Establishment neighborhood
Asha Tea House
2086 University Ave., Berkeley
The guys behind Asha are unabashedly obsessed with all varieties and types of tea. In fact, they're so into tea that they actually MacGyver-ed their own pour-over device that steeps their blends for the perfect amount of time; plus, you'll drink it out of a mug or cup specifically designed for your tea. The roomy space, with its tall ceilings and long linen lanterns, is a lovely place to spend an afternoon. The Berkeley flagship is a classic, though they just opened a second location Downtown.
Chez Panisse
1517 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley
Alice Waters has been doing the whole organic, sustainably sourced "California cuisine" thing since 1972, long before it was all the rage. She even founded The Edible Schoolyard Project to empower littles to make healthful, environment-friendly food decisions. Chez Panisse, her much-respected bistro in Berkeley, is an institution and the impeccably prepared, seasonal fare (on a prix-fixe menu basis only) has landed this place on countless best-of lists. Upstairs at the unassuming little Arts and Crafts building where the restaurant is housed there's also The Café. Here, you’ll find a more casual a la carte selection; just like its older sibling, the menu changes daily.
2020 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley
We love that the Oaxacan region of Mexico serves as Chef Matt Gandin’s muse at this Arts District favorite. The result? A menu of ceviches, tamales, tacos, and insane shared dishes that stays true to tradition while bringing something innovative to the table. It's a pretty awesome space, too, with an exposed-brick dining room, plus a massive outdoor area with fire pit and beer garden. If you've got a group of 20 or more, ask about their private room in the back, where they serve those crazy-good sharing plates family style around one long table.
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