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Telegraph Ave

Music, Books, Hats, and Fondue

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Yes, Cody's is gone, and the recession has inflicted a casualty or two. But there's still much to eat, drink, buy, and do on and around Telegraph Avenue.

Most camera shops don't have official mission statements, but Looking Glass Photographic Arts (2848 Telegraph Ave., 510-548-6888, LookingGlassPhoto.com) isn't like most camera stores. It is, rather, a shutterbug's dream, staffed by earnest and patient photography geeks, full of all kinds of equipment and accessories, and guided by a commitment to community and social responsibility. Though the sheer number of gadgets will satisfy any professional photographer, the staff is happy to answer even the most basic of questions, and they clearly abide by Looking Glass' principle "To never stop listening to the needs of our customers ... and to use that information to routinely provide better service." Indeed, according to owner-manager Jennifer Waicukauski, "that's what makes this job really fun — answering questions and solving people's problems."

Fondue Fred (2556 Telegraph Ave., 510-549-0850, FondueFred.com) has been nestled in the same Telegraph Avenue alleyway for more than five decades, and according to owner Laleh Heravi, the menu hasn't changed a bit since 1958. This is classic, hearty fondue, as melty and greasy as it should be, accompanied by thick slabs of fresh bread and served in a setting that looks like something out of the Swiss Alps.

Berkeley Hat Company (2510 Telegraph Ave., 510-549-2995, BerkeleyHat.com) bills itself as the "hat capital of Northern California," and they're not too far off: The store, which has been around for nearly thirty years, sells top hats, berets, Kentucky derby hats, fedoras, and no fewer than fifteen different styles of knit animal hats.

Henry's (2600 Durant Ave., 510-809-4132) is an old-school hotel bar that's been newly remodeled and reinvented. While you can still sit at the bar and enjoy a reasonably stiff drink, you may be better off sitting down for a full meal, as Henry's now offers a full-size dining room and food that's a sophisticated and well-executed take on classic pub fare.

Sharks (2505 Telegraph Ave., 510-841-8736) has clearly taken the quality-over-quantity dictum to heart. The matchbox-sized shop has far less than half the square footage of Telegraph's other vintage stores, but what it lacks in size it makes up for with its judiciously chosen mixture of clothing and accessories. Highlights include several racks full of well-preserved period clothing organized by decade; an array of overdyed tanks, tees, and thermals; and the best selection of cowboy boots you'll find anywhere.

Sway (2569 Telegraph Ave., 510-486-9940) caters to the Cal crowd with pieces that are more fashion-forward than the selection at Bancroft Clothing Company and more wallet-friendly than that at Urban Outfitters. Keep an eye out for its wide assortment of jewelry and an entire floor devoted to shoes that are cheap but don't look it.

Don't miss: The cavernous flagship store of Amoeba Music (2455 Telegraph Ave., 510-549-1125, Amoeba.com) boasts the kind of selection that will make any audiophile weak in the knees. ... Moe's Books (2476 Telegraph Ave., 510-849-2087, MoesBooks.com) has been a Telegraph mainstay since the Sixties, and still offers a wide and well-kept selection of new and used books. ... Every day around lunchtime, Cafe Mattina (2442 Telegraph Ave., 510-849-4592, CafeMattina.com), formerly known as Intermezzo, attracts a long line of students and faculty eager for one of the restaurant's signature salads.

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