The Daily Californian’s Guide to Berkeley

Making the most of your year on campus

August 22, 2021
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Theo Wyss-Flamm | Staff

Our long-awaited return to campus has finally arrived. While many of us may be nervous about returning to classes in person, there’s also a lot to be excited for. We can once again experience the pleasures of walking through a bustling campus, exploring new spots in Berkeley and best of all, meeting new people and reuniting with old friends. Whether you’re a freshman eager to begin your college journey or a returning student, here’s our guide to some of the best places to hang out, eat and shop on and around campus this year.

The interactive map below shows recommendations for food, shopping and hangout spots in the Berkeley area. Orange markers indicate restaurants, purple markers indicate places to shop and pink markers indicate hangout spots.

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Best places to eat

Coffee shops

Free Speech Movement Cafe

This iconic cafe is a staple to campus life — an ideal location to grab a snack between classes, study for a midterm or catch up with friends, all while paying homage to the movement that helped define UC Berkeley’s culture and legacy.

Yali’s Cafe

With three campus locations, Yali’s is a go-to stop to get some homework done in between classes. If you’re feeling hungry, order a sandwich or keep it simple with a cup of coffee. Regardless of what you choose, you won’t regret it.

Caffe Strada

Strada is a fan favorite, frequented by students for its crumbly scones, massive cookies and sunny outdoor seating area that sparks a sense of warmth and community.

Cafenated Coffee Company

Although farther from campus, Cafenated Coffee Company is a Northside gem. Its lovely green outdoor seating area is filled with colorful tables and plants — the perfect place to study, read, relax or use the aesthetic background to take some Instagram pictures.

Lunch

Mezzo

Mezzo is usually a busy spot during the day and for good reason — with breakfast burritos to die for and giant sandwiches built with the freshest ingredients, you simply must stop by for a late breakfast or early lunch. There’s a good chance that your leftovers will keep you fed for a couple of days.

Sliver Pizzeria

At this Berkeley staple with outposts conveniently located on Telegraph and Shattuck, you can get a slice and a sliver of the pizza of the day. Tip: Save Silver’s delicious cilantro dipping sauce!

Super Duper Burgers

Super Duper is the ideal location if you’re craving the classic burger, fries and shake combo. Get the three dipping sauces on the side and you won’t be disappointed.

Tacos Sinaloa

Enjoy affordable tacos, burritos and bowls at this popular Mexican joint.

Sweetgreen

Try Sweetgreen’s delicious, fresh bowls and salads if you’re in the mood for a healthier meal. Classics such as the “Kale Caesar” and the “Harvest Bowl” never disappoint, but if you’re feeling extra adventurous you can opt for an equally tasty seasonal offering.

Dinner

Gypsy's Trattoria Italiana

If you’re craving pasta but don’t feel like splurging at a fancy restaurant, Gypsy’s is the place for you. Its extensive menu and quick service make it a worthwhile dinner spot.

Homeroom

Want some mac and cheese? Stop by Homeroom in Oakland for delicious comfort food that’ll remind you of home even if you follow a vegan or gluten-free diet.

Berkeley Thai House

Berkeley Thai House offers a great selection of Thai dishes from panang curry to pad thai, with good vibes all around. The restaurant’s combo meal includes an appetizer, main course and drink, making an overall great bang for your buck.

Toss

Visit this noodle bar in Downtown Berkeley for a wide variety of unique noodle and fried rice dishes. You can customize your bowl as you order to fit your dietary needs and taste.

Delhi Diner

Located close to campus, Delhi Diner serves hot and cold Indian chaat, as well to-go naan and curries perfect for when you’re looking for a quick, spicy meal.

La Val's Pizza

Stop by La Val's for a selection of pizza or for the occasional show in its basement's playhouse.

Late night

Abe’s Pizza

Nothing beats midnight munchies like a thick, juicy slice of Abe’s pizza.

Top Dog

Top Dog is no stranger to endless lines of college kids after midnight. If you’re in the mood for a classic hot dog late at night, you can’t go wrong with Top Dog.

Artichoke Basille’s Pizza

Known for its artichoke pizza and large portions, Artichoke’s is a classic late night stop that satisfies your hunger in minutes.

Weekend brunch

Berkeley Social Club

Despite being on the pricier side, Berkeley Social Club’s deep fried french toast, crispy yukon potatoes and millionaire’s bacon make it a must-visit destination.

The Sunny Side Cafe

This quaint spot lives up to its sunny name. From fluffy eggs and pancakes to crispy hashbrowns, the cafe serves all the elements of the perfect American breakfast.

Cafe Durant

Cafe Durant’s combo meals let you mix and match to your heart’s desire. In the mood for an omelette, pancakes and french toast? You can have all three for an affordable price.

Shop

Groceries

Downtown Berkeley Farmers’ Market

If you’re looking for fresh fruit and produce, or just a fun way to spend time outdoors on a weekend, stop by the farmers market which happens Saturday mornings.

Berkeley Bowl

With an incredible variety of fruits and vegetables sold at affordable prices, Berkeley Bowl is a solid option for getting all your grocery shopping done in one place.

Books

Moe’s Books

Located on Telegraph Avenue, this historic bookstore is a Berkeley landmark. Offering a vast collection of both new and used books, Moe’s is worth paying a visit to, even if just to browse through its shelves. If the walls of your dorm or apartment are looking somewhat bare, Moe’s sells great posters to spice them up.

Books Inc.

Books Inc. in Downtown Berkeley is a great place to look for your next read. Take a peek through its extensive library of fiction and nonfiction titles and find exactly what you need.

Clothing

Bancroft Clothing Co.

You can get basic clothing items, affordable college gear, interesting accessories and various knick-knacks at this store conveniently located right across the street from campus.

Indigo Vintage Co-op

Indigo’s high-quality, vintage clothing will make you look put-together and like you know a lot about fashion. It’s also a great place to bring guests from out of town to give them a taste of Berkeley’s style.

Places to hang out when you have nothing particular to do

Memorial Glade

You can’t go wrong with this classic spot for a midday picnic with friends or solo unwinding time. Hang up a hammock, play some frisbee, work out, read or paint with a beautiful view of the Campanile.

Campanile

Though our favorite tower has yet to reopen,you will be able to ride to the top of our campus’s iconic landmark for an unparalleled view of the city and bay in a few weeks.

Grizzly Peak

Just a short drive away, Grizzly peak offers magnificent views of the entire city of Berkeley — especially around sunset.

Cesar Chavez Park

Views of the Marin Headlands and the San Francisco skyline make this park the perfect place for a picnic or stroll.

Willard Park

If you want a change of scenery from Memorial Glade, this park is home to towering trees and bordered by Victorian homes — a great place for an afternoon frolic.


Whether you’re revisiting these classic spots or exploring them for the first time, we hope you are able to make good use of this guide throughout this semester and beyond. Stay safe and make the most of your year!