The formation of Berkeley’s Fourth Street neighborhood was anything but ordinary.
In the 1960s, the city of Berkeley had a vision to turn the area into an industrial park, moving and destroying about 80 historic homes in the process. And while a handful of local businesses thrived here, including Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto and Irish restaurant Brennan’s, which still exist today, foot traffic was slow and the town struggled to attract new customers.
So in the mid-1970s, the Berkeley Redevelopment Agency handed the failed project over to the small design/build firm of Abrams, Millikan & Kent who reinvented it as a shopping district for neighborhood homeowners complete with furniture. , textiles and design products from a variety of small businesses. Then they opened the popular Fourth Street Grill, and something happened the neighborhood hadn’t seen before: moose.
Today, Berkeley’s Fourth Street neighborhood, bounded by Cedar Street, Sixth Street, University Avenue, and Frontage Road, is bustling with East Bay residents, California college students, and SF passersby who come to take part in a vibrant independent shopping scene with a weekly maker’s fair, several terrific restaurants, and drinks at places like the Sierra Nevada Torpedo Room (but note that it’s temporarily closed at press time).
Here’s where to shop, eat, and drink while you’re on Berkeley’s Fourth Street.
What to Eat + Drink on Fourth Street, Berkeley
A San Francisco favorite with multiple locations across the city, Cafe Reveille is Fourth Street’s go-to spot for nutritious morning and lunch meals served with tea and coffee. (Courtesy of @cafereveille)
Coffees + Snacks
Need help before buying? Artis Coffee brews ethically and sustainably sourced fresh coffee. Roasted by the pound, the flavorful coffee is derived from beans less than 10 days old for maximum flavor using a method they call “live roasting.” The experts here are happy to give drink recommendations – crowd favorites include Vanilla Bean and Honey Lavender Lattes – and can even help you create a homebrewing routine at home. using Artis Coffee appliances. //1717 Fourth Street, shopartiscoffee.com
Market Hall Foods
For a quick bite, stop by Market Hall Foods, filled with ready-made sandwiches, pizzas, baked goods and more. The food joint is also a great place for charcuterie board fanatics, as the display case offers a wide selection of fresh cheeses, olive oils and culinary kits. //1786 Fourth Street, markethallfoodson4th.com
Wake Up Coffee
When you need a morning or lunchtime snack, Café Réveil does more than cappuccinos and matcha lattes. Sit in a pink chair under a striped umbrella on the spacious terrace and order nutrient-rich breakfast sandwiches, tahini squash bowls and avocado toast. Or just grab a popsicle smoothie or green juice to go. //760 Hearst Avenue, cafereveille.com
Chef Shotaro Kamio has been making headlines in San Francisco lately as the chef behind controversial upcoming private club NFT and restaurant Sho, which bears his name. While most will never see past his gates in Salesforce Park, we can still sample his cuisine, inspired by his native Tohoku region of Japan, on Fourth Street. The style is rustic comfort made with local ingredients. Dishes include sashimi salad, hot Sendai chicken, tempura, and donburis. Iyasare also has an impressive cocktail menu, making it a great place to grab a yuzu palmer or vesper sunomono. // 1830 Fourth Street, www.iyasare-berkeley.com
Dinner with ocean view from Bette
Since 1982, Bette’s has been serving up traditional comfort food — think stacks of fluffy pancakes with real maple syrup, corned beef hash and meatloaf. Step inside the mid-century-style restaurant, listen to a song on the 1957 Seeburg Jukebox, and enjoy a hearty breakfast, lunch, or brunch made with locally sourced ingredients. // 1807A Fourth Street, fourthstreet.com
Stop by Pollara Pizzeria for a slice of heaven. The authentic Roman-style joint offers an extensive menu of quarter, half and whole pies ranging from the classic margarita and bianca to more creative fillings like fig, eggplant and roast beef. Pair your pizza with fried antipasti, salad and several Italian wines. // 1788 Fourth Street, pollarapizzeria.com
Named after a neighborhood in Mexico City, Dona Savitsky’s brightly decorated Tacubaya offers traditional Mexican fare, with an emphasis on simplicity and authenticity, here since 2003. We keep coming back for the sopa of tortilla (perfect for dark days), tacos al pastor, and chilaquiles. The meat comes from Niman Ranch, and several vegetarian options, like tamales con verduras, are also available. Bring your proof of vax. // 1782 Fourth Street, tacubaya.net
Where to shop on Fourth Street, Berkeley
Andie Swim, the internet swimwear brand known for styles to suit all body types, is the latest addition to Fourth Street with the recent opening of its second physical store.
(Courtesy of @andieswim)
Fashion + Home
Local fashion gurus have long known Bay Area native and go-to Fourth Street designer Erica Tanov for her serene boutique and brand of women’s apparel, handbags and small leather goods. Shop for cotton dresses, layered pieces, and tapestry jackets that can easily transition from farmer’s market to dinner. The store, which opened in 1994, also carries the Tanov brand of carefully crafted bedding (we love the embroidered sheets) and a selection of homewares such as vintage Turkish kilim cushions, wooden crockery olive tree and wool rugs in neutral tones. // 1827 Fourth Street, ericatanov.com
This mini outdoor makers fair spotlights small vendors in the Bay Area and beyond that sell affordable and higher-priced items such as leather accessories, vintage clothing, crafts and denim recycled. Chat with designers and artists as you cruise, then pass food trucks
before you leave. Look for special events, including the Artists & Fleas pop-up market and Etsy-hosted painting classes. // 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays from spring to fall; 1919 Fourth St., fourstreetmakersrow.com
Israeli-American designer Ruti Zisser’s eponymous minimalist boutique is a great bet for sophisticated women who want cool, flattering and practical clothing in a neutral urban color palette. A former technical executive, Zisser designs luxury pieces that are both simple and ambitious, whether you wear them at the beach, in the office or on your next trip to Europe. Speaking of which, silk joggers and a go-to skirt with pockets are a must. // 1829 Fourth Street, ruti.com
Amour Vert, which translates to “green love” in French, emphasizes sustainability. The brand favors ethical home production and uses non-toxic dyes and eco-friendly fabrics. It’s also your one-stop-shop for French girl basics like ribbed midi dresses, cozy knit tops and brightly colored linen skirts.// 1840 Fourth Street, lovevert.com
The brand that offers well-fitted and comfortable swimwear for all body types and coverage types recently opened its second physical store on Fourth Street. Andie Swim sells a variety of silhouettes in staple colors (black, red, white, and navy) as well as a few bolder seasonal shades. Look for the best-selling ribbed one-pieces or the shiny eco-nylon bikini. The company prides itself on the quality and fit of its clothing, so it’s your new favorite store when you need to get cozy by the pool. Hate trying on costumes? Take the online quiz before your visit. // 1911 Fourth St, Suite 102, andieswim.com
With 15 locations across the country, San Francisco-based womenswear boutique Margaret O’Leary is a go-to for cashmere sweaters made with low-impact yarns, lightweight knits and beachy summer dresses in a vibrant color palette inspired by SF. // 1832 Fourth Street, margaretoleary.com
Wine + Merchandise
Founded in Berkeley by avid gardener Alta Tingle in 1984, The Gardener expertly selects items inspired by plant lovers – think Japanese pruning shears, reclaimed wood furniture, beautiful bowls and vases, handmade soaps hand and pretty coffee table tomes. With locations also in Healdsburg and SF’s Ferry Building, this is the perfect place to pick up a thoughtful gift. // 1836 Fourth Street, lejardinier.com
Open every day, Vino! offers a global selection of wines at decent prices thanks to an import license that allows the wine store, which has three locations in East Bay, to make quality wine accessible for as little as $20. The store is known to local oenophiles for its personalized service. // 1786A Fourth Street, vinoeastbay.com
// For a more comprehensive guide to Fourth Street in Berkeley, go to fourthstreet.com.