Yep, here we go again. Save the date on your calendar, here comes Art Basel Hong Kong right around the corner. Art Basel has a pretty good spread across the globe at this point, of course the annual in Basel Switzerland itself, the somewhat iconic although over rated Art Basel in Miami for all of […]
As the tech boom envelops San Francisco, raising rents to levels that only Apple and Google employees can reasonably afford (although in 2016 rents did fall a bit, but still astronomical) its native population swells outward — a tidal wave that crashes over the surrounding cities. Suddenly Vallejo—where I was told once told by a government employee that, due to the city’s bankruptcy, police would only come if you “call and say you’re actively being murdered”—is the place where semi-successful 20-somethings buy their starter homes.
Interestingly, Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto — an eclectic neighborhood with an assortment of shops and typically incredible restaurants—has remained largely untouched. Always more gourmet than ghetto, its blocks are still lined with the same places I grew up with decades ago. Here’s Chez Panisse, Alice Waters’ world-famous restaurant that inspired the California cuisine trend. Here’s the Cheeseboard, where hundreds line up daily for a slice of the one pizza flavor on offer. There’s Saul’s Delicatessen, which has a full menu even though everyone only ever goes there for the pastrami sandwich.
Oscar’s Burgers, which traditionally marked the boundary between the Gourmet Ghetto and Downtown, has been the only giant to fall to gentrification so far. We all mourned its loss, because it was one of the city’s true landmarks to us natives, but deep down I think we all knew it was nostalgia rather than any real love for the greasy, overdone burgers that drew us there.
If you’re stopping by, I’d suggest not committing to any one restaurant (unless Chez Panisse is within your budget. In that case, commit. Immediately. You won’t regret it). Start by splitting a basket of the deep-fried mixed vegetables at Barney’s Burgers. Then head across the street to Gregoire’s for an order of potato puffs, which come with an aioli that changes daily. After that, stroll down the block to the iconic Cheeseboard. I know the line is long, but don’t worry, it moves quickly—and yes, the pizza is worth it.