If you’ve never tried boba, are you even a UC Berkeley student? And if you don’t like boba: Have you tried U-Cha?
U-Cha is simply the best. Even the most adamant "boba haters" have been converted by the power of its delectable goodness. With a variety of refreshing drinks and tasty snacks, as well as an aesthetically pleasing store, U-Cha is the perfect place to unwind and hang out with friends.
The tea flavor is always present, always smooth and never overly bitter or overpowering — an issue other boba shops struggle with, especially when the drink’s sweetness level is lowered. The tapioca pearls are soft and chewy, without ever being overcooked. The rose milk tea, a crowd pleaser, is lightly sweet and floral, unlike the artificial, syrupy mess delivered elsewhere. The Bomberman, with its blend of cold milk and warm syrup, is a trusted favorite.
Sure, U-Cha is pricier than some of the other boba options in Berkeley, but its size and quality undisputedly makes it worth it.
Best Mediterranean Food
The Halal Guys Berkeley
We waited years for The Halal Guys to finally open its doors in Downtown Berkeley, and it’s safe to say that it lived up to the hype.
The Halal Guys hits the ultimate trifecta: perfected recipes for simple but well–balanced meals, at an affordable price and with portions that can be stretched across two meals. The location is as low–key as its meal options, evoking the same vibes as its New York City food truck origins. Even better, for anyone looking for a quick bite on the way to the Downtown Berkeley BART station, The Halal Guys offers the ideal option.
The meal–selection process could be called the Chipotle or Pieology of Mediterranean food. Indecision isn’t a problem here. Limited but equally delicious protein options combine with craveable rice and classic toppings — including their special white and hot sauces — make for a filling, reliable option that’ll last you both lunch and dinner.
Best Vegan Option
The No. 1 lie about veganism is that it sacrifices fun in favor of health.
Looking for the truth? See Saturn café’s menu. The café offers an entirely vegetarian take on the classic American diner, presenting a number of vegan and gluten-free options as well. Between decadent brunch specials (coconut cream pie French toast and bottomless mimosas, anyone?), burgers stacked sky high with juicy meat-free patties and fresh veggies, and egg- and dairy-free takes on classic desserts, there’s sure to be something on the menu to satisfy any fast-food craving.
With so many different options available across the sweet-savory spectrum, it can be hard to figure out what to order. Our suggestion is to split their famously rich vegan chocolate milkshake with a date and stare romantically into their eyes as they glitter under the vintage diner lighting.
We guarantee that you’ll fall in love instantly over the familiar chocolate flavors underscored by cozy notes of soy. What we can’t guarantee, though? Whether it’ll be with your date or with the shake
Best New Restaurant
If you’ve never had KFC (Korean fried chicken) before, you need to head down to Bonchon. It’s the perfect combination of rich flavor with a loud crunch. The wings are delicious on their own, but they are transformed by a flavorful sauce that is glazed over them. Forget all the appetizers, forget the rice, and forget the other entrees. Just take a group of friends and order as many servings of wings as you can eat. Get the half-and-half, a combination of spicy and soy garlic wings. Some people prefer one flavor over the other, but it’s best to alternate back and forth. Make sure you eat a piece of pickled radish whenever you switch flavors, though. It’s the perfect palate cleanser that lets you appreciate each flavor in its total glory. If you’re old enough, Bonchon pairs nicely with soju. Go on a Saturday night and you might have a chance to run into Kevin Durant or Andre Iguodala.
Best Indian Food
Vik’s Chaat & Market
Part Indian market, part Indian street-food snack shop, Vik’s Chaat & Market is where to find some of the best dosas and samosas in town. Eating at Vik’s might feel unceremonious, characterized by paper plates, a crowded cluster of bland tables and employees bellowing names and orders through a megaphone from the far end.
But that’s part of Vik’s charm — and, honestly, the definition of the Indian snack-food experience in general. Dahi Batata Puri is not meant to be eaten at a frilly candlelit table. No. I want my dahi puri while I’m standing or perched on a hard chair, using no silverware, only my hands. I’ll maybe take a napkin, some Cholle Bhature and some lassi, thank you very much.
Vik’s is a little out of the way for most students, west of campus on Fourth Street, but the fluffy puris and tasty chaat are undeniably worth the trek.
You can sit inside downstairs or inside upstairs. You can sit at the bar. You can sit outside near the fire pit or around the corner near the space heaters. It doesn’t matter — the pizza is just as good no matter where you sit at Jupiter. On weekends, you’ll want to sit outside near the live music in the back and take it all in: the beer, the tunes and, most importantly, the pizza.
If anything, the number of seating options is but a fraction of the number of pizzas available. The pizzas are varied in toppings, and there vegan options. They’re always delicious.
Since 1992, Jupiter has welcomed folks arriving to our fair city via the Downtown BART station and anchored the lively central hub of Berkeley. That’s 26 years, if anybody’s counting. And with a pizza menu as extensive, delicious and reasonably priced as Jupiter’s, you’ll want it to keep on going for at least another 26 more.
Best Grocery Store
UC Berkeley students are well aware of how difficult it is to find a moment of calm on this campus and in this city. We flee to Tilden Park or the beach or sometimes Marin County if you’re lucky enough to know someone with a car. But friends, a place of solace has been in our backyards this whole time, and that place is Trader Joe’s on a Thursday night, an hour or two before closing.
Sure, there are times when the chaotic energy of a Trader Joe’s on a Sunday night feels like that scene in an apocalypse movie, with people careening carts down aisles fighting over the last can of peaches.
But think of all the organic onions you can pursue! The wealth of TJ-branded candies — every kind of fruit you can imagine, coated in glossy chocolate. The endless aisles of frozen goods for every occasion: cheesecake for for a potluck dessert, burritos for all the late-night studying, veggies for when the grandparents are in town — all for unbelievably low prices.
That is what makes Trader Joe’s the best grocery store: It is a store that keeps on giving, no matter what stage of your life you’re in.
Best Vietnamese Food
Some foods are best enjoyed on an empty stomach.
Upon entering Pho K & K, the heavy aromas of beef and basil invade our noses, preparing our palettes and stomachs for the onslaught of heavenly broth to come. It’s a smell that can instantly create an intense hunger — but despite our best efforts, pho will forever be a dish that demands to be slowly appreciated, smoothly savored and seldom consumed. For who are we to debase the sanctity of something so pure by repeatedly eating it? As they say, variety is the spice of life.
Eating pho is a unique culinary experience, even down to the act of getting the food into our mouth. Its proper appreciation requires a dual utensil concept, one hand gracefully maneuvering noodle–laden chopsticks, the other balancing a brimming soup spoon of broth. With the meditative concentration that goes into its very consumption, pho best is enjoyed in a no–frills environment. The atmosphere is unpretentious, the service brisk and the broth oh so flavorful. So, what are you waiting for?
Best Late-Night Munchies
It’s 1 a.m. on what used to be a Friday night. You’re walking down Durant Avenue, or maybe Center Street, with friends in tow, eyes bleary and legs laden with exhaustion.
Then that familiar vision of yellow and blue lettering comes into your line of sight, and everything is better.
"Hey guys, want to go to Top Dog?"
The question isn’t what would Top Dog be without Berkeley, but what would Berkeley be without Top Dog. It’s a place where the dogs aren’t just cheap and dependable, but also delicious. Anyone who has watched the sausages get made (or rather, cooked) knows that a whole lot of love goes into them, despite how fast they get on and off the grill.
Who can argue against Top Dog’s claim to the throne amongst Berkeley’s offerings of late-night restaurants? And while you’re waiting for your meal, there’s even political discourse and leaflets on the walls to peruse.
Cheap food and politics — name a more iconic Berkeley duo. We’ll wait.
Best Ethiopian Food
Finfine Ethiopian Restaurant
There exists a magical courtyard hidden between Parker and Blake streets on the west side of Telegraph Avenue. Oftentimes, a gaggle of people stands nearby on the sidewalk, under a space heater awaiting entry into a nearby restaurant. But those people are missing the main event.
Within the magical courtyard sits a magical restaurant. And within the magical restaurant is a cozy, candle-lit experience perfect for dates, birthdays and other groups.
There are two requirements to getting the full experience at Finfine. First, you should be willing to share. Second, you should be willing to cast aside your cutlery and dig in with your hands. If you play your cards right, the food comes all on an enormous single plate. Lamb, sauces, beans, lentils, chicken, chickpeas — the options are endless. And beneath it all, a layer of Ethiopian bread silently taking in all the juices and all the flavor. And then, once the substance is finished and scooped up with bread, that last layer sits as the icing on top of the cake: Flavor-filled flatbread.
You need this food. You want this food. You have to have it.
Ike’s Love and Sandwiches
When you eat at Ike’s Love and Sandwiches, you’re not just buying a sandwich — you’re buying into a lifestyle, smothered between two delicious slices of locally sourced bread.
When I arrived in Berkeley to move into my residence hall, my family and I stumbled upon Ike’s and took a leap of faith. I still haven’t landed. Every bite of an Ike’s sandwich ensures that you’ll know what true happiness tastes like. Immediately enthralled by the variety of choices and convinced I had to try them all, I bought Ike’s for three days in a row after moving in. My dad called me after the third purchase and commended me for staying loyal to the amazing sandwich eatery we found together.
Here in Berkeley, no one does sandwiches better than Ike’s. There’s an option for everyone — vegan, vegetarian, even gluten–free. You can customize your sandwich beyond their preset options. You can literally have your sandwich stuffed with mozzarella cheese sticks. What more could you want?
Best Mexican Food
When Tacos Sinaloa moved into its brick-and-mortar location on Telegraph Avenue, students had no idea what blessings were upon them. Though it first opened in 1999 as a food truck in Oakland, it began gracing UC Berkeley’s neighborhood with its heavenly tacos in 2015 — and since then, thousands of students have smelled the taqueria’s scents all up and down Telegraph.
Here’s the one issue: Nestled between a smoke shop and a shoe store, Tacos Sinaloa is hard to find. There’s no sign that protrudes off the facade, and the front window stands only a few feet wide. But in reality, the smell of pollo and carnitas floating down the street makes Taco Sinaloa impossible to miss. And while the tacos are its signature (at three tacos for less than $7, you really can’t get a better deal in town), the large burrito has, for months, challenged and terrorized those who patron Tacos Sinaloa. It’s enormous, intimidating, juicy and delicious.
Go for the tacos, of course, but once in your life, try to buy and finish the large burrito. That’s the measure of a true Berkeleyan.
Best Fine Dining
Chez Panisse Restaurant
Before there was a Gourmet Ghetto, before the term "farm–to–table" became a household word, there was Chez Panisse.
Upon entering its historical arts–and–crafts–style house, past the draping wisteria and aged wooden sign, the restaurant’s customers are transported. The French–inspired California cuisine is rustic but refined, sophisticated but simple. A dish as basic as butter lettuce salad is elevated to heavenly heights with a few locally sourced strawberries and a side of creamy, baked goat cheese.
If one is so lucky to secure a reservation at Chez Panisse’s "fancier" ground–floor restaurant, patrons can sit back and relax as their prix fixe meal unfolds before them. But even the upstairs café (which, uniquely, stays open later than most other fine–dining establishments) offers a wealth of scrumptious dishes for any appetite.
The whole operation is both high–class and environmentally grounded — a harmonious marriage that has secured founder Alice Waters’ legacy and continues to prove its staying power with each delectable bite.
Best Italian Food
Gypsy’s Trattoria Italiana
It was midnight, and we were hungry. The rain poured down, soaking our ill-prepared socks as my friend and I made our way down Telegraph Avenue. We desperately needed to find food or a warm roof over our heads. But it was a Tuesday night, and everything was closed. We passed dark store after dark store as we turned on to Durant Avenue. It was there that we saw the beautiful light of Gypsy’s Trattoria Italiana, a beacon in our cold, famished world.
The smell of warm roasted garlic wafted through the open door as we walked into our temporary shelter. Beaded lamps emitting a soft light and a bustling atmosphere were a welcome reprieve from the cold. As we looked in awe at the decade’s worth of Best of Berkeley certificates, we knew that we were in for a treat.
Behind the counter, the staff worked at lightning speed, pans flying and pasta spinning in a beautifully choreographed dance. The decision was difficult: calzone or salad, red sauce or white sauce, fettuccine or ravioli, shrimp or chicken. Every and any combination is possible and equally delicious.
We walked out of Gypsy’s renewed — our stomachs filled and spirits high. We were back the very next night.
1951 Coffee Company
1951 Coffee Company is on a mission: Train, employ and support refugees living in the Bay Area, and do it while serving a great cup of coffee.
One look at the massive artwork lining the café’s walls confirms just how deeply this big–hearted mission is grounded and baked into the fabric of this local business. Upholding quality and building community awareness, 1951 Coffee Company operates under an unofficial mantra: If you brew it, they will come.
And boy, do they brew. With scrumptious mochi muffins, delicious iced chai lattes in mason jars and creamy espresso drinks that are always served on a stylish wooden board, there’s something for everyone at 1951 Coffee Company.
Sure, the prices aren’t cheap, but talk to any one of the baristas, and they’ll reassure you that every dollar spent at the café is an investment into their training and employment — most of them are refugees themselves.
Maybe that’s why, even though their cold-brew coffees are some of the strongest in town, each sip tastes all the sweeter at 1951 Coffee Company.
La Note Restaurant
La Note has an aura of elitism — a French name, glossy red double doors and scribbled waitlists stretching into the late hours of a Sunday afternoon. Yet everything within the confines of those red doors is welcoming — that is, if you can find a way to slip yourself into their busy brunch schedule. The servers’ smiles are warm and never–ending, and they all seem to speak French to some degree or another — calling the restaurant usually results in the click of the receiver being picked up and a chipper "Bonjour" from the other end of the line.
And then, there’s the food. While there is the possibility for La Note to have been over&ndashmarketed or the deliciousness exaggerated, that is not the reality. Everything they serve is buttery or béchamel–covered and often served with a salad, which has a salad dressing that makes its consumption far more than just palatable. But in case all that doesn’t reel you in, the freshly baked baguettes most definitely will.
Best Frozen Dessert Shop
Given the high turnover rate of businesses on Southside and the fact that frozen yogurt is, in many ways, a dying fad from the early ’00s, the fact that a yogurt shop has persisted on Durant Avenue since 1977 is truly remarkable. But a single taste of Yogurt Park’s creamy froyo is enough to eliminate any mystery behind the shop’s longevity.
Eschewing the self-serve model that most of its counterparts have adopted, Yogurt Park offers a small but tasteful assortment of flavors that changes each day. The prices are refreshingly low — especially given the shop’s sizable portions — and the toppings, while they come at an extra cost, are doled out liberally and mixed thoroughly into the yogurt. And with the shop’s convenient location and midnight closing time, Yogurt Park is accessible and dependable.
Yogurt Park is also the source of one of Berkeley’s most cutthroat debates — namely, whether the shop’s name is to be shortened to "YoPo," which rhymes, or "YoPa," which better reflects the vowels in the full name. But however divided the community may be on this matter, we are unified on a deeper level — we can all agree that the Park can’t be beat.
Whether you are exiting campus to the south, west or north, Bongo Burger is there for you with its selection of burgers and Persian kebab cuisine — the restaurant has locations on Dwight Way, Center Street and Euclid Avenue.
Cooked over an open flame and presented on large, sesame–seed buns, the burgers offered here are perfect for the deep hunger that accompanies a long day spent on campus. Bongo Burger, which was founded in 1968, proudly serves Niman Ranch beef and promises there are no antibiotics in its food. But the thing that sets this restaurant apart is the dash of Persian influence in the preparation of its burgers, which imparts a flavor unlike anything you’ll get at a standard American institution. Though this award goes to its burger, be sure to try the Persian sandwiches and kebab wraps as well!
Best Restaurant to Take a Date
Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen
You might find yourself sitting at Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen for one of two reasons — No. 1: Your parents are in town and you’re making them take you to the places you normally can’t afford, or No. 2: You’re on a date. And with food this delicious to accompany your evening, that date is probably going pretty well.
Angeline’s offers an ideal ambiance for college-aged couples. There’s a comfortable mix of casual and dressed-up guests, and the dimmed lighting gently flickers as you seductively bite into a sweet, buttery hushpuppy or a crispy piece of fried chicken. An average dinner costs about $20, so Angeline’s isn’t an everyday type of affair, but that makes each bite of crawfish dipped in a Cajun sauce taste even crispier.
Even the wait times are manageable. Angeline’s takes your phone number when you put your name in, so you can wander Downtown Berkeley or grab a beer at Jupiter while you wait.
Really, the only thing that could make Angeline’s a more memorable date destination would be a live jazz band — but we’ll settle for the homemade mac n’ cheese.
Best Japanese Food
On a typical afternoon in Downtown Berkeley, Ippuku is an unassuming addition to the restaurants and cafés lining Center Street. Large, folding screen doors elegantly decorated with Japanese lettering conceal the restaurant inside. A passerby could easily walk past the place without a second thought.
But when the sun sets, the screen doors are pulled back to reveal a hole–in–the–wall izakaya pub — waiters greet customers with a round of "Irasshaimase!" Guests are asked to take off their shoes as they sit at traditional tatami-style booths. The plates of yakitori are endless, and the sake flows until the last patrons leave. And each night, the whole process repeats again.
Dining at Ippuku isn’t exactly the most authentic Japanese experience. One would be hard-pressed to find "squid ink fried rice" or "bacon-wrapped mochi" at a cigarette-smoke-filled izakaya bar in the heart of Tokyo. But when your order of okonomiyaki arrives and you catch the subtle scent of bonito flakes, close your eyes and you’re almost halfway there.
Best Nonfrozen Dessert Shop
Berkeley has no shortage of top–of–the–line dessert destinations, but Cinnaholic far and away takes the cake — er, you get what we mean. Getting to Cinnaholic is a bit of a trek compared to spots located closer to central campus, but every step is worth it upon walking in the doors and basking in the smell of pure carbs and sugar.
The beauty of Cinnaholic lies in the ability of the customer to cater the delicacy to their particular desire. Want to keep it OG with nothing but frosting? Want to get a little creative and top raspberries and pie crust over vanilla frosting? Want to go full–on Michael Scott and stack a roll with an questionable amount of toppings? The world is yours.
Plus, if the allure of a fresh and fluffy cinnamon roll wasn’t enough, the famous red brick wall with the writing "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine" is only a couple of steps away from the shop. Hold up your roll and snap a pic — it doesn’t get anymore Snapchat-ready than that.
Best Hangover Food
Artichoke Basille’s Pizza
There’s a common joke that Artichoke Basille’s Pizza only tastes good when you’re drunk, but that’s a bold-faced lie — it also tastes amazing when you’re hungover. It’s hard to imagine a better complement to your aching muscles and splitting headache than an enormous grease vessel that requires two paper plates to support it.
Once you’ve made your way to the corner of Durant Avenue and Bowditch Street in the early afternoon, squinting against the white sunlight and trying to drown out the quiet cacophony of two people having a conversation, you make your way to the counter, where the familiar face of an employee takes your order.
Choosing among Artichoke’s slices can be more difficult than choosing a college. If you like to keep things simple, you can go for the basil–topped margherita slice, but if you’re loyal to classics, you point to the much-beloved artichoke slice. And if you like inciting controversy among the group of (also hungover) friends that you rolled in with and are prepared to defend your actions against all confrontation, you can order the crab slice. As you exit, slice in hand, your hangover may not be cured, but this slice of pizza is just what the doctor ordered.
Best Chinese Food
Chengdu Style Restaurant
More so than any other Chinese restaurant in Berkeley, Chengdu Style Restaurant’s menu can please any palette. It’s got something for the grandmother with extremely particular taste in Chinese food — nothing too spicy, but with just enough kick to satisfy discerning taste buds refined by decades of living in the flavor-saturated city of Jakarta. (For her, I’d recommend the Sichuan tan tan noodles.)
It’s got something for the roommate looking for nothing more sophisticated, or sincerely satisfying, than General Tso’s chicken. (That one is pretty self explanatory.) It’s got killer Mapo tofu, for all those feeling nostalgic for mom’s recipe.
But most importantly, Chengdu Style Restaurant serves Chinese food that you won’t find anywhere else in Berkeley. Their toothpick lamb — skewered chunks of spicy, crispy meat — is as inimitable as it is irresistible. For simple comfort food, soup noodles with egg and tomato is a filling, unpretentious dish that you won’t find on inauthentic locale’s menus.
My Chinese 1A instructor once told me that he would give Chengdu Style Restaurant a single $300 check every month, so that he could eat there everyday. We can’t blame him.
Best Korean Food
Berkeley Social Club
Berkeley Social Club is the perfect spot for that 10-person surprise birthday lunch you’ve been trying to plan. The spacious restaurant offers a unique Korean American fusion that promises delightful and surprising flavors in each bite.
For a brunch vibe, choose between delicious egg scrambles or a heaping stack of pancakes. If you’re there for lunch or dinner, turn your attention instead to flavorful pork bowls, tofu soups, a wide variety of salads or crispy "Korean fried chicken" burgers.
The aesthetic exudes modernity — its open floor plan, gorgeous bar and dark wooden tables feel like they’re straight out of an episode of your favorite HGTV show. In other words, when you’re taking cute shots of your galbi (short ribs), you’ll have the lighting and background composition to rake in the likes. Just don’t forget to take pictures of the birthday girl, too!
Most importantly, though — Berkeley Social Club doesn’t take its time in getting your food to the table. Though you may have to a wait a while without a reservation, once you’re sitting down and you’ve ordered, your food will arrive swiftly, looking 100 percent Instagram&ndashready.
It’s Thursday night and you’ve got the going–out itch. Just blocks away, in the heart of Downtown Berkeley, a haven beckons. Bring forth the masses, for they deserve a hearty treat after a hard week’s work. Within walls of Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse, a sea of Monkey Heads awaits.
Brewed in house and served in an intimidating liter-sized bottle, the Monkey Head is a staple of Thursday nights in Berkeley — a rite of passage. Fail to attend this famed Thursday gathering, and you shall forever be forbidden from claiming the title of "Berkeleyan." Finish an entire bottle, and you may find yourself stumbling home. Finish a second, and who knows where the night will take you!
Stop by Triple Rock on any other night, and the mood is different. The quiet murmurings of conversations echo into the air as patrons down their regular–sized and delicious beers. It’s quite literally a tale of two Triple Rocks, and you’d best experience both.
Best Thai Food
Imm Thai Street Food
Need a Thai recommendation? Pick the place that will leave you saying, "(I)mmm, (I)mmm, good."
In all seriousness, Imm Thai Street Food’s casual, eclectically decorated, University Avenue restaurant is one of those places where if you sit down early enough, all the tables will all seem to magically fill up (with little wait time!). But this place is no magic trick. Eventually, you’ll be so focused on the food, the good times and the ambience that everything else will just fall away.
Speaking of food: It is perfectly sweet, spicy or salty, depending on the dish, and all for a beautiful bang for your buck. Their tom kha, a sweet and savory coconut-based soup with veggies and chicken, shrimp or mixed mushroom medley, hits the spot. And while Imm Thai offers a delicious pad thai, the pad thai wonton — essentially a generous mountain of crispy wontons with veggies, your chosen meat and a sacred sauce &mdash; is an excellent feast.
Next Category: City
Nowhere. This literally doesn’t exist.
The best place on campus to have a reliable Wi-Fi connection is… nowhere. Northside? Nope. Southside? Nope. Don’t even think about trying to get a consistent connection anywhere underground or on the edges of campus, because it’s all just a fruitless endeavor.
"But Justice, my connection always works just fine," you’re probably saying. That’s really cool! Do you mind sharing that location with the rest of the 40,000 students who attend this campus? There may be a couple scattered locations around campus that harbor a decent connection, but there have been far too many instances when, in the middle of a perfectly ordinary workday, the Wi-Fi cuts out and UC Berkeley students everywhere begin asking one another, "Hey, is your Wi-Fi working? " Here’s to next year…
Best Place to Get a Tattoo
Zebra Tattoo & Body Piercing
Having ink drilled into your body can be painful and stressful. As one Yelp reviewer puts it, "Being topless in front of a stranger can be awkward." But, she promises, Tim from Zebra Tattoo and Body Piercing made her "feel so comfortable." This tattoo and piercing shop is professional, appointments are quick and easy, and, most importantly, it’s relatively affordable.
While other tattoo parlors might have artists with bigger reputations and cult followings, those artists often come with extremely limited appointment openings and heftier price tags. Plus, the staff makes the experience almost painless. Another Yelp reviewer stated that it was a wonderful experience to have David from Zebra pierce her. "He’s such a great piercer. I have an absolute fear of needles and tend to pass out but he helped me keep calm and did such a good fast job." That’s why Zebra is the way to go.
That guy in my English class
So, you want to buy some weed.
It’s now officially legal in California for lucky souls over the age of 21 to purchase it for their own recreational pleasure. And Berkeley has a long, rich cultural history of embracing marijuana.
But maybe you aren’t 21. Maybe you are 21, but the thought of entering a store manned by people called "budtenders" intimidates the heck out of you.
No matter. There’s always that guy in your English class you can turn to.
You know the one. He’s always wearing a different flannel shirt, has a backpack covered in pins, reads Descartes for fun. Once, you saw him wear Birkenstocks.
All you have to do is make eye contact with him one day after class, subtly ask him for "the goods" and hope he knows you’re talking about Mary Jane and not some other unmentionable.
Where is he getting the green goods, might you ask? Perhaps he’s getting his weed from Berkeley Patients Group, the country’s longest-running marijuana dispensary. Or Cannabis Buyers Club Berkeley, which offers a 5 percent discount to students. Or even Berkeley Patient’s Care Collective, conveniently located on Telegraph Avenue in Southside.
And maybe you should, too.
Best Movie Filmed in Berkeley
Several classic films and well-known shows were filmed in Berkeley, but the incredibly heartwarming "Mrs. Doubtfire," with its sunny scenes at the stately Claremont Club & Spa in Berkeley takes the cake. "Mrs. Doubtfire" beat out a picturesque scene of Moe’s Books on Telegraph Avenue in "The Graduate" and Elmwood’s La Méditerranée in "Steve Jobs."
Robin Williams, the iconic comedian who died in 2014, has deep roots in the Bay Area, having moved there in the late 1960s. It’s disturbing that the beloved character of Mrs. Doubtfire was played by Williams, who was recently accused of groping one of his co-star’s in "Mork & Mindy."
But while Williams is under scrutiny, Mrs. Doubtfire, the older British woman with a bad Scottish accent who is actually an American man, lives on as a classic character that remains equal parts happy and sad, endearing and pitiable.
Best Record Store
Self-billed as "The World’s Largest Independent Record Store," the iconic Amoeba Music was founded right here in Berkeley in 1990 by former employees of Rasputin Music (also founded here in Berkeley). Though it now has three locations — Berkeley, San Francisco and Los Angeles — the original is always the best. That’s especially true now, given that the Telegraph Avenue location has received a permit to sell marijuana.
Both Rasputin Music and Amoeba Music are unnaturally large, in terms of floor space and inventory, for independent stores. That means both are struggling somewhat financially, but for us, the music-listening population, it means that both stores are havens for cheap, accessible vinyl. Though Rasputin Music has a larger selection of affordable vinyl, Amoeba Music takes the cake for its selection of modern, popular vinyl. So if your thing is Arcade Fire and Arctic Monkeys and Tame Impala, et al., Amoeba is a solid choice. In the last few years, Amoeba Music has actually taken the prize for best record store in the entire country, so it’s fitting that our readers have voted it as such for Berkeley.
Best Game Store/Game Cafe
Games of Berkeley
You don’t have to be a board game connoisseur to find your next grand Tuesday night adventure — Games of Berkeley has every type of player covered, from the Monopoly nostalgics to the Settlers of Catan fanatics. In fact, it’s got more than three decades of business to show for it.
Games of Berkeley isn’t just an in-and-out store either; it also offers a host of gaming events where large groups of friends can come together for some casual, noncompetitive play. And anyone who has ever played a game of Scrabble with their friends knows that it can get far more exciting than any group chat or Netflix binge.
The inventory at Games of Berkeley is extensive, so even the most seasoned game players can likely find something new that meets their interests. And if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind clever gift for a birthday or special event, the store’s selection makes for great gifts that range in price point from cheeky knickknacks to elaborate board games.
Best Art Gallery
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
If your trip to the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, or BAMPFA, involves simply walking around the exhibits, gazing at the pieces on display and occasionally nodding contemplatively at what you find appropriate, you’re missing out. It’s when the museum brings these exhibits to life through film series, performances, lectures and hands-on arts and crafts events that the true spirit of BAMPFA takes shape. By offering a multitude of opportunities to engage with the exhibits on display, BAMPFA uses art as a foundation on which to build community.
If none of the exhibits on display or events on the calendar are quite your thing, you can always pay a visit to Babette, the in-house cafe, and enjoy a luxurious cup of cardamom coffee while studying. Bonus: You can do some of the best people-watching Berkeley has to offer while perched in a window seat at Babette. Go on in — the museum offers free admittance for UC Berkeley students, faculty and staff.
If you are a poor soul with a naked laptop, the EthiCAL Apparel stand on Sproul Plaza is your one-stop shop. From "That Library Doe" to De-stress with Dogs stickers, you can stock up on gear to decorate your laptop, which, quite honestly, probably desperately needs a makeover.
As a "student-run social enterprise," the club dabbles not only in design, but in microfinance. EthiCAL sells merchandise, such as stickers, T-shirts and sweatshirts, and lends out its profit as microloans.
They invest their profits through Kiva, a nonprofit focused on microfinance, and the loans are provided to entrepreneurs in developing countries in order to help blossom their businesses.
So really, this stall on Sproul Plaza has it all. You can find items custom designed for UC Berkeley students, and through these purchases, you’re really investing in social good. If you ask me, I’d take a "Beary Sleepy" sweatshirt and social good over a flyer anyday.
Best Place to Cry
So, there’s a scene in "The Lion King" where Mufasa tells his son, "Look, Simba, everything the light touches is our kingdom." That line could be adapted as an adage for one Berkeley student to say to another while at the Big C — only it would go, "Everything the light touches is a place I’ve sobbed loudly and with great abandon."
There are so many different types of crying a Berkeley student experiences, so of course, there are infinite places to cry. The crying that coincides with a phone call, for example, is best done outside, on one of the campus’s many idyllic benches. Before you know it, a squirrel will be trying to make way with your entire backpack, meaning that you will have more pressing concerns than the overwhelming feeling that you’re letting down literally every single family member of every single preceding generation. If you want to add a certain dramatic flair to the cry, choose that bench behind C. V. Starr East Asian Library. It gets direct light around mid-afternoon, so you can dry your tears in the sunlight. So next time you find yourself in the need of a good cry, just stop wherever you are and completely break down. Wail, howl, bawl — and draw comfort from the fact that in this school’s vast 150-year history, at least one other person has probably cried in that exact same spot.
Best Music Venue
Hearst Greek Theatre
When The Daily Californian ranked the best music venues in the Bay Area last year, the Hearst Greek Theatre was naturally Berkeley’s contribution to the top five.
The only outdoor venue to make the cut, the Greek Theatre is a gem nestled at the bottom of the Berkeley hills. To its credit, for an amphitheatre, the steepness of the bowl means there is no bad place to watch (or hear) from — every angle and location brings a different perspective.
And the best part is that the majority of shows held at the Greek are general admission only — that includes the concrete steps of the amphitheatre as well as the floor. Concertgoers are free to explore the venue and see shows from anywhere and everywhere you like.
Host to the occasional classical performance as well as bonfire rallies before the annual Big Game with Stanford, this beautiful space is easily deserving of this year’s award.
Li Ka Shing Center
You’re waiting in line at Brown’s, a California café. You want nothing but a filling plate of sweet potato fries, but the line reaches the other end of the Genetics and Plant Biology building, and of course you’re at the very end of the queue. To top things off, you suddenly, desperately need to use the bathroom. What do you do?
Run to Li Ka Shing Center! Conveniently located by Brown’s and en route to Downtown Berkeley, Li Ka Shing’s bathroom is perhaps the most reliable one on campus. Located inside a hall that is oddly, wonderfully peaceful, the sprint you make as you literally can’t hold it any longer — however short — is guaranteed to be scenic. There is almost never a line of impatient students waiting outside the incredibly clean cubicles, and they always have toilet paper and paper towels!
So, next time you really need to pee but are also really hungry, run to Li Ka Shing Center and then run right back to claim your fries at Brown’s, giving nobody else the time to steal them.
Best Place to Get Cal Gear
Bancroft Clothing Company
"Go Bears!" "Bear Territory!" "Roll on you, Bears!" If you want to receive these random chants from strangers, then you’ll need perfectly affordable attire. Look no further than the conveniently located Bancroft Clothing Company, which has all of the Cal apparel you need — and and all the Cal apparel you don’t need but want nevertheless. At Bancroft Clothing Company, you can purchase a Cal football jersey and become the football player your dad always wanted you to be. Or you can purchase that Haas polo you’ve been eying, killing the bear inside you and replacing it with the snake you truly are. Most importantly though, Bancroft Clothing Company has so many affordable options, you won’t have to worry about making your own Cal gear with your "bear" hands.
Tilden Regional Park
Tilden Regional Park has a merry-go-round. Need we say more? In case we do, here’s a whole host of reasons you should spend your summer Saturdays atop the Berkeley Hills at Tilden Regional Park. First: Tilden Regional Park has a petting zoo. Replete with goats, cows, horses, chickens and more, this petting zoo presents a prime opportunity to show your friends what it’s like to live in the ol’ rustic, rural Bay Area. Second: Tilden Regional Park has hiking trails that present you with a view of the entire Bay Area and ones that keep you safely engulfed in the great green of the local trees. More importantly, Tilden Regional Park is easily accessible through public transportation. Just hop on AC Transit — the 67 bus will pick you up downtown and take you all the way up to Tilden Park and Grizzly Peak.
Moe’s Books is, quite literally, the heaven of bookstores. Towering at four stories and housing an incredibly comprehensive selection, including a rare books room, Moe’s is a reliable anchor in the overwhelming sea of Telegraph Avenue. The store has has an impressive history — after it opened in 1959, the store’s move to Telegraph Avenue was contemporary to the Free Speech Movement. There’s even a glimpse of Moe’s in the classic 1967 film "The Graduate."
In a time when there is a worrying decline of patronage in even the most mainstream of bookstore chains, Moe’s continued existence is a source of comfort. There is something undeniably unique in browsing for a book in the midst of physical stacks. Whether it be the scent or the ability to reach out and actually trace the spines, bookstores like Moe’s are irreplaceable.
Moe’s Books stands as a testament to the importance of bookstores, serving as a invaluable resource. From its knowledgeable and helpful employees to its possession of every genre one could imagine, Moe’s Books is undeniably the best.
Best Movie Theater
Right from the get-go, Shattuck Cinemas positions itself as the best place to go to the movies. It screens just the right ratio of studio blockbusters and microbudget arthouse films — you can bring a group of friends to a Halloween screening of "It" or go solo for a matinee documentary to boost your indie cred.
But it took a little bit more than an excellent roster of films for Shattuck Cinemas to earn its place on this list. It’s the perfect amount of butter that employees dispense onto your popcorn. The plush leather seats, cradling you as you bawl through the wholesomeness of "The Red Turtle." It’s the pseudo-Egyptian decor in its large auditoriums, transporting you before "Annihilation" even has a chance. It’s the fact that you can use MoviePass here.
Of course, there are many worthy theaters — after all, Berkeley’s vibrant cinema scene is one of its many claims to fame. This is the city that Pauline Kael once called home — a breeding ground for Academy Award winners; the backdrop for George Lucas’ "THX 1138" and Paul Thomas Anderson’s "The Master." But there’s no better place to partake in this filmic legacy than Shattuck Cinemas.
Best Campus Food and Drink
Brown’s California Cafe
There are a few things former Gov. Pat Brown brings to mind. First and foremost is his son, California’s current mayor. Perhaps less known but more important are the tattered remains of the California Master Plan for Higher Education, Brown’s ambitious long-term strategic goals to keep California higher education an affordable, accessible engine of upward mobility. But most importantly, this former governor brings to mind the crunchy wraps, soft sandwiches and sunny outdoor seating of Brown’s, a California café.
Nestled in the northwest corner of campus, this quiet cafe serves up some of the best campus food. And unlike its competitors — namely The Golden Bear café and Café 3 — Brown’s isn’t overrun by hordes of hungry students during eating hours. It stays mostly quiet with short lines and effective service. Getting there, though, can be a hike. It’s a five-minute walk from Valley Life Science Building, 10 minutes from Sproul Plaza and 15 minutes from pretty much anything else. It’s worth the trip, but its appeal mostly comes from its status as the unofficial capital of north campus. After all, where else have students got to eat that takes Cal debit?
Best Non-Food Place to Take a Date
University of California Botanical Garden
Why shell out cash for a bougie dinner date when students have access to the UC Botanical Garden for free?
The garden is an ideal location for a casual date between two hopeless romantics. Just picture it — you’re strolling among the blooming flowers and gazing up at the stunning redwoods, and then you later sneak a kiss in the carnivorous plant greenhouse. Your date sends you on a scavenger hunt for the Dracula vampira, and the two of you take a break to sit by the pond to talk about what life would be like if both of you were newts.
The soft outdoor lighting gives you the perfect excuse to snap adorable pictures and send them to your friends, captioned with all the juicy updates they’re dying to hear about. Maybe this is the first date with someone you met on Tinder, or maybe you and your longtime partner just want to relax together somewhere romantic. In any case, you’re guaranteed to fall in love — if not with the person, then with the garden’s beautiful fauna.
Best Place to Get a Haircut
La Petite Hair Salon
There are four seats in the tucked-away La Petite Hair Salon, and on most days, they’re completely full. In fact, oftentimes, there’s a substantial line to get a haircut at this South Berkeley staple — and for good reason. The haircuts are swift. You can get in and out in 30 minutes or less.
Most importantly, however, is that La Petite provides something all college students desperately need: good quality at a good price. That, at the end of the day, is what keeps their chairs full and their line long. It’s why you should change your walking path on days when your shag has gotten out of control and stroll past La Petite Salon. After all, that internship interview is coming up, and you need to look sharp. They won’t judge — they’ll welcome you in (quickly) and do their part to make you look presentable. There’s no better place to go.
Best Thrift Shop
Buffalo Exchange is ever so slightly ritzier than your average $5-fur-coat thrift store, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find some seriously stylish bargains from popular brands for every budget. Buffalo Exchange excels in two areas in particular — women’s jeans (where else can you get a trendy pair of ripped, black, high-waisted jeans for $13?) and shoes (Steve Madden faux-leather ballet flats for less than $15? Yes, please).
As you carry your enormous load of secondhand crop tops, party dresses and coats to the fitting room, a friendly (and impeccably stylish) employee greets you by the entrance. Once you’ve made your selections, you mosey over to the checkout counter, plucking a red floppy hat or studded belt along the way.
If you forgot to bring a bag with you, you might have to shell out a couple of extra bucks to get one of their reusable ones, but now you’ll have a cute tote to store your scarves in once your closet starts to overflow.
And speaking of an overflowing closet, when it comes time to purge, you can sell some of your own stylish threads at Buffalo Exchange, so the next lucky bargain-hunter can come pick them up.
Best Place to Hike
Berkeley Fire Trails
It’s best to do the Fire Trails on a weekday afternoon. If you’re walking, start about two hours before sunset. If you’re on a run, maybe one — or even less. The trails are extensive and tangled, and the most popular path starts right behind Memorial Stadium. For many students, that means passing a hostile Piedmont Avenue with its Greek life shenanigans. Do this with haste.
On Centennial Drive, just before the UC Botanical Garden, there’s a small dirt parking lot on the left as you go up the hill. That’s how you know you’ve reached the entrance to the Lower Fire Trails. Follow the path, and you’ll be taken through some of the best scenery that the Bay Area has to offer, peak near the top of Tilden Park with an incredible view of the setting sun over the entire bay and finish at a Bear Transit stop at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Foolish hikers and runners who climb the trails on a weekend do not get the luxury of Bear Transit and must descend the way they came: on foot. But even so, the forests of the East Bay hills and bay below make the trip worth it all the same.
Zellerbach Hall wasn’t short on competition among local playhouses — there are plenty in Berkeley with loyal bands of attendees who turn out again and again for the latest productions. But Zellerbach takes the No. 1 spot, and for lack of a better phrase, it really does have it all.
The enormous venue offers the perfect excuse to dress to the nines, but its campus location means that no one will judge you for showing up in jeans either. Ticket prices for shows through Cal Performances are always reasonably priced, and they offer up a huge variety of acts from all over the world.
The theater has hosted classical Indian musicians, world-class ballet troupes, comedy legends and new, cutting-edge musicals — it’s hard to think of another theater in the area that accomplishes the same feat with such consistent success. When you walk through the doors to the huge orchestra or mezzanine seating, you know you’re in for a treat.
Best Local Artist
Nicki Green creates sculptures evocative of just about anything. Penises sprout from around the base of an intricately patterned, purple and blue vase, the whole work titled "Operating in Bright Sunlight." In another, "Crock for Life and Death" — which was commissioned by The GLBT History Museum for the "OUT/LOOK and the Birth of the Queer" exhibition — a glazed stoneware statue is painted over with abstract hands, eyes, bodies and blooming mushrooms. Green also has a mug series commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Compton’s Cafeteria riot, the first recognized instance of LGBTQ+ resistance to police harassment in the history of the United States — but this certainly isn’t the first instance of both LGBTQ+ themes and Bay Area references in her stellar work.
Next Category: Campus
Best Strategy to Avoid Flyers
Walk behind the booths
Desperate freshman flyering for their business frat appears!
You use "Put in headphones" ...
Desperate freshman uses "Yell louder."
You try to turn your music up to the maximum volume, but it’s not working. You can still hear cries of "Are you interested in business?" layered over whatever you’re listening to, and the two don’t complement each other very well.
Needless to say, it’s not very effective.
You use "Resting bitch face" ...
Desperate freshman uses "Eye contact."
Oh no! There’s just so many desperate flyerers around that it’s impossible to not accidentally make eye contact with at least one of them! And the moment you do and you see the desperation in their eyes, it’s all over. You’re guilt-tripped into picking up a flyer.
You use "Walk behind the booths."
Desperate freshman is confused! All of a sudden you’re nowhere to be seen, and they must move onto their next victim. You make your way to class knowing that you’ve won this day’s battles, but come tomorrow, there will be a whole new throng of flyerers to avoid. Thankfully, by now, you’ve learned the best way to do it.
Best Place to Use Your Meal Points
Brown’s California Cafe
Everything about Brown’s makes you feel like you have your life together.
From the delicious, locally sourced and healthy food options, to the serene atmosphere cultivated by its hole–in–the–wall location by the College of Natural Resources, Brown’s is the perfect place to just eat and relax. If salads and wild rice aren’t your jam, don’t fret — Brown’s still has you covered with their amazing burgers and sweet potato fries.
And, as if this wasn’t already amazing enough, Brown’s is swift about getting your order out. Before you know it, your number is already being called and your delicious food is being handed to you.
If you have meal points and you’re missing a home–cooked meal, Brown’s is the place to be. Alone or with friends, the food and atmosphere never disappoint.
Best Clothing Shop
Realtors and other similar people may tell you that the three most important rules are location, location, location. Urban Outfitters exemplifies this. There’s a reason, for example, that it’s now won The Daily Californian’s Best of Berkeley competition two years in a row. Students leaving campus for their Southside homes after class almost invariably pass it on Bancroft Way.
And where else but in class are any students really thinking about what to buy? It’s prime online shopping time, and for those unable to make the final decision come the end of class, Urban Outfitters presents an alternative. Anyways, real hipsters shop at real stores and try on real clothes. They don’t just order stuff to their homes. And UC Berkeley students are committed to that grungy aesthetic. Hipster bonus points go to patrons who shop at Urban Outfitters using only cash.
Best Male Athlete
On October 13, 2017, quarterback Ross Bowers literally and figuratively leaped into the hearts of Cal fans near and far when he front–flipped over a defender for a touchdown.
Bowers’ dazzling display of athleticism and coordination was front and center of Cal’s shocking 37–3 upset victory over No. 8 Washington State, in what was unquestionably his squad’s biggest win of the season.
Last season was Bowers’ first full year at the helm of Cal’s notoriously high–octane offense. While his youth and inexperience did show throughout the season, there were flashes of potential, such as when he threw for 363 yards and four touchdowns in the first game of the season against North Carolina.
The Bears were two wins away from qualifying for a bowl game last season, and if they’re going to make the leap, they’ll need Bowers at the head to do so as well — and more than just the flipping kind.
Best Philanthropy Club
Many UC Berkeley clubs and organizations are dedicated to philanthropy and public service, stretching far and wide across the country and world. But the Suitcase Clinic, held in the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley and other nearby locations, is focused much closer to home. Serving the population of Berkeley residents facing homelessness, the clinic provides three free multi-service drop-in centers: the General Clinic, the Womxn’s Clinic and the Youth/LGBTQ+ Clinic.
Yet the Suitcase Clinic as an organization is committed to more than just providing services. By training the undergraduate volunteers — now the backbone of the group — in a semesterlong course on campus, the clinic hopes to help volunteers understand and properly contextualize homelessness, changing people’s perspectives along the way. "We’re trying to create a culture where people don’t avert their eyes," said Sumaiya Mubarack, a volunteer at the Suitcase Clinic in a previous interview with The Daily Californian.
Best Campus Performance Group
jericho! improv & sketch comedy
In any other situation, even the suggestion of cramming into a room in Barrows Hall and sitting down among 80 others on a Friday night would seem worthy of disgust. But an hourlong performance from jericho! improv & sketch comedy in Barrows should elicit the opposite reaction.
This UC Berkeley comedy troupe, composed of students, puts on regular improv shows on Friday nights, inspiring gasps and belly laughs from the crowd without fail. Each night typically has a theme, from "Spring Bakers" to this week’s "High School Musical: Senior Year."
Their shows make for a better experience than simply watching Netflix. But if you do want to stay at home and watch something, consider scrolling through jericho!’s YouTube channel, which is home to "Bucket Foot," a day in the life of a boy with a bucket on his foot, and "Bessie is Old," an exposé on Bessie Young, the oldest member of the team. You’re bound to find yourself constantly shocked and impressed that they are performing on the spot with such confidence and flair.
Best Lecture Hall
Li Ka Shing Center Auditorium
Some might appreciate the rustic look or rooms that are steeped in history. And UC Berkeley’s full of those. After all, Wheeler Hall opened its doors in 1917, and Doe Library dates back to 1911. But really, when you’re in lecture, you want the state of the art — and that’s what you get from Li Ka Shing Center’s auditorium. Younger than most campus lecture halls by generations, Li Ka Shing was first dedicated in 2011. At roughly seven years old, the seats retain their ergonomic shape, and the sleek exterior screams modernity.
A few students may recoil at the location — at the northwest corner of campus, Li Ka Shing sits far from the hub of student life that is Southside. But this, in fact, is a plus. The quiet surroundings and proximity to Brown’s, a California café, make Li Ka Shing one of the best places to have class on campus. Need to cram before class? The grass nearby rarely has traffic, and there’s no noise to distract you.
Best Place to Watch the Sunset
The Big C
Taking a leisurely hike to the Big C on the north side of campus is a UC Berkeley tradition that’s too many generations long for us to keep track of. What’s not to love, with the grandiose steepness of the asphalt path, the howling of wild turkeys that you absolutely didn’t expect to find in the Berkeley hills and the guaranteed fact that someone in your party is bound to slide down the incline on the way down at least once?
The Big C may seem intimidating to first-time climbers, but the views that the hill has to offer are truly unlike any others you could find on campus. As an added bonus, the adorable double swing lets you see the picturesque scene from a new perspective. If you’re looking for a quaint place to hang out with friends — barring the occasional turkey squawks — and enjoy the sun setting over the expanse of Berkeley and the skyline of San Francisco, look no further than our beloved golden concrete C.
Best Place to Cram for an Exam
The newly renovated fourth and fifth floors of Moffitt Library have allowed the formerly concrete, formerly unappealing and formerly under-construction library to rightly dethrone Main Stacks of its title. Gone are the days where you only went to Moffitt to print (especially now that we have the Open Computing Facility) — here are the days where you can look out over Memorial Glade through multicolored glass and wistfully sigh, wishing you didn’t put off studying until the last goddamn minute.
We know how your whole day goes down. You start on floor three after swinging by the Free Speech Movement Café, bringing your "single-serving" food (or entire pizza) into the elevator. Heading up to the fourth floor with friends, you think, "This is a good idea." After two hours of chatting and doing jack shit, you realize, "This is not a good idea," and you encourage your rowdy friends to join you on the next floor up — the Quiet Commons. Your friends start whispering, so you ditch them for one of those elusive, walled-off, single seat desks. They follow you there. You ditch them for a nap pod. You stay there up until your exam’s Berkeley time start — with the library open 24 hours on weekdays and throughout RRR and finals weeks, you have all the time in the world.
Best Place to Nap on Campus
UC Berkeley’s campus is well known for its edgy and angsty vibes, but if you’re looking for the best nap spot on campus, then the most basic one, Memorial Glade, is the place for you. If nothing else, this sprawling lawn — Berkeley’s "beach" — allows for the perfect reenactment of "Teen Beach Movie" (minus the ocean, of course).
The sunset typically glazes the lawn just perfectly, and the well-manicured grass makes for a great mattress. This is the place to lay your head down with your comfy backpack as a pillow — catch up on those hours you lost last night in the most wholesome spot on campus.
If you run into some spikeball or Frisbee crews encroaching on your lawn space, bring your hammock to hang up and chill among the trees. A little too often, school can get to be too much to handle — so on your way to that God-awful discussion section in Evans Hall, stop by the glade and take a nap.
Best Place to Take Grad Photos
It’s graduation season! It’s a time of year that essentially becomes a holiday — you have to get a new outfit, plan a party, hear from relatives you don’t like and take that perfect photo. And like any holiday, graduation comes with its own sense of acute anxiety. The good news is, while you’re questioning every decision you made during your time at UC Berkeley, Doe Library makes grad photos a simple choice.
Smile with all your closest friends and their plus-ones as you line up on Doe’s beautiful stonework. With your hair done and your stole on, you can be proud of the way you look. "This one is a profile pic, for sure" is the most confident thought you’ve had since you bought your cap and gown, and that’s fine; you’re fine. You wait off to the side while your friends take the always exclusive "couples photo," and in a quiet moment, you reflect over Facebook. Sam shared a photo of the two you from freshmen year. Pretty weird, Sam. But what’s that in the background? It’s Doe — behind you then as it is now while you smile with friends on its steps, ready to embark on your next big adventure.
Assistant teaching professor John DeNero is a fun-loving person whose zeal for computer science permeates all of his lectures.
Whether it’s your first time learning Python and probability in Data 8 — "The Foundations of Data Science" — or you’re trying to muddle your way through Computer Science 61A — "The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs" — DeNero is always an encouraging and engaging mentor that will make you love what you’re learning.
He’s not only funny, but he also teaches difficult subjects at a manageable pace so that you’re never (totally) overwhelmed. He’ll show you pictures of Samosa (not the Indian snack, but his adorable dog), and he is more welcoming than intimidating during office hours.
DeNero also happens to be the professor that literally threw his Stanford shorts into the bonfire before the 2017 Big Game — so you know he’s dedicated to UC Berkeley.
When it comes to UC Berkeley experiences, DeNero’s class is certainly not one to miss.
Best Female Athlete
Cal women’s swim team has been among the cream of the crop the last several seasons, and a good portion of that clout in the swimming world can be attributed to the dominance of Kathleen Baker.
The Olympian continued to build on her stellar career at Cal this season, leading the Bears to a second-place finish at the NCAA Championships in March. At the biggest stage of the season, Baker claimed an American record in the 200-yard backstroke with a blistering time of 1:47.30, besting the time of Cal alumna Elizabeth Pelton.
That event wouldn’t be the only time Baker etched her name into the history books, as she set a program-best mark in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:51.25 and was a leg in the record-setting 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay. Last season’s CSCAA Swimmer of the Year has dominated in the pool from the jump with no signs of slowing down in 2018 and beyond.
UC Hogwarts - The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The Harry Potter DeCal says "Avada Kedavra" to career-focused DeCals and "Lumos" to DeCals aimed at spreading the joy of pop culture and fandom.
Want to play Quidditch, but scared of the notoriously buff Cal Quidditch team? The Harry Potter DeCal lets you fly on brooms without the fear of being hit by both a quidditch player and a bludger, replacing that with just the fear of being hit by a bludger. Students walk into the class as muggles and transform into wand-wielding badasses.
Rather than merely taking the class for a "pass" grade, students compete for prefect of their respective houses. They become wand curators and explore the academia surrounding the ever-popular seven-part series. Aside from reading the books — rereading for many — students have the opportunity to live out their live-action role-play dreams and get as close to attending Hogwarts as they possibly can.
After taking the Harry Potter DeCal, students will no longer read the Berkeley seal as "Fiat Lux," but as "Lumos Maxima."
Best Secret Shortcut on Campus
The little bridge over Strawberry Creek near Haviland Hall (Bayard Rustin Way)
It’s 1 p.m., and you’ve just gotten out of your chemistry lab in Latimer Hall. Next on your agenda is your research meeting in Wellman Hall — also at 1 p.m. You walk at a breakneck pace to try and minimize your tardiness, and rather than overshoot by circling over toward the main bridge near the Valley Life Sciences Building, you shave off two minutes by cutting toward the picturesque little bridge near Haviland Hall.
Of course, you might lose out on that two minutes anyway — the charming shortcut is one of campus’s prettiest spots, and you might just find yourself walking a little slower, admiring one of the less-polluted sections along Strawberry Creek, close to where the North Fork and South Fork finally intersect. As you take a moment to admire the way the light peeks through the shady trees to brighten up pockets of the creek, a hurried science professor bustles past you, offering up a polite smile and maybe a small wave, if they aren’t carrying a large leather accordion folder filled with notes.
You make it to your meeting by 1:06 p.m. You could’ve gotten there quicker, you think, had that shortcut not been so darn pretty.
Doe Memorial Library
If you spend enough time at UC Berkeley, you may grow tired of "That Library Doe" jokes, but chances are, you’ll never get tired of Doe Memorial Library itself. The building’s neoclassical facade exudes a sense of splendor, its proud columns and giant doorway reminding anyone and everyone sitting on Memorial Glade of the impressiveness of this campus.
But the beauty of Doe Library only begins at its exterior. What’s inside is even more breathtaking — the quiet dignity of Morrison Library, the sunbathed desks of the North Reading Room, the elaborate ceilings of the Heyns Reading Room, the centuries of history contained in the exhibit galleries and the newspaper archives, the elegant marble of the staircase. Even the entryway leading into Main Stacks, built decades after the rest of this noble library, is stunning.
When Benjamin Ide Wheeler, upon assuming the role of president of the university, said, "Give me a library, and I’ll build a university about it," there’s no way he could have envisioned a library as awesome as Doe — or, for that matter, a campus as kick-ass as UC Berkeley.
Best Animals That Come to Campus
De-stress with Dogs
There are but a few sources of light in this dark, distressing world. De-stress with Dogs is one of them. Come by Sproul Plaza any weekday to be bombarded with doggie licks and to chat shyly with their incredibly nice owners. Sure, llamas are great, but reliability always wins out — can you even name one of the llamas?
Paws down, Destress with Dogs brings the best furry friends to campus. Where else can you go right before a midterm and wrap your arms around a fluffy samoyed? Physically feel your stress levels decrease as you shed a tear or two into its fur. It’s healthy!
Founded with the mission of improving mental health at UC Berkeley, De-stress with Dogs purports that animal contact decreases symptoms of stress and anxiety. Whether you’re missing your pet back home or just having a tough day, there’s always a booth on Sproul with a dog waiting for you — now that’s something to wag your tail at.
Best Place to Meet Squirrels
Ah, Berkeley’s favorite local — the squirrel.
While squirrels may or may not always be invited to sit with you or share your snack, these pesky but cute little animals will join you nonetheless.
With close proximity to Sproul Plaza and even Free Speech Movement Café — two other locations notorious for squirrel encounters — Dwinelle Plaza is the perfect place on campus to catch these furry creatures running around, climbing on benches and trying to grab a crumb or two.
If you’re not in a sharing mood, make sure to keep your backpack zipped up and food stored away while sitting in the plaza, as the squirrels will otherwise go straight for what’s in easy access.
Don’t underestimate the power of the squirrel. While some say this is a man’s world, these little beings on Dwinelle Plaza show us that it’s truly a squirrel’s world.