Scouting Alice Waters' Bay Area Eats

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Alice Waters photo by David Liittschwager
Alice Waters photo by David Liittschwager

Alice Waters caught up with Bay Area Bites on the last stop of her In the Green Kitchen book tour recently. She greeted and hugged most of the guests at the designer (chi-chi) Carrots Boutique, where four hundred dollars buys a smashing chapeau. Cocktails were made up by handsome male barkeeps from the neighboring Bix Restaurant, and owner Doug Biederbeck seemed obsessed with the event flow--he was mulling over when and whether Waters would speak and wanted to be sure folks knew they had to pay for Waters' latest cookbook. Eats were radishes and fava bean crostinis.

Daniel Lurie was one of the hosts of the Carrots event, and said that "everyone loves Alice… clearly," as he watched her surrounded by loyalists. Lurie told BAB that he showed Ms. Waters how to ride the subway in New York City over a decade ago, when he was living there. No surprise that Waters demurred on answering SFist Editor Brock Keeling’s query, “What is your favorite junk food?” However she did eventually agree to share her favorite Bay Area food-related faves with BAB. Waters has lived in North Berkeley, "a short walk away from Chez Panisse, for over 40 years."

Boulette's Larder
1 Ferry Building #48 Map
(415) 399-1155
Hours: No table service on Saturday
Breakfast Monday-Friday 8AM to 10:30AM
Lunch Monday-Friday 11:30AM to 2:30PM
Brunch Sunday 10AM to 2:30PM

Waters: My Saturday morning trip to the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market is one of my most beloved rituals--I stop by Boulette's to get my English muffins and eggs for breakfast. For a weekday lunch I order a simple, perfect salad or pulled pork sandwich.

Primavera at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
1 Ferry Plaza Map
Hours: Saturday 8AM to 2PM

Waters: I love their authentic, organic handmade tortillas--they also have incredible special dishes from all the regions of Mexico.

Flatland Flower Farm at the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market
1 Ferry Plaza Map
Hours: Saturday, starting at 8AM

Waters: I buy wonderful plants here for my garden--vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers--as well as deliciously crisp, dry-farmed apples in season.

Swan Oyster Depot

1517 Polk Street (between California Street and Sacramento Street) Map
(415) 673-1101

Hours: Monday-Saturday 8AM to 5:30PM

Waters: I come here when I’m craving freshly caught crab or oysters on the half shell--the place is small, but grab a spot at the cool marble countertop bar if you can.

517 Hayes Street at Octavia Street Map
(415) 864-2181 –-no reservations taken
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 6PM to 10PM
Sunday 6PM to 11PM

Waters: This Japanese restaurant is incredibly tiny--and so, so good! It serves the best sushi I’ve tasted in San Francisco.

Zuni Café
1658 Market Street (between Franklin and Gough)
(415) 553-2522

Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 11:30AM to 11PM
Friday-Saturday 11:30AM to midnight

Sunday 11:00AM to 11:00PM
Closed Monday

Waters: My home away from home for 25 years. The roasted chicken with bread salad is one of the truly great dishes of the Bay Area.

Blue Bottle Café
66 Mint Street (between Jessie Street and Mission Street) Map
(415) 493-3394

Hours: Monday-Friday 7AM to 7PM
Saturday 8AM to 6PM
Sunday 8AM to 4PM

Waters: This is the coffee we serve at Chez Panisse--it’s organic, and has incredible flavor. Their café on Mint Plaza has several unique ways of brewing your coffee--all of them delicious.

Omnivore Books
Omnivore Books Map
3885 Cesar Chavez Street (at Church Street) Map
(415) 282-4712

Hours: Monday-Saturday 11AM to 6PM
Sunday 12PM to 5PM

Waters: A tiny store that sells new cookbooks and vintage, hard-to-find editions. It also hosts special tasting events and book signings.

Acme Bread
1601 San Pablo Avenue (at Cedar Street) Map
Berkeley CA 94702-1317
(510) 524-1327

Hours: Monday-Saturday 8AM to 6PM
Sunday 8:30AM to 3PM

Waters: This is the finest bread in the Bay Area, period. And it’s all made with organic flour and using only solar energy!

5008 Telegraph Avenue (at 50th Street) Map
Oakland CA 94609
(510) 652-4888

Hours: Monday-Thursday 5:30PM to 10PM
Friday-Saturday 5PM to 10:30PM
Closed Sunday

Waters: Wood-fired pizzas, a superb bar, and a great big patio out back.

Ajanta Restaurant
1888 Solano Avenue (at The Alameda) Map
Berkeley CA 94707
(510) 526-4374
Hours: Monday-Sunday 11:30AM to 2:30PM, 5:30PM to 9:30PM

Waters: This lovely neighborhood Indian restaurant uses organic produce and has an ever-changing, seasonal menu.

The Cheese Board
1504 Shattuck Avenue (at Vine Street) Map
Berkeley CA 94707
(510) 549-3183
Hours: Monday 7AM to 1PM
Tuesday-Friday 7AM to 6PM
Saturday 8:30AM to 5PM
Closed Sunday

Waters: For over four decades, this workers’ collective across the street from our restaurant has been serving seasonal pizzas, fresh sourdough baguettes, and divine cheeses to all of Berkeley.