The Edible Excursions Downtown Berkeley brunch tour is an awesome way to treat yourself to the dynamic and exploding food scene of the city. While San Francisco and Oakland may have had their share of food renaissances, Berkeley seems to be experiencing its own. The Downtown Berkeley Edible Excursions brunch tour is held every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. On this tour, you’ll visit six restaurants in Downtown Berkeley and experience an in-depth tour of the spaces and stories that make up the food scene.
2200 Oxford St., Berkeley, CA 94704
This restaurant hits you with an elegant yet airy ambiance the moment you walk through the front door. The circular shape of the restaurant truly makes you feel as if you’re there to congregate around the beautiful food created at Gather. The amazing thing about its food is its emphasis on sustainability and affordability. Gather’s ingredients, from its entrées to its drinks, are locally sourced and served in a farm-to-table approach. The beverage director, Jacob Kardon, made a fresh ginger juice to demonstrate the restaurant bar’s philosophy of “root-to-shoot.”
2155 Center St., Berkeley, CA 94704
Babette is located right in the middle of Downtown Berkeley, nestled on the top floor of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. The cafe overlooks Center Street and is a perfect spot to wind down and relax. Its geometric structure is accented with bright red, evoking the cool and new approaches to the food it serves. Chef Joan Ellis made avocado toast and Brussels sprouts with lemon aioli, quinoa and potato. She explained how Babette takes lots of groceries from local farms in an effort toward sustainability.
Revival Bar and Kitchen
2102 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA 94704
When you step into Revival, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the restaurant’s handsome design. Revival takes ordinary but classic Californian cuisine and adds its own twist to it. The baked egg shakshuka wasn’t traditionally made but was equally delicious with pea shoots, an amazing tomato base and asparagus delicately placed within it all. The textures and flavors of the shakshuka were paired with a deliciously crisp baguette slice.
2020 Kittredge St., Berkeley, CA 94704
Maison Bleue is an inspired place to dine. Its chef-owner, Patrice Fayet, brings the unexpected yet delightful tricks he’s picked up while cooking in several different countries. The coffee beans used in this cafe are from RoastCo in Oakland, while its delectable croissants are brought in (frozen) from Paris. The croque-monsieur was savory and light. The caramel salé crêpe was the most luxurious combination of sweet and salty. We definitely recommend this hidden gem, located right next to the Berkeley Public Library.
Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen
2261 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA 94704
Angeline’s may be a Berkeley classic, but hearing the inspiration and history behind its founding is something you can only experience on this brunch tour. Cory, a longtime employee, explained the history of the chicory coffee and beignets we ate, as well as the details of the restaurant’s inception. The coffee served at Angeline’s is truly unique with its earthy and rich flavors. The beignets are fluffy and completely covered with powdered sugar. The mix of creole and Cajun cuisine is one that is neglected on the west coast, but Angeline’s helps remedy this.
Gio’s Pizza and Bocce
2420 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA 94704
On this tour, we were served a flight of vermouth that the bar uses to create its signature drinks. Each drink is paired with citrus rinds, which enhance the flavors of the drinks. Nick Stolte, the bar manager, made the lavender pomegranate spritz, which was both aesthetically beautiful and delicious. Adam Stemmler, the restaurant’s consultant, introduced the tour group to the homage the restaurant pays to Giovanni, the establishment that inhabited Gio’s current space until it was shut down because of a fire about three years ago. Gio’s draws an especially unique crowd, from young to old, and is truly one of a kind in that it focuses on the art of taste and the flavor of its beverages. If you don’t feel like drinking alcoholic drinks with friends, don’t worry — Gio’s serves amazing mocktails as well.
On Edible Excursions, get ready to meet the folks behind the food, all equipped with fantastic knowledge about the cuisines they serve as well as the immensely rich histories of the buildings that the restaurants inhabit. You’ll arrive hungry but leave with more than just a satisfied belly.
Chelsea Song is the assistant blog editor. Contact Chelsea Song at [email protected].