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Walnut Creek Magazine

A Holiday Shopping (and Dining) Guide to West Berkeley’s Festive Fourth Street

Dec 05, 2016 12:51PM ● By Fran Miller

Walnut Creek’s remodeled Broadway Plaza now boasts enough boutiques, shops, and restaurants to please nearly every holiday shopper. It’s a one-stop locale that can’t be beat. But those who desire to move beyond the familiar during this festive season-of-giving will find great reward in venturing west to Berkeley’s Fourth Street. This charming, open-air shopping and dining district features 65 fine cafes and shops that beg to be discovered – or re-discovered. There’s no need to fully abandon beloved Broadway Plaza, but there is no doubt that a day or evening spent on Fourth Street provides a splendid break from your regular shopping routine - especially now and through the new year when the area sparkles with one of the best holiday light shows in the Bay Area.

Fourth Street’s incredible selection of unique shops and eateries includes: Bryn Walker, Convert and Convert Collection, Emerald City Gowns, Erica Tanov, Jest Jewels, Lunettes du Monde, Margaret O’Leary, Molly b, Outback in the Temple of Venus, Pave Fine Jewelry Design, Rabat, Ruti, Artis Coffee, Bette’s Oceanview Diner and Bette’s To Go, Iyasare, Market Hall Foods, Teance Fine Teas, Zut Tavern, Earthsake, KCC Modern Living, Lighting Studio, Nest, Stained Glass Garden, Thousand Cranes Futon, Turkish Towel Collection, Castle in the Air, George, Miki’s Paper and Vintage European Posters.

Here’s a closer look at some of our favorites:

Convert and Convert Collection: These two stores, directly across the street from each, feature quality apparel and gifts for people who care about style as much as they care about the earth. Bringing the worlds of fashion and sustainability together, Convert and Convert Collection offer great fashion options for men and women from brands that are sustainably produced, have eco-options within their collections, or are willing to make a change in the way they do business. Owner Randy Brewer’s great style aesthetic is evident in each and every item: from hand-knitted and hand-signed items by KK International, to humorous, on-trend topic t’s. Convert has something for everyone on your list - and a little something for you too: enjoy a shot of bourbon while shopping at Convert Collection! 1809B, and 1844 Fourth St.

KCC Modern Living: Established in 1993, KCC Modern Living features the latest in modern and contemporary furniture, rugs, art and accessories for the home, office and outdoor. The store’s emphasis is on quality, design and selection, with more than 60 different European, international and domestic manufacturers on display in an 8,000-square-foot showroom. KCC also features a rotating selection of original art from regional artists and offers design services and custom furniture fabrication. 805 University Ave.

Margaret O’Leary:  Renowned for its rich collections of cutting-edge knitwear, Margaret O’Leary is a San Francisco company now known around the world. Fans love the affordable luxury of CEO designer Margaret’s collections – infused with a relaxed sensibility and a California chic aesthetic. Always produced with the finest yarns, including Margaret’s favorite Scottish cashmere, each piece is made with care and consideration that is inherent in a founder-owned family business. 1832 Fourth St. 

Miki’s Paper: Miki’s Paper specializes in exquisite papers from Japan and other regions of the world. Selections range from unique papers for gift wrapping and crafting, to one-of-a-kind original works of art. Artists and connoisseurs alike will enjoy Miki’s truly unique selection of rare, vintage papers. The store handcrafts cards using rich silk-screen printed Japanese papers, Italian hand-marbled, and hand-painted Thai paper. Additionally, Miki’s offers beautiful Japanese-style gift wrapping services for every special occasion. 1801 Fourth St.

Molly b: The whimsical window displays here are alone worth a visit to Fourth Street. Since 1985, owner Susan Trefethen has offered an inspired and eclectic mix of irresistible apparel and colorful artisanal accessories. Molly b items are wearable art. Dedicated to supporting designers and to artistic, personal expression, Susan seeks items with surprising and unique styles, exquisite fabrics, and notable detailing. Seasonal items might include delicate embroidered silks from Vietnam, subtle architectural designs from Europe, and feminine vintage-inspired separates. 1811 Fourth St.

Ruti: Bold and daring designs pair with retro trends, and comfy and stylish weekend looks at Ruti, where each and every item is sourced from Tel Aviv-based designers. Items are conveniently grouped by color, making it a bit easier to browse the racks of beautiful items. Ruti stocks a mix of women's ready-to-wear shoes, bags and jewelry showcasing a carefully curated collection of chic, modern staples and statement-making accessories. 1829 Fourth St.

Stained Glass Garden: Spreading the joy of glass art on Fourth Street for 40 years and counting, Stained Glass Garden seeks to enrich the community through their glass education center, gallery of locally crafted giftware, and custom glass services for home improvement projects. The shop is a glass art gallery offering tools, supplies, and glass for glass craftspeople and also offers hands-on interactive classes where guests can learn to make their own stained glass, fused or mosaic pieces. 1800 Fourth St.

Vintage European Posters: This is one of the leading dealers of original advertising posters from Europe and the United States. Vintage European Posters features 2,500 original pieces for sale, a permanent collection of “Collector Favorites,” and a substantial collection of bicycle, travel, aviation, opera, food, wine, liquor and agriculture posters as well as military posters from WWI and WWII. The store offers custom framing of original posters to archival standard, appraisals of collections, and state of the art restoration services of antique paper. Open most Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. and by appointment 2201 Fourth St.

Iyasare's Sashimi Salad

Need a refreshment break during your outing? We recommend lunch or dinner at Iyasare, noted chef-proprietor Shotaro Kamio’s lovely and intimate Japanese restaurant featuring seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients, and the simple and rustic flavors of Kamio’s Tohoku region. At this San Francisco Chronicle three-star spot, Chef Kamio cooks in a modern and open kitchen, blending the obscure with the familiar for surprisingly extraordinary tastes. You won’t go wrong ordering one of the three ramen dishes offered at lunch, but don’t miss the unique Kaki-Age Tempura – grated burdock root, yellow onion, sweet potato, shungiku (chrysanthemum greens), and shiitake mushrooms (you may add shrimp) – each ingredient is grated or chopped, then lightly batter fried and served in a large wedge with a bonito soy broth. Amazing! If you dine here for lunch, you’ll surely want to return another time for dinner when Chef Kamio presents a totally different menu. The comfortable, casual, and refined restaurant features craft beer, wine and sake. Take a seat on the patio overlooking Fourth Street in warmer weather. 1830 Fourth St.

Upcoming special events on Fourth Street:

Meet Santa and his elf in their tent across from Peet’s coffee every Saturday and Sunday from December 10 through December 18 from 12 – 4pm

Live music every Saturday and Sunday: Fourth Street hosts an array of live performances by various groups during this holiday season, every Saturday and Sunday at 1776 Fourth Street. See the event calendar here.

Extended store hours and valet parking: Through December 23, various stores on Fourth Street will host extended holiday hours each Friday and Saturday until 7:00 p.m. or later. For the second year in a row, Fourth Street provides valet parking (outside Bare Escentuals) each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday plus the full week before Christmas from 11:00am to 9:30pm