Gift cards for cool places in Berkeley
December 12, 2016 8:14 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to give someone a gift card to some neato place in Berkeley, CA. I have to buy it from, and have it delivered to, the other side of the USA.

I'm shopping for a Christmas present for someone who's spending a few months in Berkeley next year. I've never been in the area, so I don't know what's good, and a lot of the places I've found don't have websites. We both live on the East Coast, and will be spending Christmas there.

I'm looking for some sort of physical gift certificate/card that can be mailed to me so I can wrap it and put it under the tree. An email printout would be okay, if that's what I have to do, but it's a little less festive. I would strongly prefer to buy something online, rather than calling around.

He especially likes burritos and coffee shops, and prefers small indie hole-in-the-wall places (like, the kind that don't have websites, grr). Casual is better than fancy, and the kind of place that will let you hang out for hours reading would be perfect. Close to downtown would be best. Local bookstores, interesting specialty shops, and experience gifts would also be good - preferably the kind of experience that you can have either solo or with a small group. He's somewhat into outdoorsy stuff and physical activities. He does some cooking; I don't think he's really into beer, and definitely not into cocktails.

I haven't ruled out buying something from a nationwide company that can be used in Berkeley (e.g. GrubHub) but I would much rather give him something specifically local.

To reiterate, I would really, really like to buy this online and have something physical mailed to me. Thank you!
posted by Metroid Baby to Shopping (18 answers total)
If he has any interest in music at all, it's hard to imagine you going wrong with a gift certificate to Amoeba (gift certificates here).
posted by Betelgeuse at 8:34 AM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Teance is a fun place in Berkeley to do a tea tasting. They sell gift cards online.
posted by cnc at 8:58 AM on December 12, 2016

You want Cheeseboard! Super unique, super Berkeley, and one of the places I still dream of despite having moved away several years ago. Their gift cards are available online and can be used in either their pizza shop or their cheese shop (which also has some fabulous bakery items). The only sort of person I think this would not be good for is someone who was vegan and/or gluten free. :)
posted by rainbowbrite at 9:04 AM on December 12, 2016 [8 favorites]

Zachary's Pizza is spectacularly good, and you can get a gift card/certificate.
posted by vickyverky at 9:17 AM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Is this person into board games at all? Try Victory Point.

Do they like live music? Ashkenaz, UC Theater or Freight and Salvage might be fun.

Moe's is the legendary, three story bookstore near campus. I also like Pegasus. Fantastic is a good comic book shop with very friendly staff.

Any chance your friend likes reptiles? Even if they don't, it's a fun place to visit.

You say your friend is outdoorsy: There is tons of great hiking within 10 or fifteen minutes of downtown. You could get a book of East Bay Hikes/Bike rides, or maybe a walking tour?
posted by latkes at 9:18 AM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

The first Peets is at Walnut and Vine in Berkeley. They take Peets cards and are just up the street from the Cheese Board.
posted by zippy at 9:23 AM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

I always love shopping at Games of Berkeley (board games, puzzles, novelty items, etc), and they will mail you a physical gift card:
posted by JenMarie at 9:24 AM on December 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

Seconding Cheeseboard. A real Berkeley institution. The only downside is that it's not really a place to linger for hours.
posted by crazy with stars at 9:27 AM on December 12, 2016

Thanks, y'all! A lot of these places are exactly his type of thing. If anyone else has other suggestions please add them, but I think I've got plenty to go on.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:34 AM on December 12, 2016

I think this would not be good for is someone who was vegan

I also came to suggest Cheese Board, but if they're vegan but love amazing bread this would still be a great gift. (Their bread cookboook is also fantastic!) Also, their story is great, they're a worker-owned collective.)
posted by Room 641-A at 9:34 AM on December 12, 2016

If Indian food is a thing he'd be into, Vik's Chaat and Breads of India both have websites though I'm not sure about the gift certificate situations.
posted by juv3nal at 9:36 AM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

I miss Cafe Leila; great for hanging out in, regular live music, so friendly. Not in the central student drag but a pleasant walk from it. Don't know if they have gift cards, but mention it anyway!
posted by clew at 12:39 PM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

The bone room. Preserved bugs, human skeletons etc. What more could one ask?
posted by Puddle at 1:10 PM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

My sister lives in Berkeley and when I visited her in October she took me to Cafe Leila for the first time, so I was thinking of recommending them as well.

Sister recommends La Mission and Casa Latina for burritos, and she hasn't been to Plank in Oakland but thinks it could be fun for a group experience.
posted by Squeak Attack at 1:20 PM on December 12, 2016

Board game cafe?
posted by gingerbeer at 7:24 PM on December 12, 2016

The Bone Room is closed, sadly, although the website is still extant.

Nearby the shuttered Bone Room on Solano Ave is a pretty good wine shop, which offers gift certificates: Solano Cellars.
posted by notyou at 9:21 PM on December 12, 2016

Burritos: Gordo's. Three locations in Berkeley, and gift cards available.
posted by notyou at 9:25 PM on December 12, 2016

For the ultimate in hole-in-the-wall burrito places, go to the Hot Shop. Gift certificates seem to be available here. I guess in good news, if friend never makes it to the Hot Shop (get the tropical burrito), it can be used elsewhere. I haven't been to the Hot Shop in a few years, but I dream of it still, and friends who have been there recently can attest it is still good. So so good.
posted by freezer cake at 12:07 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

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