No matter what age my kid is, he always gets excited when I tell him we're going to Fourth Street in Berkeley.
When he was still in a stroller, we'd munch on tortilla chips from Tacubaya and watch the trains roar by. As a six-year-old on winter break, he wanted to camp out at The Ark Toys (now, sadly, closed), visit an old-time Santa and take in the big, colorful dangling lights.
Now 10, his big faves are Flight 001, where we both dream of our next faraway vacation while ogling the four hundred-dollar hard-sided carry-ons; the Apple Store; and pizza by the slice from Bette's to Go. (There was also the time that mom dragged him to Benefit because she absolutely, positively needed a new tube of Fling Thing lipstick, but that time doesn't count.)
There are a bunch of great shopping and eating destinations on Fourth Street, but here is where you'll find us.
Artis Coffee. Why should Peet's get all the love? This roaster and brewer just up the street offers up coffee brewed four ways for grownups, along with a kid-friendly Babycino (4 oz. of steamed milk with chocolate on top), hot chocolate, and treats from local fave Starter Bakery.
Chocolatier Bleu. Their craft chocolates are targeted at the discriminating snacker; you or I might savor the Red Grapefruit and Rosemary chocolates, but little ones are more likely to gravitate toward PB Crunch or Cookies ‘n' Cream.
The Pasta Shop. This Berkeley outpost of Rockridge's Market Hall Foods is always my first stop on Fourth Street, and a great place to stock an epic picnic basket or grab an easy lunch. They have a cold case full of freshly made salads packed to go, and their sesame almond chicken tenders and thin-crust pizzas are big with littles.
Builders Booksource. Yes, they have children's books — many from local authors — and cool cards and calendars.
Apple Store. Check out the kids' tables at the back, equipped with iPads loaded with children's apps. Patiently explain to your kid why a 10-year-old doesn't need an Apple Watch.
Convert. This awesome shoe store gives Rabat some healthy competition, with a great selection of kids' shoes from Melissa and Plae (featuring an anti-microbial insole); while their clothing shop across the street has local-themed tees, onesies and other kids' items. (Read our interview with dad-owner Randy Brewer to get his 510 family faves.)
Nixon. On-trend watches tempt grownups and bigger kids alike. Some of their flashiest timepieces are designed for surfers and even track the tides.
Sur La Table. Best cookie cutter collection in town, plus a lot of colorful accessories and ingredients.
Bette's To Go. I know how popular Bette's Ocean View Diner is next door, and for good reason: their breakfasts are epic, and the vintage atmosphere is a gas. But when I have a kid in tow and don't feel like waiting for a table, Bette's to Go is my spot. Fantastic pizzas, treats like key lime pie and cookies, and their wonderful Cuban sandwich on Acme bread never let me down.
Parking and restrooms. Fourth Street has one medium-sized lot with two-hour parking, and plenty of metered parking on the street. Most visitors either line up at the single restroom inside of Peet's or take their chances with the two restrooms located at the rear of Tacubaya; neither offers a changing table.
Did I skip your favorite? Where do you love to go on Fourth Street?
[All photos by Lisa Tsering; all rights reserved]