PICNIC IN BERKELEY
- PorktoPurslane May 8, 2009 02:45 PM
I plan to take full advantage of the gorgeous 70 degree weather we're currently experiencing.
I would love to head to the East Bay tomorrow (Saturday) for a picnic in a beautiful, serene area/park. Unfortunately, I have yet to do much exploring of Berkeley or Oakland and need guidance.
1 - What is the best place to pick up picnic supplies (we eat and drink everything)?
2 - Where is the best place to sit outside and enjoy a leisurely lunch, glass of wine, and a good book?
Okay, that question is way too broad, so let's narrow it down a little. You said "head over to the East Bay" -- where are you coming from? Are you driving?
That said, my first thought was to stop in the Gourmet Ghetto (Cheeseboard, etc.), and go to Live Oak Park. But that might be a little less serene than you're looking for, especially on a sunny Saturday.
So my second thought was to stop at the Grand Lake farmers' market and pick up some stuff (among other things there's a RoliRoti truck) -- there's also a TJ's a block away. Then head up to Redwood Park -- my favorite "serene" spot would be the "back" side of the park, entering at Redwood Gate. The orchard might even be in bloom.
Acme for bread.
For wine, Kermit next door (look in the bargain bin) or Spanish Table a few blocks down the street (has chilled whites & roses), they also have great almonds.
Berkeley farmers market for fruit, Fatted Calf cold cuts, maybe Phoenix olive bread, other goodies.
Cheese Board for cheese and the best olives around.
Tilden's the best place for a picnic when the weather's nice. Lots of sites. The Meadow Playfields are nice if there's not an event there.
1814 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702
1601 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702
Berkeley Saturday Farmers' Market
Center St and Milvia St, Berkeley, CA
Cheese Board Pizza
1512 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709
re: Robert Lauriston
Thank you so much. I just did research on Tilden - sounds fanastic. Also sounds huge.
I LOVE Fatted Calf and Acme....but get them all of the time. Is there anything amazing that is unique to Berkeley that I can't get in SF? If not, I'm totally game for more pate and levain from the usuals!
The Phoenix Pastificio olive bread at the farmers' market is unique but tends to overpower anything you eat with it.
Most of Spanish Table's sausages are domestic and not great. The imported stuff is great. Excellent white anchovies in the fridge.
You might check out Indus Foods a block away. Lots of interesting goodies from muslim countries all over the world. Zergut hot ajvar is a good picnic item.
The Cheese Board is better (and cheaper) than any SF cheese shop and has the best olives I've found in Northern California.
Country Cheese is cheaper but nothing special, just like the one in SF.
Strawberry Creek Park next to Cafe Zeste and Phoenix Pastifico. If lucky, you can get their olive bread still hot from the oven and Cafe Zeste often has live music outside on Saturdays which you can hear from the park.
Or go over the the Berkeley Marina and find a spot while watching windsurfers or kiyackers.
Definately Cheeseboard is a unique stop. Go over to Cafe Rouge for cold cuts. I can verify the ham is excellent. The Pasta Shop next door has lots of salads and other deli items. Go over to Bette's to go and pick up some supplies. There is also a wine shop in that area.
Here's the route ...
Exit on Asby Avenue. Go to the Berkeley Saturday Morning Farmers Market for fruit.
Drive over to Shattuck and get some cheese from Cheeseboard. Get a slice of pizza to keep you going.
Stop at Gregoire for sandwiches.
Drive back to University and stop by Ledger's Liquors for some beer. You could always make a pit stop at Chocolatier Blue, but you'd have to eat those immediately if it was hot. The one with the celary and the caramel apple are highly recommended.
From Ledger's drive down to University to Fourth St. Check out Betty's, Cafe Rouge, the wine shop, the Pasta Shop. Maybe a sip of tea at Teance. Maybe get a scoop of Sketch ice cream to cool off.
If you want cheapo beer and wine go under the freeway on Fourth and stop by Grocery Outlet.
Get back on University and continue on to the Marina and pick your spot.
If you have a dog, then Point Isabel is the place to go. There's even a swell coffee joint there
Then after a day of relaxing, you might consider dinner at Sea Salt. They have a lovely outdoor patio.
Ledger's is one of the best places in the Bay Area for Belgian and Belgian-style beers.
Strawberry Creek Park is a bum hangout.
Ashby's usually backed up with traffic. Emeryville Powell St. exit > Powell > Stanford > Adeline > MLK is a more pleasant route to the farmers market.
Though if you're going to Fourth St. or Spanish Table you want to take the University exit, keep to the right, and take the first right after you go under the overpass.
re: Robert Lauriston
A little late for the OP, but every single city park is a bum hangout during the evening. Every time I have been there (and I frequent that area a lot because I like that Phoenix Pastifico bread hot from the oven), it has been a lovely park with children and dogs romping on the grass. There was a wedding once in the park on one Saturday. Personally, I prefer the Marina, but it is a pleasant little park everytime I visited and better than some of the others mentioned in this thread.
BTW, if you find yourself on Piedmont on Sunday, there is a Gregoire there as well.
Genova Delicatessen & Ravioli
5095 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609
All good suggestions already.
Another option if coming from SF, take Hwy 24 to 51st St to Bakesale Betty for fried chicken sandwiches (or salad), baked goods and lemonade. if you do it Sunday, could also hit the Claremont DMV farmer's market.
Gregoire for sandwiches in Gourmet Ghetto would be nice as well.
If you want to do Oakland.
I would go to Bakesale Betty's,Genova Deli and or Market Hall for your edibles.
Then head up to Joaquin Miller Park or Redwood Regional.
Just as good as Tilden,if not better...with less people and better views and less chance of a fog rolling in later in the day.
Todays weather in Oakland was a perfect!
If you do Oakland on Sunday, I suggest going to the Temescal neighborhood and hitting up Genova Delicatessen (get the zucchini torta, yes, really), Bakesale Betty's, and the farmer's market just up the street. These places are within a couple of blocks of each other just off the 51st Ave. exit from 980 (from the bridge, follow the signs toward Walnut Creek).
The whole East Bay Regional park system is a treasure -- you could spend years exploring the extensive system. Redwood, which I mentioned above, is my favorite for picnics.
Genova Delicatessen & Ravioli
5095 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609
Temescal Farmers' Market
5300 Claremont Avenue, Oakland, CA
If you go to the Grand Lake Farmers' Market in Oakland (just off the 580 and very excellent), you might also stop by Arizmendi, which is similar to the Cheeseboard, and on Lakeshore Ave. You could also check to see if ThreeStoneHearth, a community supported kitchen, is open and pick up a few of their goodies. All of the parks suggested are great for your needs, as might be the Oakland Rose Garden or some of the very small but charming parks in the town of Piedmont - both walkable from the farmers' market. There's also waterfront areas along the estuary or the Berkeley Marina, if you want sea-level. All that said, if I had to pick, I'd say the lawn by Lake Anza in TIlden Park. Just watch out for frisbees and the occassional goose-dropping. Oh, one other lovely option near the farmers' market: rent a canoe or take a gondola ride on Lake Merritt and eat your picnic in floating bliss.
One more thought since you mentioned playing: if you're into kite flying, Cesar Chavez Park, in Berkeley just north of the marina itself, cannot be beat.
Ah, and a correction: Arizmendi in a great bakery co-op with superb pizza (and other good stuff) like Cheeseboard, but no cheese. There are purveyors at the farmers' market and there's the nearby TJ's or, on nearby Piedmont Ave, the Piedmont Grocery has a great cheese and prepared-food selection and/or you could check out the little market just nextdoor to it, and/or the many fine eateries within a block or two on Piedmont Ave.. Lake Chabot is also a nice area for the picnic itself, and you might catch a paddle boat.
Correct on the Arizmendi is not a cheese shop advice. To clarify the others: cheese offerings are limited at the farmer's market and going downhill at Piedmont Grocery. Still much better than Safeway, but the variety is down. Still has Humboldt Fog and a few Cowgirl items, but after that it's not so special. Lots of European hard cheeses, nothing very unusual. Definitely not saying it's bad, but I'd go to Cheeseboard or Pasta Shop for cheese if I were making an outing of it. Piedmont Grocery is best when you want everything in one place--an outstanding wine selection, solid cheese selection, very good bread selection, solid produce, etc.
My Oakland picnic itinerary, assuming you save Oakland for Sunday:
1)Temescal Farmers Market for Lucero strawberries and/or stone fruit from Blossom Bluff if in season, bread from Feel Good, and a couple of jars of Blue Chair preserves to take home
2)Market Hall/Pasta Shop for cheese and charcuterie/salumi, maybe some prepared salads
3)Wine Mine for good wine at a great price
4)Lake Temescal because it's pretty, has shade, and is convenient
Thank you for all of the AMAZING recommendations - I see a lot of East Bay picnics in my future.
That Saturday we ended up following this itinerary:
Berkeley Farmer's Market - sipped iced coffees from Blue Bottle while picking up picnic wares like Phoenix olive bread (wonderful, though I prefer cured black olives in my olive bread), Fatted Calf salumi, tender raw fava beans, very sweet sugar snap peas, spicy radishes, fresh dates, and first of the season cherries. It was a beautiful market, and far less chaotic than my weekly trip to the Ferry Market.
Cheeseboard - We chose to go to Cheeseboard simply b/c it was on the way to Tilden. The line wasn't too bad, and they passed out free hot pizza to everyone waiting. We picked up a round of Mt. Tam (b/c it was spreadable and could affectively cut the spice of radish).
Off to the lake by Tilden park. We found a quiet, secluded spot (hard to do), and sat for hours, munching and reading, talking and munching. I couldn't have imagined a better day.
I'm looking forward to trying all of the other ideas Chowhounders posted!