Berkeley’s foodie culture has room for all dietary restrictions

Kayla Baskevitch/File
Kayla Baskevitch/File
Kayla Baskevitch/File

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Berkeley — city of hippies, protesters and counter-culturalists — is also a site of pilgrimage for foodies as the cradle of the American slow-food movement. Here, even the eats are quintessentially Berkeley: That cup of coffee, too, was designed to resist oppressive hegemons and change the world.

For folks with non-omnivorous diets, diets where food and drink must be carefully considered, Berkeley offers a vast array of dining options. All kinds of dietary restrictions — from vegan to gluten-free to Paleo diets — have eating establishments that not only cater to every palate but deserve a trip to the city.

UC Berkeley student Dash Guillermo said moving to Berkeley was one of his most liberating experiences. Coming from a small town in rural California, Guillermo, a vegan, was pleased to find a city in which numerous restaurants offer several vegan options on their menus, and some restaurants are entirely vegan.

“Berkeley is the proverbial vegan mecca, where the phrase vegan is not the dirty word spoken during Sunday barbecues, but is instead a legitimate lifestyle,” Guillermo said in an email.

As a city of dietary inclusivity, Berkeley enables students of all palates to try out dishes they might not have considered before. UC Berkeley student Mary Zhou, who calls herself a “flexitarian,” said people can adopt many habits that vegetarianism and veganism offer without stringently committing to the label.

“A lot of people are intimidated by the label vegetarian or vegan because they feel so stringent and exclusive, when it’s actually the opposite,” Zhou said in an email. “Through those lifestyles you discover …  many delicious alternatives to commonly processed foods, and don’t even have to touch a salad.”

Out of many restaurants and grocery stores in Berkeley that are accommodating of dietary restrictions, here are some community favorites:

Flacos: vegan, $

3031 Adeline St.

Flacos offers all-vegan Mexican fare, including tacos, tamales and taquitos.

Source Mini: vegan, gluten-free, $$

1511 Shattuck Ave.

Source Mini serves an innovative vegan menu, featuring “dosadillas,” vegan burgers and crispy nacho fries.

Saturn: vegetarian, gluten-free, $$

2175 Allston Way

Saturn is a vegetarian take on American diner cuisine, including mushroom sandwiches, sliders and vegan ice cream.

Mission Heirloom Cafe: gluten-free, Paleo, $$

2085 Vine St.

Mission Heirloom Cafe has a weekly menu, featuring gluten-free meals that work well with pursuing the Paleo diet. Past dishes include shepherd’s pie and burger salad.

Cha-Ya: vegetarian, $$

1686 Shattuck Ave.

Cha-Ya features all-vegetarian Japanese cuisine, including vegan sushi, soba and vegetable tempura.

Long Life Vegi house: vegetarian, $

2129 University Ave.

Long Life Vegi House offers a vegetarian menu of Chinese cuisine, including vegetarian Mongolian beef, vegetarian spare ribs and Mapo Tofu.

Cinnaholic: vegan, cholesterol-free, $

2132 Oxford St.

At Cinnaholic, customers can order customizable, handmade cinnamon buns.

Cafe Gratitude: raw, vegan, vegetarian, $$

1730 Shattuck Ave.

Cafe Gratitude offers diverse raw and cooked vegan and vegetarian food, including pad thai, kale salad and black-bean burgers.

Zachary’s Pizza: peanut-free, $$

1853 Solano Ave.

Zachary’s Pizza offers a selection of pizzas, ranging from spinach and mushroom to barbeque chicken and chorizo. The pizzeria does not use peanuts and has phased out most nuts from salads.

Herbivore: vegan, $$

2451 Shattuck Ave.

Herbivore offers a diverse all-vegan menu, featuring vegan fajitas, vegan lasagna and vegan chow mein.

Republic of V: vegan, $$

1624 University Ave.

Republic of V is an all-vegan grocery store selling vegan cheeses, meats and sweets, in addition to vegan animal food and body-care products.

Razan’s Organic Kitchen: vegetarian, $$

2119 Kittredge St.

Razan’s offers an organic, vegetarian menu of Mediterranean cuisine, including tofu shish kebab wraps, Greek salads and falafel sandwiches.

Contact Alex Mabanta at [email protected].