I checked out Panama Bay recently, located in one of the most unique buildings in downtown Walnut Creek. You may remember it as Yogurt Castle (a cousin to Yogurt Park – ah, those were the days!), next to Scott’s Seafood. Sadly, Scott’s has been closed down.
Panama Bay, though, is a coffee shop! I tried a mocha, but they were out of whipped cream (because of one too many pup cups that day, which is an adorable reason!). I thought Panama Bay was a little bit pricey, but they had some uncommon syrups like banana bread syrup.
I had caramel, coconut, and sea salt added to my mocha. It was delicious and definitely a unique drink. They also have sandwiches and a banana bread mix for sale. I’m just glad to see something finally go into this little hobbit house downtown. They get a lot of business from people who live in the apartments across the street and in the surrounding neighborhoods, as well as lunchtime office workers.
Remember the clients who moved from Pleasant Hill to Martinez, featured in last week’s blog? They also joined me for a memorable celebration meal at Barranco Cocina Peruana in Lafayette, and I just had to blog about this restaurant!
The food at Barranco Cocina Peruana was absolutely delicious. All three of us ordered the same dish (one of us had seafood, while I had chicken and the other veggies). It was called Arroz con Marisco, which was basically a Peruvian paella, and it was so good. We also got empanadas, which were the bomb – baked not fried thus the dough is flaky. For drinks, we enjoyed sangria and pisco sours.
This was a celebration dinner for closing on their house and buying a new one. The restaurant’s name comes from the coastal neighborhood of Barranco in Lima, Peru, and takes some of its culinary and artistic elements from there. This influence comes from the owner and chef Carlos Altamirano. He also owns Parada, another Peruvian restaurant I’ve blogged about previously. However I think Barranco is better.
…then I’m gonna try it! Model Bakery, apparently one of Oprah’s favorite bakeries is slated to open in Walnut Creek. They will be opening their fourth location on Main Street in the space formerly occupied by La Fogata.
Model Bakery has been a popular place in Napa Valley for almost a century, offering pastries, breads, coffee, and more. If you’ve ever tried to go to the original location in Napa on a weekend…good luck! There are lines out the door every day and, from what I hear, it’s for good reason.
As if you need me to explain it, when you can hear from Oprah herself: “I dare you to find a better English muffin than these! I’ve sent them to just about everyone I know, I even travel with them. The crunchy-yet-fluffy muffins have made my list before, but now they ship with homemade strawberry jam.”
You don’t have to tell me twice. The bakery should be open by late 2022. I’ll be there to try out one of their delicious treats when it does! Who’s with me?
LITA is a trendy new restaurant in Walnut Creek on the corner of Bonanza and Locust. It brings Miami flavors with Caribbean influences. The chef-driven menu delivers classic Caribbean-Latino dishes, reimagined to highlight locally-sourced ingredients.
I visited LITA to explore its fresh and modern approach to Latin Caribbean cuisine. It was really good but definitely pricey! I went with my friend Victoria, who ordered a lobster corn dog. It had a ketchup sauce with it that she didn’t like, but the concept is interesting!
I loved my shrimp and lime ceviche and the plantains we ordered were spot-on. They have lots of creative cocktails (some even come with flames!). The restaurant was packed on a Friday night, so I think this might be one of the trendiest new places in town.
We were able to snag two seats at the bar that night, but they also have private patio seating if you’re so inclined. It was a fun place to go for a night out or a special occasion. Just make sure you have some spending money!
The Yogurt Spot is now open in the Rossmoor Village Shopping Center on Tice Valley in Walnut Creek. Heather and Aron are the proud owners and their son Aiden is working there with some of his school buddies. Aiden is already asking about stock options! Hey, you never know; maybe the concept gets franchised.
I really like how they have The Yogurt Spot set up. You buy by size, which includes two toppings (additional toppings are 75 cents). They have root beer floats, coffee floats, shaved ice, and gelato. What more can you ask for on a hot summer day?
Aron & Heather have been long-time clients, along with some of their family members. Another agent Kara (who focuses on commercial real estate) and I helped them get this lease. It was a wild ride, as we started the process before COVID and got nowhere fast. Then, we tried again thinking with all the stores closed during COVID, plus having their business plan and process honed, we could get a lease signed during the pandemic; and we DID!
Of course, everything these days happens with delays or at a much slower pace than intended, but they are finally open and I urge you to give Yogurt Spot a try. I have five poker chips that give $5 off a purchase to the first five people who comment on this blog. Ideally, you live in or around Walnut Creek, so you can keep coming back or will actually use the poker chip! Discounted sweet treats are a comment away.
I now have a different understanding of the word “hot.” New to Walnut Creek, Hot Boys is a hot chicken joint in the old Mel’s Diner space on the corner of Main and Cypress. It is a restaurant where California meets Tennessee, taking a nod from Nashville’s penchant for hot chicken.
You can order a fried chicken plate or their “Sando” (a chicken sandwich) in varying degrees of heat. I like hot and spicy food, just not so hot that I can’t taste what I’m eating. I ordered a Sando (medium hot) and the manager asked me what my tolerance level was. After I told him, he recommended mild-plus instead.
I wish I had ordered mild or “training wheels.” Oh my goodness, was it hot! I ordered a hard cider with my meal, so I got a side of fries instead of the meal combo and it was a LOT of fries (good to feed 2-3 people). When I asked to try the “special sauce,” he gave me two fries with the sauce. It definitely helps with the spice level, along with the coleslaw and pickles that are on the Sando.
I am not used to eating this kind of food (super spicy and deep-fried), so after only being able to eat half the Sando, my stomach was a little upset. It was really good, but I’m not sure I can eat it again. Maybe when my sons come to visit, I’ll try the mild version and see how I feel. My sons, of course, will likely want to show off and order a hot version that they’ll regret after one bite!
I liked the multi-colored scheme inside and the art on the outside of the building. They incorporate it all through their booths and hang flags from the ceiling, which takes you back to a youth of a distant past. There are also a couple of video games in the back. There are a few other sides, like collard greens, mac and cheese, swamp fries, loaded fries, and something called “Donuts,” along with a revolving list of beer.
For what it’s worth, I have a writer on my team who used to live in Walnut Creek and then moved to Nashville for a few years (and now lives in North Carolina), and he says he won’t believe Hot Boys lives up to real Nashville hot chicken until he tries it for himself!
I tried Public House in Lafayette recently. It used to be The Coffee Shop. We also had a Coffee Shop in Walnut Creek, but now Rooted has moved into that space. It’s coffee roulette! Anyway, I enjoyed my stop at Public House and highly recommend it.
They start with breakfast and then turn it into a beer garden in the afternoon. It has a really great outdoor space, but does close a little early (8 p.m.). Some good-looking menu items include breakfast burrito and braised short rib melt, but you can’t really go wrong.
The adult drinks are good, too, and as mentioned, the outdoor space is worth the visit alone on a nice day. It kind of reminds me of a good brewery set up. They also have indoor seating, some gift items, but the draw is the outside space. They also host events and parties in that space. I tried a margarita, tacos with chips and salsa on my quick visit, but will definitely be back for more!
I was recently on my way to see a concert in San Francisco with my friend Rebecca, and we were looking for a place to sit down for dinner. We wanted noodles somewhere and had heard about Noodle Theory in Moraga. There’s also a location in Rockridge, but did not allow indoor dining because of COVID.
The best part about this dinner was our waitress – she was super friendly and made some great recommendations. I had the grilled Niman Ranch beef udon and Rebecca got the spicy pork loin ramen. I actually thought her dish was better, but both were good! The pork dumplings were delicious.
This location in Moraga is in a little strip mall. It’s a sleepy place, tucked back into the hills of a small community with great schools. This area is slowly starting to become a place with restaurant destinations to try. Let me know if you’ve tried Noodle Theory, and how you liked it!
Los Panchos opened in Danville, with the same menu they use in Pacheco (but with more seating and cocktails). Los Panchos is a staple for my crispy taco addiction, so I wanted to check out this new location and compare and contrast for myself! Here’s a previous blog on the taco hotspot.
I tried the two-item dinner plate with a taco and enchilada, as well as a side of rice and beans. A pretty standard order, but happy to report that it was just as good as the food in Pacheco. The biggest difference from their location in Pacheco is Danville serves alcohol and has way more seating. Pacheco is really a to-go restaurant. However, the last time I was there, there was a sign saying they were moving over by DVC, but I don’t recall the new street or moving date and nothing has been updated on their website. Probably a smart move with all the DVC students. I wonder if that one will have more indoor seating and margaritas!
The convenient thing is that now that it’s in Danville, those of us living in Walnut Creek have two choices to go get some of the best Mexican food around. One last note: Maria Maria closed and El Charro, which closed in Lafayette last year, will be opening January 27th at the Maria Maria location of 1470 N Broadway. I have always loved that patio, we will have to see about the food.
Have you ever been to the Los Panchos in Danville? Any thoughts on how it compares to the original location? Share with me in the comments!
This was my first time eating here and it is definitely a place for celebrations. I took my son, Ryan, who was turning 30, and his girlfriend, Emma, for his birthday. He was out visiting high school friends for a long weekend and stayed at my house on Sunday.
This is a high-end restaurant with a fixed-price menu. It is $63.67 per person, which includes a gourmet salad bar and all the meat you can eat, with popover bread and sides of mashed potatoes and fried bananas.
You are given a card; the red side means you are not yet ready for meat, and the green side means to bring the spits by. Emma decided she wanted the meat right away while she was eating her salad, so they kept coming by the table. I ended up with meat because they kept stopping by. I did feel a bit rushed.
However, if you order while eating the salad, you don’t fill up on the salad bar. Of course, drinks, bottled water, and deserts are additional. We brought a bottle of wine and the corkage fee was $25. I was impressed with the salad bar; it was well-stocked and clean. You had to put on plastic gloves to pick up the tongs – part of COVID restrictions, I assume.
A waiter would come with a big skewer of meat, slice a piece, and you would grab it with your tongs to put on your plate. A favorite among us was the roasted pineapple they would slice for you. Ryan and Emma mentioned they had been to other types of Brazilian restaurants and they were much larger, so it took longer for the different meats to come along.
For me, I am not sure that would be a bad thing, as I would have liked a slower pace to enjoy the moment. Have you tried Galpão Gaucho? If so, what are your thoughts? Leave a comment!