36 minutes in the Lorin District

A mural in the Lorin District. Photo courtesy of BART staff.
 
Started as an unincorporated streetcar settlement south of Berkeley in the 19th century, the Lorin District carries its rail history by being home to the Ashby BART Station. Often used interchangeably with “South Berkeley” to denote its geography, the Lorin District is now a commercial district clustered with antique stores, renowned bakeries, eye-popping murals and restaurants and a thriving Black presence despite recent gentrification in the area. While Ashby Station historically served commuters from bedroom communities, the growing Lorin District is forcing the question of whether it deserves a new look for tourists and locals alike. So what can you do with your 36 minutes in the Lorin District? Let us walk you through. 

Editor's Note: Please wear a mask while riding BART. Before you travel, use our Trip Planner to get estimated arrival and departure times. Learn what to expect when you return to BART here.
 
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Easy Creole restaurant from the outside. Photo courtesy of BART staff.

If you’re looking for the heart of the Lorin District, head to the intersection of Adeline St and Alcatraz Ave. The New Orleans-inspired restaurant Easy Creole and Hoi Polloi Brewing sit side by side on the northern side of the intersection and provide an urban oasis parklet. Customers frequently buy food from Easy Creole and drinks from Hoi Polloi and share them outdoors or at either place indoors. Its neighbors are also quintessential Berkeley: Alchemy Collective Café and Roaster, a Black worker-owned cooperative; Youth Spirit Artworks, a job and arts empowerment program; Hercules Records, a vinyl record store; Biketopia, a volunteer-run bicycle repair and education space; and more.
 
Flacos restaurant from the outside. Photo courtesy of BART staff.

Ashby Station is adjacent to Ed Roberts Campus, a campus dedicated to disability rights and universal access. (All BART stations are accessible for those with disabilities with elevators and escalators.) Ada Café in Ed Roberts campus is a modern respite to grab coffee and banh mi. A block north is Flacos, a neighborhood favorite serving vegan Mexican food out of a small shack.
 
Shotgun Players theater from the outside. Photo courtesy of BART staff.

Across Ashby Avenue from Ashby Station’s parking lot, the Shotgun Players at the Ashby Stage is the best-known entertainment venue in the area. The Shotgun Players are accommodating patrons in the COVID age with live-streamed performances called “Bridge Series.” Entering its 30th anniversary, the Shotgun Players’ are now selling single tickets for future theater plays and performances. 
 
A mural in the Lorin District. Photo courtesy of BART staff.

The Lorin District is also home to two longstanding markets, one notably on BART property. The Berkeley Flea Market is held every Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 5pm, hosting booths which sell art, antiques, and food represented on all four corners of the globe. The South Berkeley Farmer’s Market is held every Tuesday from 2-6:30pm on 63rd St and Adeline St (a block away from Easy Creole) selling some of the freshest locally grown produce and processed foods found anywhere in the Bay Area. 
 
Lois the Pie Queen restaurant from the outside. Photo courtesy of BART staff.

The Lorin District also has a rich history of Black-owned businesses, and its cornerstone lies at the southern end of the neighborhood. Lois the Pie Queen, on 60th St and Adeline St, has been serving some of the most renowned breakfast and pies in the Bay Area for 50 years. With the slogan “Food that Warms the Soul,” patrons often line up to get in the old-school diner to get themselves fried chicken, bacon and eggs, or the famous “Reggie Jackson Special” (two fried pork chops, two eggs any style, choice of hash browns, grits or rice, plus your choice of homemade biscuits, an English muffin or wheat toast and coffee or juice) -- named after the Oakland A’s baseball star from the 1970s. Lois the Pie Queen now also sells weekend dinners, available Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 4:30-8:30pm.

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What's your favorite spot in the Lorin District? Have a suggestion for our next 36 minutes feature? Let us know via social media, @SFBARTable #SFBARTable! Keep up with us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to see all of the best BARTable (virtual) events, places to eat (grab take out from) and have fun (outside) around the Bay.