There are many reasons to be in downtown Berkeley. Whether you’re seeing a movie, a play, or a concert, chances are that downtown Berkeley is your destination — and you’re going to want a great place to eat beforehand and grab a drink after. Thankfully, this slice of town — centering on Shattuck Avenue up to Hearst Avenue and down south to Dwight Way — offers an incredibly diverse array of dining options, from upscale Mexican cuisine to fabulous Burmese. Here are 21 of the best restaurants, bars, and cafes in downtown Berkeley.Read More
Where to Eat and Drink in Downtown Berkeley
From Indonesian classics to vegan comfort food, this neighborhood has it all
1. Ippudo Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94704
The only East Bay location of this explosively popular ramen chain specializes in Hakata-style ramen. Thin noodles arrive cooked according to your preference in a rich tonkotsu broth — and the lines aren’t even that bad anymore.
2. Asha Tea House
Asha takes its tea seriously, whether it’s Hong Kong-style milk tea, oolong from Taiwan, or boba tea. The matcha drinks are particularly popular, with options like matcha lattes, matcha affogato, and pure ceremonial matcha.
3. Imm Thai Street Food
Often packed with college students, Imm Thai Street Food serves exceedingly affordable curries, noodle soups, salads, and snacks in a contemporary setting.
4. The Butcher’s Son
Probably the most popular vegan restaurant in the Bay Area, The Butcher’s Son makes its own faux-meats and cheeses for its loaded deli sandwiches, from buffalo bacon ranch fried chicken to hot roast beef with French onion dip. Brunch draws big crowds, too, and the restaurant also stocks a small market area so folks can make their own vegan creations at home.
5. Jayakarta Restaurant
One of the Bay Area’s few Indonesian restaurants, Jayakarta offers a huge menu of traditional Indonesian dishes, all served in heaping portions. Try the mie tek-tek (stir-fried noodles), beef rendang, and eggplant drenched in sambal.
This bustling, colorful restaurant serves many dishes from El Salvador, but it’s hard to not order the cheesy pupusas. The $11.50 combo plates offer a great deal, delivering you both pupusas and a choice of sides like sweet plantains, an avocado salad, or a chicken tamale.
7. Lucia's Berkeley
A major East Bay destination for lovingly blistered, chewy neo-Neapolitan pies, Lucia’s also makes delicious pastas, brunch fare, and surprisingly good gluten-free crusts in a cute, laid-back setting. Don’t miss the Sprouty Scamorza, a white pizza loaded with Brussel sprouts, lemon slices, hazelnuts, and smoked mozzarella.
Great cocktails, a gorgeous patio, and an emphasis on Oaxacan dishes makes Comal a perennial favorite in Berkeley. Choose between large-format dishes — served with beans, rice, tortillas, and salsas — or smaller items like enchiladas covered in mole or tripe guisado.
9. Comal Next Door
Comal’s chill taqueria incorporates many popular Comal items — the carnitas, for example — and packages them up in a more accessible, affordable format. There are tacos, tortas, and bowls, but the burritos are particularly good, with each combination of fillings pre-determined so it hits all the right notes.
10. Tharaphu Burmese Street Food
A no-frills, welcoming spot to try some wonderful Burmese food. The tea leaf salad and pyay paratha (crispy roti on top of chicken-potato curry) are both strong bets, but Tharaphu also serves some hard-to-find dishes like tofu nway, a creamy tofu porridge with noodles.
This izakaya is a Berkeley classic, with charcoal-grilled yakitori served in a custom-designed wooden interior that creates a lively but intimate environment. Don’t forget to take in the epic list of shochu, sake, whiskey, and beer.
12. East Bay Spice Company
Berkeley, CA 94720
East Bay Spice Company’s Indian snacks pair well with the bar’s main attraction: cocktails with big flavors like turmeric, ginger, coconut curry, and tamarind. Spirit-wise, the emphasis here tend to be on rum, mezcal, and gin.
It’s no surprise that Berkeley’s most sustainably designed restaurant also focuses heavily on sourcing from reputable farmers and ranchers, butchering whole animals, and providing plenty of vegan options. The thin, crispy pizzas are always a good option.
Located inside Hotel Shattuck Plaza, Zino is an upscale Mediterranean restaurant serving a range of dips, mezze, and more, inspired by 22 different cuisines. The setting is bright and airy, fitting for a full meal or a cocktail with grilled octopus at the bar.
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15. Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen
Longstanding New Orleans-style restaurant Angeline’s is a reliably fun dinner option in Berkeley, with classics like crawfish etouffee, gumbo, and po’boys. The buttermilk fried chicken is justifiably popular, as are the beignets at brunch.
16. Tupper & Reed
The quality of the cocktails at Tupper & Reed falls in line with what you’d expect from SF’s Future Bars group (Bourbon & Branch, Pagan Idol). Whether you’re ordering a classic or creative cocktail, you’ll get something made with care and top-notch ingredients.
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17. Maison Bleue
Savory, buckwheat crepes are the main draw at Maison Bleue, but the cafe also serves tasty French sandwiches, breakfast items, and buttery pastries. Consider stopping by for a leisurely lunch with a glass of wine on the large patio or for a quick coffee and pain au chocolat.
18. Great China Restaurant
Crowds line up for dinner at sleek and modern Great China, which has earned national accolades for its impressive wine cellar. The focus here is on Northern Chinese fare — the Peking duck is one of the best in the Bay Area.
19. La Note
Whether you’re coming for brunch or dinner, La Note channels the spirit of Provence. The flower-filled back patio is a particularly charming place to order a basket of pastries and fluffy lemon-gingerbread pancakes.
You can build your own prix-fixe feast every night at Saha, Berkeley’s post of a San Francisco original. The Middle Eastern restaurant is known for its creativity, especially with sweet-savory dishes like the duck bastilla, salmon baklava, and lobster knaffe.
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21. Way Station Brew
An ideal daytime hangout spot, Way Station Brew serves house-roasted coffee, beer, wine, and light cafe fare like toasts and salads. The interior is plenty pleasant, but what really makes Way Station stand out is its spacious, dog-friendly patio. Plus, free wifi.