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Best of Berkeley: City 2023

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APRIL 30, 2023

Best theater: Landmark Shattuck Cinemas 

Photo of the outside of Shattuck Cinemas.
(Liana Dagdevirenel/Staff)

Once upon a time, students could walk down Shattuck Avenue and catch a movie after a stressful day. Whether it’s going on a date, spending time with roommates or even having some fun alone, the theaters were always an alluring prospect.

Sadly, that’s no longer the case. Theater after theater has shut down over the past twelve months, leaving downtown Berkeley devoid of the cinemas. No loss will sting as much as that of Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas, a mainstay in Berkeley since 1988. The theater’s unique charms, cozy atmosphere and varied fare of indie and box office movies alike once brought students flocking to its doors.

This is not to say there aren’t options left; students can still take the bus down to the massive AMC Theater in Emeryville or walk to the more quaint Elmwood Theater on College Avenue. Yet neither of those can stack up to the experience of walking downtown with your friends, grabbing a bucket of freshly popped popcorn and relaxing at the Shattuck Cinemas.

The cinemas may have shut down, and Shattuck Cinemas may no longer have a physical place on Berkeley’s streets. Yet it will continue to have a place in our hearts and our memories, where those of us lucky enough to watch a groundbreaking film in its halls can cherish the memory.

— Aditya Katewa

Best bookstore: Moe’s 

Moe's bookstore.
(Anita Liu/staff)

Among Berkeley’s many shining and famous bookstores, the one that stands out the most is Moe’s Books. Located near the busy Telegraph-Haste intersection, this four-story bookstore offers an unquantifiable array of items — from antique books, the latest BookTok trends, cookbooks, philosophy journals, posters and more. Each floor is organized impeccably by genre (there are maps to help you!), allowing you to explore a variety of books on your trip. The prices are relatively cheaper than at other Berkeley bookstores, allowing you to get more for your money.

Moe’s doesn’t just stand out for its astonishing quantity of material — their employees are also some of the kindest and helpful people you could meet. Going to Moe’s after a bad midterm or a long day feels like a cure — a way to unwind, relax and jump into a new book. Whether you’re an avid reader or haven’t picked up a book in five years, you can’t go wrong with an adventure at Moe’s.

— Izza Ahmed

Best tattoo parlor: War Horse

Photo of the outside of War Horse Tattoo shop.
(Lucca Wasserman/Staff)

If you want to get something permanent, you probably need to make sure it’s the highest quality for the longest time. For tattoo lovers, War Horse Tattoo on Telegraph Avenue offers just that. 

This tattoo provider, which was established in 2011, offers a wide variety of options to create the perfect design. Customers can choose from black and gray and traditional tattoos to illustrations and lettering. And if you don’t know exactly what style you prefer, the artists can work with you to manifest quality work. You can also fill out a submission form online to get the creativity process started. 

The shop has a minimum of $100 for a tattoo, which includes the time, tools and hospitality of the artists bringing the magic to life. This establishment also takes walk-in customers, but for bigger pieces, you might want to book a consultation to go over your vision with an artist selected based on your design. Many of the guest artists the shop brings in also have international acclaim, which provides customers with the assurance that they are in knowledgeable hands. 

Whether it’s your first or your 50th tattoo, you will find the expertise and workmanship one hopes for by getting your ink at War Horse Tattoo.

— Adriana Temprano

Best thrift store: Out of the Closet

Out of the Closet thrift store.
Jonathan Hale/Senior Staff)

Finding the right fit for any occasion might be a fun outing, or for some, the process of browsing from one store to another could feel exhausting and endless. But whether you’re looking for a wardrobe overhaul or a simple sweater, a thrift store offers diverse finds for a price that makes your wallet smile — and thrifting at a place with a purpose will make your heart smile too.

Out of the Closet brings resourceful activism to your shopping spree. Located on University Avenue, this second-hand store offers vintage and eclectic finds for your thrifting excursions. You’ll find fresh fits, good reads and even cool bops. The store also takes care to organize merchandise in a way that makes the shopping experience less overwhelming and more enjoyable. 

But this thrift shop offers more than just clothes on hangers, providing free HIV testing that requires only a quick finger prick. For every dollar you spend, the shop also donates 96 cents toward the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

If you’re thinking about donating furniture or bulky items, this thrift store will pick up your large donations. You can also bring smaller items to the shop itself to donate toward the cause. 

Get ready to receive all the compliments with your purchases from Out of the Closet.

— Adriana Temprano

Best Cal merch source: Student Store 

Image of the Cal Student Store
(Meghnath Dey/Staff)

As “the official store of UC Berkeley” the Cal Student Store is your one-stop shop for all campus-themed clothes, textbooks, and other assorted knickknacks. Conveniently located inside the MLK Student Union at the Telegraph-Bancroft intersection, two of the busiest streets in Berkeley, the store is regularly filled with students and visitors alike browsing its collection for their newest finds.

Take a peek at their sticker and magnet racks to grab some sweet Oski trinkets, and head to their office supplies section to grab a couple of animal bobblehead pens to make note-taking less tedious. There’s very few times you won’t find what you need at the Student Store. If that is the case, odds are you’re looking for something that shouldn’t be found in the first place.

Finally, don’t forget to check out their pet merchandise collection to deck out your furry friend in the cutest Cal gear — and perhaps pick up a sweater for yourself while you’re at it to match.

— Natasha Kaye

Best playhouse: Berkeley Playhouse 

Photo of the outside of Berkeley Playhouse on College Ave.
(Kayla Sim/Staff)

Nestled into the usually bustling College Avenue is a place where dreams take center stage and actors weave brilliant stories. The cozy environment makes you feel at home, and the refreshing concessions don’t hurt either.

You guessed it: It’s the Berkeley Playhouse. The playhouse stands out among the rest of its Berkeley peers with its broad range of offerings and family-friendly atmosphere. The playhouse offers opportunities for actors young and old — you might just see the next generation of actors pull off a rousing rendition of Shrek.

Only a five minute bus ride away from campus, students should take the opportunity at least once in their college careers to soak in the lights at the Julia Morgan Theater. The talent on stage, as well as the wonderful and quirky decorations inside, make watching a production at the playhouse an absolute must.

— Aditya Katewa

Best date spot: Berkeley Rose Garden

Roses at Berkeley Rose Garden.
(Matt Gibson/Senior Staff)

Sunshine gleams as you saunter around the Berkeley Rose Garden hand-in-hand with your date. The sweet balmy rose aromas surround your senses. You look off into the distance to see the Golden Gate Bridge nestled beneath the clouds. To sweeten the deal, this picturesque scene is free to enjoy and wheelchair accessible. 

Hop on a bus from downtown Berkeley to arrive at Euclid Avenue on Northside. In just a few stops, you’ll enter the wonderland of the terraced amphitheater and the 220-foot-long redwood pergola showcasing over 250 rose varieties. There are also tennis courts, gazebos and a picnic area. You can even help maintain the Berkeley Rose Garden by volunteering.

Who says love is reserved for couples? Indulge in some self-love by sitting on a bench in the garden to sketch, write or artistically ponder. 

No matter who you bring to the Berkeley Rose Garden, you’ll find the May blooms to enthrall and inspire.


— Dina Katgara

Best hike: Fire trails

Silhouette of a dog at sunset.
(Hsi-Min Chan/Senior Staff)

The greater Berkeley area has no shortage of trails and hikes for nature lovers. However, the one place that will never disappoint, no matter if you are a seasoned hiker or new adventurer, is the Berkeley Fire Trails. 

With trails of varying difficulty and picturesque views of Berkeley, the San Francisco skyline and the whole bay area, the Fire Trails are perfect for everyone. While reaching the top of the trails is a challenge, there are viewpoints along the way and even a cute tree house structure trekkers can climb to enjoy the views. 

And speaking of the views, sunrise and sunset are the prime times to make your way up the fire trails, as the sun illuminating the entire bay far below is truly a sight to behold. If you find yourself running up some of the hills at night, you better watch your head; you never know when the next bat is going to home in on you.

— Vani Suresh

Best museum: BAMPFA 

Photo of the BAMPFA sign outside of the BAMPFA building.
(Ashlyn Reynolds/Staff)

The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, or BAMPFA, is filled with exhibitions, screenings and public programs that are dedicated to art and film. Located across from campus, the stainless steel–clad museum contains more than 28,000 works of art, including contemporary photography, Abstract Expressionist painting, African American quilts, Italian Baroque painting and East Asian paintings. 

The museum’s collection also includes more than 18,000 films and videos from a range of historical periods and global cultures, helping visitors explore the works of leading artists and filmmakers. Swapping out every few months, BAMPFA’s exhibitions give the community an opportunity to learn about diverse cultures through art programs and workshops, school field trips, gallery tours and performances. 

As the visual arts center of UC Berkeley, BAMPFA is committed to invoking thoughtful dialogue, stimulating the imagination and promoting community engagement through art and film. Filled with natural light from large glass windows, the museum also includes two film theaters with a total of over 250 seats, four art and film study centers, the Koret Reading Room, the Fisher Family Art Lab, a store and a café. 

— Matthew Yoshimoto

Contact Maria Khan at 


MAY 15, 2023