7.3 out of 10

Upper North Berkeley (North Shattuck / Gourmet Ghetto)

37.8807089303455 -122.267030370198
Great for
  • Eating Out
  • Public Transport
  • Internet Access
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Gym & Fitness
Not great for
  • Parking
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists


4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5

"Chez Panisse and Restaurant Row"

The area just northwest of campus along Shattuck has been dubbed the “Gourmet Ghetto,” because of the many high-end restaurants that have flocked there to bask in the glow of Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse. Chez Panisse began it all by bringing the authentic food of Provence right to Berkeley and placing it close enough to campus where you could leave your class on Derrida and go straight there to feed your stomach now that your mind was full (at least in theory—you do need a reservation).

What you have to understand about this area is that it takes its food philosophy seriously. Berkeley is a hyper-intellectual town so you should not be surprised to find philosophers of food—true gourmands, or perhaps what we might dub, “gastrosophers”—in its upscale restaurant district. That is, in fact, what Chez Panisse and the Cheeseboard are, attempts to rethink food. And in their time, when they first opened, in the late Sixties, they were truly paradigm shifting. Now, of course, we are no longer quite so wowed by their contributions, but that is just because success breeds imitation. That said, this is still the place to go in Berkeley if you want to experience dining as it should be.

The Cheeseboard is cheese taken to degree zero. This may sound cheesy, and indeed it is, but it’s an education in cheese and well worth it. Cheeseboard pizza is not really to my taste, but many people swear by it and is worth trying at least once if you live in the area. Of course, these are not the only restaurants and eateries you can find along gourmet row, you can also have Indian somosas, Mexican enchiladas, Thai chicken satay, Sicilian pizza or even a New York style Jewish deli sandwich. It’s all there for you as long as you have the money. But plan ahead because many of these restaurants require reservations (sometimes months in advance as in the case of Chez Panisse).

It’s not all about food here, however. If you go a bit farther up Shattuck or onto some of the adjacent street you can also find eclectic clothing stores like Earthly Goods or Molly b’s, as well as shoes and jewelry. The neighborhood north of campus also tends to be an older demographic than the student districts south of campus, so you get a healthy smattering of children’s clothing stores as well—such as Pickles and Ice Cream, and Tadpoles and Frogs, just to name a pair.

The area used to be home to one of the great Berkeley bookstores, Black Oak books, where you could get really good used books and where authors regularly came to speak. But Black Oak has moved to San Pablo Avenue, a victim to diminishing sales, perhaps.

Rents in this area are a bit of a mixed bag. Many one bedroom apartments in Seventies style buildings can be as low as $1,000/mon. while some of the newer buildings can run to twice or three times that much. The prime location means that right at the end of summer many of these locations come open as students’ leases come to an end, but it also means that competition for the better apartments with the more reasonable can be intense. If you plan to rent here try to get into the game early in this summer. Often a good way of snagging one of these is to get a sublet whose lease an occupant doesn’t plan on renewing.

Crime in the area is relatively low and mostly involves theft. The streets are relatively quiet with fewer homeless and most of the alcohol related disturbances remaining in other areas of the city.

Overall, there are a nice mix of older Victorians and newer, modernist looking newer apartments in the style that you see now commonly popping up throughout the East Bay—apartments with adobe fronts in pastel type colors. There are also a fair number of homes, a small theater company catering mostly to children, and a lovely park. It is relatively quiet in the residential sections for a neighborhood so close to campus.
  • World Class Restaurants
  • Leafy Streets
  • Diverse Population
  • Busy
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • LGBT+
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish

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"Gregoire, Panisse, a Taste of the Himalayas and Much More"
37.8798593502655 -122.269333094594

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