Best Coffee Houses in Berkeley, California (II)

Tag: California

Best Coffee Houses in Berkeley, California (II)

4. Best Coffee Shops in Berkeley, California: Chester's Bayview Café – A breakfast scramble


Chester is an especially suitable Gourmet Ghetto choice when you are in the mood for a hearty breakfast scramble. Sit outdoors in the enclosed courtyard when the weather is mild.


The Chester scramble sticks to your ribs. The ingredients include eggs, potatoes, and your choice of meats or fish, all served with a side of toast and a never-empty cup of strong coffee.


Chester's functions with breakfast through the lunch hour, then closes, opening again in the evening for a Tapas Bar dinner. Local musicians entertain Wednesday through Sunday, with music and dancing. The spectrum includes jazz, swing, folk, and country.


5. Best Coffee Shops in Berkeley, California: Freight & Salvage Coffehouse – Music 300 nights a year


Rarely a night goes by in downtown Berkeley when Freight & Salvage is not presenting some acoustic music or roots music offering. Freight & Salvage calls itself the "home of traditional music."


Freight & Salvage has some music playing for about 300 nights a year. The entity celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2008, and calls itself "the longest-running full-time folk and traditional music venue west of the Mississippi River."


The setting is downtown at 2020 Addison in the Arts District, opposite the Berkeley Rep, showing the density of performing arts venues on a single block of Addison.


Freight & Salvage also is a coffeehouse and cafe. The company is proud of its new, green building. 


Classes in music and dance occur, beyond the nightly musical performances.


6. Best Coffee Shops in Berkeley, California: Elmwood Café – Ozzie’s Soda Fountain


The Elmwood Cafe honors the memory of a beloved local person, Charles "Ozzie" Osborne, who turned the soda fountain in what was the Elmwood Pharmacy into a major community-gathering place for decades.


That early legacy has been recreated in this contemporary cafe on the same site, complete with a fountain-style marble slab counter and straightforward but inventive food.


The coffee is carefully roasted and sold in retail packages as well as by the cup.


There is an all day menu that includes items such as a frittata or house made granola.


From 11 am on there is also a Served Later menu in which good choices might be the roast turkey or a plate of California fresh figs and goat cheese.


Best Places to Stay in California (IV)

Best Places to Stay in California: Bardessono – It’s LEED, baby!


This contemporary wine country hotel, located in charming Yountville, is located just steps from Napa Valley's best restaurants, from the elegant French Laundry, to the scrumptious Bistro Jeanty.


But what makes it extra special are its 62 deluxe guest rooms with privates jetted tubs, fireplaces, premium organic bedding and virtual-surround speakers. For a true splurge, book the 780-square-foot Tufa Suite, with dual shower-steam rooms and an outdoor shower.


Best Places to Stay in California: Bardessono – Looking for something to do while you’re here?


Be sure to dine at Bardessono's Lucy Restaurant & Bar, which serves up farm-fresh fare like Star Route Beet Salad and Monterey Shellfish a la Grecque. The full-service Bardessono Spa has a pampering menu of treatments. Try the Vinotherapie Massage, where you'll be rubbed from head-to-toe with organic Chardonnay grape seed oil.


As you bed down for the night, take comfort in knowing you are lowering the carbon footprint. Bardessono is one of only three hotels in the world with LEED Platinum certification.



Best Places to Stay in California: Bay Shores Peninsula Hotel – Enjoy the freebies!


This laid-back Newport Beach hotel is stocked with all the comforts of home, from their complimentary breakfast buffet in the morning, to the fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies in the afternoon. Each of the hotel's 25 rooms and suites are clean and comfortable, with free Wi-Fi, HDTV and air conditioning. The beach, and the bay, are both just a block away.


I love the whole surfer vibe here, from the original surf art by John Severson (who often stays here) to the wide selection of Surfer magazines in the lobby. Take the original 1960s caged elevator up to the rooftop sun deck, where you'll enjoy sweeping views of the ocean and bay.


Best Places to Stay in California: Bay Shores Peninsula Hotel – What’s best about it?


The friendly customer service and free extras. Check out one of their free DVDs to enjoy in your room, or grab some of their beach toys for a day at play. You'll also enjoy free local phone calls, free newspaper delivery, free business services and free parking. And if the lot happens to be full, they'll even feed your parking meter!


Best Places to Stay in California (III)

Best Places to Stay in California: American River Inn – Historic B&B in Gold Country


For a fun overnight in Gold Country's Georgetown, check out this historic miner's boarding house turned B&B.


Though the original building dates back to 1853, it burned in 1897 and was quickly reconstructed — later becoming a sanitarium, brothel and grand hotel.


Today, this bed-and-breakfast is a popular spot for touring Gold Country, hosting stars including David Hasselhoff and Carol Channing. Choose from 13 guest rooms and suites, decorated with old antiques, dolls and Victorian furnishings. Your stay includes afternoon hors d'oeuvres and wine, along with a delicious full breakfast of quiche, ham, muffins, bagels, coffee and fruit salad in the morning.


Oscar (described as a romantic and friendly spirit) is known to hang out at the top of the stairs. He is said to be fond of honeymooners in Room 5 — shaking the bed, switching on the lights or tearing off the sheets.



Best Places to Stay in California: Carter House Inn – Luxury lodging in Eureka


Tucked along Eureka's historic Victorian Row, this luxury B&B — a replica of Newsom & Newsom's 1884 Murphy House — is one of the nicest places to stay on the Northern coast.


Boasting eight rooms and three separate floors, the B&B was rebuilt in 1982 after Mark Carter found the historic plans of Murphy House (which was destroyed during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake) inside a Eureka antique store. Today, the Eureka hotel is best known for its award-winning Restaurant 301, which has received countless awards for its 3,800-bottle wine list (including a Wine Spectator Grand Award) and gourmet farm-to-table dining. View menu.


In addition to the Carter House building, the B&B also operates Annie's House (417 M. Street), Carter Cottage, Bell Cottage and Hotel Carter. Each suite is decorated with classic yet modern touches — from the all-white bedspreads to in-room whirlpool tubs, flat screen TVs, MP3 docking stations and fireplaces. Wine, hors d'oeuvres and bedtime cookies and tea are included with your stay.


Best Places to Stay in California: Carter House Inn – Looking for something to do while you're here?


The B&B can set up dozens of activities, ranging from Redwood canopy tours, to fishing trips, rock climbing tours and Humboldt Bay harbor cruises on the 1910 ferry Madaket. A romantic choice is the Old Town carriage ride, which includes a horse-drawn narrated tour of the city followed by wine and appetizers, dinner for two in Restaurant 301, and a two-course breakfast the next day.


Best Places to Stay in California (II)

Best Places to Stay in California: Amargosa Opera House – Historic Old Hotel in Death Valley


Dancer Marta Becket, a former Broadway showgirl, purchased the crumbling Amargosa Opera House in 1967, opening a live theater, hotel and diner in the heart of Death Valley Junction. Although Marta no longer performs (her final performance was on Feb. 12, 2012), the hotel itself is a huge draw — especially for German and Japanese tourists.


Much of the hotel and opera house is decorated with Marta's murals of ballerinas, clowns and circus performers — an effort that took almost four years to complete. Rooms are bare bones basic, with dated furniture and decor. In fact, many travelers have complained about the "sagging beds" and "derelict rooms." It's definitely in need of an update. 


A documentary about Marta, titled Amargosa, was a finalist for best documentary feature at the 72nd annual Academy Awards. It was also featured as the Lost Highway Hotel in David Lynch's 1997 thriller, Lost Highway.


The Amargosa Cafe — which has spotty hours — serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.



Best Places to Stay in California: Ahwahnee Hotel – Yosemite’s grand dame


Named for the Ahwahneechee Indians who once inhabited Yosemite, this historic hotel combines Native American, Art Deco, and Arts & Crafts styles. Opened on July 14, 1927, the Ahwahnee is certainly the most luxurious Yosemite lodging. Its grand public rooms have hosted presidents and royalty, and today it remains one of the valley's top attractions. 


Most of the Ahwahnee's hotel rooms, suites and cottages have stunning views of the valley — and WiFi is free for hotel guests. For a true splurge, book one of their private cabins along the Merced River, or a luxurious suite — just like Queen Elizabeth II did during her visit in 1983. Also, be sure to dine at least once in the grand Ahwahnee Dining Room. The Ahwahnee Bar is the perfect place to relax with a martini and cheese plate while admiring the sunset over Half Dome.


Best Places to Stay in California: Ahwahnee Hotel – Tips


The hotel is located just one mile from Yosemite Village. A free shuttle departs from the hotel parking lot every 10-20 minutes, stopping at the Visitor Center, historic Curry Village, Yosemite Lodge and Yosemite Falls. Reservations should be made at least 5 months, and up to one year in advance. Historic walking tours are offered daily through the concierge.


Best Places to Stay in California (I)

Best Places to Stay in California: Andaz West Hollywood – Vacation like a rock star


Famous in the 1970s for hosting LA's most riotous rockers and parties, the Andaz hotel is West Hollywood's newest darling. Elegantly remodeled in 2009, the 14-story, 238-room hotel is the perfect base for touring Hollywood, with a cornucopia of A-list attractions nearby, including the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.


The Andaz Lounge, with its golden-berry psychedelic patterned carpet, has a nice gallery of local art and photography. Upstairs, the Andaz sundeck — the highest rooftop pool in Los Angeles — is home to a heated pool, cozy chaise lounges and private cabanas. Check out the latest hotel deals and offers.



Best Places to Stay in California: Avia Napa Valley – Your own personal tipster


This boutique chain, centrally located in downtown Napa, has 141 rooms and suites, just steps from wine country's top tasting rooms. What sets it apart is its personalized Tastemaker concierge services and insider itineraries, featuring the advice of in-the-know locals.


By day, explore the Napa Valley wineries and Oxbow Public Market, or take a tour on the Napa Valley Wine Train. By night, watch a show at the 1870s Napa Valley Opera House, or tour the area's salons and bars. The hotel's AVIA Kitchen and Wine Bar serves up small plates, craft beers and small-production wines from California and the Northwest. Check out the latest hotel specials and packages.

Best Tourist Attractions in California (II)

Best Tourists Attractions in California: Alcatraz – Spend a day on The Rock


Gangsters like Al Capone, George “Machine Gun Kelly” and Robert Stroud were among the infamous residents at this San Francisco prison, which operated between 1934 and 1962. 


Several ferries depart from Fisherman's Wharf daily to Alcatraz Island. Alcatraz Cruises (the official ticket source) leaves from Pier 33. After a 10-minute ride, you'll arrive on the island, where you can pick up their highly regarded cell house audio tour and begin exploring. 


Plan on at least 3 hours for touring the island and cell house, which averaged roughly 275 prisoners at a time. During its operation, 36 men attempted to escape from Alcatraz. The most famous escape was in 1962 when John and Clarence Anglin, along with Frank Morris, created plaster dummies and fake vent coverings to fool the guards. 


Best Tourists Attractions in California: Alcatraz – Tips


If you want to avoid the crowds, book the Early Bird Tour, which departs Pier 33 at 9 a.m. The spooky night tour leaves at 4:20 p.m. Be sure to buy your tickets at least two weeks and up to 90 days in advance. They are rarely available the same day. For discounted fares, consider buying a San Francisco CityPass. Blue and Gold Fleet offers an "Escape from the Rock" tour which circles the island.



Best Tourist Attractions in California: Angels Flight – Shortest railway in the world


Dating back to 1901, these black-and-orange funicular railway cars were the darlings of LA's stylish Bunker Hill. Closed in 1969, the Beaux-Arts style cars were relocated and opened again in 1996, connecting Hill Street to the California Plaza Watercourt. Today, you can ride all 298 feet for just a quarter.


Best Museums in San Diego, California (IV)

Best Museums in San Diego, California: MCASD Downtown – Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego


The La Jolla-based Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego first established a presence downtown in 1986 when it opened a small satellite gallery in a warehouse at 8th and G streets. In 1993, it moved to larger quarters on Kettner Boulevard, across from the Santa Fe Depot. Within a few years, the museum expanded into the historic train station’s baggage building and in 2007, it added an adjacent three-story structure – giving the museum’s downtown branch even more exhibit space than the mother ship in La Jolla.


Downtown exhibitions usually focus on young regional artists on the cutting edge. Its TNT (Thursday Night Thing) is a quarterly bash that includes live music, artist talks, art-making activities, interactive performances inspired by new exhibitions, food and drink. It’s a popular venue for singles interested in meeting like-minded singles. (Admission costs $10, $7 for students.)



Best Museums in San Diego, California: MCASD La Jolla – Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego


It seems fitting that the former estate of newspaper heiress and philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps has evolved into the cultural centerpiece of La Jolla. The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego traces its history to 1941 when a group of local artist began exhibiting their work in the Scripps house. Eventually, money was raised to purchase the home and turn its rooms into galleries. 


Over the years, the museum has been expanded, remodeled, redefined and renamed several times. Today its permanent collection spans all contemporary art movements since 1950 and includes works by Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Sella, Edward Ruscha, Richard Serra, John Baldessari, Jasper Johns and Nancy Rubins. The collection has particular strength in the art of Southern California, Latin America and border regions. 


The museum stages a variety of talks, tours, and other events including a film series. The Museum Café is open from 11 AM – 3 PM weekdays, from 9 AM – 3 PM weekends. The MCASD X Store sells contemporary jewelry and chic design objects for the home – as well as apparel, books, posters and toys.


Best Places to Eat in Berkeley, California (I)

Best Places to Eat in Berkeley, California: Ajanta Indian Cuisine – Sophisticated Dining on Solano


Ajanta is a sophisticated Indian cuisine restaurant with a menu that changes monthly. The various regions of India are featured with their specialties.


The dining room has Indian artwork inspired by the caves of Ajanta, a World Heritage site in India in the central state of Maharashtra. .


Ajanta aims for a high-quality taste experience in its presentation of Indian food.


The menu offers Small Plates / Appetizers, Entrees, and Side Orders for lunch and dinner. A Taj Mahal beer or a flavored yogurt drink would be a good beverage choice. 


All dishes can be ordered very mild, mild/low medium, medium, high medium, and hot. Meals may come with a side dish of spinach and potatoes or chick peas.


The guiding force behind Ajanta is chef/owner Lachu Moorjani. The manager during my visit was Bryan Desouza. Both offer guiding menu suggestions.


A good plan is to choose the Chef's Tasting Menu, offering the best of Ajanta in that season.


Best Places to Eat in Berkeley, California: Ajanta Indian Cuisine – Tasty offerings:


Appetizers: Chicken Samosa, Tandoori Scallops, Tandoori Portobello, Mushrooms


Main Dishes: Kandahari Chicken, Lamb Rib Chops, Seyal Machi (mahi mahi fish), Badal Jaam


Accompaniments: Basmati rice, Naan, Mango Chutney, Carrot Pickles, Hot Pickles


Desserts, choice of: Kulfi, Cardamon Gelato, Mango Sorbet, Gulab Jamun


The emphasis is on seasonally fresh and organic ingredients.


Patrons can be put on Lachu Moorjani's monthly email list to be kept informed on the ever-evolving menu.


Best Places to Eat in Berkeley, California: Ajanta's Cookbook / Spicebox – 30 Spices in a Box


Ajanta restaurant on Solano Avenue is special in two further ways in the world of Indian cuisine.


Ajanta has a well-thought-out cookbook with which you can create the dishes served in the restaurant.


Ajanta also sells a box of 30 spices that are used in the restaurant.


The book is Ajanta, Regional Feasts of India. It includes several sequential photo layouts on Indian food preparation. The book was written by chef / owner Lachu Moorjani.


The spice box is called Shanti's Spice Box, compiled by the chef / owner's wife, Shanti. The box includes some better-known and some rarer spices, which would be difficult for a layman to source. 


Best Museums in San Diego, California (III)

Best Museums in San Diego, California: Natural History Museum – Connect with nature


Founded in 1874, The San Diego Natural History Museum didn’t have a permanent setting for its collection until 1933. Since then it has expanded its focus and more than doubled its size. 


Today the museum is dedicated to promoting understanding and respect for the evolution and diversity of the entire Southern California region and the Baja Peninsula. Its award-winning exhibits are complemented by a 300-seat giant screen 3-D theater that shows films focusing on the natural world. In addition, the museum hosts several traveling exhibitions each year. There’s a Kids’ Habitat where youngsters can have fun with interactive games – and on Sundays, Mr. Frizzle presents free “Wacky Science” shows designed for junior scientists. 


The museum has a gift shop and the Dinosaur Café, which is open from 10 AM to 4 PM Thursdays through Sundays. Check online for admission discount coupons.



Best Museums in San Diego, California: San Diego History Center – Uncover San Diego's past


Founded in 1928, the city’s premier historical organization achieved a decades long dream in 1989 when it opened the San Diego History Center in the heart of Balboa Park. The center showcases the region’s colorful and diverse history – and it serves as a repository for the group’s collection of more than 45 million pieces of paper and 2.5 million photos that document the people, places and events of the city’s past.


Exhibits rotate: Visitors might view paintings by San Diego’s most celebrated artists. They might see costumes worn by actors at The Old Globe during its 75-year history, learn about San Diego's once-booming tuna fishing industry or drink in all there is to know about the history of the city's colorful craft beer brewers. For an additional $6 fee, visitors can tap into local genealogy and historic photos in the research library (open till 1 PM Mondays through Fridays). 


Don’t skip the center’s store. Find cool reproductions of Arts and Crafts and Deco-era furnishings.


Best Tourist Attractions in California (I)

Best Tourists Attractions in California: Academy of Motion Pictures – Oscar headquarters


Home to Hollywood's famous Golden Boy, this is Academy Awards central. During the week, its state-of-the-art Samuel Goldwyn Auditorium often hosts movie screenings and Hollywood premiere parties. 


The Academy Gallery, located on the grand lobby and fourth floor, displays a fine collection of movie memorabilia and film-related exhibitions.



Best Tourists Attractions in California: Agritourism – Visit a working farm


California is known for the cheese, but it also produces an amazing bounty of other foods — from delicious strawberries and fresh green artichokes, to creamy avocados and tart citrus fruits. The University of California has put together a handy Web site that includes many of the state's farms, ranches and food-related events. 


If you feel like getting your hands dirty, spend the night on a working farm, where you'll enjoy gardening classes, learn how to make wines, and pick your own fruit/veggies.


At Cowgirl Creamery, you can learn the basics of cheese making, or take a hands-on tour of Harley Farms goat dairy. Amy's Farm offers tours of its Holstein calf ranch, while Quicksilver Ranch gets you up close and personal with adorable miniature horses. Want to slurp down some fresh oysters? Don't miss Tomales Bay, where you can tour the local oyster farms and enjoy them fresh from the oyster beds.


Best Tourists Attractions in California: American River – Whitewater thrills in gold country


Located near Sacramento in Gold Country, the American River is one of the best spots for whitewater rafting in the state.


Choose from the South Fork, with Class III rides and lazy swims along the raft, or join a Middle Fork adventure, which traverses through secluded canyons along the Sierra Nevada foothills. Designated Class IV, the Middle Fork is packed with thrills. Be sure to check out Tunnel Chute, created when Gold Rush miners blasted a tunnel that created one of the most exciting whitewater rapids in California. 


Along the North Fork, you'll travel through pine forests and canyons, framed by 2,000-foot-high cliffs.


Tip: Most American River outfitters depart from Lotus, just a few miles away from Marshall Gold Discovery State Park.