2181 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94704
Jupiter represents what I love about Berkeley. It is classy but laid-back, tasty but inexpensive, friendly but sophisticated. It is a "place to be," without being pretentious.
If that's not enough, the place features live jazz, alfresco dining, and is situated in one of the world's bastions of progressive thought.
In a word, it is otherworldly. That will be my last intended pun, but it will be hard to resist cliches and attempts at poetry because I adore the place. Jupiter, O Jupiter...
When I went on a Friday evening at around 7:30, it was packed and festive, with waitstaff bustling and parties of people hovering over little tables. Jupiter's bricky decor makes you feel like you are in a stylish place, and its popularity makes you feel you are where everyone wants to be. We wanted to sit outside, a self-seating section, but our chances looked bleak because every seat was filled. So we put our names down for indoor seating. I was felt a little gypped.
It's not that the indoor section is unattractive--indeed, it is certainly hopping--but knowing how lively and charming the patio is, I would have felt confined and disgruntled there. Outdoors, you'll find impatiens, a fireplace, cooks preparing quesadillas on a grill, and a band! And not just any band. Every time I've been to Jupiter, the band was good enough to Google when I got home. Sure, it may be cozy and a little warmer inside, but there are heat lamps on the patio and stars overhead.
Anyway, I got my wish as we spotted some people getting up and we promptly secured a table. A few moments later, sipping my pomegranate cider and listening to music, I was in bliss. The band wasn't yet playing, but some kind of wonderful jazz was. I indulged the moment of being in one of my favorite cities, at one of my favorite venues. Plus it was Friday, and my favorite cyclist was doing well at the Tour de France.
A lively jazz fusion band called Kapakahi started jamming around 8pm. They were great.
I ordered the spinach and albacore tuna salad, which was simple but satisfying, and later shared a Cassiopeia pizza (grilled chicken drizzled with BBQ sauce) with my friend. I recommend Jupiter's thin-crusted pizzas. They are good, well-priced, and because they are not smothered with cheese, you can taste what else is on them. I like to order them with a big group as you can try a variety.
The service at Jupiter deserves special note, at least on this recent evening. Despite how bustling the place was, with hungry diners everywhere and lingering customers clogging the narrow walkways, everyone I encountered on the staff (and there were many) was friendly.
My friend and I hung out from the time the sun began to set way past the point that you could see stars clearly over head.
Jupiter does not serve dessert, but that might as well be the case because there are two highly rated gelato places, Gelato Naia and Gelato Milano, across the street (Yelp). Not been to the latter, but I have been to Naia some time ago and loved it. Not only were the flavors creative and yummy, but I was quite taken by the displays, which seemed novel at the time (e.g., a real coconut dunked in the bin with the coconut flavored gelato).