5 Places to Check out in Berkeley, California

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Berkeley is a lot of things, to an awful lot of people. Yes, the town is based largely around the University of California, but the city of Berkeley has grown up an awful lot of late.  It’s now one of the most densely packed suburbs in America, offers great public transit and is growing rapidly as tech company after tech company decides that rents in San Francisco are simply too steep.

Here’s 5 spots to check out in Berkeley, California.

Top Dog: This is old school Berkeley.  Order yourself a $3 hot dog, bring cash though because it is cash only even in the 21st century. When you’re sitting on one of the bar stools, have a look around, you’ll see a number of fliers that would make your conservative friends keel over.  After all, if universal healthcare is a foregone conclusion and universal income is only a matter of time, then what else can Berkeley come up with?  Odds are, if it happens, people will be talking about it at Top Dog well before the mass media has any clue it is taking place.

Berkeley Art and Pacific Rim Film Archive Museum: One of the few museums in America that is pretty much free.  Bring a child.  The child gets free admission, but they also admit one guardian for free, per child.  The building itself is architecturally significant, a new urban infill project in a highly urban area, directly across the street from one of America’s 10 best universities.

Berkeley Bowl: If you were to name America’s best independent grocery stores, that list would pretty much have to begin with Berkeley Bowl.  Yes, it started in a bowling alley, but with 2 locations these days, the Bowl has become America’s foremost produce market.  It’s often been said that if you want to lose weight or eat healthy, don’t go in the middle of the grocery store.  Berkeley Bowl removes that issue entirely by offering produce in about half their store, with America’s foremost organic produce supply.  Almost universally beloved by locals, BB is well worth a visit.

North Berkeley and the famed Gourmet Ghetto: The Gourmet Ghetto got it’s name back the heady days of the late 70’s and early 80’s when food pioneers moved into Berkeley, because those were the cheapest rents available anywhere in the Bay Area.  How things have changed with houses sold for many millions of dollars these days.  Stop by the Gourmet Ghetto, get a slice of pizza at Cheese Board (america’s second best pizza stop according to Food and Wine magazine) grab a cup of coffee and see what’s possible when food and culture go hand in hand in America.

Telegraph Avenue in South Berkeley: Telegraph has long been a waystation of those seemingly unable to fit in, in other spots around the globe.  These days, gentrification and other factors, including an influx of college students looking for cheaper housing has brought with them new business.  Visit Telegraph south of campus to enjoy food and plenty of interesting street vendors. Of peculiar interest is Cream, an ice cream sandwich shop that seems amazingly priced at about $2 for two freshly baked cookies and home made ice cream in the middle.

Mark Aselstine is the owner of the Uncorked Ventures wine club, an online wine club based in Berkeley California, focused on delivering high quality wine from the west coast states of California, Oregon and Washington State
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