Rooted Coffee’s roots in WC

Rooted Coffee, which has been serving the Walnut Creek Farmer’s Market for years, has found a home in Pleasant Hill on Oak Park. They’re known for their paleo waffle and they now have a bunch of vegan and gluten-free items, too!

The owner of Rooted, Jon Gilmore, is a Las Lomas High graduate who says on the website that he’s wanted to open a coffee shop since graduating college. He and his wife, Jenny, focus on making a difference with their business both in the local community and in the global farming community.

One cool thing they do is a promise to donate 10% of profits to local and global charities. They source beans that are organic and fairly traded, only use plant-based milks, exclusively use compostable and petroleum-free cups, and keep a relationship with one independent, local roaster. Very cool!

I think the coffee itself is good, but I really love the paleo waffle and their food menu; though it’s not extensive, it has some awesome items on it. I highly recommend checking out Rooted when you get a chance! I also miss them at the Farmer’s Market, but wish them nothing but success at their new brick and mortar location – it has been a long time coming.

Bondadoso Coffee is charming and quirky!

My colleague recently visited Bondadoso Coffee on Pine St. in downtown Walnut Creek. It is chock full of cute, fun, and interactive stuff but also serves good snacks and drinks. Altogether, it was just a great place to hang out!

Some of the most interesting aspects of Bondadoso Coffee is that there are quotes, social areas, a question of the day place to write your own answers, and a rock-painting station! If you were ever worried about bringing your kids to get coffee with you, you don’t have to worry here. The hardest is remembering how to pronounce the name. However if you speak Spanish then you know Bondadoso is Spanish for “kind.” Simply stated, this is a place for people to gather and share great coffee and tea in an environment that is uplifting, welcoming, and kind.

With so many great coffee shops popping up these days and leaving (i.e. Sweetwaters Tea), it’s going to be tough to break into the market. But if Bondadoso can keep up its charming, fun atmosphere, they should create a specific niche. In addition, the city is looking to make this area more into an artisan destination with craft breweries, artist collectives, etc., but for now there is quite a bit of automotive business in the area.

They have an extensive collection of unique coffee and tea representing nearly every growing region of the world, a traditional espresso bar, a single cup brew bar, and a tap wall with 8 types of cold-brew coffee and tea offerings including nitro-coffee. The only thing I would like to see – since they are only a few blocks from my office – is some lunch menu items such as soup, salads, and sandwiches.

Salsa Verde – where is that!

Tucked away off Detroit in Concord (near Costco) sits a tiny, family-owned Mexican restaurant that you should definitely give a try. There’s all sorts of great Mexican food in California – especially in the Bay Area and this one is good, especially if you are hungry after Costco shopping and don’t want a hot dog!

Salsa Verde has been there for seven years. I thought it was reasonably priced and the food was good. You can sit outside, and it’s a really cute little spot. One of my team members is Hispanic and used to her mother’s homemade cooking and it authenticity didn’t quite compare.

One specialty at Salsa Verde that you don’t usually see on a menu is a pot of food called mole cajete, which had grilled cactus, chicken, steak, and more in it. I enjoyed my taco and chicken enchilada. Their street tacos were also good! This off-the-beaten-path restaurant is worth checking out. It primarily caters to the businesses around Costco and is closed on Sundays.

Have you been to Fat Maddie’s?

There’s a burger restaurant taking the East Bay by storm. The closest location to Walnut Creek is in Pleasant Hill, so you can wander over to our neighboring town anytime to catch a bite of Fat Maddie’s!

According to their website, Fat Maddie’s is a family business with locations in Pleasant Hill, Blackhawk, and San Ramon. They create Southern food with ingredients from a family farm at the base of Mt. Diablo. They use herbs, eggs, and more from the farm to create the delicious meals at the restaurants.

I went with some friends to grab a bite before a movie. I had the Cali Chicken sandwich, but switched out broiled chicken for fried chicken and it was very good. My team member Denise went with her daughter and a friend – those are the pictures you see in this blog. It is a cute, but small, restaurant with sandwiches, salads, soups, a few entrees, and a bar. Perfect for dinner before the movies or lunch with some friends.


Sweetwaters Tea brings its first location to California

In the new Lyric building on Bonanza St. downtown, Sweetwaters Coffee and Tea has made its California debut. Lucky for us, they chose Walnut Creek as their flagship store in the state, and they serve up tasty coffee and tea to compete with major chains and other smaller coffee houses around town.

The franchise, which was originally started by Wei and Lisa Bee in 1993 in Ann Arbor, MI, has expanded to locations all around America. The Bee’s celebrate classic cafe fare and have a long list of creative hot, cold, and frozen drinks to choose from.

Sweetwaters also has pastries, and light food like salads, sandwiches, and quiche, which will appeal to the lunch crowd that needs something quick to go. They bottle their own tea and Arnold Palmers, but after taking a look at the sugar content, I opted out. The coffee shop competition is getting crowded in Walnut Creek; I count 10 just in the downtown area. If you’re looking for a new coffee or tea shop in downtown, give Sweetwaters a try! Let me know how you like it!

Forma Gym’s transformation

The lot just off Olympic Blvd. before you go under 680 toward Parkmead has changed many times over the years. A long time ago, the lot was occupied by Walnut Creek Sports & Fitness. A few years ago, new owners came in and created Forma along with many great changes. They also added healthy options for food on-the-go to take to work. Now you can grab a green smoothie as you are walking out the door.

That is the gym I most often go to – not just for its proximity to my neighborhood, but because the new owner has done a fantastic job remodeling to make Forma appealing to everyone!



With a new gym coming in over by Zara, Orange Theory getting people all fired up, and other big-name gym chains popping up around town, there’s probably a little fear of competition for Forma. But, whatever it is, they’ve done a marvelous job with the gym.

Now, Forma has cryogenics (which is amazing if you haven’t tried it!), a jiu jitsu room, childcare, classes, a weight room, the pool, and more. They took out the racquetball courts, sadly, but it created a ton of room for other things. Forma still attracts the older Rossmoor crowd, but has also become more contemporary to attract a younger crowd.

Among the classes they offer, there is a mind/body studio for yoga and barre, with a separate area for spin. They have a spa with facials and massages, too! And one of the coolest things about Forma is their involvement with the local community. They sponsor the Turkey Trot, WCEF, food banks, etc. around town. They host golf tournaments, art days, and a kids club.

They also have Project Walk, which helps people learn or re-learn how to walk! I can’t say enough good things about Forma Gym, and if you’re looking for a community-oriented, affordable place to work out, this is the spot!

1688 Hairstudio donates cuts for Ry-Guy

You may remember the blog I wrote a while back about Parkmead coming together to raise money and pray for our neighbor, Ryan McLeod. For context, he is a teenager who suffered a terrible head injury in a skateboarding accident in Tahoe last summer.

He has made a couple of moves since Reno; one to Santa Clara and recently to Bakersfield. They are seeing improvements every day. The latest fundraiser for Ryan and his family came from 1688 Hair Studio, which offered a wash and a cut for $25 and held a raffle at a Cut-a-Thon! On the featured image is the salon owner to the right and on the left is Candace, who cut my hair. The raffle prizes included items from other local businesses, which included Mint 54, Vici, Skipolini’s and Residual Sugar. If you frequented their place of business on the Saturday Cut-A-Thon, they donated 10% of what you bought.

I attended the event and got my hair done to join the efforts at 1688 Salon on Locust. It was a really great event and what a way for 1688 to step up to the plate with this great community fundraiser. The McLeods have been going to this salon for years! I love seeing this community come together; if you need a haircut – give 1688 your business!!!

It’s always scary when someone in your community suffers a tragic event, but the little town of Walnut Creek continues to amaze in its steadfast support of all of its citizens. We’re hoping and praying Ryan’s recovery continues to go well!

Get lost in Flowerland

Was it all a dream? Or did I really stumble upon an oasis of flowers, plants, and coffee in the East Bay? Oh, I definitely did. Just North of Berkeley, in the oft-forgotten tiny town of Albany, sits the aptly-named Flowerland, which has been open for more than 70 years and is locally-owned and operated.

Flowerland offers in-house potting, deliveries, custom orders, holiday orders, and a good old-fashioned nursery. They run a gift shop, and have Highwire coffee to keep you warm and hydrated. The plants they sell are hand-picked with the Bay Area climate in mind, and they try to keep a smorgasbord of species around, including those from other continents!

I wandered in here one day after picking up a friend who lives down the street, and she said, “Let’s grab a cup of coffee at my cool neighborhood go-to place.”  If you’re refurbishing your home, or planning to buy a new one, you’ll definitely want to go check out the little trinkets, decorations, and design options there. Grab a few houseplants while you’re at it – that always brightens up a dim room!

Next time you’re in the Berkeley or Albany areas and want to experience a truly magical, quaint slice of heaven, stop into Flowerland. Maybe pick up one of those cute succulents for your desk (and another, for me!), or just have a coffee and enjoy the outdoor ambiance! Either way, you won’t be disappointed.

New and improved Stem salon does great work!

Stem salon – which used to be on Locust up until about a month ago – has moved to the new Lyric building across from MoMo’s. They’re newly located, renovated, and decorated and it really gives the business an upscale, modern vibe. Elizabeth Vawter (not present the day I took pictures) has done a fantastic job of building this business. I go here for my hair often and I think they do a great job!

They used to be in an old location by Peet’s. They weren’t happy with some of the tenant improvements or lack thereof, so they signed a lease with Lyric and are better than ever! I love the modern look with an amazing flowery wallpaper you can look at on the ceiling while getting your hair washed. I primarily go to Jessie for my hair color because I am there every three weeks or so. Her mother, Olivia, usually cuts my hair, but Mary Alice and Lauren are also fantastic. There is a large crew and varying price points depending on experience.

They will also offer you a glass of rosé, or a cup of coffee or tea while you get pampered. I think Elizabeth has hit her stride with a new home and continues to do it right. Stem Salon is my go-to hair salon!

More good sushi in Walnut Creek!

Downtown Walnut Creek has no shortage of great sushi restaurants. Even when one goes out of business or moves, it seems like another one is popping up to replace it within weeks. As the sushi craze is no longer a craze, and simply a way of life, I found another great new sushi spot in our town. Check out Oyama Sushi between Modern China and 1515 on North Main St.

The decor in Oyama Sushi is a little more upscale than others in Walnut Creek, but still has the feel of a nice, cozy, sit-down restaurant. They take great care to make it a beautiful, comfortable experience with their lighting, decorations and plating (which you can see in pictures below).

I went to Oyama with for a friend’s birthday where we ordered the shrimp tempura, edamame and the ever-flowing sake to start, and then moved to sushi. I had the Cherry Blossom Roll (my favorite, love the way it looks like a flower) and a special order with tempura crunch on top.  Veronica loves Ikura – the salmon roe – and she had that all to herself.  It was all very fresh and delicious, and who can complain about sake? Not me!

If you haven’t been to Oyama Sushi yet, I’d recommend giving them a shot. It is right downtown on Main St. Walnut Creek and the bill won’t break your bank, but also isn’t the cheapest (though cheap sushi doesn’t interest me!). The sushi is fresh and tasty, and they have a nice selection of sake and other drinks to wash it down. Let me know if you visit, and if so, how you like it.