Strada’s success may not seem surprising – after all, it’s close to campus and student housing. But Berkeley has many cafes that share these benefits without the same success. There are at least 10 places on campus to buy coffee, and Cafe Milano has prime real estate across from Sproul Plaza.
But the welcoming atmosphere of Strada places it above its competitors, believes owner Daryl Ross. When Ross was a UC Berkeley student, he found some cafes intimidating. “The scene was so intense, and it was like cliques had formed within the cafe,” he said. With its outdoor seating and European ambiance, Ross feels Strada provides a more casual culture.
Of course, the coffee is held to a high standard. According to Ross, employees can make coffee drinks only after six months of observation. This commitment to quality, combined with Strada’s setting, has earned it seemingly irrevocable rights to the throne.
On a beautiful day in Berkeley, you’ll see Sproul Plaza artfully splashed with the eclectics of the afternoon. There’s Yoshua, handing out his doomsday propaganda. There’s the countless brigade of students handing out their own faceless fliers. Sproul Plaza is a place to meet, a place to greet; a place made famous by Mario Savio, by Barack Obama’s televised inauguration speech, and by the plethora of protests, marches and demonstrations that pass through. It defines Berkeley and its history, and serves as the beating heart to a teeming, growing city.
Sproul is considered the best place to people-watch in Berkeley because it seamlessly combines the community with the campus. For this reason, Sproul is one of my favorite places; it’s the quintessential intersection between Telegraph Avenue and Sather Gate, the place that attracts activity daily. It is a place to revel in Berkeley’s characters, and essentially, in Berkeley’s spirit. The city is known as “Berzerkeley” for its characters, its creeps, its combined insanity and its integral place alongside San Francisco in a progressive-thinking world. Come sit at Sproul. You never know who – or what – you’ll find.