Perhaps everything you need to know about Northbrae is that it is included on the Hidden Gems of Berkeley Bicycle Tour. Centered on Hopkins Street, at the foot of the Berkeley Hills, this quiet, relaxed residential community is composed of charming bungalows, California Craftsman homes, English Tudors amongst community gardens, tree lined creeks, and outdoor galleries.
The Westbrae strip, which covers a few blocks of Gilman before it ends at Hopkins bisects a peaceful neighborhood where the only sign of the surrounding urban bustle is the periodic sound of a BART train rushing past on the nearby elevated tracks. Favorite stops include Lalime’s restaurant, a gorgeous community garden and, along Westbrae’s southern edge, a spacious park.
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Community green spaces include 3-acre Cedar Rose Park and the Peralta Community Peace Garden. For those embarking on home horticulture projects, Berkeley Horticultural Nursery on McGee, and Westbrae Nursery on Gilman Street offer advice, seeds, plants and implements.
The two-block long retail district may be small, but it is crammed with gourmet food purveyors. It’s possible to shop here like a European, going from store to store, purchasing everything you need for the week’s dinner. The Monterey Market, an institution for 30 years, Monterey Fish, Magnani Poultry, and Toot Sweets bakery have turned Northbrae into a Mecca for food lovers. Outdoor cafes, like Espresso Roma offer opportunities to enjoy a latte in the glorious weather. Lalimes serves Mediterranean style-cuisines in a warm, relaxed setting.
Northbrae is within walking distance to the North Berkeley BART, and the North Branch Community Library. Designed by architect Julia Morgan in the early 20th Century, this building is one of the most gracious civic buildings in Berkeley. Schools include Martin Luther King Middle School and its “Edible Schoolyard.”