July 29, 2015

Berkeley: Bartavelle Coffee & Wine Bar; restaurant review

80 North

Bartavelle Coffee & Wine Bar  1603 San Pablo Ave./Cedar St., (510) 524-2473.  B-L daily; $$.  No reservations. 

The menu at this simple spot is short, but what it does offer is very tasty.  

order counter at Bartavelle Coffee & Wine Bar in Berkeley, California

Start your morning with a perfect boiled fresh farm egg topped with olive oil, sea salt, and marash pepper; or add on a garnish of aïoli and anchovy.

perfect boiled egg at Bartavelle Coffee & Wine Bar in Berkeley, California

Or maybe you’d like some slow-cooked porridge with assorted garnishes, or a complete Persian breakfast with Acme pizza bianca.  I am a fan of the avocado toast, which is really a hefty portion of mashed avocado on chewy lightly toasted Acme pain au levain bread topped with a garnish of lemon juice and salt.

avocado toast at Bartavelle Coffee & Wine Bar in Berkeley, California

Lunch is a selection of sandwiches, toasts, and salads.  Bread comes fresh from next-door-neighbor Acme, but most pastries are made in house or come from another bakery.  Wine comes from another next-door-neighbor--Kermit Lynch.  Counter service takes place inside, where a few seats are available, but most of the limited seating is available outside beside the small parking lot and includes a view of the line waiting to get into to the bakery, but no one seems to mind.

outdoor seating at Bartavelle Coffee & Wine Bar in Berkeley, California

The background of this spot is interesting to know.  It was named for the daughter of Alice Waters and was originally owned by Alice and her sister and brother-in-law, Laura and Jim Maser of Picante.  So I wasn’t too surprised to see Alice herself walk in the morning I was here and step up to the counter to order!  I have met Alice before at a media event and book signing, and though we made eye contact and I nodded, I was feeling too shy to strike up a conversation.  After all, she is the foodie equivalent of a major rock star.  This tiny spot is also where Cafe Fanny Granola originated, my favorite, which, thank goodness, is still available in supermarkets.

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Before departing, stop in next door at the famous Acme Bread Company for a take-away baguette fresh from the oven.  My favorite is the rustic sweet, and my favorite bread is the Upstairs—which refers to the bread served upstairs at Chez Panisse.  The line is long, but it is usually also cheery and moves fast.

line at Acme Bread Company in Berkeley, California

At the door it is reminiscent of the Seinfeld soup nazi episode—only two people inside the small space at a time, and you’d better think fast about what you want to order from their vast selection!  It is cash and debit cards only here. 

order counter at Acme Bread Company in Berkeley, California

On the other side, Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, which specializes in wine made from small French and Italian wineries, opens at 11a,m, and is closed Sunday and Monday.

exterior of Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant in Berkeley, California

More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California. 

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 


  1. You always find such gems to visit. I too wouldn't have known quite what to say to Alice Waters!

  2. I love places like the Bartavelle Coffee and Wine Bar.The eggs with their unusual garnishes sound great as does the avocado toast. It's always fun to find unexpected combinations of the foods I like.

  3. Huge fan of avocado toast and that one looks to notch!

  4. I had to look up marash pepper, and it says it is the spice you have never heard of and this is true. I would like to try it with eggs for sure.

  5. Looks delicious! We haven't been to Berkley, but now we know where to go when we do get there, thanks.

  6. When I saw Berkely in your title I immediately though to of our visit to Chez Panisse about twenty years ago! Fancy this being next door! It's situated in a fabulous little corner of the world! Breakfast decisions would be hard as both dishes looks delicious! The bread shop next door would be my downfall!

  7. Alice is an idol of mine. She's so deep and thoughtful and a food genius. Berkeley has really become a great foodie spot. I love avocado toast!

  8. I love eggs and will have to try this anchovy and aoili topping. One of our daughters recently moved to Oakland so we might visit Berkeley again soon!

  9. I don't know if I'll ever be in Berkeley again, but I got some good ideas for breakfasts from your post. I have to admit, I was picturing an Acme supermarket every time you mentioned Acme bread until I read down far enough to realize it was a stand-alone popular bakery.

  10. I haven't been to Berkeley but it's definitely on my list. Everything looks wonderful and what a treat to get a glimpse of Alice Waters. You're right she certainly is a rock-star in the culinary world. It's said that every chef worth his or her chops is somehow connected to her by six degrees of separation. I'm certain I would have just stared at her myself.