Last year we raved about the emerging Lower Temescal and 40th Street districts, where new businesses like Remedy Coffee, Flying Yoga Shala, Manifesto Bicycles, and Subrosa Coffee are drawing young, urban followers of the fixie generation.
That trend continued into 2011. On 40th Street between Broadway and Telegraph — until recently a backwater between two prominent thoroughfares — a transformation is taking place. But instead of being driven by developers or merchants’ associations, it’s straight grassroots. Homeroom (400 40th St., 510-597-0400, Homeroom510.com) debuted to much fanfare early last year, and the long lines that ensued spoke to the appeal of its ridiculously simple concept: all mac ‘n’ cheese, all the time, including vegan and gluten-free versions.
Later in the year, 1-2-3-4 Go! Records (420 40th St., Ste. 5, 510-985-0325, 1234GoRecords.com) expanded for a second time, this time with the help of a sympathetic property owner hoping to support owner Steve Stevenson’s efforts at revitalizing the neighborhood. The label-cum-record-store-cum-all-ages-venue, across the street from its former digs, now hosts regular shows in addition to a selection of mostly vinyl punk, hardcore, metal, and rock records.
Lower Temescal didn’t change dramatically last year, but it did see the arrival of a “bike-cafe” (read: indoor bike parking, a professional stand for impromptu repairs, and Bicycle Coffee) called Arbor Cafe (4210 Telegraph Ave.). Taking over for kids-centric Sadie Dey’s Cafe (formerly Tumble and Tea), Arbor caters to laptop-toting twenty- and thirtysomethings in a spacious setting. Coming soon a block away is a much-anticipated little waffle shop called Waffle Boss, set to open at 4140 Telegraph Avenue.
Yet another cafe joined the street this year: Good Bellies (4659 Telegraph Ave., 510-594-1900, GoodBelliesCafe.com). This “friendly neighborhood cafe,” as the slogan painted on the building reads, serves locally sourced cafe fare like sandwiches, salads, smoothies, gelato, and, of course, coffee and tea. Try the bacon waffle.
Farther up the street, Scream Sorbet (5030 Telegraph Ave., 510-394-5030, ScreamSorbet.com) parlayed its good reputation earned from years of serving at the nearby Temescal Farmers’ Market into a successful storefront launch — in the middle of winter. More than a year later, the place continues to attract crowds with flavors like cashew caramel, lime mint, saffron almond, and Bartlett pear — all made with fresh whole ingredients sourced from local farmers’ markets.
If cheese is your dairy product of choice, don’t miss Sacred Wheel (4935 Shattuck Ave., 510-653-1353 or SacredWheelCheeseShop.com). Beyond a stunning selection of fine Californian cheeses, you’ll find olives, jams, and various other accoutrements. And if it’s lunchtime, do yourself a favor and order a grilled cheese sandwich (try the Jack and Gruyère combo) with house-made tomato soup featuring Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.
Men looking for a classic cut ($22) or straight shave ($30) are advised to proceed directly to the new Temescal Alley Barbershop (470-B 49th St., 510-761-5074, TemescalAlleyBarbershop.Tumblr.com). A warm, convivial barbershop experience awaits, complete with banter and the odd glass of whiskey. Life is good.