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Jan 15, 2001 11:18 AM

A trip to a chowhound church, the Berkeley Bowl

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Good day hounds,

I know I'm never shy about tossing the Bowl props, but I often do in responding to a fellow hounds quest for special foodstuffs. I need to drop a brief post for the Bowl in general.

Like the rest of you I often find myself searching for something seasonal or exotic for my home kitchen. The Bowl has been the happy ending to many of these searches. Meyer lemons, found. Lobster mushrooms, found. Mr. Esspresso whole bean coffee, found. I could go one for a while, but you get my point. I have also found the Holy Grail of other hounds at the Bowl. Matutakes, found. On stalk brussle sprouts, ditto.

The quality of the products also needs mention. They have the biggest selection of Niman Ranch Meats I've found. Dry aged steak anyone? Just last week I got the best Minneola tangelos I have ever had, rock hard (mucho fresh!) stem and leaves still intact.

I'll ramble no further right now...but I beg you all to follow. Drop a brief post with your best find or story involving the Bowl. Our world will be a tastier place.


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  1. I'm always happy to extol the Bowl, my favorite food shopping place in the world; unfortunately, I'm an expat living out of state noe, and can only dream about it.

    Some of my favorite things about the Bowl, beyond the prices and sheer variety: I always liked that they have not just the standard mesclun mix, but also "straight" mesclun, i.e., without frisee or radicchio, plus baby spinach, baby crss, baby arugula, etc., and it's all the same price, so you can throw whatever you want into your bag. I like how they have inexpensive prices on several sizes of button mushrooms that they pre-bag just that morning. I love the selection of bulk foods, including pasta, and that they provide long, skinny plastic bags for the double long linguine, etc. Great tofu selection. I love the way the produce section smells, so fresh and earthy, with no underlying moldy smells or chemical cleanser smells. It's the perfect place to go and just see what looks good before you decide to cook.

    It's especially nice if you can shop the moment they open, when all is pristine and it's not too hectic.

    Yes, I worship at the church of Berkeley Bowl, even and especially from 3000 miles away.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Caitlin
      Barry Kaufman

      I've been shopping at the Bowl since the day it opened. The only store I can compare it too is Fairview Foods on the upper West side of Manhatten. I was there the day before the NY "subway world series". If the Berkeley Bowl is the church of chowhounds, than I would have to say that Fairview Foods is the Mecca.

      1. re: Barry Kaufman

        " Fairview Foods on the upper West side of Manhatten."'s Fairway!

        1. re: magnolia
          Barry Kaufman

          you're right - Fairway -----

    2. I agree! Even though I moved to Lafayette I still shop @ the Bowl. Definitely worth the schlep. It's on my "must see" list for all out of town visitors (although I'm not sure they understand why it is up there with visits to Golden Gate Bridge, Wine Country, etc.) My only complaint about the Bowl in the past was lack of parking and aisles too narrow for 2 carts to pass but their new location solves both.
      You cannot be a cooking Chowhound w/o a pilgrimage to the Bowl.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Jennifer
        Brandon Nelson

        Ahhh... the old location....

        Didn't that place (now "Any Mountain") have something in the neighborhood of 10 parking spaces?

        To be honest, I never had a problem parking at the old site, somehow I always got a space. Now I often find myself parking on the street somewhere.

        I sometime miss that old sight. Had such a delightful seedy quality to it.


      2. I was there yesterday. I was delighted to find a few unripe organic tomatoes amongst the ripe ones. Get it? Red tomatoes that are green. This afternoon, I can make fried green tomatoes! Maybe my timing has been off or I haven't looked in the right places, but the only green tomatoes I've seen lately are varieties that were meant to be green which are not suitable for real fried green tomatoes. Hurray for the Bowl!