Cherry Lalina, a 3rd grader at , is eagerly anticipating the spooky amusements and devilish delights of Halloween. With the countdown on, she is putting the finishing touches on her costume, readying the candy bowl, and shopping local stores for the perfect pumpkin. Having decided criteria that her jack-o’-lantern must meet — squat and stout with a long stem — Lalina is making the rounds in Berkeley, and shares her 5 best places to pick up a pumpkin.
Lalina’s clear winner, her favorite place for pumpkin shopping, is the new Berkeley Bowl West. “I love how big Berkeley Bowl is,” Lalina opined. “You’re free to walk around and they always have a lot of different samples to taste.” Lalina selected her own pumpkin here, a behemoth she named Rumples. “It was hard for me to choose,” she explained. “There are so many different kinds. They have giant ones, little tiny ones, wrinkly ones, scabby ones, striped ones, anything you want, really.”
Another of Lalina’s preferred pumpkin shopping spots is Monterey Market. A Berkeley institution, Monterey Market is a favorite of locals as well, offering an astonishing array of pumpkins in an impressive range of sizes and colors. “They have every color you can imagine,” Lalina enthused. “White ones, green ones, even yellow!” Kids love to peruse the pumpkin offerings here and are enchanted by the enormous pumpkins on display outside.
Next on Lalina’s list is Andronico’s Market. This chain has several outposts and a plentiful supply on hand. While slightly steeper in price, they’re readily available and a good choice for last minute pumpkin picking. Lalina appreciates the pumpkin shopping at Andronico’s because, “they have the smallest pumpkins there,” she insisted, and “sometimes it’s nice to have a few small ones too. It’s harder to carve them but the seeds inside are better for toasting, they’re sweeter.”
For inexpensive, firm and tubby pumpkins, Trader Joe’s is another must-visit location for Lalina. “The people who work here are really friendly,” she remarked. “They give you stickers and they usually say something nice.” Trader Joe’s offers pumpkins in a range of sizes but their color palette is often limited to the traditional orange. “They have the itty-bitty pumpkins here that I love to buy and line up on my window sill,” Lalina said. “The mini ones are so cute!”
The , on Gilman Street, is another of Lalina’s top pumpkin picking locations. “This is the nicest store in the entire city of Berkeley,” she raved. “Everybody in the whole store knows me and they always stop to talk to me, give me hugs, and ask me how I’m doing.” While this store has a smaller pumpkin inventory, their selection is carefully culled and displayed and, just as with their entire selection of produce, certified organic. “They don’t have the biggest pumpkins here,” Lalina said, pausing a tick to think. “But, you know, size isn’t the only thing that matters!”