Best of Berkeley: City 2020

Stylized illustration of Moe's Books for Best of Berkeley, City
Alexander Hong/Senior Staff

Best movie theater: Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas 

Brian Bi/Staff

Of Berkeley’s movie theaters, Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas is the great equalizer. Located across the street from both Regal UA Berkeley and Landmark’s California Theatre, Shattuck Cinemas showcases a diverse selection of movies, from little-seen foreign language films to indie hits. 

Shattuck Cinemas has cornered the movie theater market on coziness. What can be better than curling up on one of the theater’s couches for a fifth viewing of “Little Women”? The smaller, narrow theaters almost give the sense of a private viewing in your own home theater. (Or perhaps, if you’re watching “Cats, the sensation of being trapped, which, I believe, just adds to the experience). 

Some might describe the theater as quirky, with its affinity for A24 films and obscure movie posters decorating the bathroom walls. And I would agree. Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas is the manic pixie dream girl of Berkeley’s movie theaters, but in this case she’s not the idealization of a male writer — she’s real.

— Sydney Fix

Best bookstore: Moe’s Books 

Vivian Roan/Staff

With the dominance of online retail and gentrification striking at every corner, there has been a vast decline in bookstores within our community. We are fortunate that Moe’s Books, which has been open in Berkeley since 1959, provides thousands of used and new titles, helping revolutionize growth within our community.  

Conveniently located on Telegraph Avenue, Moe’s consists of four floors and a basement of interesting oddities: from nonfiction to anthropology, anyone can experience the thrill of wandering around and finding exactly what they are looking for. There is even a rare and out-of-print collection located on the top floor. Moe’s has it all! 

It’s a bonus that the staff members have a breadth of literary knowledge. They do a fantastic job connecting with customers, helping them find what they are looking for and making insightful recommendations for new reads. 

Moe’s Books deserves the highest praise as we value and appreciate the stories and memories the store has gifted us with.

— Gisselle Reyes

Best tattoo parlor: Industrial Tattoo & Piercing

Sunny Shen/Senior Staff

Located on Dwight Way, Industrial Tattoo & Piercing is one of the many tattoo parlors around campus. First, let’s talk about the atmosphere. With the plants, wooden furniture and clean displays, the lobby’s aesthetic makes you feel at ease right when you walk in. The workers at Industrial are very helpful, nice and professional. Their friendliness is also a bonus when getting a tattoo or piercing because you can feel comfortable, which is crucial when making a decision regarding permanent body modifications.

When getting a tattoo or piercing, it is extremely important to feel safe during the whole process and Industrial offers that comfort from the time you walk in to the moment you walk out! Its staff includes a diverse range of piercers and tattoo artists, so you’re sure to find someone who fits the style you’re looking for. On top of this, the prices are extremely reasonable for the quality of service you receive. Whether you’re feeling impulsive or if you’ve been thinking it over for a month or two, Industrial Tattoo & Piercing offers a great, comfortable tattoo experience.

— Joyce Cam

Best thrift shop: Anastasia’s Vintage 

Sunny Shen/Senior Staff

With a diverse set of modern and vintage clothes and accessories, Anastasia’s Vintage, located right on Telegraph Avenue, offers something for everyone. The reasonably priced clothes and many contemporary options make thrifting at Anastasia’s less intimidating for the novice thrift shopper. At the same time, the eclectic selection of vintage vests, lingerie, trousers and everything in between is essentially thrifting gold for the more seasoned shopper. 

The many racks of colorful clothes — organized by type of item, with modern styles at the front of the store and vintage at the very back — make navigating the store easy. Take your time to thumb through the racks and you’ll be surprised by the gems just waiting to be unearthed. Patchwork blazers? Bedazzled sweaters? Funky pants from every decade? Check, check and check. If you’re looking to spice up and refresh your wardrobe on a budget, Anastasia’s is the place to be.

— Katherine Shok

Best local artist: Kelsey Ferrell 

Pierre Carrillo/Courtesy

“F— the bourgeoisie/ Marx is my new daddy,” croons UC Berkeley student musician Kelsey Ferrell on her debut album, Trauma Portfolio, released last year. Going by the moniker of Feral, her lyrics are vulnerable, honest and, most importantly, unapologetically hers. Ferrell is a member of Songwriting at Berkeley, and the community she found there inspired her to fall deeper into her love of writing music.  

Combining strokes of a guitar with bare vocals and poetic lyrics, Ferrell defies genres, jumping between punk styles and a more singer-songwriter atmosphere. She notes Mitski, the Dixie Chicks, Girlpool and Hole as some of her greatest influences, and these powerhouse female artists shine brightly through the tones and intricacies of Ferrell’s own music. Empowering and raw, Ferrell’s songs, such as “GWS Honors Thesis” and “Guest House,” hum the beginnings of a roar, tuning listeners in to the struggles a woman faces on this confusing, lonely planet.

Skylar De Paul

Best place to get UC Berkeley gear: Bancroft Clothing Co.

Brianna Luna/Staff

At some point, every UC Berkeley student has found themself with more Cal gear than they thought humanly possible.

But no matter how many “Go Bears”-themed items we accumulate, it’s hard to forget the first. 

For me, that first piece of Cal gear, a humble blue sweatshirt emblazoned with a giant golden UC Berkeley logo and a bear, came from Bancroft Clothing Co., located across from Sproul Plaza.

When I first entered this amazing place as an incoming freshman, the number of choices stunned me. Since then, this beloved store seems to only have gotten better. Sweatshirts, hoodies and sweatpants in a variety of colors and patterns adorn the store’s racks, lining its walls up to the ceiling. 

Although I’ve worn that nearly three-year-old sweatshirt hundreds of times, it still looks as good as new. If you’re looking for a memorable, durable and affordable piece of Cal gear to add to your wardrobe, Bancroft Clothing Co. can’t be beat.  

— Kristen Hull

Best playhouse: Berkeley Playhouse 

Leonie Leonida/Staff

Founded in 2007, Berkeley Playhouse offers a unique theater experience through its commitment to quality productions, audience involvement and nontraditional casting. At the Julia Morgan Theater, built in 1910 and home to Berkeley Playhouse, theatergoers can enjoy any of five productions per season, each running for about six weeks. Through its conservatory, Berkeley Playhouse also offers courses in acting, singing, dancing and technical theater for a variety of skill levels. 

Berkeley Playhouse’s most recent performance of “Memphis” was set to run through March 15, but it had to close early because of concerns about COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus. The playhouse’s next production, Disney’s “Newsies,” is scheduled for June through August. In the meantime, Berkeley Playhouse alumni are singing via their Instagram Live takeover event as a thank-you to all the workers helping us through this health crisis. You can catch these performances in the evenings at @berkeleyplayhouse

— Megan Sousa

Best nonfood place to take a date: UC Botanical Garden 

Sunny Shen/Senior Staff

While campus is beautiful and restaurants are always the norm, sometimes it gets boring walking with your date and a boba or coffee in hand. Or maybe you’re just tired of ordering that same dish at your favorite Berkeley restaurant. What you and your date both need is some fresh air and good views, literally. Whether you’re a hopeless romantic trying to save money while looking for that special someone, or you just need a spot for a casual date, the UC Botanical Garden, located in the Berkeley Hills, is your ideal location. Free for students and only a quick shuttle ride away, the gardens are a perfect getaway. You can stroll through the various worldwide plant collections with your special someone. The fauna will distract you from your nerves and any first-date awkwardness; this is the place to relax and take pictures. Either way, you’ll definitely find yourself falling in love with the gardens, if not with that someone.

— Thao Nguyen

Best place to hike: Berkeley Fire Trails

Isabella Ko/Staff

The three constants in life are death, taxes and someone screaming something random at an ungodly hour on the streets of Berkeley. UC Berkeley and the rest of the Bay Area make up a beautiful, thriving metropolis, but this metropolis contains people, buses, cars, trains, classes, jaywalkers and absolutely no silence.

Whenever it seems overwhelming, it’s nice to know there’s a way out that doesn’t involve crying at the top of the Campanile. The Berkeley Fire Trails are just a stone’s throw away from anywhere on campus and can provide an adventure for just a few minutes or for hours on end.

Whether you’re just looking for a breath of fresh air or are one of those crazy folks who hikes to Orinda, the Berkeley Fire Trails are the place for you. Head up to the Big C, escape from California Memorial Stadium or meander up and away from Clark Kerr Campus any day of the week.

Beauty and silence are just a short walk away, and if you’re like me and you spend too much time on your computer, a quick escape to majestic views of the Bay, quiet forests, high meadows and chaparral is right around the corner.

— Jasper Kenzo Sundeen

Best art gallery or museum: Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) 

Cheyenne Tex/File

Each year, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive presents more than 20 gallery exhibitions and 450 film programs in an accessible and engaging way. Close to campus, BAMPFA showcases art pieces and films that represent a diverse range of historical periods and global cultures. 

BAMPFA offers resources that give the community access to art programs, organizing art workshops and school field trips and offering gallery tours and performances. There are also other additions to the museum, such as a well-curated gift shop, a scrumptious café, an art lab that provides materials to make your own art, and of course, the Pacific Film Archive. 

Besides the art, the space itself is well curated, with lots of contemporary pieces and a beautiful screening room. The architecture of BAMPFA itself is impressive: The high ceilings, abundance of open space and perfect amount of light create an aesthetically pleasing museum. 

There’s no denying that BAMPFA is an absolute marvel. Remember, First Thursdays are always free for everyone!

— Gisselle Reyes

Best grocery store: Trader Joe’s

Leonie Leonida/Staf

I headed out of my driveway fearing the worst. It was late October 2019, in the middle of a series of power outages in Berkeley, and I needed groceries. Was Trader Joe’s closed, too?

The question was pressing because of everything Trader Joe’s, commonly referred to as TJ’s, represents.

Trader Joe’s takes all the things we’ve come to despise about the modern supermarket — the cold, scuffed tiles, the endless choices across a maze of unintelligibly demarcated aisles — and somehow makes them intuitive. Traversing through other large supermarkets can feel like navigating a minefield, whereas stocking up at Trader Joe’s is like a sunset stroll through Willard Park.

The most impressive feat TJ’s pulls off is not just maintaining a high quality product at exceptionally low prices, but also making a trip to the grocery store an unabashed joy. At Trader Joe’s, I never have to worry about missing the cereal aisle or getting outflanked by a local mom for the store’s last jar of applesauce. TJ’s is an organization sans bureaucracy — order without coercion.

I rolled into the parking lot holding my breath. It had been a long week of administrative chaos. Almost in slow motion, I watched a customer roll her cart toward the automatic doors, awaiting the result. They slid open. TJ’s was open. Order was restored.

— Nicky Shapiro

Best booth on Telegraph Avenue: Tony B. Conscious (paintings on Durant and Telegraph avenues) 

Srava Singampalli/File

During my first year here in Berkeley, my old boss had a Tony B. Conscious portrait hanging up in her office. I used to look up at the glitter-haloed profile like it could save me from shame, nerves or getting fired — and maybe it did, because I never did get fired. If you’ve ever walked the vibrantly grimy intersection of Durant and Telegraph avenues and heard the strains of Lauryn Hill or Aaliyah or whoever it might be that day, you have met and melded minds with Tony B. Conscious. And if you’ve ever sauntered past the world’s dingiest and most beloved post office to see an amazing Technicolor “dreamcoat” display of skateboards, canvases and pasteboards, then you have encountered incontrovertible evidence of the transformative power of Tony B. Conscious. Even better, if you have ever come face-to-face with one of Tony’s works like I did in my boss’s office years ago, then you have heard the gospel of Tony B. Conscious — glitter is great, Black is beautiful and art is everywhere.

— Casey Li