A Berkeley Brunch: Elmwood Cafe

A confession — my favorite type of food isn’t Chinese. On a personal basis, I gravitate toward Japanese or anything with eye-popping produce and organic, GMO-free offerings. As of fall of ’13 — perusing farmers markets has become my new favorite past time. I’d take a farm-fresh meal over a stuffy, white tablecloth establishment anytime, any day. Chalk it up to being overly attentive to where food comes from.

It’s odd. A little over year ago, I was obsessed with the trends in the food world. Maybe it was the New York City mentality and working for a blog where my job was to write about new talent, mind-blowing culinary feats, and anything remotely glitzy in the food world. Or maybe it was the fact that I was surrounded by youths like myself with a high amount of disposable income. But since moving back to good ol’ California, I’ve noticed a change of interest in what excites me. I like produce. I like farms. I like simple, fresh, and sustainable. How fitting. How Californian.

Elmwood Cafe in Berkeley really fits the bill. I’m a tourist to that part of the state and I almost feel silly blogging about such a established, neighborhood gem.

I’m sure the regulars would roll their eyes at me…but as a visitor to the area — I was absolutely fascinated by its cutesy charm. They’re all about organic ingredients and they source locally where they can.



I’m normally not a fan of sandwiches, but this chicken sandwich blew my mind.

On the menu:

Spiced Chicken Sandwich
Mary’s Free Range Chicken Breast, Mixed Peppers,
Organic Greens & House-made Cilantro Aioli on Toasted Acme Baguette 9.5
ADD: Avocado (2) or Niman Ranch Bacon (3)

I wish I could list all the flavor profiles but let’s be honest — I was on vacation and the last thing I wanted to do was take notes. It honestly was the best sandwich I had in 2013. (Only one other sandwich comes to mind and that is grilled tofu hero from Sacred Chow in NYC)

While the meal was sufficiently hearty, it left a clean taste in my mouth. I left feeling good, healthy, light. Ten days up in the Bay Area and I want to say that this simple brunch was my favorite meal out of the entire trip.

Plus, half of all the profits go to charity. I have no idea how that’s a sustainable model, but I love it.

The cafe embodies everything I love– affordability, sustainability, health, and freshness. I wish we had one in Los Angeles. Or rather, I wish I lived up there.

I suppose the grass is always greener on the other side.

Address: 2900 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705




  1. aronoff

    Clarissa –

    Add me to the list for favorite foods for Japanese. But I think Chinese and maybe Korean are equally just as healthy with a slight nod to the Chinese because they have been cooking for 4000 to 5000 years. Assumes more years cooking produces ever better food preparation and food to eat. However, most of those years were without refrigeration or sophisticated cooking ovens which only came into being last century. Nevertheless, a slight nod to Chinese food being the best on the planet. Yes, Jpn cuisine and maybe Korean cuisine are in the same league and not far behind.

    Your comment, “I wished I live up here (SF Bay area)”. Don’t you dare leave So Calif and specifically the SGV !

    Bob (as before, just wanting you to know what is going on amongst your vast army of followers)

  2. che210


    YOU ARE KILLING ME WITH THESE PICS. Fresh, farm-produced food sounds pretty darn good right about now! I had dumplings from the street stall around the corner for dinner and malatang for lunch. Gosh only knows what mystery ingredients I put into my body while eating those two dishes! Keep the food pics and posts coming!!


      • che210

        Haha it’s not been too bad actually this time around. I just try not to think about what I’m eating and that helps. (Yikes, that sounds terrible when writing that out on the page instead of just thinking it in my mind…)