center with hot-stone treatments, prenatal and deep-tissue massages, and facial treatments that even include eyelash extensions. www.NourishHealingArts.com
Blue Heron Bikes gives gearheads another kind of fix with a selection of wheels that includes a cargo bike from Copenhagen and a Brompton folding bike from England. You’ll also find the ubiquitous cruisers and mountain bikes, making it one-stop shopping for the whole family. Just need to fix up your old bike? The space also doubles as a repair shop. And if you want to take a test ride, hop on the Ohlone Greenway just outside the doors. www.BlueHeronBikesBerkeley.com, 510-524-1937
For more greenery, stop by the Westbrae Nursery (www.Westbrae-Nursery.com), to wander its colorful outdoor aisles of perennials and annuals for gardening inspiration, then step indoors to find prehistoric-looking houseplants and all the trimmings to make your own terrariums. 510-526-5517