Nabolom Bakery in Berkeley is a must-try

What I love about the Bay Area is if you get out and explore, you will always come across some neighborhood gems. I was meeting a friend who lives in Albany to head into the city and she recommended we meet in Berekely where one car could be parked for the day. It was blocks from Nabolom Bakery on Russell St. It looked like a quaint, family-run joint and she recommended stopping to get a coffee and pastries; of course I had to give it a try and it turned out to be a very good decision!

I love supporting local businesses. I had a croissant and a cappuccino – my go-to breakfast choice. I also spied some gorgeous loaves of bread – which is my kryptonite – and passed on buying one for later as I probably would have snacked on it during our drive to and from the city!

This little bakery seems to be very popular with locals. They don’t have much pizzazz in the way of decoration, but the options are endless, and they had some very tasty-looking bakes that I didn’t get around to trying.

Nabolom’s has been around since 1976 as a collective and then closed in 2015. Luckily, in 2016, they reopened under the stewardship of Julia Elliot where they acquired the original Nabolom’s recipes. They added daily pizzas a la Julia’s Cheese Board Collective experience. They are open from 7-7 and are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so be sure to swing by on your next jaunt through Berkeley. You won’t regret it!

Brioche de Paris comes straight from France!

On Sept. 30th, owner Wissem Kheruji opened Brioche de Paris in downtown Walnut Creek. He is from Paris originally, and his family owns many Parisian bakeries. Wissem is the only member of his family in the U.S. He went into health and fitness, but ended up following in the family footsteps. Lucky us!

He opened this French-inspired cafe and bakery at Locust and Bonanza. They use imported flour and butter to make everything besides their baguette bread in-house. They are brand new, so the menu is still developing, but I’ve been told that a sweet and savory crepe menu should be available in a few weeks.

Brioche de Paris also offers espresso drinks, a daily soup, and salads. Their croissants are out of this world. They serve sandwiches between $6-$9 and pastries for $5 or less, and as little as $2.25. That’s right about in line with Walnut Creek prices.

The space itself is quite cozy and open, and they offer free WiFi with tons of outlets, which is usually a frustration in cafes. I’d highly recommend going to visit and getting a fresh croissant and enjoying a cup of joe at the newest bakery in town!

Vici expanded!!

Vici, a hip women’s clothing store is expanding. I went to shop and see what changes are on the horizon. Vici, also has a location in Newport Beach, but the one in Walnut Creek is situated at N. California Blvd. and is open from 10 am to 7 pm Monday-Friday (and shorter hours on the weekends).

They are heavily focused on Instagram and their models always look much better than me in the outfit; they have some really cute, trendy clothing at affordable prices in a stylish and contemporary space, albeit small, but that is changing.

Vici calls itself “a haven for the modern woman,” and wants to make the act of shopping in a modern, digital age as effortless as possible. They offer a range of casual pieces to beautiful statement dresses and are known for eye-catching patterns.

As you can see, Vici is expanding with lots more room to show off all their clothing. It has come a long way from a tucked-away space in an office building on Olympic. Give it a look next time you’re out shopping and wanting some of the latest styles. You can always follow them on Instagram – they are constantly showing off their new items.

Rotator Taproom rotates in

You won’t be surprised to hear this, folks! There is yet another new brewery to check out in the East Bay. The craft beer boom has really been embraced by Walnut Creek in the last half-decade, and Rotator Taproom is the latest to join the party.

I went to check it out recently and thought they did a fantastic job advertising themselves: happy hours, yoga events, and even poker nights were broadly marketed to anyone who walked in. They had a ton of beer on tap and also some bar snacks!

When I went, we tried four-beer flights for just $12 and thought the selection was pretty good. I also had a refreshing grapefruit lager. They serve beers from a ton of different breweries, and the price was definitely fair for the amount of beer you got in each pour.

Rotator Taproom is a little off the beaten path in the north part of downtown, but still very easily accessible. It’s hidden away on Pine street with lots of automotive shops, just around the corner from either Pinky’s Pizza or down from Walnut Creek BART. Parking can be limited and one of my servers was annoyed with all my questions, but I would recommend checking it out if you like to taste a wide range of beers, they had a lot of IPA’s even triple IPAs!

Los Panchos remains my go-to option

Los Panchos, the Pacheco-based Mexican Taqueria (that also has an option in Danville these days) remains one of the best spots in the Bay Area for quick Mexican food. If you want consistently tasty and affordable Mexican food, you can’t beat Los Panchos.

I go there any time I’m in the vicinity of Contra Costa Blvd and Center Street. My go-to is their crispy taco, but they also have a great chili rellano and tasty bean dip. There is no indoor seating and only three funky tables outside – which they put a thick concrete tile over the tabletop and the seats sit low, so you feel like a little kid. I recommend you take it to go, but the funky tables only add to the charm!

You can get anything from a classic combination plate to individual tacos and burritos, or opt for their awesome catering service if you’re bringing it for an office party.

Regardless, you can’t go wrong. Los Panchos has been a staple in the Bay Area Mexican food scene for many years, and I expect it to continue!

Introducing the Cypress Mini-Plaza

Did you know we’re getting a mini-plaza on the corner of Cypress and N. Main St.? It will be a partnership between the City of Walnut Creek and Walnut Creek Downtown. They plan to make it more of a “European” street environment.

Cypress Mini Plaza
From www.walnut-creek.org

You can see more info and a rendering at this link. There will be a loss of six parking spaces – I counted yesterday when I was driving down Main, though I think the city noted just three. It will enhance the public sidewalk on the west side of the street. The intent, according to the website, is to create a public gathering space in the heart of the traditional downtown area.

In addition to the sidewalk, the project will add new hardscape, landscaping, arbor, lighting, and seating to create this “mini-plaza” space. There will be synthetic play mounds and a new outdoor parklet, too.

From www.walnut-creek.org

It sounds like this project will commence over the Fall and Winter of this year, so look for this to be opened up by next year!

Event Round-Up: May 18th

We’re almost all the way into summer here in Walnut Creek! The kids will be out of school soon, and the days will keep getting longer and warmer, giving us ample opportunities to take advantage of some awesome Bay Area events.

Diablo Symphony – May 19th (Walnut Creek)

The Diablo Symphony presents Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and Bach’s Double Violin Concerto tomorrow at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek! You can get tickets at the door, preceding the 2 p.m. concert. The Symphony Orchestra will be joined by members of the San Ramon Valley High School orchestra for this performance!

Rooftop History Walking Tour – May 31st (San Francisco)

Real estate nerd alert! This sounds so interesting to me, and if you like rooftops with beautiful views, you’ll be amazed by which buildings in the city might have them. This is a really cool tour to take if you like history, as you’ll get into some of the more exclusive private buildings in SF. Tickets are just $35.

Art & Wine Festival – June 1st (Walnut Creek)

For the weekend of June 1st, you can take advantage of an awesome event right in our own backyard! Pair your wine and beer with food vendors, art, live music, a Kids Zone, and more! It’s time for the Walnut Creek Art & Wine Festival. More info here.

Image result for wine tasting

Walnut Creek First Wednesdays – June 5th (Walnut Creek)

Did you miss out on last month’s First Wednesday celebration? Because they are a great time! You can make up for it by coming downtown on Weds., June 5th to take part in a small street fair right here in Walnut Creek. Get more info here – you won’t want to miss it!

Walnut Creek Uncorked – June 20th (Walnut Creek)

Sip, stroll, socialize. Walnut Creek’s Uncorked event is taking place on June 20th downtown! You can sip wines, eat local food, listen to live music, and just wander downtown with your wine. I’d recommend getting tickets in advance, as this event is popular every year!

Tomatina a lasting WC classic

As we’re all well aware by now, restaurants and stores open and close in downtown Walnut Creek on a weekly basis these days. Downtown is prime real estate, and as such, prices continue to rise and push out smaller, poorer businesses.

Unfortunately, that means some Walnut Creek classics end up falling by the wayside (I still miss places like Taxi’s, for example!). Then, there are the restaurants that have been popular downtown for many years and remain that way even in the face of massive churn.

One of those places – a steady favorite – is Tomatina. It is right there on the busiest corner of downtown, next to La Fogata and Teleferic/Rooftop. They’ve been turning out truly delicious Italian food in Walnut Creek since the 90’s and will hopefully be doing so for many more. They are known for their focus on fresh ingredients and seasonal specials.

The piadine is one of their signature dishes. Many know it as an Italian flatbread sandwich, but it’s so much more. After having one, it is easy to understand why so many always order this dish. It is essentially a flatbread topped with a fresh salad and a protein that you fold and eat. Everything is handmade here, and it shows in their food.

My favorite item, of course, is the piadine, but their pastas are also really good. The piadine is also great to go and take into the movie theater – shhh, just don’t tell Century Movie Theaters! It is also a great place to take the kids – or even your dog – as long as they sit outside the fence next to your table on the patio.

Keep supporting local businesses downtown; especially those like Tomatina that we don’t want to see fall victim to the ever-rising rents in Walnut Creek. They are located in seven Bay Area cities.

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.