Berkeley was one day on a fourteen day vacation visiting friends around California.
And it was one of my favorite days. Because it included small downtown life walking and exploring with friends.
Some days don’t go as planned in travel. This day had been such. I had Monterey on my list of travel plans, but due to schedules and availabilities, plans changed. And changed. The day of, we had the chance to go to Monterey, but I remember feeling so lazy and tired that day haha. And I’ve learned to not force things. Especially in travel. Enjoy the moment. Miki was super great and looking up places for us to go that were closer than Monterey to us. I remember being unconcerned with what we did that day. Even giving her final decision. She had found a festival in Berkeley and decided we could try that.
The festival was small, but the chance to explore this town by foot made some of my favorite memories of my whole vacation. I’ll fall for any small downtown city life, that comes with lots of locals who’s lifestyle is walking, and where the chances on stumbling onto a gem, are countless and often. I love everything about downtowns. And when I get the chance, I try to take on that lifestyle for a few months at a time. I would add Berkeley to that list if I had ever had the chance to study there.
The festival was cute, and entertained us for 10 minutes with live music. Then we moved on and stumbled on some vintage global stores. Berkeley was soon obvious to be all about a hippie style.
My friend Mallory had heard of a popular market that was set up on the other side of Berkeley so we got directions from someone on the street and walked the fifteen minutes to get there. It’s was an outdoor market that had booths with handmade arts set up along the street, all in hippie style with crocheted hats and handmade earrings, and such.
Along the road were tons of cute bookstores and vintage shops.
We even stumbled on an Asian bakery and made a spontaneous decision to stock up on egg tarts and pastries. Egg tarts have been a recent obsession of “must try” as I’ve been into Korean shows, and they had come up a lot in the last month. I developed a craving for them, though I had never tried, simply because I could imagine what they tasted like and seemed so culturally popular on the other side of the globe. Food is a great way to experience another culture when you haven’t had the opportunity to make it that far yet. And these egg tarts were nothing to disappoint, if anything, they confirmed the fact that Asia is a place I need to make it to, soon.
But California is a great place to get a taste of Asian culture, as I discovered the large scope of influence, even in our next stop, which was mostly directed to my recent insomnia and dependence on caffeine.
So on the way to Cheese Board Pizza, a place on me and Mallory’s list every time I visit, but never make it to, we stopped at Asha Tea House. I basically just looked up some local coffee places in the area on Maps. I try to go to places with a good reputation and good atmosphere, which from Yelp, this place had. And it definitely did. The spot was so classic and appealing visually.
I got a Hong Kong iced coffee: iced coffee with condensed milk. As anything with condensed milk, it was delicious. And as with most coffee, it was totally efficient in waking me up for our last venture as we wandered into the gourmet ghetto. After all this time and finally making it to the Cheese Board, they were closed, so check their hours before you go, but I wasn’t left disappointed as it meant an unplanned dinner at Grégoire.
Grégoire is a hole in the wall kitchen done well. Lots of great presentation, French inspired menu, indoor kitchen, and outdoor seating. All done right.
Especially the garlic and parsley crispy potato puffs: deep fried mashed potato puffs. They are famous for their potato puffs.
It is also worth noting that everything is offered as take out and the menu rotates monthly.
Grégoire was the perfect end to our experience in Berkeley, especially as a foodie experience. I totally recommend it, and to find your own adventure there.