Explore the Gilman District !
By Julie McCray and Lawrence Grown
The First Annual Gilman District Street Fair is scheduled for this Sunday, April 23rd, 11am-4pm
Visit the newest addition to Berkeley's vibrant community events calendar! Happening alongside the award-winning Gilman Wine Block on Fifth Street and stretching to Picante’s outdoor dining space on Camelia, this vibrant new street fair will play host to over 65 local vendors, food trucks and wineries with exciting satellite events throughout the district. It is a celebration of everything that makes the Gilman District and our city by the Bay unique - from the eclectic mix of local businesses, startups and arts of all types to our diverse and welcoming community.
When arriving from I-80, a “Welcome to West Berkeley” mural marks the official entrance to the Gilman District, a deceptively unassuming stretch extending from the railroad tracks to San Pablo Avenue. Yet behind its seemingly humble facade, this northernmost corner of West Berkeley is quietly comprised of a host of ground breaking start ups, world class art studios, innovative builders, savory restaurants and two iconic music venues, as well as ten award winning wineries and breweries.
The block between Fourth and Fifth Streets has come to be known as the Gilman Wine Block (Berkeley Wine Block) and has been recognized in both the New York Times and Vogue Magazine as the best place in America for tasting organic wines from such labels as Donkey and Goat, Broc Cellars, Hammerling, and Vinca Minor. A new addition, Noria Wines, is planned to open in Summer 2023. Meanwhile across Fourth Street, Trumer Pils will be opening their new taproom this August, making the perfect trifecta with nearby local beer favorites Fieldworks Brewing and Gilman Brewing Company.
Of course, with such an array of artisanal beverages, you must have delicious, local foods to accompany them! With over fifteen restaurants, there are a lot of tastes to choose from. The neighborhood’s oldest and most popular family restaurant, Picante, is one of the largest taqueria’s in the East Bay and stayed open during the lockdown by pivoting to ‘drive through’ service which has become a staple for locals. They will be serving throughout the Street Fair in their outdoor space. Meanwhile, down the block, the newly opened Boichik Bagel factory and café will have special hours on fair day, supplying revelers with what the New York Times touted as the best bagel in America. Other options in the district range from American comfort foods, cafes, Italian, Palestinian, Thai, and Vietnamese, many with the California flair for which Berkeley is renowned.
While venturing down Sixth Street, continue on to Covenant Winery across from Urban Adamah on Harrison for a glass of award-winning gourmet kosher wine and live jazz as they kick off of their Spring Sunday concert series from 2-5pm! In the evening, the iconic folk and rock venue Ashkenaz has nightly shows as well as dance lessons and workshops. This musical landmark non-profit will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next year with an amazing lineup of shows and events. If punk is more your scene, 924 Gilman has what you need. A DIY, all volunteer venue, The Gilman has hosted many groundbreaking bands of the west coast music scene including Rancid, Green Day and Operation Ivy.
Visual arts abound in the Gilman District as well, from the private studios of world renown fine artists to co-operative arts and ceramic spaces and public galleries. The Potters’ Studio on Seventh Street, with its 50 year history of creativity, education and inclusivity offers classes and workshops. While spaces such as SHOH Gallery curate exhibitions that showcase local fine art and assist collectors in selecting works for their homes.
Formerly known as Oceanview, the once small, blue collar town incorporated with the academic enclave of South Campus to its east in 1878 to officially become the City of Berkeley. What is now known as West Berkeley has been home to much of the city’s manufacturing throughout the years. The community’s industrial roots and diverse history are celebrated by the people who work in and call the Gilman District home today.
Officially organizing and naming the area the “Gilman District" in the Fall of 2016, the businesses, nonprofits and artisans of the area set out to create a group that would work together to both preserve the quirky, creative, hands-on spirit of the neighborhood and address the varied needs of the community such as better lighting, safer streets and representation in city government. City Councilwoman Rashi Kesarwani and her legislative aide Beth Gerstein have been hardworking allies in this regard. By pooling their energy and resources, sending representation to City of Berkeley meetings and branding their own District, this all-volunteer association sought to spotlight, support and build upon what was already organically present and intrinsic to the neighborhood. By promoting the area and its many treasures, the volunteers of the Gilman District Association hope to take charge of its destiny and become an official nonprofit business improvement district.
The Gilman District Street Fair promises a fun and family-friendly day of music, delicious food, local arts, natural wines and activities that showcase the best of the District and the East Bay!