Berkeley’s Ethnic Ingredient Enclave

Photo of Frida Kahlo

Berkeley is such a dynamic food destination that within a few square miles you can pretty much eat your way around the globe. The northwestern part of the city, between Fourth Street and San Pablo Avenue, and Delaware Street and University Avenue, boasts popular ethnic markets that offer an authentic shopping experience. Yes, you can source similar ingredients online, but by doing so you miss out on the opportunity to interact with other customers and shop owners, taking in all the scents and “flavors” of each market.

Pastries at Casa Latina

Fresh Mexican pastries at Casa Latina, located at 1805 San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley. 

The North Berkeley BART station is a short walk from this ethnic ingredient enclave and is accessible once you exit the station on the Delaware Street side. Walk west on Delaware Street for 6 blocks until you reach San Pablo Avenue. (If possible, don’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy a fresh Mexican pastry at Casa Latina before you begin your ingredient hunt.)

Cookbooks at the Spanish Table in Berkeley

Cookbooks at The Spanish Table, located at 1814 San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley.

From the corner of Delaware and San Pablo Avenue you can spot the Spanish flag flying at the Spanish Table. While shopping for regional Spanish wine, chorizo, oil-packed tuna, and North African spices, check out the Spanish cookbook section, which carries many versions in Spanish. If you find yourself inquiring about a giant paella pan, wondering how you’ll carry it back on BART, no worries. The friendly staff here will gladly fulfill your order in person and ship items (case of wine, set of cazuelas, and that giant paella pan) to your home.

Halal Food Market in Berkeley

Indus Food Center, located at 1920 San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley.

Continue south on San Pablo Avenue and you’ll discover the exotic Indus Food Center and Halal Food Market. Both shops offer a large inventory of Middle Eastern and broader Asian ingredients for dishes like Biryani (basmati, ghee, ginger, cardamom), chai, and kulcha with jarred condiments. Both also offer halal butchers if kosher is a consideration. They are next to each other so if one is busy, check out the other. Prices are extremely reasonable.

Spices found along North Berkeley's Middle Eastern and Asian shops

At the corner of University and San Pablo Avenue are two Indian markets that are known for their expansive selection of rice, legumes, cooking vessels, spices, and prepared sweets. Milan International is larger and better suited for bulk buying and harder-to-find ingredients. Bombay Spice House is the opposite and perfectly organized and a peaceful oasis. Look for fresh curry leaves, alternative flours like carob, bitter melon, and a good selection of ceremonial items and cooking supplies.

Mi Tierra Foods carries a large selection of fresh produce, masa, dried chiles and other Mexican and Latin American ingredients

Mi Tierra Foods is located at 2082 San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley.

Further south on San Pablo Avenue is Mi Tierra Foods, which carries a large selection of fresh produce, masa, dried chiles, and other Mexican and Latin American ingredients. There’s a small eatery inside so grab something to eat before you head back down San Pablo Avenue again to catch the train. Alternatively, you can walk up University Avenue and reach BART by heading north on Sacramento Street. Who knows, you might find a new spot to explore.

Ready to eat your way around the globe? 

Casa Latina
1805 San Pablo Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94702
(510) 558-7177

Spanish Table
1814 San Pablo Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94702
(510) 548-1383

Indus Food Center
1920 San Pablo Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94702
(510) 549-3663

Halal Food Market
1964 San Pablo Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94702
(510) 845-2000

Milan International
990 University Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94710
(510) 843-9600

Bombay Spice House
1036 University Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94710
(510) 845-5200

Mi Tierra Foods
2082 San Pablo Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94702
(510) 540-8946

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