Best Coffee Houses in Berkeley, California (I)
1. Best Coffee Shops in Berkeley, California: Peet's Coffee – Alfred Peet’s percolating legacy
Peet's Coffee and Tea, in the Gourmet Ghetto at 2124 Vine Street, is a place of worship not only for a fine cup of coffee but for paying homage to a patron saint of the modern American food movement, Alfred Peet. This man devoted his life to improving the taste of coffee in America.
The revolution has come full circle with Peet's beans now available at your corner Safeway and a bevy of boutique Peet's shops around the country.
You have to love the website because it identifies a special group of people, Peetniks, those true believers who hover around the aura of the founder. The Peetniks are serviced by a brisk mail order business for those who want their product from the original source. Arrangements can be made to have Peet's coffee shipped fresh to you regularly, bean or ground, so that you will never risk running out. This solves forever one of life's many anxieties.
The aura of Alfred Peet can be felt at the 2124 Vine Street store, especially in a side room with some classic photos of this Dutch immigrant, who got focused on coffee in Berkeley in 1966. Peet passed away in 2007.
2. Best Coffee Shops in Berkeley, California: Cafe Rouge – Mediterranean fare on Fourth Street
Cafe Rouge offers a mix of culinary presentations on Fourth Street. One aspect is country Mediterranean fare. There are also some American favorites.
The restaurant specializes in fresh meats and its in-house charcuterie. Try the rabbit pate. In fact, there is even a meat shop, emphasizing its sources for organic lamb, pork, and beef. All the chicken served is hormone free.
The restaurant was founded in 1996 by Marsha McBride, who was energized by the thought of promoting food based on environmentally correct animal husbandry.
Vegetables presented in the restaurant are all organically grown. Care in sourcing is the watchword. Adjacent is a further elaborate market with pasta, cheese, and other culinary delights.
3. Best Coffee Shops in Berkeley, California: Caffe Venezia – An Italian Piazza
Caffe Venezia presents both the food and decor of Italy. Many visitors enjoy the decor approximation of an Italian piazza with floor to ceiling murals, a fountain and courtyard, and even laundry strung on lines between the windows.
The food and value get high marks. Italian-food enthusiast Cindy Deetz runs the place. Try the fried calamari with lemon and fennel, followed by the house made ravioli with ricotta and goat cheese.
Weeknight prix fixe dinners at $20 for three courses offer good value.