Best Coffee Houses in Berkeley, California (III)

Tag: California

Best Coffee Houses in Berkeley, California (III)

7. Best Coffee Shops in Berkeley, California: Caffe Strada – An outdoor coffee house


Caffe Strada takes the full pleasure of a coffee house and sets it outdoors under an oak tree. 


In mild weather Caffe Strada has lots to offer. It's close to the university, right across Bancroft. The wifi works, so half the patrons will break out their laptops. The often-salubrious weather of Berkeley, sunny yet cool, will delight a visitor. No one is rushed here. Many a term paper has been brought to a sunny and successful conclusion under this oak tree. 


Beyond coffee, a more substantial menu can carry the visitor through the day. People-watching ranks close to coffee consumption as the popular activity here.


8. Best Coffee Shops in Berkeley, California: Espresso Roma Coffee House – Coffee house with Internet


Espresso Roma is a coffee house where the regulars spend hours of the day at their computers carrying on their activities. There is even a dedicated side room where almost every patron will be hunched over a laptop. 


No one ever feels rushed at Espresso Roma. The concept of "turning the tables" is unknown. There are plenty of wall plug-ins and a strong w-fi.


The menu is inviting. There is all manner of good coffee, so you can get a latte and a muffin. But there are also some imaginative lunch and dinner options, so your glass of wine might be augmented with a plate of roasted vegetables. 


Espresso Roma is a light and airy place, with plenty of window light coming in and an outdoor work area near the front door.


My friend Bruce Whipperman, the noted travel writer with the most popular books on Mexico, has literally spent years of his working life at Espresso Roma, developing his books. The place is essentially his office.


9. Best Coffee Shops in Berkeley, California: Cafe Gratitude – The raw food movement


Cafe Gratitude immerses you in the vegan and raw food movement. Your drink might be a spinach and beet juice concoction. The emphasis is organic, with support for local farmers and sustainable agriculture.


The menu and ambiance project a high level of spirituality, suggesting a world of plenty, food being a celebration of aliveness. The restaurant challenges a patron to find something in life to be grateful for today.


A possible starter is the “I Am Abundant Sampler Plate”, with sprouted almond hummus and spicy cashew nacho cheese. Continue with a raw specialty, such as “I Am Fabulous Seasonal Lasagna”.




Lodging in Santa Barbara, California (II)

Santa Barbara is the county seat of Santa Barbara County, California, located in Southern California. If you’ve planned a tour of the Central California Coast, then Santa Barbara is definitely the best overnight destination. This articles series will reveal everything you need to know about lodging in Santa Barbara, California:


Lodging in Santa Barbara, California: Canary Hotel – A Spanish-Moorish nest in downtown Santa Barbara


In the early 2000s, an aging building in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara was demolished to make way for a luxury hotel. Hotel Andalucia rose from the ashes in this primo spot, with easy access to SB arts, culture and nightlife. 


In 2008, the folks who own Casa del Mar and Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica gave the Andalucia a makeover and a new name to align it with its step-siblings down south. 


The Canary — named after the Canary Islands — is now a Kimpton Hotel. It looks like a Spanish-Moroccan island getaway, complete with African rugs, yoga mats and candles.


If you stay here, be sure to spend time up on the 6th floor Perch, where some of SB’s best views unfold in all directions. Finch & Fork restaurant and bar on the main floor serves locally sourced, bistro-style comfort food (think grilled fish tacos and sheep’s milk ravioli). If you’re a shellfish fan, don’t miss the fresh seafood raw bar, with lobster, crab, shrimp and ceviche.



Lodging in Santa Barbara, California: Chumash Casino Resort – Vegas without the glitz

Set within the Chumash reservation in rural Santa Ynez, the Chumash Casino Resort attracts visitors from all over the southland.


The casino (must be 18 years old to enter) has 2,000 slots and video machines, plus blackjack, poker and other gaming tables, and bingo. 


The resort's main draw is the Samala Showroom, where you view world-class stars up-close from the 1,400 riser-style seats. 


The adjacent hotel has a full-service spa, pool, hot tub and fitness center — a great place to chill while friends and family members hit the slots, or when you need a break from the action. Room rates range from $180 to $550. 


When hunger pangs hit, choose among three eateries: The Willows (dinner), an all-you-can-eat buffet (breakfast and lunch) and a casual cafe that serves quick meals round the clock.


The casino operates free shuttles from Goleta, Lompoc and Santa Maria — visit their website for schedules.


Lodging in Berkeley, California (I)

1. Lodging in Berkeley, California: Bancroft Hotel – Landmark property close to campus


The Bancroft Hotel is a National Landmark property from the 1920s and is the closest hotel to the campus. The Bancroft Hotel is directly across the street from the UC Campus.


Constructed in 1928 by architect Walter T Steilberg, it was originally a private clubhouse called the College Women's Club.


The hotel has 22 rooms and is part of the growing "green" movement, with bamboo towels and only natural cleaners used. The property is a certified Alameda County Green Business.


Next-door is the Caffe Strada, good for coffee or dining. The hotel owner owns Caffe Strada and the Adagia fine-dining restaurant, a few steps up Bancroft.


Because of its historic origin, the Bancroft Hotel lacks some amenities, such as an elevator and aircon. But there are cozy rooms, such as #206, with its decor of student art and its opening out to a view. Room 206 is also on the quiet side, away from Caffe Strada.


The rooftop is a pleasure in mild weather, good for the view and a little stargazing, possibly enhanced with a good bottle of wine.


2. Lodging in Berkeley, California: Berkeley City Club – A Julia Morgan hotel


The Berkeley City Club is both a hotel and a club. It has 35 rooms in a spacious, historically significant building designed by Julia Morgan. As a place to lodge, it is somewhat different than a usual hotel. 


This elegant historic landmark is sometimes called "the little castle." Peruse the interior and you are transported back to a gracious time with courtyards, fireplaces, pillars, and intimate gardens. 


The property is one block south of the UC Campus. There is a heated pool, dining room, and modern amenities as well, such as Wi-Fi. Club members enjoy reciprocal club benefits at other locations around the U.S.


Monthly public tours acquaint visitors with the details of the architecture and history.


The Berkeley City Club was organized in 1927 and the building opened in 1929. Julia Morgan dressed it in the Moorish and Gothic motifs she favored and used elsewhere, such as at Hearst Castle. There were some 4,500 women members of the club in those heady early days. 


Passing its 80th birthday, the Club continues to re-invent itself, opened now for decades to both men and women. The landmark building is in the Historic Hotels of America group. You will be lodging in Berkeley, California at a National Historic Landmark property.

Best Museums in San Diego, California (V)

Best Museums in San Diego, California: Marston House Museum – Arts and Crafts treasure


This 16-room Arts and Crafts showplace on the edge of Balboa Park was once the home of George and Anna Marston and their five children. 


George W. Marston was a tireless civic leader and founder of The Marston Company, once this city’s premier department store. He commissioned renowned local architects Irving John Gill and William Sterling Hebbard to design and build the home in 1905. 


The home’s exterior exemplifies the English Tudor intent of its original design and the “form follows function” philosophy of the Craftsman period. The interior features spacious hallways juxtaposed with close, intimate living areas that evoke the “hearth and home” aesthetic of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Rooms are furnished with Mission-style pieces, including some designed by Gustav, Leopold and John George Stickley, plus decorative pottery, paintings, and textiles created by top Craftsman-era artisans.


Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 8,500-square-foot home sits on five acres of rolling lawn and manicured formal gardens. 

The Save Our Heritage Organisation, which operates the museum, offers tours every half hour; they run about 45 minutes.



Best Museums in San Diego, California: Mingei International Museum – Folk art, crafts & design


To create the word mingei, Japanese scholar Dr. Sōetsu Yanagi combined the words for all people (min) and art (gei). That’s exactly what visitors find at the Mingei – contemporary and historic folk art from cultures all over the world. 


Opened in 1978, the museum’s collection and changing exhibitions showcase creative expression from renowned designers as well as from unknown crafters. More than 140 countries are represented. Works range from ancient clay vessels to 21st century couture. Visitors will find textiles, utensils, jewelry, ceremonial objects, musical instruments, containers, tools, housewares, dolls and toys.


Exhibitions are often accompanied by related lectures, films, demonstrations, music, theater and/or dance. Free docent-led tours begin at 2 PM daily.


Best Places to Stay in California (V)

Best Places to Stay in California: Beach Village at the Del – Luxury villas by the sea


This premier San Diego resort — a recent add-on to the historic Hotel Del Coronado —caters to the discriminating traveler, with private oceanfront cottages and villas offering up to three bedrooms apiece. Luxe amenities include terraces with private day tubs and fire pits, to interior luxuries like flat-screen TVs, Bose surround systems and top-of-the-line gourmet kitchens. 


A beautiful walking path connects Beach Village with the Coronado hotel, where you can dine at 1500 Ocean, enjoy a wine tasting at Eno, or unwind at Spa at the Del. Coronado Beach, located right at your doorstep, has been rated one of the top beaches in the world.



Best Places to Stay in California: Berkeley City Club – Julia Morgan’s Little Gem


Designed by Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan, this 6-story gem once hosted socials and overnights for the East Bay's most prominent women. Today, Morgan's "Little Castle" is an exquisite getaway, complete with an indoor pool, delightful dining room and impressive art collection.


Each of the hotel's beautifully appointed rooms include Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast and fine linens. There is no TV, but then again you'll be too busy exploring Berkeley to need it!



Best Places to Stay in California: Cavallo Point Lodge – Luxury resort on historic Fort Baker


Sweeping views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge are yours when you book a room in this historic luxury resort, which dates back to 1901. LEED-certified for its environmental-friendly design, the lodge at Cavallo Point sits on the grounds of Fort Baker, an Army outpost used through World War II.


Today, the grounds have been immaculately transformed, with practically every amenity under the sun, from Wi-Fi and morning yoga classes to a meditation pool and award-winning restaurant, Murray Circle. 


While you're here, check out the gallery inside the Mercantile, learn the latest culinary techniques inside Cavallo Point Cooking School, or indulge in a massage or pedicure at the Healing Arts Center & Spa. The Golden Gate National Park is right outside, offering 75,000 acres of activities and attractions.


Even your pooch will be pampered at Cavallo Point, especially when you book the lodge's Eco Luxe Pups package. The price includes such posh products as Blueblood Living bedding, Sausalito Pottery food and water bowls, Brittane Doggie Dryers and Saute 2000 organic cookies and treats.


Best Places to Eat in Berkeley, California (III)

Best Places to Eat in Berkeley, California: Bistro Liaison Restaurant – Classic French Cooking


Bistro Liaison offers traditional French cuisine from its well-positioned location on Shattuck Avenue, close to the Gourmet Ghetto, the university, and the Downtown / Arts District.


The guiding forces behind Bistro Liaison are chef proprietor Kenneth "Todd" Kniess and wife Natalie Kniess. The style at the restaurant is described as "French food for the soul." Another chef, chef Walter, prepares a salmon scallop souffle in the photos.


The emphasis is on fresh ingredients and seasonal possibilities. The menu has variety, ranging from bouillabaisse to vegetarian specialties. The restaurant is good enough to be rated by Michelin.


Consider beginning with a traditional French onion soup and then indulging in a pan-roasted Alaska halibut fillet.



Best Places to Eat in Berkeley, California: Build Pizzeria Roma – The East Bay’s best build-your own gourmet pizza experience


Build Pizzeria Roma is an upscale “create your own” thin-crust pizza restaurant on 2286 Shattuck Avenue, corner of Bancroft. Think fine dining rather than pizza-by-the-slice. Build is located in a light and airy loft-like space, with the pizza assembly in the center and a casual dining area on one side. A more formal and elegant fine dining section is on the other side. You might begin with a glass of wine and the bar bites menu as an appetizer. Twelve wines are available by the glass. The Truffle Arancini is a tasty appetizer choice. Arancini means “little oranges” in Italian. This delicious hot appetizer consists of truffle risotto, smoked mozzarella, and house-made tomato sauce. This appetizer name suggests the “Roma” part of the restaurant’s name. The proprietors feel that there are some ingredients and vision that only Italy can provide well. Other than the ingredients from Italy, the goal is Northern California fresh everything.


After wine and an appetizer, it’s time to get in line and build your own pizza. It’s possible to go with several named pizzas on a menu card and let the experts create and cook for you. It’s also possible to go through the line and build-from-scratch or take one of the themed pizzas and make alterations. I started with a pesto base, though tomato base and a white base are also possible. Then I added some veggies, such as grilled garlic cloves and multicolored bell peppers. For a protein, I added cubes of pork. Once you return to your table, the pizza will arrive soon. The large wood-fired ovens can bake a thin-cruster in about 90 seconds.


Lodging in Santa Barbara, California (I)

Santa Barbara is the county seat of Santa Barbara County, California, located in Southern California. If you’ve planned a tour of the Central California Coast, then Santa Barbara is definitely the best overnight destination. This articles series will reveal everything you need to know about lodging in Santa Barbara, California:


Lodging in Santa Barbara, California: Bacara Resort & Spa – Posh Mediterranean resort on the beach


The Bacara occupies 78 acres of prime beach-and-bluff property about 15 miles north of downtown Santa Barbara. 


The Spanish Colonial "village" includes 350 guest rooms and suites, each with private patios or a balcony deck. It also has three pools, nature trails, a Kids Club and activities (seasonal), tennis, and a huge spa with 36 treatment rooms. Sandpiper Golf Course is just down the street.


The Bacara edges Haskell's Beach – a local favorite. But don't expect soft, white sand á la Cancun. It's a "natural" stretch of beach with kelp, driftwood, shore birds and lots of wildlife.


The three on-site restaurants include the Bistro (California-Italian meals) and Miró, a high-end restaurant known for its excellent wine country dishes from around the world and extensive wine list to match. There's also a snack bar on the beach.


The Foley Wine Society opened an on-site tasting room at the Bacara in May 2013. They plan to offer many wine-themed events and excursions to Santa Barbara County wine country, less than 40 minutes from the resort.



Lodging in Santa Barbara, California: Ballard Inn & Restaurant – Wine country’s most romantic dining room


Budi Kazali grew up in Santa Barbara, became a chef and worked, among other fine restaurants, at Blue Ginger with Chef Ming Tsai. He and his wife Christine bought the Ballard Inn in 2004 and established what quickly became one of the nicest B&Bs in Santa Barbara wine country. The 12-table restaurant with fireplace and candles consistently wins accolades as the most romantic restaurant in the region and has won awards as the #1 restaurant in the county.


Budi's creative French-Asian-California dishes reflect his eclectic background and experience. The seasonal menu typically has a just handful of delectable appetizer, entree and dessert options; examples may include Thai curry kabocha soup with whipped coconut cream, or grilled squab with spaghetti squash, pomegranate demiglace and truffled watercress salad. Budi can advise you on great wines to pair with each course. 


The B&B has 15 rooms – rates range from $245 – $315 and include Budi's exceptional breakfasts.


Best Places to Eat in Berkeley, California (II)

Best Places to Eat in Berkeley, California: Ashkenaz Music & Dance – Community music and dance center


The Ashkenaz Music & Dance Community Center is an unusual and yet typically Berkeley venue. It was founded in 1973 by David Nadel, a social activist and folk dancer, as a non-profit. 


This is where I went to see my friend Michael perform with his Balkan music band. The evening was devoted totally to Balkan music, and involved community dancing done by children as well as octogenarians.


Ashkenaz, on San Pablo Avenue near Gilman in west Berkeley, presents live music six nights a week. The music can best be describe as "world" music and "roots" music, often nurturing an ethnic cultural expression. Check their website and look over the ambitious monthly menu of performances to choose something of interest to you.


Kick back with a glass of wine or beer and the organic vegetarian food of the Ashkenaz Cafe and enjoy a performance. 


Besides performances, Ashkenaz presents a spectrum of classes in dance, movement, and music.



Best Places to Eat in Berkeley, California: Barney 's Gourmet Hamburger – The burger at its best


Barney's is the place for a good, honest burger.


It is in the Gourmet Ghetto, but is not intimated by the competition.


Patrons sit out on a terrace when the weather is sunny and enjoy their burgers.


Of course, this being Berkeley, Barney's burgers have a pedigree. They even serve 11 vegetarian burgers, such as the Teriyaki Veggie, with a pattie consisting of sauteed bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms, smothered in a teriyaki glaze.


Best Places to Eat in Berkeley, California: Bette's Oceanview Diner – A classic diner on Fourth Street


Bette's Oceanview Diner attempts to re-create a classic diner and has succeeded now for decades. The enduring success of this restaurant is due to the founder, Bette Kroening, who started here in 1982. 


Her latest evolving interest is a five-acre organic farm near Sebastopol, where she and husband Manfred practice the food gardening arts.


Serving only breakfast and lunch, Bette's also has a thriving takeout business. 


Bette's offers a dependable and tasty dining option for shoppers in the busy Fourth Street area.


The establishment now has a vigorous mail order business if you want their buttermilk pancake or scones mix, as examples.


Best Tourist Attractions in California (III)

Best Tourist Attractions in California: Apple Company Store – Visit the Mothership


Located inside Apple's headquarters, this unique geek boutique sells souvenir T-shirts, baby onesies, accessories and hats, all emblazoned with our favorite half-bitten apple.


Unlike most Apple retail outlets, the store is only open weekdays and it doesn't sell computers. Still, it's a must-see for the true Mac fan.



Best Tourist Attractions in California: Aquarium of the Bay – Explore the depths of the sea


A family trip to Pier 39 in San Francisco wouldn't be complete without stopping at this 65,000-square-foot oceanfront aquarium. It's home to more than 20,000 sea creatures — including the native sevengill shark, which cruises the nearby bay. Watch these massive predators devour their lunch at 11:30 a.m. Sundays and Thursdays, then explore the aquarium's floor-to-ceiling tunnels filled with schools of anchovies, bat rays, skates and giant sea bass. 


In the "Touch the Bay" exhibit, you can lightly pat leopard sharks, bat rays and tide pool creatures such as sea stars and sea cucumbers.


Tip: Buy the Bay Cruise package ($37 adults; $22 kids 5-11) and you can visit the aquarium and join a 1-hour tour around Alcatraz and San Francisco Bay.



Best Tourist Attractions in California: Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World – Shopping for the manly man (or woman)


This ginormous 180,000-square-foot store, dedicated to the great outdoors, sells everything under the sun — from full-size Tracker boats to fire arms and kayaks.


Inside the massive "log cabin," you'll find giant freshwater and saltwater aquariums, an indoor trout stream, Nascar simulator, shooting range and target casting. Several events are offered throughout the year, from archery classes to hunting/fishing workshops and family summer camps. Fish feedings take place at noon every Saturday.


While you're here, enjoy lunch at the Islamorada Fish Company, where you can dine on wild game and seafood alongside a 13,000-gallon saltwater tank. Menu items include hickory smoked rotisserie chicken, venison stuffed mushrooms and hand-breaded alligator. We prefer the Islamorada Sandwich, made with grilled mahi mahi, sauteed onions and American cheese.


Tip: An additional store is located in Manteca at 1356 Bass Pro Drive, Manteca, CA 95337.


World’s Most Beautiful Flower Destinations (II)

Few spaces are more peaceful and awe-inspiring than a beautiful garden. One feels calmer when surrounded by flowers, water features, fountains and the sound of nature.


Some of the world’s most beautiful flower destinations can be found from California up to Victoria, Canada. Each park is an ideal destination to visit to appreciate the beauty of a city. All offer wonderful walking trails for exercise among colorful flora and fauna.



World’s Most Beautiful Flower Destinations: Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve


In March and April, the hills come alive in bright orange, with delicate poppies.


Some call this reserve "March Miracle" depending on how much rain the area receives. Many times mid-April is the peak of the poppy display.


Other wildflowers include owl's clover, lupine, goldfield, cream cups, and coreopsis. The desert grassland produces a mosaic of color and fragrance each spring.


Located in the Mojave Desert Grassland habitat, the duration and intensity of colors and scents vary from year to year. There are eight miles of trails through the gentle rolling hills, including a paved section for wheelchair access, making the park a wonderful place to hike and explore. Benches located along the trails make good places to sit quietly and watch for singing meadowlarks, lizards zipping across the trail, gopher snakes and rattlesnakes. If you're lucky, you may spot a coyote or bobcat. Numerous burrows around the walking trails house mice, gophers, kangaroo rats, beetles, and scorpions.


Visit the onsite Jane S. Pinheiro Interpretive Center at the Reserve to watch a short video to learn more about the reserve. There are wildlife and plant displays and a gift shop. It's open weekends from 9 am. to 5 p.m. beginning March 22nd, and then daily through April from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.



World’s Most Beautiful Flower Destinations: Huntington Gardens and Library


Located in San Marino, about 25 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, is a breathtaking 207-landscaped property of unique and exotic plant collections and botanical gardens. There are more than 14,000 different of varieties of plants showcased in more than 12 gardens. Forty gardeners, a curatorial staff and marathon 100 volunteers maintain the collection.


A must-visit is Liu Fang Yuan, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance. It's the largest Chinese Garden outside of China. This authentic 12-acre garden inspires the elegant harmony of the beauty of nature and learning. Architects and artisans from Suzhou, a Chinese city renowned worldwide for its ancient gardens, worked with Californian builders to produce a traditional Chinese landscape. Walking through its paths enriches the mind and spirit alike. Chinese architecture and rocks are placed around the water's edge to balance native California oaks. Aman-made lake, windows, bridges, and pavilions provide different views of the landscape.


Continue on your garden journey to explore Australian gardens, camellia gardens and an interactive children's garden.


The Japanese Gardens transport visitors to a tranquil and Zen-like oasis. Completed in 1912 and opened to the public in 1928, it features a drum and red moon bridge. Sit near koi-filled ponds and be sure to visit the bonsai collection.


The Conservatory appeals to families with its hands-on opportunities. Make a reservation to have a tea lunch or snack in the Rose Tea Room.