Even though this Japanese grocery is small, they tend to carry everything I need. It's the size of a larger convenience store but they carry produce, frozen foods, and they have a decent seafood counter. I stock up on staples and check out any Hawaiian goodies they may offer - and I always make sure I pick up a package or chopped green onion. (I wish other places would start doing that - it's so convenient!)
PROS: chopped green onion!
The El Cerrito Trader Joe's is really not very different from the others. It's in a mall, so parking is relatively easy. It's a little small and crampy, unlike a Safeway (but most TJ's are.) They carry the same things are the other TJ's do, and there are a lot of people that love Trader Joe's in El Cerrito. I highly recommend never going there on the weekends or in the evenings unless you want to spend the entire time either waiting for people to move in front of you or getting out of people's way. Seriously - this TJ's gets ridiculously crowded.
PROS: It's Trader Joe's.
CONS: The most crowded Trader Joe's I've ever been to.
If you are looking for a Japanese supermarket - this is it. They carry everything, and have a wonderfully large selection. Looking for Japanese curry? They have several brands, flavors, and sizes. They are also the only place around here that carry polished brown rice (50%, 70%, and just brown.) They also have a great hot/cold prepared food section, meat and fish section, and a smallish produce area. Truly one stop shopping!
PROS: Lots and lots of stuff.
CONS: One crabby checker - hope you don't get her!
Good Vibrations has that reputation - it's smarter and friendlier than your typical adult toy store. They still carry the same stuff - anal lube, vibrators, and dildoes, but without the feeling that you're doing something bad. Even though the Berkeley store is a little small, they have a pretty good selection of toys and tools, serious and novelty stuff, and books. They also have a great staff, very helpful and non-intimidating.
PROS: Great place to shop for sex toys.
CONS: No the best prices.
This is the kind of place where you'd have to stay and watch your laundry. We've never really had any of our laundry taken out of the washing machine and cast aside, or (gasp) stolen, but still, it feels like the kind of place where you'd want to keep tabs on your socks and stuff. There are better places on the other side of the lake. They have a good number of top-loading washers - and the dryer is 25 cents per 6 minutes.
PROS: Nothing extrordinary about this place.
CONS: Lots of traffic.
Being that it's in the city, and being that it's Sony, there seem to be a lot of loud teens and techies that like the Metreon. Don't get me wrong - I'm neither, and yet I go - because of the movie theaters. There are casual restaurants downstairs and a few retail shops hawking electronics and gadgets, Jelly Belly jellybeans, and pewter figurines.
PROS: You can see Aibo and other Sony gizmos.
For anyone that's ever sat at a cafe and experienced guilt over not doing something productive (like laundry) or anyone that wish they could find something to eat that didn't come out of a vending machine. There's a good number of washers and dryers, and in the other part, through a glass door is a cafe that serves salads, fries, coffee, and beer. Not really set upu well for watching your laundry, but hey.
PROS: Good grub whilst laundering
CONS: You can't really do both at the same time.
This Barnes and Noble in Jack London Square isn't bad. It is fairly large, with the obligatory Starbucks in the corner, and lots of comfy chairs. The prerequisite sections are clearly defined - nothing really sticks out with this location. The employees are knowledgeable and seem to enjoy helping you find stuff.
PROS: Great for last minute gifts.
CONS: It's a chain.
If you've been to a recenlty built AMC, then you'll know what AMC in Emeryville is like. Zingy decor, reminicent of Disneyland and lots of theaters. Sixteen to be exact. Still, this AMC can get pretty crowded on the weekends. Great amenities, lots of women's bathroom stalls, and everything's clean!
PROS: sixteen movie theaters
CONS: Have you seen the price of a movie ticket?
Watch out! If you let the tantalizing smells of fruity home oils lure you in, you'll end up buying quite a bit of product. Especially product you didn't know you needed, because everything in the store is like eye candy. And since you can try everything, it becomes, uh, skin candy? Seriously, this is a great, well-kept store with friendly and helpful employees.
PROS: Product! Lots of product!
CONS: Can get expensive.