Sichuan Fortune House in Pleasant Hill: authenic Chinese food!

One evening I was working late and another agent had asked me some questions. Then she asked if I was hungry as she was going to get some dinner and wanted to treat me for my help. She is Chinese and recommended going to a Chinese restaurant. I said only if she orders the more authentic dishes so I can try them, as I always get kung pao chicken.

It was delicious and I would have never ordered the items we did. Sichuan can be spicy, so Kathy, my co-worker, was concerned I might not like it. Below is fish soup in a spicy sauce that we got only half-spicy. That is where the bowl of rice really comes in handy: you grab some fish, douse it against the rice, and then eat both. The rice helps absorb some of the heat.


We also ordered their signature tofu dish. Again, it would not be something I would normally consider and it was my favorite! I would order this again. These pictures don’t show anybody there, but there were two groups and I left them out of the picture. By the time we left, there were another give groups eating!

For an authentic Sichuan meal, I’d definitely recommend checking this place out! Just don’t go for the standard Chinese fare and ask your server for what they would recommend as the house special.

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.

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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!

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.

Bounty Hunter Open as of 4/8!

Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of how many new restaurants open and how many old ones close in Walnut Creek. It’s an endless merry-go-round of openings and closings, which can be exciting but hard to track! Recently, my team member Denise tried Bounty Hunter, plus her daughter Erica is a hostess there, so they tried it three times during the past weekend soft opening for friends and family! Here are her insights:

Bounty Hunter Walnut Creek is the second location for this wine and spirits merchant. The rustic decor and only 25 tables create a comfy atmosphere. While the combination of a wine merchant serving BBQ sounds a bit odd, Bounty Hunter pulls it off amazingly well. The food is fabulous! The pimento cheese dip appetizer is a new twist on the southern version with a bit of a kick to it. The BBQ platter is a good way to try the pulled pork, brisket and ribs with the three house made sauces, a great dish to share. Not a huge fan of BBQ? The salmon on shaved brussels sprouts and tri-color quinoa was cooked perfectly (and looked beautiful too). The beer can chicken is one of their specialties and quite a site when the whole chicken (including the beer can) arrives at the table; and you can’t beat mac and cheese as the ultimate comfort food to go along with it all. Ah, the desserts . . . s’mores pie, cobbler, and panna cotta with kumquats are just a few of the tempting options. Even with the soft opening, service was very good with the entire staff creating a welcoming vibe.

The restaurant officially opened on April 8. Reservations are recommended and can be made up to two weeks out but only by phone or in person. The 15 bar stools and lounge area are open seating. The full menu is available at the bar. Beverages and appetizers are available in the lounge area. There are 24 wines by the glass available and 8 wine flights that have been put together for those who want to taste some great wines. Bounty Hunter is one of the few restaurants in Walnut Creek with a sommelier. Brandon has hand picked the 500+ wines that are available for purchase in the retail wine and spirits shop. There is a full bar and Bounty Hunter has 4 specialty cocktails on the menu. There is no happy hour nor door dash at this time 🙁

p.s. I can’t wait to try it and note, there are some vegetarian options!

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.


OMG the best Old Fashioned ever!

Craft beer and cocktails are still all the rage among the bar and restaurant scene these days. With breweries popping up all over the place, it was only a matter of time until the cocktail scene blew up a little bit, too. Now, there’s a new spot called Hops & Scotch at the Contra Costa Centre at the corner of Treat and Oak.

I went to experience it myself with a couple of friends and past clients – I chose the distilled menu and have never had a better Old Fashioned (or two).  The menu is an extensive list of whiskey/scotch/bourbon – from everywhere you can imagine – Scotland, Ireland, Japan…and I even saw some from south of the border.  As the name dictates, they also have a good selection of microbrews and, of course, any other type of cocktail you desire.  There is some food in the form of bar bites; we had the naan pizza and wings, but I saw mac and cheese,  hummus, a cheese board, and gyros (which really caught my eye).

There are also TVs for all the sporting events and on Monday nights they have the Geek Squad doing Trivia night, which is always fun.  Overall, Hops & Scotch is a great place to be and, come summer, look for the new patio currently under construction for some chill outdoor enjoyment, next to a couple of cool walnut and oak trees.  This will help with their seating as the place can fill up quickly and it isn’t too large, which creates a cozy ambiance.

A new seafood restaurant on the outskirts of Walnut Creek!

I recently tried a new SoCal chain in Walnut Creek, and it was good for quick fish dishes! California Fish Grill, primarily located in Southern California, has opened a new spot in Walnut Creek at the corner of Oak Grove Rd. and Ygnacio Valley Rd. in The Orchards, which is continuing to become a go-to place in Northgate.  You can even grab your food and take it over to the new brewery called Mike Hess, which I will have to check out in 2019.

It advertises healthy food, even though the most popular dish at the restaurant is a 1,500-calorie fish and chips dish. That said, there are quite a few good, healthy options here. They serve everything from sockeye salmon, to Hawaiian swordfish, to ahi poke and grain bowls. I tried the shrimp with Dynamite sauce, grilled zucchini spears and Brussel sprouts. The fish tacos actually look really good too.  They have a salsa bar and a help-yourself artisan soda fountain.

I’d recommend checking out California Fish Grill next time you’re hankering for some quick fresh seafood. We don’t have a ton of affordable seafood options in Walnut Creek, so this is definitely a step in the right direction. Let me know if you try it!

Main Street Kitchen gets a re-boot

One of my favorite restaurants in Walnut Creek received a bit of a makeover recently, and since it’s been about three years since my last review, I wanted to re-visit it! Main Street Kitchen aka MSK has become a new staple for foodies in Walnut Creek, and now they’ve expanded and remodeled to match their popularity.

I went recently on a chilly, smoky day so nobody sat outside. But that just meant more of an opportunity to take in the beautiful new interior! I really love that this place has opened up a bit and can now accommodate more guests in addition to a full bar with seating. It allows even more locals and travelers alike to experience the excellent atmosphere and cuisine. My favorite feature is sitting by the living wall and eating Sunday Brunch!

We tried a couple different dishes. The first was Burrata with greens, but you can also get it with avocado, prosciutto, heirloom tomato, or tapena (mix and match) and Sunchokes, which were amazing.  Our order consisted of fish tacos with tortilla soup, their the BLT, however the star of the show may have been their signature dish called Chicken al Mattone where boneless thighs are cooked between two cast iron skillets. It was absolutely delicious!

As you can see, Main Street Kitchen is still serving up farm to table gourmet bites in generous servings. And now they’re doing it in a brand-spankin’-new space that really takes the experience to a whole new level. If you have yet to jump on the Main Street Kitchen bandwagon, I’d highly suggest doing so soon!  p.s.  their fried chicken isn’t always on the menu, but it is always available and is fantastic on their delicious salads.

The ultimate Berkeley bucket list

Everyone loves going to Berkeley. Whether you’re catching a concert at the Greek Theatre, wandering around Cal’s campus, or hitting up one of the many incredible dining and drinking spots, Berkeley is the perfect mixture of private, chill, and weird in the Bay Area.

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TimeOut.com has their list of 10 must-do items in Berkeley here, and it inspired my short list of how to best spend your day over there. It obviously depends on the weather, but we’ll start with some outdoor activity and go from there. What are your favorite things to do in Berkeley?

Morning: Wake up early and drive out to Tilden Park in the Oakland Hills overlooking the Bay. It’s one of the most beautiful views you’ll ever see, and you can hike around above and through Berkeley for hours without getting bored. If you’re way up by Fish Ranch Rd. and Grizzly Peak, you can keep going to Tilden Park, where you can stay busy all day.

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Noon: You have to hit up the Berkeley Bowl downtown. It’s the most iconically Berkeley market there is, and you can get a super fresh meal to gorge on after your long hike.

Afternoon: Not tired of walking around outside yet, are we? Good! The Berkeley Rose Garden is a breathtaking sight, and if flowers aren’t your thing, you can cruise through the gorgeous Cal campus. Feeling like shopping? Okay, wander through downtown and check out some of the random clothing and art vendors that dot the street!

Dinner: I can’t just recommend one place. From popular local jaunts like Zachary’s pizza, to more celebrated restaurants like Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen, it’s hard to go wrong in Berkeley.  Hit me up and tell me your favorite places to ea – I would love to try them.

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Nightcap: You’ve earned a drink after a long day soaking up the Berkeley sun. Again, there is no shortage of libations in Berkeley, from your average dive bar to the craftiest of craft cocktail bars. Try out a place like Tupper and Reed on Shattuck and tell me it isn’t a perfect end to your night!