While I’m all for adventure and accidentally stumbling upon a cool bar, boutique or bookstore, sometimes, we all need a little nudge in the right direction. Instead of the NYT model of 36 hours, I’m going to provide several ideas for how to spend a few quick hours (a study break of sorts) right here in Berkeley. Whether it’s the best deals, good eats, hip study spots or engaging group activities, I’ll share with you what’s happening in our very own backyard.
This week, I’ll be focusing on North Berkeley. And no, I don’t mean the Northside La Burrita. Full disclosure — it took looking at two different maps and ultimately consulting a friend who grew up in the Kensington area of the East Bay to fully grasp where “North Berkeley” starts and ends. For the sake of this article, though, I’ve stretched the technical boundaries of North Berkeley a bit to include some exciting spots in Albany and Concord. You don’t need me to tell you to go to Cheese Board on Shattuck Avenue for the best pizza (or that amazing corn and dried cherry scone in the morning!) or Philz Coffee for a mint mojito. If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve been there and done that. Following the same model as last week, I’ve selected one activity for your Friday, Saturday and Sunday to break up that insane study schedule. So, grab some friends, ditch your laptop and go explore some of North Berkeley’s finest!
All-digital drive-in Friday: West Wind Solano Drive-In
Location: 1611 Solano Way Concord, CA 94520
Ever since I saw “Grease” for the first time in fourth grade, I became entirely enamored with the idea of a Friday night at the drive-in. It doesn’t get much more nostalgic than watching a movie in your own car! Taking an old concept and integrating modern technology for a unique movie-watching experience, West Wind Solano is ideal for those evenings when a generic “dinner and a movie” doesn’t quite cut it. Be sure to arrive on the earlier side to ensure that you and your car get a premier parking spot. They do have a concession stand, but I suggest bringing your own food, adult beverage of choice and a warm blanket for a fun girl’s night or romantic date.
Note: This week, the theater is playing “Black Panther“! Don’t miss out on the opportunity to see this important film!
Saturday morning shakshuka: Saul’s Restaurant and Delicatessen
Location: 1475 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA 94709
I blame my Jewish heritage and my mom’s love for “Sex and the City” for ingraining the importance of deli culture into my life. I love the idea of being a regular at a nondescript coffee shop and spending hours catching up on the previous night’s debauchery with friends over shitty coffee. Saul’s, situated in the lovely Gourmet Ghetto, is definitely not that place. That said, it totally fits the bill whenever I’m trying to pretend my life is a sitcom or when I’m craving a mile-high pastrami on rye. Or both!
I highly recommend going for a morning walk up Shattuck Avenue or attempting to catch AC Transit to this North Berkeley breakfast spot for incredible lox served on latkes or amazing shakshuka. Served with a warm, fluffy pita bread, this North African breakfast skillet is something you definitely don’t want to miss. Go with a group of friends, assert your right to the complimentary pickle sampler (are you drooling yet?) and share a couple of different plates for a strong start to your Saturday morning.
Sunday midmorning flower power: Highwire Flowerland
Location: 1330 Solano Ave., Albany, CA 94706
Nestled in the adorable Flowerland Nursery, the Highwire coffee truck is the perfect place to caffeinate, bring a book and escape the real world for a few hours. You order your coffee through a window in a small aluminum trailer and enjoy the morning sun at one of the outdoor tables dispersed around the garden. The staff is incredibly kind and the groovy vibes will make you feel like you’re a hip Berkeley student circa 1968. Maybe even wear your Birkenstocks to really emphasize the point! Consider bringing some light reading or go for a quick hike in Tilden Park before heading to Highwire. Either way, you should absolutely, definitely, 100 percent get the chai latte! It’s one of the best I’ve had in the Bay Area.
Contact Natalie Abber at [email protected].