A Year Ago
Berkeley, California is just 14 miles east of San Francisco, and yet it feels like its own quirky universe. The town is a haven for artists and eccentric thinkers and a base for grassroots activists. And thanks to a history of bucking status quo and embracing alternative forms of expression, Berkeley also happens to enjoy a flourishing health and wellness scene.
One of its native daughters is Lila Volkas, a certified life coach, holistic nutritionist in training, yoga instructor, illustrator, and kombucha brewing instructor, who shares her enlightened lifestyle as a local luminary on IfOnly.
Should you find yourself in Berkeley, here are a few of her recommended spots, selected for their good eats and good vibes.
In a cozy cave-like setting right in the hustle and bustle of downtown, Berkeley Acupuncture Project makes Chinese medicine accessible by providing a sliding scale cost per treatment. It's my favorite place to destress. 1834 University Avenue
I feel my whole body smile after eating a colorful plant-based meal from Potala. The vegan Tibetan restaurant keeps things simple with a daily menu made from seasonal and organic ingredients. Don't be fazed by the simplicity of their dishes, because it will be the most delicious plate you've ever had. My favorite is their complimentary kukicha tea that feels deeply grounding.Their agave-sweetened desserts are the perfect end to a nourishing meal. I love going here on lunch dates with friends because the atmosphere is homey and quiet and perfect for deep conversation. 1045 San Pablo Avenue
This grocery store brings to mind the Garden of Eden. Mounds of seasonal fruits and vegetables line the shop and enchant the senses. The abundance of in-season produce makes me feel so grateful to live in California. I am a big mushroom lover, and they have a whole aisle dedicated to fungi. 1550 Hopkins Street
You can feel the magic as you enter. You'll marvel at their walls stacked with glass jars filled with various herbs for medicinal teas and tinctures. 2482 Telegraph Avenue
My other favorite herb store is Twisted Thistle Apothecary. Walking in there feels like you've walked into a giant altar with bowls of crystals, incense, and smudges filling the shelves. They also have some fun festive herbs for a night out. 2508 Channing Way
This eatery serves gluten-free and paleo dishes in their beautifully designed restaurant and market. It's a dream meal come true as they sustainably source organic ingredients for their dishes. I love their probiotic coconut yogurt, which is a total cloud in your mouth and their unique camel milk that is a true taste from the desert. I sometimes bring a book and snack on some of their signature yucca chips and a kombucha while enjoying their sunny outdoor seating. 2085 Vine Street
Worker owned and operated since 1976, this postage stamp-sized juice shop also serves organic comfort dishes, salads, and desserts. I like the rice bowl with kale salad and their homemade ginger soda. 2114 Vine Street
To explore Berkeley with Lila as your guide, reserve a spot by July 30 on her Wellness Walking Tour, offered on August 6. Enjoy Paleo-approved yucca chips, herbal teas, ane more while meeting wellness experts and learning to approach everyday food as medicine.