Establishment neighborhood
Max Gill Design
[email protected]
Floral designer Max Gill does the opposite of keeping it simple. Instead, the designer embraces the complexity of wild plants by adapting them to interior environments. Gill favors foraged blooms, along with rare botanicals from local Berkeley growers. These are no ordinary arrangements, and Gill’s unique eye lends an earthy seasonality to every space he and his team touch. Next time you pass through Chez Panisse or Zuni Café and find yourself wanting to scoop up the floral arrangements and take them home, ask after the designer—it’s probably Gill.
The Plant Library
702 Harrison St Suite A, Berkeley
There are few rooms more soothing than one packed with plants. Abundant greenery is the niftiest tactic to summon nature, induce calm, or warm up a scant tablescape or too-roomy room. But buying enough plants to echo the garden of Eden is costly, never mind the time involved in finding the perfect royal fern or tallest fiddle-leaf fig. Then we discovered the Plant Library. With both an East (NYC) and West (SF) Coast presence, this smart start-up has been a godsend—and best of all, it’s sustainable. The process couldn’t be more straightforward: Pick a bevy of plants or tabletop arrangements—thriving potted cacti, evergreens, or desert greens—to pack a space as big or small as your needs demand. The Plant Library will deliver them for your event, and when you’re done, these short-term party guests are collected and rented again.
Zephyr Tents
1563 Solano Ave., Berkeley
Zephyr likes to think of its tented canopies as sails—billowing, crisp, and made to last. This is appropriate given the tent type: The “Sperry” was initially crafted by New England sailmaker Steve Sperry. These canopies are as beautiful inside as they are outside, with many of the panels hand-sewn and the support poles carved out of wood. Most importantly, the entire structure is waterproof. Tents come in a variety of sizes to cater to events of all sizes, and the crew is top-notch. Conveniently, Zephyr also provides beautiful furniture, much of it made from reclaimed wood, hardwood flooring, and incredible lighting (we love the paper lanterns strung from the tent roof, which is as beautiful as it sounds).
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.