Description of a fun day trip from Sacramento to the 4th Street Shopping District in Berkeley, CA.
Several friends were making a day trip to the 4th Street Shopping District in Berkeley on a recent Saturday and asked if I would like to join them. It was going to be another triple-digit day in Sacramento – so heading to the San Francisco Bay Area sounded good to me.
We decided to take the scenic route through the Delta on our way to Berkeley. It was a beautiful sunny day. We enjoyed driving along the river, and seeing the pear orchards and the homes along River Road, etc. Then we came upon a detour!
The detour turnoff was at same turnoff that leads to the Bogle Winery. If you are familiar with the road you know that it is a VERY narrow levee road. The detour took us quite a bit out of our way, but we eventually were returned to River Road and we were on our way once again.
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When we arrived at 4th Street (just off I-80/I-580) we were all quite hungry. Having lunch was the first thing on our agenda. We parked in the parking lot across from Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto. I was trying to remember when I had last eaten at Spenger’s – but the best I could come up with was “a long, long time ago”. Note: I remember hearing some years ago that the long-time family-owned Spenger’s had been sold. Spenger’s is now part of the McCormick & Schmicks Family of Restaurants.
The 4th Street Shopping District in Berkeley is full of a variety of eating establishments. In short order we settled on Zut! Tavern for lunch, and we were seated without delay.
One friend ordered a starter – Crispy Brussels Sprouts (lemon, grana padano) ($12). It was passed around so everyone could take a taste. She also ordered the Pan Seared Atlantic Salmon (corn, bacon lardons, borlotti beans, heirloom cherry tomatoes, wild mushrooms, basil) ($26). Another friend ordered the Caesar Salad with Chicken ($17), and one friend opted to go the breakfast route and ordered the French Toast (challah, huckleberry, maple syrup, whipped cream) ($12). I decided to order the Zut! Tavern Burger & Garlic Fries (U.S. kobe & grass-fed natural angus beef, aioli) ($16) after seeing it served to several other patrons.
Everyone liked the Brussels sprouts, and the salmon was enjoyed as was the French toast. My burger was good but not exceptional. I might have enjoyed it even more if I had added cheese and/or bacon. The smell of garlic from the fries was strong – but that did not translate to the taste. The big disappointment was the Caesar Salad – it was described as “tasteless” and most of it was left uneaten. My friend speculated that perhaps the garlic in his salad had instead ended up in my garlic fries.
Our male companion decided to forgo making the rounds of the shops and instead decided to wait for us at the Zut! Tavern bar. When we rejoined him later that afternoon he told us that as he was still hungry he had ordered a Margherita Pizza (tomato sauce, fior de latte, basil) ($17) at the bar – and that it was also a disappointment. The crust was said to be “ok” – but the sauce tasted to him as if it came out of a can.
4th Street Shopping District in Berkeley
The 4th Street Shopping District in Berkeley is full of small boutique shops and some larger well-known names like Sur La Table, Crate & Barrel (Outlet) and Peet’s Coffee. The three of us wandered down the street – stopping to check out those shops that interested us.
Two of my friends had some specific items they were shopping for – while I was just along to enjoy the sights and atmosphere. The 4th Street Shopping District has something for everyone. Many of the shops are high end – and offer home décor, interior design and furniture among other things. The small shops offer an eclectic variety of goods. Castle in the Air is a good example. Castle in the Air carries fountain pens and ink, handmade paper, wax seals, cards, crepe paper flowers, kits to make crepe paper flowers and other crafts, and books (magic spells anyone?) to name a few.
The 4th Street Shopping District in Berkeley is also a great place to people watch. As we walked up the street and then down the other side we encountered cats up for adoption, and passed by a jazz band entertaining the shoppers. The shops all seemed to be dog-friendly as well. There were dogs everywhere – on the street and in the shops – and many businesses had bowls of water set out for four-legged companions.
It was late afternoon when we left Berkeley, and we took the direct route home. When we arrived in Sacramento and got out of the car it was HOT. As a result we appreciated even more spending a most pleasant day in Berkeley where the temperature was very comfortable with a light breeze.
Comments on the 4th Street Shopping District in Berkeley or Zut! Tavern?
When was the last time you were at Spenger’s? Pre-or Post new ownership? Any particular shops and/or restaurants in the 4th Street Shopping District in Berkeley that are among your favorites?
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