While you might have heard the name Gourmet Ghetto spoken a dozen times since arriving on campus, you might have never actually taken the journey there. On the surface, it’s simply the part of Shattuck Avenue sandwiched between Hearst Avenue and Rose Street. But in reality, it’s so much more: what some claim to be the birthplace of California cuisine.
Starting with Alice Water’s Chez Panisse in the late ’60s, this foodie heaven has been serving farm-to-table, organic, in-season and ridiculously delicious meals to anyone who ventures over. We at the Clog realize the Gourmet Ghetto’s specialty coffee and cheeses might seem intimidating, so here are a few quick bites that will give you the perfect taste of the area.
The Cheese Board Pizza Collective
Nothing is more quintessentially Gourmet Ghetto than Cheese Board. This worker-owned cooperative serves a different scrumptious vegetarian pizza and salad everyday. The thin sourdough crust, topped with high-quality cheese and fresh veggies is sure to make y0ur mouth water. While you stand in the inevitably long line at Yelp’s number two restaurant on their Top 100 Places to Eat in the US for 2016, you can listen to smooth tunes from local musicians who play live everyday for lunch and dinner. After eating, check out the cheese shop next door for gooey goodness you can’t find at your average Berkeley grocery store.
We’ve all seen those Instagram photos of Mint Mojito Iced Coffees. Now is the time for you to pick up your books and go to Philz Coffee for some of the best coffee in the city. This coffee heaven only does pour-over, but luckily, they do it right. The baristas will guide you through their menu and even remake your drink if you are not satisfied the first time. If iced coffee isn’t your preference, they have dozens of hot blends to choose from, including store favorite Tesora, a medium blend with notes of butter, nuts, and caramel. Remember to bring your own mug to only pay the price of a small.
While French cuisine’s reputation may make it seem automatically inaccessible to college students, Gregoire does come pretty close. Providing fast French takeout for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Gregoire is a great introduction to gourmet food. Their signature potato puffs, on the menu for lunch and dinner, can be a tasty treat when the dinner prices here are a bit steep. They’re golden and slightly crispy on the outside, with a soft mashed potato consistency on the inside. Be sure to add the white truffle essence for an extra kick. Their menu changes seasonally so you have to be a repeat customer.
Love at First Bite
End your visit to the Gourmet Ghetto with a sweet finish from Love at First Bite. This bakery and cupcakery makes all of it desserts from scratch and uses dairy products and eggs from local sources. They offer unique and yummy cupcake flavors like matcha green tea and chocolate maltball — over a dozen on any given day. You can find them nestled in Walnut Street, right off Shattuck Avenue.
Now that you have a taste of just how good food can be in Berkeley, finally make that trip to the Gourmet Ghetto. We promise it will be worth the walk.
Contact Juliet Hemmati at [email protected].