The Rare Barrel. Photo: Adam Chandler/Flickr
The Rare Barrel. Photo: Adam Chandler/Flickr

We’ve spent the last year touring different neighborhoods in the East Bay looking for the best bites and sips around. Instead of dropping into the typical dining meccas — the Gourmet Ghetto, Temescal, Rockridge — we’ve taken a look at areas that are a little off the radar. One of our favorite places to eat? West Berkeley.

Don’t miss best East Bay dishes and drinks of 2016!

The neighborhoods around the western side of San Pablo, which we’ve dubbed the “Warehouse District” and the “Design Loop,” are chock-full of old manufacturing buildings, barbecue and dive bars. Wondering where to go once you’ve tired of Fourth Street? Take a look at our picks below, and read our full guides by following the links.

Berkeley Warehouse District

Chicken and waffles at 900 Grayson in Berkeley. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Start at the Sierra Nevada Torpedo Room for one of the Chico-based brewery’s special small-batch beers. If you’re on a bike, pedal across the pedestrian bridge and stop into Seabreeze for post-beer people watching. Later, grab a burger and Negro Modelo at Handlebar — chase both with a side of freshly fried tater tots. Or if you’re in the mood for Indian, head to Vik’s Chaat for a masala dosa. There’s also Thai up towards San Pablo Avenue at Anchalee Thai; regulars love the curries and fish specials. At this point, you’re probably ready for another beer, and we’d suggest stopping into The Rare Barrel tasting room for a sour. The next day, return to the neighborhood for brunch at 900 Grayson (chicken and waffles for the win). Grab some homemade pantry goods at Standard Fare. Wander around Aquatic Park before eating dinner at Riva Cucina, Spoon, or if you’ve timed it right, the Tacos el Rey taco truck.

Berkeley Design Loop

Missouri Lounge. Photo: Yelp, Inc./Flickr

This tour is all about balancing drinking and eating. Start at Lanesplitter Pizza for a slice of the “Heartstopper” and a pint of local beer. Walk next door for a shot of caffeine at Highwire — cold brew on tap and any one of its excellent teas are both good options. Grab unique groceries across the street at Middle East Market, Mi Tierra Foods and the Country Cheese market. Nearby, Acme Bar pours a mean selection of whiskeys at fairly affordable price points. (Pro-tip: Go for the flights.) Down the block, dig into a plate of spätzle at Gaumenkitzel. Sip on a glass of German beer while you’re at it. If it’s still early, stop into Quince for Mediterranean-inspired brunch fare. Or if Euro-cuisine isn’t your thing, head across to Smoke for smoked lamb barbecue or a platter of ribs. Down the street, Caffe Trieste offers another opportunity for coffee, along with live music. For those who want food with their whiskey, Longbranch Saloon serves up a mean selection of both. Embrace your carnivorous side with a fat pork chop or bone-in ribeye. End your night at the Missouri Lounge, the best dive bar/hipster hangout around. (Note: We recommend a designated driver.)

Best dishes and drinks of 2015, Part 2 (12.23.15)
Best dishes and drinks of 2015: The chefs’ picks (12.22.15)

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Kate Williams

Kate Williams has been writing about food since 2009. After spending two years developing recipes for cookbooks at America’s Test Kitchen, she moved to Berkeley and began work as a freelance writer and...