Real estate in Oakland Rockridge has always been in high demand. The below article appeard on SFGate’s  Neighborhood section. It gives a terrific snapshot of the neighborhoods vibrant culture, food and shoping. If you’d like information about homes for sale in Rockridge I welcome you to contact me directly . Have a terrific day. Brian Santilena Realtor-CRS Pacific Union Real Estate Oakland CA.
What’s Rockridge Like?
Prior to the building of the Bay Bridge in 1936, Rockridge, located at the foot of the Oakland Hills between Alcatraz Avenue to the north and 51st Street to the south, and between Telegraph Avenue to the west and Broadway to the east, was a sleepy neighborhood of cottages and bungalows owned by those who preferred the quiet life to the urban bustle of San Francisco across the bay.
Today, many of these homes remain, and they represent some of the most coveted real estate in the Bay Area, for several reasons: the weather in this particular microclimate is often sunny and warm; the commute from the Rockridge BART is easy; the homes on the leafy residential streets have been charmingly restored; and the area’s main thoroughfare, College Avenue, is lined with atmospheric cafes, gourmet restaurants, independent bookstores and antiques shops that people go out of their way to patronize.
Consequently, real estate prices have soared — to the point that most professionals cannot afford to live here. Still, it makes a pleasant day trip, and, if you’re lucky enough to score an apartment in the area, an even nicer place to live.
Although some have derided the neighborhood for being too upscale, too yuppie, Rockridge is, unlike many other gentrified areas, ethnically diverse. After all, this is still Oakland, the most integrated city in the United States. It’s true, the area has a chic edge. But it’s also a place where people greet each other on the street, chat in line while they wait for their burritos at Cactus Taqueria, walk home together from BART. In the hamlet of Rockridge, a down-home feel prevails.
Getting to Rockridge
Driving: From Highway 24 East, take the Claremont Avenue exit. Head northeast on Claremont to reach College Avenue.
BART: The Rockridge BART station is at 5665 College Ave. See BART’s Web site for a local area map and information about bike lockers, disabled access and AC Transit connections. There’s also a City CarShare pod at the Rockridge BART station if you’re a member and want to drop off or pick up a car. (Second Rockridge location at Oak Grove.)
AC Transit: Check schedule information for the 7 Del Norte BART-Rockridge BART, 17 Powell Plaza-Rockridge BART, 51 Berkeley-Oakland-Alameda or 64 Downtown Berkeley-Merritt College.
Sights & Culture in Rockridge
Rockridge doesn’t have any tourist sights — it’s just a really nice place to live and hang out. However, curious visitors might be interested in the Firestorm Community Mural Project. Located outside the Rockridge BART station, this collection of more than 2,000 handpainted tiles pays tribute to those who fought, and those who were lost in, the 1991 Oakland Hills firestorm. Some of the more moving tiles were created by kids who lost pets and families who wanted to honor the firefighters who risked their lives to save their homes. The project is a beautiful representation of the community feeling that is such an important part of Rockridge. Rockridge BART, 5660 College Ave., Oakland.
The Rockridge Branch Library is a particularly pleasant public library, with an arbor of wisteria out front and sunny reading rooms inside. 5366 College Ave. at Manila, (510) 597-5017. (Web site)
Garden Walk: Rockridge is known for its cute bungalows and abundant gardens. Those who are interested in home decor and gardening might take a stroll along its residential streets, particularly on Lawton and Manila between Shafter to the west and Broadway to the east.
Restaurants in Rockridge
À Côté: French for “next to,” À Côté is an intimate, casually stylish spot that offers French café and bistro standards, but serves them tapas style. The mussels with Pernod and bite-sized croque monsieur are delicious, and the clubby atmosphere and specialty drinks — lip-smacking mojitos and caipirinhas — make it a pleasant place to spend an evening out. 5478 College Ave. (between Taft and Lawton), (510) 655-6469. (Chronicle Review)
A Cuppa Tea: Two high-ceilinged rooms are crowded with overstuffed chairs and sofas, wooden tables and, usually, lots of customers. There are toys for the kids and computers with Internet service for the adults, as well as a wide selection of tea, coffee and treats. 3202 College Ave. (at Alcatraz), (510) 420-0196.
Barney’s Gourmet Hamburgers: There are two reasons to come to Barney’s: succulent burgers and spicy curly fries. On a Saturday afternoon, accompanied by a glass of root beer, the combination can’t be beat. This is also one of those rare burger joints where the vegetarian selections are just as good as the meat dishes — the tofu burger and the portobello mushroom burger are both outstanding. Part of a Bay Area chain, this outlet is close to the BART station. 5819 College Ave. (between Oak Grove and Chabot), (510) 601-0444.
Bittersweet – A Chocolate Cafe: Dedicated to chocolate in all its forms. Premium cocoa is whipped into various hot chocolate and coffee drinks, baked into their cinnamon hot chocolate cake, and displayed on the wall of chocolate bars available for purchase. The coffee is Blue Bottle brand, which is to say super-fresh and brewed by the cup. Wooden benches and tables are shared when the rather small place gets crowded. 5427 College Ave., (510) 654-7159.
Cactus Taqueria: There are other taquerias in Rockridge, but nobody pays them much attention. Why would you, when you can dig into portobello mushroom burritos or Niman Ranch carnitas tacos in a colorful, casual spot just steps from the BART station? To drink, there are delicious aguas frescas (the watermelon and cantaloupe varieties are the perennial favorites), plus a small selection of Mexican beers. 5642 College Ave. (at Shafter/Keith), (510) 658-6180.
Claremont Diner: Red upholstered booths, a black-and-white tile floor and a choo-choo train that runs on an elevated track above diners’ heads set the retro vibe, and the menu fits the setting. Though the food has a reputation of being so-so, some items, like fluffy omelets, home fries, muffins and pies, do stand out. Service is prompt and friendly. 6200 Claremont Ave. (at College Ave.), (510) 655-5455. (Chronicle Review: Claremont food is firmly rooted in diner tradition)
Cole Coffee: The strongest and arguably best drip coffee in the neighborhood is brewed one individual cup at a time in this effortlessly hip corner cafe. The outside tables are fabulous see-and-be-seen hangouts: Grab a latte and a good book and spend some time with local professionals, artists, would-be artists, would-be professionals, bikers of both varieties, moms, pops, kids and their dogs. 6255 College Ave. (btw. 62nd and 63rd Sts.), (510) 985-1958.
Crepevine: Offerings at this Bay Area chain range from crepes with lemon, butter and sugar to enormous ones like the San Francisco, which is stuffed with smoked salmon, capers, red onion, spinach and provolone. The quality of the dishes and the service could use improvement, but its location near BART and the sunny, two-story space keeps people coming. 5600 College Ave. (at Ocean View), (510) 658-2026.
Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream: Although it faces stiff competition from more gourmet College Avenue ice cream purveyors such as Tara’s and Ici, Dreyer’s delivers a classic ice cream parlor experience with a scoop of history. Be sure to sample the green tea and the rocky road, a flavor invented by company founder William Dreyer in 1929. 5925 College Ave. (between Chabot and Harwood), (510) 658-0520.
La Farine: One of the few French-inspired bakeries that actually looks, and tastes, like a real French boulangerie, La Farine is famous for its cinnamon- and sugar-laden morning buns, even though the woman who created them no longer owns the place. The croissants and brioches are also memorable. There’s only one table in the place, but it’s a nice one — antique marble — and it’s a good spot for meeting regulars. 6323 College Ave. (between 63rd Street and Alcatraz), (510) 654-0338.
Filippo’s Pastaria: Head to Filippo’s for pillowy gnocchi bolognese, the freshest insalata mista and smooth Chianti — at bargain prices. The sidewalk tables are a good choice on a rare warm night. If it’s too cool outside, the interior is casual but cozy. 5400 College Ave. (at Kales), (510) 601-8646.
Garibaldi’s On College: This outpost of Garibaldi’s On Presidio in San Francisco has a slightly suburban feel. It could be the clientele — older, moneyed, conservative — or the plush decor, which looks as if it were ordered directly from a catalog. Expect solid, satisfying California-Mediterranean dishes, such as herb-crusted Ahi, thin-crust pizzas and filet mignon. 5356 College Ave. (between Bryant and Hudson), (510)595-4000. (Chronicle Review: Garibaldis rivals S.F.’s best)
Isobune Sushi: The sushi is decent, and some people like the little boats. But others would rather go to Uzen. 5897 College Ave. (at Chabot), (510) 601-1424.
Marica Seafood Restaurant: This newish spot, with its straightforward seafood classics like oysters on the half shell, fried calamari and crab cakes, has yet to draw a crowd, perhaps because the prices are a little high and the interior a little spare. 5301 College Ave. (between Clifton and Hudson), (510) 985-8388. (Chronicle Review: Marica takes seafood up a notch)
Nan Yang: Sound Burmese dishes — green papaya salad and curried chicken noodles — are prepared by well-known chef Charles Pham and served in a basic modern interior. 6048 College Ave. (between Armanino and Claremont), (510) 655-3298.
Oliveto Cafe and Restaurant: People come from all over the Bay Area — indeed, from all over the nation — to sample chef Paul Bertolli’s deceptively simple Italian cuisine made with five-star ingredients. The upstairs restaurant is handsome, with honey-colored walls, custom-designed wrought iron railings and abundant flower arrangements. One of the best-kept secrets in Rockridge is the downstairs cafe, where stylish locals spend their mornings lounging over perfect cappuccinos and croissants fresh from the oven, and their evenings sipping wine and sampling rustic pizzas. In Market Hall, 5655 College Ave. (at Shafter/Keith), (510) 547-5356. (Chronicle Review: Oliveto should become a dining mecca) Paul Bertolli leaves Oliveto
Peaberry’s Coffee & Tea: Those who find Oliveto next door a little too chic take their java at Peaberry’s. The little sidewalk tables are tough to score, but if you get one, you’ll enjoy prime views of the Rockridge scene. Market Hall, 5655 College Ave. (at Keith), (510) 653-0450.
Rockridge Cafe: A homey neighborhood spot that serves breakfast all day, plus simple American sandwiches and tangy olallieberry pie. 5492 College Ave. (between Taft and Lawton), (510) 653-1567.
Pizza Rustica: Those who can’t deal with the crowds at Zachary’s (see listing below) or prefer their pizza thin sometimes end up at Rustica. Try the margherita-style. The upstairs Conga Room lounge is available for parties. 5422 College Ave. (between Manila and Kales), (510) 654-1601.
Soi4 Bangkok Eatery: A chic interior — leather paneled walls, concrete floors, polished wood tables — lures diners, but the food keeps them coming back. Tall glasses of Singha complement typical Thai street food: crispy paupia, chicken satay, Thai-style omelets and pan-fried dumplings stuffed with minced pork and shrimp. It’s night market food in a nightclub environment. 5421 College Ave. (between Manila and Kales), (510) 655-0889. (Chronicle Review: Soi4 takes Thai to new heights)
Sabuy Sabuy: With its beach shack-like exterior, funky garden and spicy home cooking, this Thai restaurant has a tropical feel. The place is usually buzzing; locals come in for a quick meal or to pick up take-out. Try any of the well-prepared classics — ka ree gai (yellow curry with chicken and potatoes), moo prik khing (pork with green beans and spicy ginger paste) or spicy tom kha gai (chicken simmered in lemongrass broth with a touch of coconut milk). 5231 College Ave. at Broadway, (510) 653-8587.
Suzy Q Korean Barbecue: The Tuscan yellow walls, white tablecloths and wine racks filled with Italian offerings are leftovers from Sergio’s, the restaurant that used to be here, but the food couldn’t be more different. Cooking is done in the kitchen instead of on table-top hibachis, but some dishes, like twaejibulgogi (barbecued pork in a sweet/hot sauce), still have plenty of flavor. The man du gook soup teems with delicious hand-made, beef-filled potstickers. The mung bean pancakes appetizer is also good. (–SF Chronicle, SF Gate) 5299 College Ave. (near Broadway), (510) 655-2869. (Chronicle Review: Could be reliable for Rockridge neighbors who appreciate Korean food)
Tachibana: Except for the Japanese-style fountain in the front of the room, the interior is a little drab. The sushi, however, is very good. 5812 College Ave. (between Oak Birch and Chabot), (510) 654-3668.
Uzen: This tiny storefront has a pleasing industrial decor and delicious sushi at reasonable prices. The edamame is perfectly cooked, the miso is silky and fortifying and the spicy tuna roll might be the best in the Bay Area. 5415 College Ave. (between Kales and Taft), (510) 654-7753. (Chronicle Review: Uzen crafts simple, superb sushi)
Zachary’s Chicago Pizza: Whoever decided to combine Chicago-style pizza (read: thick) with quality California ingredients is a genius. Zach’s special, the spinach and mushroom pie, is absolutely addicting. Thin-crust versions are available, but Chronicle reviewer Kim Severson notes they seem “awfully pedestrian sitting at the same table with [their] tall, cheesy big sisters” and are “no pizza to wait for.” One warning: Zachary’s is always crowded. To enjoy the atmosphere to the fullest, come early, place your pizza order, squeeze in with the hordes, sip a mug of beer and marvel at the wacky pizza art on the walls. When your pie is ready, your reward will be pizza nirvana. Cash only. 5801 College Ave. (at Oak Grove), (510) 655-6385. There’s another location in Berkeley, too. 1853 Solano Ave., (510) 525-5950. (Chronicle Review: Zachary’s pizza worth the wait)
Shopping in Rockridge
Food & Wine
If Rockridge is about anything, it’s about eating and drinking well. Consequently, it’s almost impossible to stroll along College Avenue without gathering delectables for a gourmet feast.
Great Harvest Bread Company: This corner bakery sells delicious breads — from Irish soda to Oregon herb, cinnamon chip to pecan swirl. You’ll only be disappointed if you crave a baguette — alas, they don’t bake them. 5800 College Ave. (at Birch), (510) 655-4442.
Market Hall: A Bay Area version of a French marché, Market Hall (5655 College Ave. at Keith) is a visually and gastronomically stimulating place to do the grocery shopping. To rev yourself up, start with a latte at Peaberry’s Coffee & Tea, (510) 653-0450. Then buy a baguette straight from the oven at Market Hall Bakery; fresh ravioli and artisan cheeses at The Pasta Shop, (510) 547-4005; a terrific bottle of wine at Paul Marcus Wines, where there are no bad choices, (510) 420-1005; superb ahi or steaks at Enzo’s Meat & Poultry, (510) 547-5839; and fresh fruits and vegetables at Market Hall Produce, (510) 601-8202. On your way out, stop at Bloomies for an armful of blue hydrangeas, (510) 547-0444. (Web site)
Katrina Rozelle: Pastries and desserts, made to order or for takeout. 5931 College Ave. (between Chabot and Harwood), (510) 655-3209.
Yasai Market: This picturesque corner market sells beautiful fruits and vegetables, as well as organic dry goods. 6301 College Ave. (at 63rd Street), (510) 655-4880. Next door are Vino! (6319 College Ave., (510) 652-6317) for fine wines; Ver Brugge Foods (6321 College Ave., (510) 658-6854) for meat and pâtés; and The Meadows flower shop (6301 College Ave., (510) 653-3322), which gives Market Hall’s Bloomies a run for its money.
Home and Garden
Rockridge has become a destination for antique hunters from all over the country. Arts and Crafts, French country, vintage modern — all are well represented in the shops that line College Avenue. In addition to antiques, there are several stores that specialize in reproduction furniture.
Bella Vita: This jewel of a shop features a charming mix of American and French antiques, collectibles and clothing, the kind of treasures you’d find at one of the smaller antiques markets in Paris or a flea market in America’s heartland. 5407 College Ave. (between and Kales and Taft), (510) 653-1639.
Brass and Glass: Well-crafted reproductions of antique brass and iron beds, at modern prices. 5377 College Ave. (at Manila), (510) 654-0929.
Claremont Rug Company (6087 Claremont Ave. at College, (510) 654-0816) is one of two local antique carpet dealers that attracts serious collectors. The other is Hazara Gallery (6042 College Ave., (510) 655-3511). The Levant (5450 College Ave., (510) 653-2196) also sells new and antique carpets, plus it offers rug repair and cleaning.
Fenton MacLaren: Refinished antique mahogany furniture — from Mission chairs to Chippendale china cabinets — is sold here, in addition to some new pieces. The company’s two other two locations, on San Pablo in Berkeley, sell oak and unfinished pine furniture. 5533 College Ave. (between Lawton and Ocean View), (510) 658-1414.
Form Vintage Modern: A mod little gallery specializing in mid-century American, Dutch, French and Italian furniture, as well as reproduction housewares and decorative pieces. 5330 College Ave. (between Bryant and Manila), (510) 420-1950.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: All three categories are represented in this musty little shop. 5322 College Ave. (between Bryant and Manila), (510)420-1740.
Homesteader: Furniture painted in the “shabby chic” style, ceramic pots and dinnerware are sold in this homey little shop. 5914 College Ave. (between Chabot and Harwood), (510) 652-9677.
John Favors Estate Liquidation: African baskets, a window from a French restaurant, painted French country furniture — these are the things one might find in Favors’ tiny store. 5322 College Ave. (at Bryant), (510) 420-1740.
Loot: French and Dutch painted furniture, guilded mirrors, English steamer trunks, toile blankets and a wonderful assortment of decorative items are found at this antique shop, where everything is of high quality. 5358 College Ave. (between Lawton and Ocean View), (510) 652-3996.
Maison d’Être: This place was meant to be photographed. Gorgeous Francophilia abounds, all of it overpriced. Look for vintage prints and linens, magnificent wardrobes, long farmhouse tables and plush blankets for pampered babies. Everything is so pretty, you’ll forget your sticker shock. 5640 College Ave. (at Keith), (510) 658-2801.
Murasaki: Those who want to create Tokyo in California can find all they need here — shoji screens, futon beds, tatami mats, buckwheat pillows and dinnerware. 6050 College Ave. (between Armanino and Florio), (510) 547-6252.
Rockridge Antiques: Ever wonder where all of those people who own Craftsman bungalows shop? This is the place. You’ll find antique and reproduction Arts and Crafts furniture for the home and office. 5601 College Ave. (between Ocean View and Keith/Shafter), (510) 652-7115.
Talisman Antiques: A collection of used and antique furniture and knickknacks, with an emphasis on tansu chests. 6007 College Ave. (at Armanino), (510) 653-7998.
The number of art galleries in Rockridge has grown in recent years. The following galleries, along with several framing shops, are found on College Avenue just north of the BART station.
Christensen-Heller: A two-room gallery that represents a variety of artists who work in photography, blown glass, jewelry and objets d’art. 5831 College Ave. (between Birch and Chabot), (510) 655-5952.
A Different Angle: This gallery sells photographs of Europe and Napa that have a more commercial, rather than artistic, feel. 5833 College Ave. (at Miles), (510) 653-8848.
Thelma Harris Gallery: People come from all over the country to visit Harris’ gallery, which carries a wide range of fine art — paintings, sculpture and photography — by American, Caribbean and African artists. 5940 College Ave. (at Armanino), (510) 654-0443.
Rockridge has two great bookstores, where you’re bound to find that obscure magazine or novel you’ve been wanting to read.
Diesel: A nicely stocked, spacious, independent bookstore that features regular readings by noted authors. Books displayed on the “Top 100” wall are picked by Diesel’s clientele, and tables of featured titles are often inspired by “wildly imagined themes.” The Chronicle also notes that “Diesel’s workers are so helpful that they are almost pathologically pleasant.” 5433 College Ave. (between Kales and Taft), (510) 653-9965. (Web site)
Pendragon: A perfect little bookstore — cozy and low-key, with a nice selection of new and used books, international magazines and newspapers and a friendly staff that makes good recommendations. Owned by the same folks who run Pegasus in Berkeley. 5560 College Ave. (at Ocean View), (510) 652-6259.
Yes, there are yuppies in Rockridge. But thanks to the California School of Arts and Crafts and cheaper housing in nearby Temescal, there are also a number of young hipsters who can be found sifting through the racks at the Groove Yard or strumming a vintage steel-string at Flashback Guitars.
Flashback Guitars: A tiny little guitar shop with new, used and vintage gear. 5243 College Ave. (between Broadway and Bryant), (510) 428-1980.
Clothing and Accessories
Until recently, Rockridge offered only resale and outdoorsy clothing, mostly for women. Although men’s clothing continues to be underrepresented, the appearance of the sophisticated boutique FIT and high-style shoe store Twenty-Two has elevated the local clothing scene to a more stylish level.
Birkenstock Connection: Comfort trumps style at the Birkenstock Connection, where folks in purple sox try on a selection of clogs and sandals. 6012 College Ave. (between Armanino and Florio), (510) 658-9742.
Cotton Basics: This Bay Area mini-chain has outfitted many a soccer mom. Even those who don’t have kids will find the T-shirts and leggings comfortable. 5540 College Ave. (between Lawton and Ocean View), (510) 653-0383.
Crossroads Trading Co.: This used clothing chain is known as a good place for bargain hunting. The turnover of men’s and women’s vintage and almost-new clothing is high, so it’s always easy to find something of interest on the racks. 5636 College Ave. (between Ocean View and Keith/Shafter), (510) 420-5849. (Web site)
FIT: It sounds like a store that sells sports bras, but FIT actually stocks beautiful, expensive women’s clothing. The Autumn Cashmere sweaters are particularly lovely, and well worth a splurge. 5707 College Ave. (between Miles and Birch), (510) 923-0784.
In Full Swing: Stylish, well-made clothing for plus-sized women. 5937 College Ave. (between Chabot and Harwood), (510) 654-5144.
Madame Butterfly: The vintage clothing in this cramped store isn’t very well cared for, but you might find something of interest if you don’t mind digging. 5474 College Ave. (between Kales and Taft), (510) 653-1525.
Modern Eye Optometry (5802 College Ave. between Oak Grove and Chabot, (510) 653-4242) is one of two eyeglass shops in the area. The selection of frames is decent, but no where near as good as the selection at Next Eyewear (5417 College Ave. between Kales and Taft, (510) 601-6398), where the spectacles are so cool, even those with 20/20 vision will want to wear them.
Ovation: Trina Turk dresses, Michael Stars T-shirts and other flirty styles for women keep Ovation hopping. 3206 College Ave. (between 63rd and Alcatraz), (510) 652-9111.
Pavé: There are a few other jewelry stores in Rockridge, but none that offer the quality of Pavé. Both new designs and antique pieces are sold. 5482 College Ave. (between Taft and Lawton), (510) 547-7181.
Agatha Rainford: Claudette Black seems to know everyone who walks into her boutique, which features womanly clothing, hats and jewelry. 6025 College Ave. (between Armanino and Florio), (510) 595-0837.
Soirée Bridal Boutique: Exquisite, one-of-a-kind bridal and party dresses lure women from all over the Bay Area. 5405 College Ave. (between Kales and Taft), (510) 601-5822.
Twenty-two: A sleek interior provides an inviting stage for sublime footwear from top designers: Marc Jacobs, Robert Clergerie, Jet and Espace. A shoe addict’s dream — and nightmare, given the prices. 5856 College Ave. (between Birch and Chabot), (510) 594-2201. (Web site)
Zip Mama’s: Whimsical clothing and accessories for women. Personal taste dictates whether one finds the designs “fun!” or loud. 5940 College Ave. (at Harwood), (510) 653-3354.
With the jogging, biking and hiking trails of the Oakland Hills just minutes away, Rockridge has, fittingly, a number of shops that cater to active men and women.
Body Options: No-name workout gear at low prices, plus some Nike and Adidas. Part of a Bay Area-wide chain. 3212 College Ave. (between 63rd and Alcatraz), (510) 595-8101.
Hank and Frank Bicycles: Specializing in mountain bikes and cycling accessories. There’s a second location in Lafayette. 6030 College Ave. (between Armanino and Florio), (510) 654-2453.
See Jane Run: A wide range of quality activewear for women, including maternity wear, actually inspires exercise. There’s another store in San Francisco’s Noe Valley. 5817 College Ave. (between Birch and Chabot), (510) 428-2681.
Tran Sports: Activewear for swimmers, runners and bikers. Shoes, too. 6022 College Ave. (between Armanino and Florio), (510) 655-4809. Crafts
For those who like to do it themselves, Rockridge has two interesting crafts shops, plus the Oakland campus of the California College of Arts and Crafts (5212 Broadway), where students of all ages study fine art, photography and fashion.
High Strung: Beads! High Strung hosts beading classes and jewelry-making parties, too. 5461 College Ave. (between Kales and Taft), (510) 923-9482.
Poppy Fabrics: A destination for the Martha Stewarts of the world. There are rows upon rows of good-quality fabrics and trims, and the staff is always friendly and helpful. 5151 Broadway (at College), (510) 655-5151.
Italian perfume? Gourmet doggie bones? A gargoyle for your garden? You’ll find it all here.
Heartfelt (6309 College Ave. between 63rd and Alcatraz, (510) 655-9806) is one of many card-cum-gift shops in the area, but with a few unique items, including reproductions of vintage American tablecloths and pretty, Asian-inspired lamp shades. For those who are looking for quality stationery and invitations, Impressions Ink (6251 College Ave. at 62nd Street, (510) 658-2840) merits a stop.
Ildi and Co.: Amid the faux French stuff are some standout items — hand-blown wine glasses, good-quality tablecloths, leather photo albums and colognes and soaps from one of Italy’s oldest pharmacies, Florence’s Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. 5902 College Ave. (at Harwood), (510) 655-1164.
Redhound: Beds, leashes and treats for the pampered pooch. 5523 College Ave. (between Lawton and Ocean View), (510) 428-2785.
An area of first-time home buyers and young parents, Rockridge is a kid-friendly place where it’s always easy to pick up something for the baby.
Baby World: One of two shops (the other is on Piedmont Avenue) that stock cribs, kids’ beds, strollers, nursery items and a complete line of “infant fashions.” 6000 College Ave. (at Armanino), (510) 655-2828.
Child’s Play: A giant selection of good-quality used clothing for babies, tots and kids. There are some new and used toys, too. 5858 College Ave. (between Birch and Chabot), (510) 653-3989.
Cotton and Company: Clothing for children who aren’t supposed to get dirty. They also stock maternity clothes and furniture and bedding for wee ones. 5901 College Ave. (between Chabot and Harwood), (510) 653-8058.
Rockridge Kids: Even adults might feel inspired to hunker down on the floor and test out some of these brightly-colored toys. There are cute outfits for tots, too. 5511 College Ave. (between Lawton and Ocean View), (510) 601-5437.
Alta Bates Showcase (5615 College Ave.) is one of several thrift shops in Rockridge that supports local charities. The goods vary from week to week and are not usually of the antique variety, but every once in a while, one finds a gem. The others are Bambino Thrift Shop (5290 College Ave.) and U-Turn (5251 Broadway), which sells clothing only.
Spa & Beauty Supplies
Spas, beauty supply shops, massage therapists and hair stylists all do a bustling business along College Avenue. For visitors, there are two places that stand out:
About Face and Body: A small neighborhood spa that offers facials, massage therapy, manicures, super-quick walk-in waxing and make-up sessions, at prices working women (and men) can afford. 3190 College Ave. (at Alcatraz), (510) 428-2600.
Body Time: Another Bay Area mini-chain, but a good place to stock up on little indulgences — vials of jasmine perfume, bottles of thick lotion and cute soaps for kids. 5521 College Ave. (between Lawton and Ocean View), (510) 547-4116. (Web site)
Nightlife in Rockridge
Barclay’s Bar and Grill: This slightly subterranean spot (it’s down a short flight of steps) features a small front patio that, on summer evenings, soaks up the very last rays of sunlight. It’s a terrific place to end the day, over a chilled glass of hefeweizen with lemon. If that’s too fruity for you, try one of the other 29 beers on tap. If you wish to stay longer, the menu offers basic sandwiches and fries. 5940 College Ave. (between Chabot and Harwood), (510) 654-1650.
Ben-N-Nick’s Bar & Grill: Although the elevated pub grub (spinach salad with feta and basil, a classic Reuben, steak drizzled with tequila and lime) is decent, this place really is more bar than restaurant, thanks to the clientele, who love to socialize over fresh pints and music from the brilliant jukebox, which features everybody from Prince to The Ramones. Like its sister restaurant, Cato’s (on Piedmont Avenue), Ben-N-Nick’s has dark-paneled walls, booths designed for lounging and an ever-changing variety of beers on tap, from local brews to Irish and English varieties to classic American suds like Pabst. 5612 College Ave. (between Ocean View and Keith), (510) 923-0327.
George & Walt’s: Two pool tables, video games, dumpy furnishings, cheap beer, a fireplace, sports on TV and a jukebox that, more often than not, is playing Zeppelin, creates an atmosphere reminiscent of your older brother’s basement bedroom. 5445 College Ave. (between Kales and Taft), (510) 653-7441.
McNally’s Irish Pub: Built in 1911, this neighborhood pub has a bumper pool table, Guinness on tap and a tiny patio out back. 5352 College Ave. (between Bryant and Manila), (510) 654-9463.