Beyond the Bowl

Beyond the Bowl


Glassybaby votives are simple and elegant and come in over 150 colors.

West Berkeley’s Seventh and Grayson area is full of surprises.

You’ve probably visited the Berkeley Bowl West in semi-industrial West Berkeley between San Pablo Avenue and Aquatic Park. But have you ever walked the neighborhood? It’s a true patchwork encapsulating 21st-century Berkeley: state-of-the-art office complexes, 1920s bungalows, artists’ studios, new condos, and brick warehouses. The air can be thick with the soft, yeasty scent of fresh-baked bread wafting out of Acme Bread Company. Next time around, take a stroll through Berkeley’s past and future.



843 Carleton St., 510-843-2453,
Bicycles are a fantastic alternative to a car: cheap, nonpolluting, easy to store, a great workout. But for those living or working in the hills, bicycling can seem daunting. Pacific E-Bike has a solution and sells all classes of electronic bikes and parts and is known for its outstanding customer service and affordability. Experts assemble the bikes in-house, can convert a conventional bike to an electric, and boasts a full-service repair shop for electric and regular bikes.

900 Murray St., 510-841-7283,
Where should you go if your shopping list includes solar panels, a flying pig, a dozen crutches, and Ghostbusters on VHS? Urban Ore, of course. Urban Ore has existed for almost 40 years to “End the Age of Waste.” The massive general store is packed with treasures, with a heavy focus on building materials, furniture, and home hardware. Inventory changes every day, drop-offs are accepted, and hand trucks are available for ferrying goods back to the car.

When visiting the Glassybaby studio and store, don’t be fooled by the building’s brick exterior. Inside the hard-edged, industrial warehouse, artisans are creating serenity, one hand-blown votive at a time. Glassybaby votives are simple and elegant and come in over 150 colors with names like Cozy, Loyalty, Grateful Red, and Dawn, indicating these votives are meant to heal as much as they brighten and beautify.

745 Heinz Ave., 510-725-4832,



Sour beers, dubbed the gateway drug for wine drinkers, do have a dry, crisp finish and complex, often fruity profiles. The Rare Barrel specializes in sours and offers a rotating cast of six or seven varieties in the tasting room, plus wine and non-sour beers for nonfans. The tasting room is also Rare Barrel’s production facility, and a sea of barrels is the view, as well as lovely, jewel-toned beer flights arrayed on tables.

940 Parker St.,  510-984-6585,

2525 Eighth St., 510-665-9880,, East Bay Open Studios,
The 1913 Sawtooth Building is a historic landmark known for its distinctive, jagged roofline. Today it is home to fine artists, craftspeople, performance groups, and more, and its open studios offer an opportunity for the public to see the beautiful work going on inside. Sawtooth visitors have a chance to meet with artists and purchase handcrafted one-of-a-kind pieces. Studios are open at varying times, Thursday from noon to 5 p.m., the first Saturday of every month, and during East Bay Open Studios, including the upcoming one June 10-11 and 17-18.

Aikido is a graceful martial art emphasizing grounded, full-body movement. Aikido Shusekai is an independent school of Aikido in the Sawtooth Building and focuses on providing an experience that is safe, inclusive, and joyful for beginners, adults, children, and teens.

2525 Eighth St., 510-776-4341,



By now, 900 Grayson is a Berkeley icon. Tucked inside a low-key corner building, it has been quietly slaying breakfast and lunch for 11 years. With dishes like the Demon Lover—a tender chicken breast coated in spicy buttermilk batter, fried, and served atop a light, crispy waffle with a generous helping of old-fashioned cream gravy—what more could you want?

900 Grayson St. 510-704-9900,

2865 Seventh St., 510-898-1609,
If you prefer something lighter, Mint Leaf Vietnamese has a variety of fresh and crispy rolls, pho and other soups, green papaya salad with prawns, and a wide variety of flavored teas, juices, smoothies, and Thai iced tea. The Saigon vermicelli bowl is a customer favorite.

Juan’s Place has been on the same corner and owned and operated by the same family since Richard Nixon was in office. This history is written on the walls, which are covered in Mexican memorabilia, autographed photos of local legends, and odds and ends that loyal customers have given the owners over the years. The menu favors Northern Mexican cuisine, and there’s a decent beer selection. The jukebox carries plenty of Juan Gabriel, and the servers are among the friendliest in Berkeley.

941 Carleton St., 510-845-6904.


Published online on May 9, 2017 at 8:00 a.m.

Faces of the East Bay