As Berkeley High School (BHS) opens its doors for the first time in 18 months, many students will be coming to campus for the very first time. One important tradition to get used to will be the famous BHS off-campus lunch. The Bay Area is known for its amazing diversity in cuisine, but these options can be overwhelming to new students. During distance learning, small businesses in the downtown area have struggled with their sudden loss of customers. In order to help guide underclassmen, and to boost business for local stores, the Jacket is spotlighting a few of the best lunch spots for BHS students.
Located on Milvia St. near Center St., this tiny cafe is easily overlooked by those passing by. But if you take the time to find it, you’re in for a real treat. Nuha’s menu includes sandwiches, salads, bagels, coffee, smoothies, and more. Another perk is that the cafe serves sandwich halves, if you’re not quite hungry enough for a full sandwich. When speaking with the Jacket about the return of students to the BHS campus, Nuha’s employee Kaid said, “We lost 90 percent of our business [during COVID-19] so it’d be really good if you guys could come here and buy lunch. We’d be very grateful.” Though Nuha’s may be small, it makes up for it with all its excellent lunch options.
This bustling Vietnamese restaurant sits on the corner of Addison St. and Kala Bagai Way, near the University of California (UC) Berkeley campus. Its menu includes noodle dishes, spring rolls, fried rice, and the ever-popular bánh mì sandwiches. “Usually I end up going to Saigon because they’re really fast and I like what they serve,” said Otis Norton Tsang, a junior in Academic Choice (AC). It’s also “super cheap,” added Berkeley International High School (BIHS) senior Luca Mckerley Coronado. Saigon has suffered due to a lack of students in the area, so the return to in-person school marks a hopeful improvement in business for the eatery.
Tamon Tea is a Japanese restaurant quite close to campus, on Center St. below Shattuck Ave. Former Communication Arts and Sciences (CAS) student Rose Chabon said, “Tamon Tea was my favorite lunch to get because it was cheap and really yummy, but you have to get there quickly because the line forms quickly. Get the salmon omusubi or the beef; the udon isn’t bad either.”
“I found myself going there a lot for their onigiri rice triangles. It’s affordable, doesn’t take that long to prepare, and is close to campus,” said Dylan Heinstein, a senior in AC. This place also has great vegetarian options such as seaweed and mushroom rice triangles.
The final location on this list is K’s Cafe, which can be found near the corner of Center St. and Milvia St. “K’s is a great spot to grab a quick snack. I especially like to get their Asiago Cheese Bagel. It’s also really near to campus, so you’ll have lots of time to eat,” said Saskia Knight Leichliter, a senior in AC.
K’s is a classic cafe, offering everything from lattes to pastries to smoothies. The cafe has a warm and cozy atmosphere and allows indoor dining. K’s has also recently started serving ice cream for a special lunchtime treat.
Acen Mklat, an employee at K’s, said, “[Reopening] means a lot to us because we’ve been [serving] high school and college students for years. Now, since this pandemic happened, K’s has been empty. We hope to see you back soon. This is the place where you come in as a customer and leave as a friend.”
Many restaurants in our community have been hurt by a drop in student business during the pandemic. On average, restaurant revenue was down 34%, and about 44 restaurants mostly located in the downtown area shut down permanently, according to the Berkeley Office of Economic Development.
Now, with well over 3,000 BHS students back on campus, we’ll have the opportunity to buoy our local economy and help keep small businesses afloat.