Tara's Organic Ice Cream 3173 College Ave

Tara's Organic Ice Cream
3173 College Ave

There’s no shortage of food on College Ave. Whether you’re looking for a cup of coffee, a locally brewed beer, a quick bite, or a fancy meal, this single street has it. And the time of day is flexible, too — brunch, lunch, dinner, and dessert are all there.

For many all over the Bay Area, College Ave. is a dining destination for special occasions. The district is home to some of the East Bay’s best fine-dining spots — particularly in the area around Rockridge BART station. And the options range widely: from Oliveto’s handmade pasta to Millennium’s high-end, world famous vegan offerings.

But there’s actually an even greater number of mid-range restaurants that are perfect for both dates and parties. You can find a huge range of options: Greek, American, Mexican, Chinese. The only challenge is choosing. Deep dish at Zachary’s or thin crust across the street at Jules’? A cup of joe at longtime local establishment Cole Coffee or something more exotic across the way at Philz? Be ready to encounter these kinds of decisions.

For Japanese food enthusiasts, choosing can be extra difficult. Relative to the general dearth of Japanese cuisine in the East Bay, College Ave. is a veritable Little Tokyo when it comes to dining. With several sushi restaurants, arguably the East Bay’s best ramen restaurant, and hybrid options such as Noodle Theory, it’s a go-to.

But the Japanese options don’t beat the ice cream competition. Between Ici’s artisanal flavors, Tara’s organic ingredients, Smitten’s creamy texture, Cream’s cookie sandwiches, there’s a near surplus of dessert options available. (That’s not to mention the candy, chocolate, and doughnut shops.)

So, what about drinking? College Ave. is the place to go for a quiet cocktail or glass of wine. Mikkeller’s Bottle Shop has you covered on beer, while Vino wine shop is the spot for whites and reds. If you prefer a trusty dive, it’s got those too: the Graduate is a landmark, and offers free popcorn to boot. And, if you’re looking to purchase booze to bring home, you’ve hit the treasure trove. Cask has arguably the East Bay’s best selection of both local and imported beer, liquor, and artisanal soda — if it’s hard to find, they probably stock it.

Indeed, College Ave. is just as ideal for preparing a meal at home as it is for dining out. Aside from everything-you-need outlets such as Trader Joe’s and Safeway, there are numerous spots to buy fresh and healthy ingredients from local purveyors. Although small, Yasai Market has all the essentials in the way of fresh produce, fancy cheeses, organic snacks, and Asian ingredients.

And right next door, get your protein at Brugge Meats and Seafood market and your baked goods at the ever-aromatic La Farine Boulangerie. Or, head to Market Hall to be surrounded by all of those offerings under one roof. The Rockridge staple is packed with artisanal food goods and the highest quality ingredients, all conveniently laid out in a pleasant indoor market place. If you’re into cooking organic, fresh, and free-range, you’ll be in heaven.


Market Hall Produce | 5655 College Ave. Credit Bert Johnson

Market Hall Produce | 5655 College Ave.
Credit Bert Johnson