Downtown is Berkeley's commuter hub as well as home to three movie theaters, a burgeoning theater mini-district, and great restaurants and businesses that continue to fly under the radar.
With Arinell around the corner and Cheeseboard down the street, it'd be easy to overlook Pie in the Sky (2124 Center St., 510-848-8678, PieintheSkyCafe.com), but that would be a mistake: The husband-and-wife owned restaurant, which sprang up a few years ago on a tree-lined stretch of Center, combines a thin, Arinell-style crust with toppings as fresh and creative as Cheeseboard's, for a pie that's truly the best of both worlds.
The Jazzschool (2087 Addison St., 510-845-5373, Jazzschool.com) offers lessons for would-be musicians and music afficionados of all ages and skill levels. Options include private lessons, group performance workshops, and lectures on the history and theory of jazz. There also are live shows.
The Iranian-American owners of Zatar (1981 Shattuck Ave., 510-841-1981, ZatarRestaurant.com) manage to keep one foot firmly planted in Berkeley foodie culture while still staying true to real Mediterranean flavors. They may use organic milk and eggs and grow much of the food in their own backyard garden, but make no mistake, this is authentic, hearty Mid East-inflected fare. Try the velvety-rich hummus, the signature flaky flatbread, or the cumin-dusted grilled lamb.
Yoga to the People (64 Shattuck Sq., 917-573-9642, YogatothePeople.com) operates on the principle that yoga needn't be fussy, pretentious, or trendy to be a good workout — and its vinyasa flows are certainly a workout, one that will leave you sweat-drenched and satisfied, probably more so than in your typical yoga class. The no-pretension mandate extends as far as the fees — which are entirely donation-based — and the instruction style, which accommodates yogis of all skill and fitness levels.
Don't miss: For what may just be the best Pad Se Ew in all of Berkeley, check out Thai Noodle (1936 Shattuck Ave., 510-848-6531). ... MAC (2010 Shattuck Ave., 510-644-0500, MacBerkeley.com) is one of the last few independent computer stores around, and the service is leaps and bounds above anything you'd get at a big box computer store such as Best Buy. ... The endless selection and unbeatable prices at Berkeley Bowl (2020 Oregon St., 510-843-6929, BerkeleyBowl.com) make grocery shopping a joy rather than a chore.