Everyone loves a good noodle bowl, especially during the winter! The Bay Area has no shortage of good ramen and noodle places, and Toss in Berkeley is one of the best ones I’ve tried! I went recently for a lunch when I was in that part of town.
They let you choose wheat or rice noodles, then you pick your favorite sauces and the meat or vegetable to go in there, too! All of them have vegetables. It’s like a DIY noodle place and the result is fantastic.
Seating will fill up fast, especially during lunch and dinner primetime, and with a drink, it will cost approximately $20-$24, but it is sooo good! I’m hoping to get a similar noodle-type place in Walnut Creek. We already have Ramen Hiroshi on Bonanza and Kevin’s Noodle House on Main, but they are different – more like soup than Toss, which is noodles!
Toss is on Shattuck in Berkeley, so next time you crave a noodle bowl while you’re in that area, make sure you give it a shot. You won’t regret it!
What I love about the Bay Area is if you get out and explore, you will always come across some neighborhood gems. I was meeting a friend who lives in Albany to head into the city and she recommended we meet in Berekely where one car could be parked for the day. It was blocks from Nabolom Bakery on Russell St. It looked like a quaint, family-run joint and she recommended stopping to get a coffee and pastries; of course I had to give it a try and it turned out to be a very good decision!
I love supporting local businesses. I had a croissant and a cappuccino – my go-to breakfast choice. I also spied some gorgeous loaves of bread – which is my kryptonite – and passed on buying one for later as I probably would have snacked on it during our drive to and from the city!
This little bakery seems to be very popular with locals. They don’t have much pizzazz in the way of decoration, but the options are endless, and they had some very tasty-looking bakes that I didn’t get around to trying.
Nabolom’s has been around since 1976 as a collective and then closed in 2015. Luckily, in 2016, they reopened under the stewardship of Julia Elliot where they acquired the original Nabolom’s recipes. They added daily pizzas a la Julia’s Cheese Board Collective experience. They are open from 7-7 and are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so be sure to swing by on your next jaunt through Berkeley. You won’t regret it!
It’s always brewery-hunting season for some people, but the crowds really seem to pick up when Spring is in full bloom and the warm summer months approach. If a cold craft brew in the sunshine is your thing, you’ll want to see this list from TimeOut.com of the best breweries in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley.
Fort Point Beer: San Francisco
Fort Point Beer Company is known for its ales and is run by two brothers with local roots.
Novel Brewing Co.: Oakland
You can snag a book from the communal shelf at this brewery and sip on the Dust Jacket IPA in Oakland.
Cellarmaker Brewing Company: San Francisco
IPAs are beloved at Cellarmaker, and now they’ve opened a House of Pizza extension on Mission St. to complete a perfect combo.
Fieldwork Brewing Co.: Berkeley
Fieldwork now has locations in Berkeley, Napa, San Mateo, Monterey, Sacramento, and San Ramon and they produce more than 200 beers!
The Rare Barrel: Berkeley
If you like sours, this is the place to be in the East Bay. Try the kimchee dumplings at the Berkeley tasting room on weekends!
Standard Deviant Brewing: San Francisco
Sports on the TV, unique beers, and a pinball machine? What more could you ask for from a brewery? Standard Deviant delivers.
Temescal Brewing: Oakland
You’ve definitely heard of this one – and probably tried their beer! They have a cozy outdoor beer garden and features food trucks on property for your eating needs.
Ale Industries: Oakland
This is Oakland’s biggest and oldest brewery, located in the Fruitvale neighborhood. It serves seasonal beers, live music, and allows outside food.
Almanac Beer Co.: San Francisco
Like Temescal in Oakland, you’ve definitely heard of – and tried – this Mission-based brewery. Also check out their huge new brewery and taproom in Alameda!
Seven Stills: San Francisco
Seven Stills has good craft beer, but also distills liquor from their beer! They can be found in the Outer Sunset, Bayview and Mission Bay – the latter has a dog-friendly beer garden.
Kristin’s note: on top of all these, I’d add 21st Amendment’s newer brewery and tasting room in San Rafael for excellent beer and friendly service!
Was it all a dream? Or did I really stumble upon an oasis of flowers, plants, and coffee in the East Bay? Oh, I definitely did. Just North of Berkeley, in the oft-forgotten tiny town of Albany, sits the aptly-named Flowerland, which has been open for more than 70 years and is locally-owned and operated.
Flowerland offers in-house potting, deliveries, custom orders, holiday orders, and a good old-fashioned nursery. They run a gift shop, and have Highwire coffee to keep you warm and hydrated. The plants they sell are hand-picked with the Bay Area climate in mind, and they try to keep a smorgasbord of species around, including those from other continents!
I wandered in here one day after picking up a friend who lives down the street, and she said, “Let’s grab a cup of coffee at my cool neighborhood go-to place.” If you’re refurbishing your home, or planning to buy a new one, you’ll definitely want to go check out the little trinkets, decorations, and design options there. Grab a few houseplants while you’re at it – that always brightens up a dim room!
Next time you’re in the Berkeley or Albany areas and want to experience a truly magical, quaint slice of heaven, stop into Flowerland. Maybe pick up one of those cute succulents for your desk (and another, for me!), or just have a coffee and enjoy the outdoor ambiance! Either way, you won’t be disappointed.
Everyone loves going to Berkeley. Whether you’re catching a concert at the Greek Theatre, wandering around Cal’s campus, or hitting up one of the many incredible dining and drinking spots, Berkeley is the perfect mixture of private, chill, and weird in the Bay Area.
TimeOut.com has their list of 10 must-do items in Berkeley here, and it inspired my short list of how to best spend your day over there. It obviously depends on the weather, but we’ll start with some outdoor activity and go from there. What are your favorite things to do in Berkeley?
Morning: Wake up early and drive out to Tilden Park in the Oakland Hills overlooking the Bay. It’s one of the most beautiful views you’ll ever see, and you can hike around above and through Berkeley for hours without getting bored. If you’re way up by Fish Ranch Rd. and Grizzly Peak, you can keep going to Tilden Park, where you can stay busy all day.
Noon: You have to hit up the Berkeley Bowl downtown. It’s the most iconically Berkeley market there is, and you can get a super fresh meal to gorge on after your long hike.
Afternoon: Not tired of walking around outside yet, are we? Good! The Berkeley Rose Garden is a breathtaking sight, and if flowers aren’t your thing, you can cruise through the gorgeous Cal campus. Feeling like shopping? Okay, wander through downtown and check out some of the random clothing and art vendors that dot the street!
Dinner: I can’t just recommend one place. From popular local jaunts like Zachary’s pizza, to more celebrated restaurants like Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen, it’s hard to go wrong in Berkeley. Hit me up and tell me your favorite places to ea – I would love to try them.
Nightcap: You’ve earned a drink after a long day soaking up the Berkeley sun. Again, there is no shortage of libations in Berkeley, from your average dive bar to the craftiest of craft cocktail bars. Try out a place like Tupper and Reed on Shattuck and tell me it isn’t a perfect end to your night!
With this installation of Road Trips, we’re taking a bit more of a bohemian angle. Fittingly, we’ll be going just to the fringe of Berkeley, to the little town of Albany. It’s not for a park, or a theater, or anything like that. I’m actually recommending a visit to a landfill with a wild history and a ton of unique art.
In the late 1930’s, the creation of the Albany “Bulb” began. Land was leveled and moved around and pushed into the Albany peninsula for the creation of the racetrack at Golden Gate Fields. Over time, the land was protected by Save The Bay, and became somewhat of a lost project. For many years, the peninsula served as an occasional hiking and dog-walking spot, as well as being home to many local species of plants and animals.
Eventually, the Bulb became a homeless haven, with as many as 60 squatters living there before being evicted (some forcibly) by local authorities. While that population was on the Bulb, they created sculptures, and paintings, and even a makeshift library that has since been burned to the ground. But, today, it is still a sight to see: views of the Bay, art everywhere, unique traces of generations past.
For those who aren’t into the graffiti, wooden art or macabre feel (kinda feels like a scene from The Walking Dead), there is a beach nearby that dogs can be on without a leash. The Albany Bulb is a weird, exciting, confusing display of East Bay history.
You can easily spend half a day wandering its pathways and finding strange art from decades ago. Try going out there on a nice day, and you can always go back into Berkeley for a nice lunch or dinner on your way home!
Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve: a more remote, forested getaway in the Oakland hills with stunning views of the Bay in every direction!
Angel Island: 360-degree views of the Bay Area from the highest point, and just a cool getaway for some nature and history.
Alamere Falls: If you’re brave enough, you can sneak close to the edge of the 40-foot falls that drop into the ocean.
Lands End: An oldie, but a goodie – you can’t beat this classic hike, which can take you through the Sutro Baths, along the coastline, and towards breathtaking Golden Gate views.
Obviously, there are plenty of local hikes in the East Bay to explore, too. Mt. Diablo and The Open Space are always fun, as are the views from the Berkeley Hills and Grizzly Peak. If you want something easy to take a stroller or a couple dogs on, try the Lafayette Reservoir!
We are very blessed to live in an area that has temperate weather even in the winter, but the beauty of the trails (and the lack of mud!) disappears as fall converges on the summer.
It’s supposed to stick in the low 90’s for the rest of this work week, and then start the decline into the 80’s and 70’s in the weeks to come. Take advantage now before you hole up next to the fireplace for the winter!
A few weeks back, we did the Parkmead Garden Tour. I spoke to one resident who is a honeybee keeper. In addition to the Beekeeper who was there to speak, I learned a lot about honeybees.
For example, did you know that a honeybee has to travel more than 55,000 miles and has to visit about 2 million flowers just to produce one pound of honey? Or that they can fly 15 miles per hour?
Beekeeping is a hobby that seems to be picking up popularity, especially around the Bay Area. Much like composting, its attraction is that it’s a sustainable, healthy way to provide for oneself and the community around us. It’s been common knowledge for years that the bee population is quickly dying off, and their extinction would have a horrific effect on the planet’s ecosystem.
So, I also snagged some basic information on beekeeping resources around the Bay Area! If you want to learn more about the Mt. Diablo Beekeepers Association (MDBA), visit this link! If you’re interested in starting beekeeping, you can find supplies at MarElla Honey B’s in Concord, Biofuel Oasis/Urban Farm Store in Berkeley, and many others around the Bay Area.
If you’d simply like to attract more bees to your garden to help increase the population and improve your pollination, plant flowers that they like! For example, blackberries and raspberries, fireweed, lavender, oregano, rosemary and sunflower are a few that really attract heavy pollination.
Here are a few more fun facts for you to finish out our blog on honeybees:
A typical beehive makes more than 400 lbs of honey per year
A honeybee will flap its wings about 11,400 times per minute, creating the familiar “buzz” sound
Honeybees are responsible for approximately 80 percent of all fruit, vegetable and seed crops in the U.S.
So when you see a bee nearby, don’t run or swat at it, but think of the good they do and then briskly walk away!
Lately, we’ve started to see a “shift” in the Walnut Creek-area housing market. Price appreciation growth has slowed and we are now seeing more price reductions. Home price appreciation has generally declined to single-digit annual appreciation with estimates in the next year of 3-5 percent.
In the 24/680 corridor, homes are sitting on the market longer than they did in the Spring (20-26 days, as compared to 15-20 days). I am receiving 1-3 offers with a final sales price of 4 percent over the asking price on most of my listings.
The Federal Reserve Bank will not increase interest rates this month. Currently, the best mortgage interest rate for a 30-year fixed rate is approximately 3.5 percent. In the big picture, global growth concerns remain the driving force behind the long-term trend toward lower rates.
Kitty Cole, who coaches many Bay Area agents, has noticed two distinct Bay Area markets. Many of them are side by side. Check out her insights:
Some of the market (still a seller’s market) is hot, with low DOM’s, high Sales Price to List Price ratios, low inventory, no contingencies, multiple offers and buyers aplenty. This market is going on in Oakland, Berkeley and surrounding cities.
It looks similar to the last 4 1/2 years. The only thing that is quite different is the number of offers that was 10-25 a few months ago, and is now 2-6 (and occasionally higher). This market requires savvy pricing and negotiating to get your seller the highest price.
The other part of the market (a buyer’s market) has slowed with these factors in place: price reductions (up to 10 percent, and sometimes two before it brings an offer), contingent offers (contingent upon the sale of another property), high DOM’s, few offers (sometimes only one!), expired listings, cranky sellers and demanding buyers (because they can be!).
In the city, one client whose specialty is high-rise condos, literally slowed overnight and now the DOM’s for her listings are more than 30 days. Another San Francisco agent has had three listings expire in the past three months. One agent in the East Bay (Pleasant Hill) is stymied by her listings that sold within seven days and are now sitting for weeks. Many newer agents are not prepared to have the “I need a price adjustment to sell your property” conversation. In three months, it will be different … how, I don’t know, wished I had that elusive crystal ball.
Do you smell that? It must be the eclectic mix of fresh, local dishes and fancy San Francisco-transplanted restaurants that dot the little town of Walnut Creek. It’s no secret anymore: Walnut Creek has become a foodie haven.
In fact, earlier this year, Livability.com ranked Walnut Creek as the 10th-best foodie city, based on the residents preferring independent and locally-owned restaurants over fast food chains (that might explain the disappearance of McDonald’s and Taco Bell over the last few months!).
Also getting a shout-out was The Art and Wine Festival, which draws thousands of visitors every year. From highly-rated stops like Walnut Creek Yacht Club, to the neverending list of new restaurants popping up, Walnut Creek has put itself on the radar among the best food cities in the country.
Is it any wonder that Walnut Creek is getting so much attention for its culinary game when places like Teleferic, Rooftop and Slice House can all pop up within a few months in the same building? A building that is next door to long-time favorites like Tomatina and La Fogata? Just down the block from hip dessert shops like Kara’s Cupcakes and Cream?
Walnut Creek has become an extension of the nearby food meccas of Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco.
It has become the crown jewel for tourists craving good eats in the East Bay. It may not have any restaurants listed in the Yelp Top 100 nationwide, but the Bay Area has a ton.
So if you are looking to expand your epicurean tastes, check out Open Table top 10 Diners’ Choice Winners for the greater Bay Area. We are so lucky to live in this beautiful place and taste the bounty of menus it has to offer.