Berkeley is defined by dissimilarity. Restaurants range from James Beard award winners to casual eats frequented by drunk students on a nightly basis. Streets are lined with booths selling everything from succulents to tie-dyed clothing to paintings. Movie theaters alternate between niche indie films and blockbusters. Campus organizations run the gamut from well-known extracurriculars to emerging hobbies and causes, reflecting the diversity, passion and spirit of change that has kept UC Berkeley and its students at the forefront of worldwide consciousness for years.
Berkeley — a vibrant hub of unique food, culture and activity — is a place that can be described in a variety of words, but “quiet” is seldom one of them. Right now, though, Berkeley is in the midst of a rare silent spell as the city shuts down to prevent the spread of COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus.
Assembling this year’s Best of Berkeley awards has been a bittersweet experience. As The Daily Californian staff was writing about the people who characterize Berkeley, those same people were leaving campus and shutting down their businesses. But now more than ever, it’s important to celebrate the Berkeley community, and it’s been an honor to do so.
The following are the Daily Cal’s Best of Berkeley winners for 2020, voted on by the public. Read on for our guide to Berkeley’s finest artists and places, and be ready to give them your support when they eventually resume normal work. After all, they’re what makes Berkeley the very best.
— Grace Orriss
Consistently crowded, with people lining up outside on Sunday afternoons, the C.V. Starr East Asian Library, known colloquially as the East Asian Library, easily ranks among the top study spots on campus.
— Lillian Morgenthaler
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.
— Jasper Kenzo Sundeen
With maki rolls ranging from $2.25 to $6.95 and special rolls topping out at $10.95, Elmwood Avenue’s Manpuku will satisfy a sushi craving of any magnitude without breaking the bank.
— Sonnet Phelps