As Berkeley students, it’s easy to stick to our regular stomping grounds of Durant, Telegraph, and Shattuck, and neglect to explore the diversity that Berkeley has to offer. Thus, I invite you to join me on a culinary exploration of Fourth Street—a pleasant and petite shopping area just down University Avenue. 

Since the mid-1960s, Berkeley’s Fourth Street has become a bustling neighborhood with a variety of shops: Miki's Papers, Castle in the Air, and even an Apple Store. Originally an industrial park, Fourth Street began transforming in the 1970s into the mini shopping district it is today. Plans were made to convert the area into a "Building Design Center", where it would serve as a hub for furniture and home improvement stores. Eventually, it became a home to small boutiques and innovative eateries. Here is a list of my favorite eateries to whet your appetite and guide you through a tour of Fourth Street.

Café M 

Holly Park

If you've ever craved some comfort food after taking a midterm, visit local favorite Café M. For something rich and flavorful, try the Delmar Crepe, which combines freshly prepared crab cakes with the tart flavors of Hollandaise sauce and fontina cheese. The soft Stuffed French Toast is perfect for your sweet tooth; the banana compote and smooth mascarpone jam melt once they hit the mouth. In addition to breakfast items, Café M offers a lunch menu beginning at 11 am, which features salads and sandwiches, like the Grilled Atlantic Salmon Cobb Salad and Café M Grilled Cheese.

You can enjoy your meal inside by the kitchen and watch the chefs work their magic, or sit outside in the shade and fresh air. The contemporary interior design, background jazz music, and amiable servers create the homey atmosphere of a timeless neighborhood American café—all the ingredients you need to savor a plate of comfort food. The next time you're looking for a satisfying and soul-filling meal, make your way down Fourth Street and stop by Café M.

Market Hall Foods

Holly Park

Across the street from Café M is a small shop called Market Hall Foods, formerly called The Pasta Shop. The grocery store is particularly well known for its handmade pasta: spaghetti, strozzapreti, egg garganelli, etc. Sold by the pound, you can freely handpick the pasta and store it in a bag to purchase at the cashier. Right by the pasta are locally produced groceries and imported treats, ranging from olive oil to Italian chocolate.

Holly Park

Besides the grocery items, Market Hall Foods has a mini bakery section that offers freshly baked bread, cakes, and a cheese counter with varieties such as newly made mozarella and imported French Fourme d' Ambert cheese. Finally, there is an extensive deli that offers sandwiches, salads, and daily specials, like Triple Cheese Mac-n-Cheese. If you want to take some food home to eat later in the day or during the week, there are pre-packaged, re-heatable meals like grilled salmon and turkey meatloaf. Right outside the store is a seating area to enjoy any food you've bought. Even if you aren’t looking to do some grocery shopping here, it’s definitely worth a quick peak inside.

Artís Coffee

Holly Park

Further north on Fourth Street is Artís Coffee, an artisanal café that lives up to its reputation as a one-of-a-kind coffee shop. Artís has both hot and cold drink options: café au lait, flat white, ice chai, cold brew, etc. If you order a cup of drip coffee, you can choose to have your coffee brewed from a wide selection of beans from around the world, including Ethiopia Ayehu, Costa Rica Santa Mari, Sumatra Triple Pick, etc. Specialty drinks include the vanilla latte, honey lavender latte, and matcha green latte. I personally recommend the honey lavender latte. You can immediately smell the gentle aroma of the lavender, which balances the mild bitterness of the coffee.

Holly Park

Since its opening four years ago, Artís Coffee has specialized in what it calls “live roasting”. “Live roasting” means that the workers are continuously roasting a new batch of coffee beans, so every cup of coffee brewed at Artís is fresh. You can watch all this roasting action by the "Live-Roast Bar". It also has a "Hand-Crafted Bar", where you can observe the baristas making pour-over coffee. Despite the sound of the roasting coffee beans, the coffee shop has a hushed and calm atmosphere because of its minimalist interior design and dim lighting. If you're looking for a café to chat with a friend or to do some work while enjoying some coffee, Artís is the place for you. 

Three Twins Ice Cream

Holly Park

Any visit to Fourth Street is incomplete without a stop at Three Twins Ice Cream. With prices starting at $3.95, you can make your own ice cream sundae, buy an ice cream sandwich, try a specialty sundae, or purchase a packaged tub of ice cream to enjoy at home. If this isn't enough to satisfy your ice-cream cravings, Three Twins offers a “Twinasaurus” option—twenty scoops of ice cream served in a pot to share with family or friends (or eat alone, we won't judge).

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The ice cream comes in a cup, sugar cone, or a homemade waffle cone and can be garnished with a wide assortment of toppings ranging from pistachios to cookie bites. The most popular flavors currently are Dad’s Cardamom, Sea Salted Caramel, and Cookies and Cream. But be warned: flavors are seasonal and do not return, so catch these flavors before they vanish. 

#SpoonTip: If you would like to try a pint of Three Twins ice cream without going to Fourth Street, look in the ice cream aisle at your local supermarket, or pick up a pint with your meal points at Bear Market.

But Wait, There's More

These four recommendations barely scratch the surface of Fourth Street's culinary diversity. Some other great places include Tacubaya for a plate of crispy fish tacos, Iyasare for an upscale Japanese dinner, and the retro-themed Bette’s Oceanview Diner for delectable soufflé pancakes. No matter what you’re craving, Fourth Street will deliver with its wide array of delicious eateries and restaurants. Even better, it's only a 20 minute bus ride away, so put it down on your bucket list of places to visit. Whether you're looking for something innovative or classic, Fourth Street's diverse eateries will go beyond your expectations.