As someone about to graduate from UC Berkeley and a Spoon University writer for seven semesters now, I have had many opportunities to reflect on the best food around the campus.

I fell in love with the eclectic nature of Berkeley's food scene the second I arrived in the area. There seemed like something to offer everyone. When I set out to compile a list of the most classic Berkeley places—eateries that seemed integral to the Berkeley student experience itself—I found myself writing an ode to Berkeley's food. For the most part, Southside. This list may not be reflective of everyone's Berkeley experience, but it is one grateful Berkeley graduate's love letter to classic restaurants you need to try before you graduate too. Take a walk down memory lane—and Telegraph, Durant, and Shattuck—with me. 


Let's start at the very beginning. While it may not be Berkeley fine dining, you cannot argue that Crossroads is not classic Berkeley. It's one of the first places we eat at during orientation and one of the most centrally-located, largest dining halls. Late night brings us back to its hallowed halls once we are no longer first years. Croads is, and always will be, the first classic. 

Durant Ave. 

The first place is not a restaurant—it's a region. When I asked my peers for their lists of the most classic Berkeley restaurants, they mostly responded with restaurants within what we know of as "Asian Ghetto" and some of the fast food restaurants on Durant Ave right off Telegraph.

It would be pretty hard to leave Berkeley without going to at least a few of the age-old restaurants on this street: Artichoke Basil's Pizza, Top Dog, La Burrita, Gypsies, King Pin Donuts, Thai Basil, House of Curries, Cafe Durant, and many more. There is something for everyone on Durant. Minutes from the campus and dorms, the food on Durant is for the students and the students clearly agree.


Vegan cinnamon rolls. I repeat: giant vegan cinnamon rolls. It sounds too good to be true, and I thought it was when I first arrived at Berkeley. Cinnaholic is a classic Berkeley dessert spot for celebrating and indulging. Building your own outrageous creation—with extra cookie dough, perhaps—should be on everyone's Berkeley food bucket list. 

Yogurt Park

Hitting up Yogurt Park for some frozen yogurt with a group of friends is another staple of your first few years—or all your years—at Berkeley. Everyone has to learn their lesson and order a small at YoPo. The unexpectedly large "mini" size, the possibility of mountains of toppings, the proximity to campus and the dorms make Yogurt Park one of those places that Berkeley students will likely go to many times in their college years. Not to mention the fact that it has been around since 1977!

Sliver Pizza

A beloved vegetarian pizza spot, Sliver, moved locations during my time here, from right off Oxford to a bit down Telegraph, but it has always stayed a classic in my mind. Its single daily pizza, spicy green sauce, and those little additional sliver slices make Sliver feel like a pizza experience you can only get here

Caffe Strada

I know the coffee shops in and around Berkeley well. I've ranked and listed them several times in previous articles. Strada always makes the top of the list, and it consistently feels like the one quintessential Berkeley coffee shop. It's where the long lines go by in seconds and the baristas work lightning fast to get me my daily Iced Americano. Strada, which just celebrated 30 years in its Bancroft location, will always be teeming with students studying, club meetings, job interviews, office hours, and the larger Berkeley community enjoying the outside.


Boba was not a part of my college experience, but it would not be a list of Berkeley classics without including one of Berkeley's most classic boba spots. Directly across the street from campus on Bancroft, many students swear by Sharetea and make it a daily part of their days. Though Sharetea is not necessarily unique to Berkeley, it is a frequented boba spot for students here. 

Pappy's Bar and Grill

Pappy's is Berkeley's well-known sports bar. It's a classic place right off campus on Telegraph to eat with family, perhaps after touring the campus for the first time. It's where you can watch the Cal Bears play away games, eat awesome thick cut fries and burgers, and maybe kick back with a beer.

Berkeley Social Club 

A Korean-fusion restaurant known for its brunches, Berkeley Social Club is another higher end restaurant right on University Ave. Its menu changes dramatically from day to night, and it's a great spot for club brunches and celebrations. Its cultural-fusion food (and bottomless mimosa deal) have cemented BSC as a unique part of the Berkeley experience. 

La Note

Some would consider Chez Panisse to be Berkeley's premier fine dining experience. While this may be true, that famous spot is hard to afford and get a table at for most students by themselves. That's why for "fancy feasting," I stand by La Note, the French eatery down on Shattuck well known for its brunch and especially delectable, aesthetic pancakes. La Note is a #treatyrself spot that every Berkeley student should visit.


The last "classic" Berkeley spot is more a personal classic area to me. My Berkeley foodie experience often took me to Elmwood, located down College Avenue.  Manpuku became my friends' and my favorite cheap sushi restaurant. Baker and Commons is home to one of my favorite sandwiches, and it's my favorite place to take my Mom when she visits. I worked at the ill-fated, but beloved Ici Ice Cream for over a year. Recently, Italian Homemade has rekindled my interest in the area. Venturing just a few blocks away from campus, students can discover one of the Berkeley community's beloved eating and shopping areas.

This list is my own reflection—I do not claim it to be a list reflective of everyone's Berkeley food experiences, but I believe I've included some spots we all can agree are classics. As I say goodbye to this place and my time writing for Spoon as a Berkeley foodie, I have a message: go out there and make your own list. Explore Berkeley's unique food experiences, try new things, explore them with different friends and previously unfamiliar places will start to feel classic because of the memories you make there. I truly believe Berkeley has an eatery for everyone. Find your favorites! Go make your list and share it with the next generation of Bears.