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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