Thursday, January 27, 2011

A VERY Special Place

Two weeks ago, on  Saturday, Craig and I drove 61 miles to our favorite grocery store.  

A grocery store unlike any we have ever experienced before. 

 A grocery store that is like Whole Foods on steroids!

What Quartzside is to RVers, Berkeley Bowl is to Foodies! 

(Except I understand that some of the things for sale in Quartzside are not exactly the best.)

 If you ever come to the San Francisco Bay area, go see the Golden Gate, eat in China Town, visit the corner of  Height and Ashbury, then go across the bay to Berkeley, and see this phenomenal store.

Note: there is no place to park an RV.  But you can park your car or truck in the parking lot or on the street.

You may be wondering, what can be so exciting about a grocery store?

All I can do is share a few pictures:
More than 25 kinds of apples

                      SOME of the Melons. 
 Notice the entire back wall area is varieties of oranges and tangerines.


Bananas:  Perfectly ripe, or very green.  
The Organic ones were in a different part of the store.

Part of the pepper selection. 
AND   The prices are less than a regular store's!

These are all mushrooms!  
We were disappointed to find the Morel bin empty, But we did get some dried. 

In the tropical  fruit area there were the usual than pineapple, mangos and papayas of many different varieties, and many exotic fruits that you don't usually see at Safeway. 
 I've written about the Dragon Fruit and Chimoya we bought that day. 

The fruit in the picture above is called a Buddha's Hand.  
According to the web it is  not for eating, but is used for decor and fragrance.

In some stores you might find a sad little box of fruit or vegetables that are a bit to old to sell at full price, but not quite ready for the trash bin. 

 At the Berkeley Bowl there is a large stand full of bags of ripe, but still very nice produce.  There was a crowd around it filling their baskets with bargains.  The bald guy in the back looks like a University Professor to me!

The above pictures are only a small part of the produce section of the store.  There are huge selections of salad greens, potatoes, root vegetables, herbs, and of course a large Organic selection.  

Many stores are offering  Bulk  foods these days.
 This is one side of the Bulk Foods area,

This is the other.

You will have to come yourselves to discover the rest of the store.  Meats, seafood, deli, cheeses, breads, and even mundane things like canned goods and laundry supplies.

For us it's worth the 122 mile round trip. 

Not every week.   But worth the drive every couple of months.  It's one place we will miss when we leave this part of the country that for sure!

Was (or still is) there a special store in your home town?


  1. there is a coop in Coroboro (sp?) North Carolina that we love to visit when we are in the Raleigh area.. we usually buy some cheese bread and maybe some olives or such and a bottle of wine. They will open the wine and give you two glasses that you can then go out front under the trees and sit at a table and enjoy your wine and snacks...

  2. Wow! I'd love shopping there, too. Don't have anything to compare. :)

  3. Too bad it's too far away. Looks like a great place. I love fresh produce and healthy food at great prices!

  4. looks like a great store!..happy grocery shopping!!!1

  5. that looks fabulous!

    one of the fun things about traveling for me is looking in all the different grocery stores around the country, but after shopping at that place, I'm afraid you may be a bit disappointed!!!

    better stock up on what you can before you head out!

  6. Wow! That is some grocery store - where to start!!

  7. Right, another 'must explore' on m list. Meantime your photos make me hungry.

  8. I'm sooooooooooooooooooooo jealous!

  9. Hi Merikay,

    I work at a restaurant that recently preserved buddha's hand, like a preserved meyer lemon, and served it as a garnish on a sweet sorbet. it was delicious!

    growing up in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, my mom would buy many spices in bulk from a local co-op, and get all of our milk, butter and cheese from the local creamery, both of which closed while I was an adolescent (80s-90s). there is still one small cheese shop in that town that is making a go of it, but it is nothing like getting milk from the creamery.

    berkeley bowl is definitely on my must-see list!

  10. Wow! I've never seen a grocery store that looks anything like that!! I would love to shop there too!!

  11. That is some beautiful produce. I would want to fill my basket, and when I got home, I wouldn't have room in the fridge.

  12. Weird world, Merikay. Two different people have now told me about this place in the last month, but I'd never heard of it in the previous 20+ years.

    Will have to get there someday! Thanks!

  13. Wow! That's totally worth the hour drive. There's a grocery store back in NYC that had a MASSIVE cheese section. It was tons of fun to visit, and we always ended up picking a new cheese to bring back and try.

  14. Maybe next time I go that way, I may try it out. My son Ted has been there. He also likes the Rainbow Market in San Francisco.

  15. That looks awesome! I could spend hours in that store. I had rather shop for food than shoes or clothes any day! I was reading about a program called Harvest Hosts which is a program where RV'ers can park overnight at over 200 vineyards and farms around the country, for free. (Memebership is like $30 a year.) I think that would be fun. I love buying from small farmers.

  16. That is an amazing store. Now I am wishing we had gone that direction. I am hungry just looking at the photos. I love mushrooms, having all those varieties would be heaven.

  17. Hangar One Buddha’s Hand Citron vodka is one of the very nicest ways I have seen this exotic citrus put to use (they also do a fine Kaffir Lime ;-) and their tasting room and distillery could work into a trip to the Berkeley Bowl since they are over at the Alameda Naval Air station and parking CAN accommodate larger well as provide a perfect view of the Bay and SF on a nice day.
    Nice post and pictures - this market has been a fixture in the Bay Area as long as I can remember, although even as someone born in the East Bay it still is on my "should visit" list.


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