Small-Town Charm

Elmwood is Berkeley's tranquil shopping gem.

The Elmwood, nestled between Rockridge and UC Berkeley, stretches
for just a few blocks on College Avenue, but it’s a highly valued slab
of real estate for its central location, tree-lined residential
streets, and small-town ambience. Here you’ll find independent shops
catering to undergrads and wealthier residents, and no shortage of
excellent food.

To satisfy your sweet tooth, get at the back of the perpetually long
line taking up the sidewalk in front of Ici (2948 College Ave.,
Berkeley, 510-665-6054, Ici-Icecream.com), which specializes in
handcrafted ice cream and sorbet, unique flavors (like brandied
cherry), and to-die-for waffle cones. Started by a former Chez Panisse
pastry chef, Ici uses only top-quality, mostly organic ingredients. And
because the flavors change daily, you’ve got an excuse to keep coming
back for more.

Looking for a bargain? You’re sure to find one (or several) at
Jeremys (2967 College Ave., Berkeley, 510-849-0701), a mini
department store that stocks discounted men’s and women’s clothing and
accessories — mostly past-season, sample-sale, and salvage items
courtesy of J. Crew, Anthropologie, and Barneys. It’s been a
neighborhood favorite for years now, especially among the college set,
but be warned: With such generous discounts (and periodic sales), the
crowd can get intimidating.

Much of Elmwood may be for the plentiful of wallet, but remnants of
the pre-million-dollar-home era still linger here. Old-school punk
rockers and Japanese fans of US denim have found a gold mine at
Slash (2840 College Ave., Berkeley, 510-841-7803, SlashDenim.com), a tiny underground
basement stuffed full of Levi’s, Dickies, T-shirts, hoodies, plaid
shirts, and Frye boots. With its expansion into an upstairs storefront,
it now also features newer lines of denim, screen-printed T-shirts, and
other hip casual-comfy gear — all at affordable prices.

Step into a time warp at Sweet Dreams (2921 College Ave., #
A; 2901 College Ave., Berkeley, 510-549-1211), an old-school candy shop
that’s been satisfying all manner of cravings, sweet and sour, for
neighborhood kids since 1971. You’ll also find knickknacks, clothes,
and novelty gifts in a roomy corner-store atmosphere. Down the street,
check out Sweet Dreams’ toy store, which carries plenty of
non-high-tech toys to capture the imagination, a wall of stuffed
animals, dozens of stickers, and a separate room for books. Its window
display is reason enough to stop and take a gander.

You probably never thought that yoga pants were worth $100 —
that is, until you stepped inside lululemon athletica (2956
College Ave., Berkeley, 510-666-0418). The yoga clothing chain has some
of the softest, comfiest yoga pants around; pretty soon you’ll find
yourself needing another pair to wear every day, and then some tights
to wear under dresses, and a cute tank top while you’re at it. It’s the
perfect store for Berkeley-ites, who relish comfy fabrics and cuts
while being sporty and pulled-together at the same time.

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