The owners of Honeyberry derive a sense of pride from their local-mindedness; it's why they plaster their café's walls with illustrations of Berkeley life, and infuse each of their creations with locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible. They also supply the community with tried-and-true local favorites, from frozen yogurt topped with chopped fruits and candies to crispy golden waffles. Despite all of the boosterism, the café's menu also has its international corners; gelato, bubble tea, and freshly baked roti buns all draw upon culinary traditions from far-flung cultures. These elements combine to create an experience that's both familiar and novel, like returning to your childhood home to find that it's been converted into a paintball arena.
The clatter of pots and the sizzle of bacon still remind Jennifer Walker of her grandparents—both superb cooks who inspired Jennifer to take up the spatula herself. Jennifer follows in her grandparent's footsteps at Cafe Lizzi, where she whips up Cajun-inspired cuisine from fresh, local ingredients. Early in the morning, you can spot Jennifer at the kitchen stove, frying eggs, stirring grits, and peeking into the oven to check on homemade biscuits. Come lunchtime, she turns her attention to grilling tri-tips, sizzling up hot links, and melting macaroni cheese by simply batting her eyes and blowing it a kiss. She doles out generous portions from behind a counter in the cozy seating area, where colorful red, green, and blue walls are speckled with pictures.
Family-owned Caffe Trieste’s early risers are treated to breakfast foods like quiches and bagels topped with lox. For lunch or dinner, customers choose from one of seven breads to create their own panini. They then mix-and-match meats, cheeses, and veggies—including pastrami, roasted red pepper, and cheddar—and finish off the flavor with sun-dried tomato pesto or chipotle dressing. The chefs also personalize classic Italian pasta dishes according to customers’ preferences, with five noodle options and homemade marinara or Bolognese sauce. All of which may be enjoyed over a live musical performance on Tuesdays at the Oakland location and Sunday–Tuesday and Friday–Saturday at the Berkely location.
Encorecake's bakers turn dessert into an art form. In a kitchen filled with the smells of fresh baked treats, they craft colorful cakes and cupcakes covered in fluffy frosting, in unusual flavors ranging from green tea and s'mores to jellybean and German chocolate. Ovens churn out French macaroons and warm cookies each morning, perfect for pairing with their freshly grounded coffee or Thai tea with boba. Customers can also request made-to-order 8-inch cakes layered with buttercream or chocolate, commission a customized multi-tier cake for a wedding, or project a hologram request for a 3D cake for a birthday celebration.
Although TMix’s bubble teas and smoothies have different consistencies—the former creamy; the latter a bit more icy—, both beverages are anchored by chewy spheres of tapioca. Schools of the darkened pearls swim at the bottom of each drink, playing sharks and minnows as they peek through a variety of hues. The flavor rainbow ranges from the sunny yellow of pineapple to the muted beige of almond.
The Village Cafe takes “the most important meal of the day” seriously: inside the welcoming restaurant, you can enjoy breakfast fare such as pepper-jack and chorizo omelets, croissant breakfast sandwiches, and hand-battered French toast with an optional garnish of seasonal berries. But it takes lunch just as seriously—try their BLT, build your own giant one-pound cheeseburger, or enjoy their take on the Monte Cristo sandwich, which comes with battered bread, ham, cheese, and a swordfight. Feel free to kick up your feet and stay a while—there’s free WiFi here and a TV.