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West Berkeley is for artists, gardeners, bargain hunters.

West Berkeley is for artists, gardeners, bargain hunters In Berkeley's version of the perennial town-versus-gown rivalry, the area west of San Pablo Avenue has always waved the town banner most enthusiastically. The town actually took root here, under the name of Ocean View, 20 years before the University of California opened in 1873. From the beginning, West Berkeley has maintained an industrial identity that's acted as a gritty counterweight to Berkeley's more ethereal leanings.

Before the last 10 years or so, there wasn't much to attract outsiders to the area. But amid the faceless factories and warehouses now are intriguing and unusual shops, restaurants, and artistic ventures--if you know where to look. Our map identifies four clusters of such attractions. One area--Fourth Street--stands out for its remarkable concentration of places selling goods for the home and garden, making it a rewarding destination for the homeowner flush with enthusiasm for home improvement. The others are worth shorter stops: bargain hunters can rummage through clothes and other discounted goods at a number of factory outlets; and you can even take in a play, or see bronze sculpture being cast. In each area, cozy cafes or first-rate restaurants give you places to rest from your explorations.

Furnishings for indoors and out

Fourth Street Center, a small-scale development north of Hearst Avenue begun in 1978, has become a mecca for homeowners seeking tastefully innovative furnishings. It houses stores specializing in brass fixtures for every room, light fixtures of all shapes and sizes, window frames, imported linens, and futons.

The Gardener, in the center at 1836 Fourth, offers a particularly appealing environment for browsing through unusual furniture, tableware, decorative items, and, yes, garden tools and books. Across the street at 1817, Builders Booksource is a trove of information for do-it-yourselfers and those with more conceptual interests in architecture and design.

Other interesting stores in Fourth Street Center include Elica's Papers, where you can buy exquisite handmade Japanese paper; Plate & Pallette, filled with folk art and functional objects from more than 50 countries; and Hearthsong, which sells toys that encourage creativity. At Carolyn Clements, which sells men's and women's clothing, you won't find many bargains, but you won't find its hand-loomed sweaters and other casually elegant items in department stores, either.

Just north of Fourth Street Center, at 1785, is Crate & Barrel's only outlet store in California. It sells kitchenware, drinking glasses, and some furniture at varying discounts; most of the items are seasonally discontinued from the regular stores.

Across the street at 1716, Sweet Potatoes factory outlet sells past-season and seconds of its playful sportswear for children.

Fourth Street Grill (1820) was one of the pioneer purveyors of the artfully presented mesquite-grilled meat and fish that came to be known as California cuisine. Southwest art adorns the walls, and natural light floods the restaurant on sunny days. Reservations are recommended; call (415) 849-0526.

O Chame (1830) looks to Japan for both its culinary inspiration and interior design. For lunch, you can order Japanese-style salmon curry; the dinner menu might include river eel served on tea-flavored rice. Bento box lunches are sold from a painted cart outside.

Bette's Oceanview Diner (1807A) has its own homey style. Chrome, red vinyl, and a jukebox create a '50s atmosphere. It offers traditional American fare for breakfast and lunch, with some contemporary flourishes.

Finds near 10th and Gilman

Pots, Wellingtons, Japanese shears, and English forks and spades are arrayed under the high rafters of the former Canada Dry bottling plant's northeast corner, where Smith & Hawken, the Mill Valley-based garden supply company, recently opened its biggest and best-stocked store yet. Many of the items fetch full retail price, though overstocked clothing is sold at the Berkeley store for a discount.

Locally sewn children's clothing goes for discount prices at Mousefeathers' outlet store, 1001 Camelia. Another outlet store, We Bebop (1380 10th) designs and distributes batik-dyed garb and other funky women's clothing manufactured in Indonesia. It sells both seconds and overstock.

The inconspicuous doorway of the Berkeley Antique and Collectibles Mall (1370 10th) opens into a surprisingly large space filled with furniture, books and magazines, and memorabilia from the Victorian era through the 1940s, sold by 40 dealers at reasonable prices.

At Banzai Sushi, 1019 Camelia, the owner-sushi chef prepares raw fish delicacies at an intimate bar; teriyaki, donburi, udon, and soba noodles are also on the menu (closed Mondays; lunch Tuesdays through Fridays only).

Old factories and warehouses for

artworks, imports, discounted books

As in many other industrial areas, artists were among the first people to find new uses for West Berkeley's old factories and warehouses. In 8th Street Center, a former mattress factory, members of the artists' collectives EarthWorks (2547 Eighth Street) and Sawtooth Studios (2501 Eighth) fashion clay and textiles. With other businesses in the complex--including a candlemaker and importers selling Southeast Asian folk art and Swedish crystal--the studios will be open for a spring sale May 5, 6, 11, and 12.

You can flip through discounted self-help legal books at the Nolo Press bookstore, in a former clock factory on the southwest corner of Parker and Ninth streets.

Westside Bakery Cafe, 2570 Ninth Street, is open for breakfast and lunch. It's a comfortably bustling place to peruse the East Bay Express while noshing on a pastry or salami-gorgonzola sandwich.

On Heinz Avenue: art, theater, plants

Artworks Foundry, 729 Heinz Avenue, #5, bridges the gap between industry and art. Tucked away in the Berkeley Industrial Complex, it casts bronze sculptures ranging from miniature to monumental for local and international artists. Visitors are welcome to look on when the molten bronze is poured into molds, usually Wednesday mornings; call 644-2735 to confirm. The foundry also has a gallery.

Unusual and hard-to-find perennials suitable for Western gardens are the specialty at Magic Gardens nursery, 729 Heinz Avenue, which forms an oasis of greenery in the industrial complex.

Across the street at 820 Heinz Avenue, Pacific Jewish Theatre resides in a converted spice warehouse, where it performs plays pertaining to Jewish themes in an intimate 175-seat theater. Barbara Lebow's A Shayna Maidel opens June 5; call the box office at 849-0550.

Little Louie's, 800 Heinz Avenue, in the art deco-style Durkee's Building (surprisingly attractive for a one-time margarine factory), serves pastries and espresso in the morning, huge sandwiches and burgers for lunch.
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Title Annotation:Berkeley, California
Article Type:Directory
Date:May 1, 1991
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