Berkeley in the East Bay area is best-known as a capital for the counter-culture, campus for the oldest university in the University of California system and pulpit for politically liberal views. But take a stroll down Fourth Street and you’ll see another side of this culinary and culturally rich city. Boasting an eclectic collection of eateries and shops, the trendy, open-air shopping district, bound by Cedar Street, Sixth Street, University Avenue and Frontage Road, is a beautifully landscaped and bountiful retail neighborhood bursting with fashionable boutiques, unique stores and epicurean delights.
Books, Inc. is California’s oldest independent bookseller (1760 Fourth St. 510.525.7777, www.booksinc.net). Stained Glass Garden features hand-blown glass art and was one of Fourth Street’s original businesses (1800 Fourth St., 510.841.2200, www.stainedglassgarden.com). The Gardener is a unique home and outdoor lifestyle store (1836 Fourth St., 510.548.4545, www.thegardener.com). Convert is a fashion-forward men’s and women’s clothing store focusing on sustainable wear (1809 B Fourth St., 510,649,9759, www.convertstyle.com). A La Folie sells the best in fine European lingerie (1844 Fourth St., 510.356.4477, www.visitalafolie.com).
New-to-the-scene Zut! is a must-try for Mediterranean (1820 Fourth St., 510.644.0444, www.zutonfourth.com). Tacubaya mixes up traditional Mexican ingredients in creative ways (1788 Fourth St., 510.525.5160, www.tacubaya.net). Meet the locals and enjoy a down-home breakfast at Bette’s Oceanview Diner (1807 Fourth St., 510.644.3230, www.bettesdiner.com). O’Chame tempts with its genuine Japanese elegance (1830 Fourth St, 510.841.8783). Café Rouge is celebrated for its unbeatable oyster bar and rustic Mediterranean cuisine (1782 Fourth St., 510.525.1440, www.caferouge.net). Chocolatier Blue boasts organic, gourmet chocolates and pastries (1809 Fourth St., 510.665.9500, www.chocolatierblue.com).
Take BART from San Francisco and exit North Berkeley station. Or, drive I-80 east toward Berkeley/Richmond. Take the University Ave exit.