I recently visited the San Jose location of Eataly, which has nine stores nationwide (this is the only Northern California location). Eatlay, as a concept, was only developed in 2002 and was designed to gather high-quality food at sustainable and reasonable prices under one roof.
Of course, the inspiration was Italian food! Oscar Farinetti wanted to celebrate Italian biodiversity and create an informal, natural, and simple place to eat, shop, and learn. The first location opened its doors in Torino, Italy in 2007 and has since expanded to more than 40 locations around the globe!
On the Eataly website, you can make direct orders on products, food, and more and even sign up for classes, events, and local deliveries!
We were in Santa Clara for a Tom Ferry event staying overnight, my hair dresser has raved about this place and I thought it would be a great opportunity to check it out and have dinner. I went with a couple of colleagues who were also going to the event, we were all impressed. This store is 3 levels with the top level encompassing 3 restaurants, and most of the grocery items. The second floor was dedicated to wine and the first floor entrance into the mall had gelato, coffee and pasteries to go or eat there. In September I was in Vegas and saw Eataly, but did not go in. If you ever want to get an Italian fix, this is the place to go. It is located in the Westfield Valley Fair Mall. A very high end mall part of Santana Row. I did think it was a bit pricey, but you have to consider everything is imported. Thus you get a taste of Italy without have to travel across the world.
A new restaurant opened in downtown Walnut Creek where The Counter burger restaurant used to be. The Little Pear is from the same ownership group (The Worth Group) as The Peasant & The Pear in Danville and The Peasant’s Courtyard in Alamo.
When I visited, I ordered the Bishop Ranch salad with Mexican White Prawns and it was absolutely delicious (unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture!). The Little Pear is open every day except Mondays from 11 am to 8:30 pm (opening at 10 am on weekends) and I highly recommend you add it to your list of downtown Walnut Creek restaurants to try.
They offer a menu for weekend brunch, several tasty starters, soups, salads, sandwiches, specials, and burgers and other entrees. My Bishop Ranch salad had pear, candied walnuts, blue cheese, and balsamic over greens and I still think about it!
They also have nice outdoor seating for when the weather warms up. I have ate at both of their other restaurants which are also fantastic and think The Little Pear will be no different. Chef Rodney Worth grew up in Northern California and learned to make “good food that makes you feel good” while pursuing a Culinary Arts degree from DVC. He has worked at Wente Vineyards, Bizou, and in catering so he has a wide range of experience that you can taste in every bite.
If you give it a try, let me know what you think about it!
I checked out Tatsu Sushi in Ygnacio Valley Plaza recently, and I just have a one-word review: YUM. It’s an awesome Japanese restaurant that is apparently very popular, if their extremely busy Wednesday evening crowd is any indication.
I ordered a couple of rolls and they gave us gyoza on the house. We also tried the vegetable tempura. You can see pictures of the meal below, but fair warning; they might make your mouth water.
Tatsu is open for lunch and dinner every day but Sunday, but like I said, the place was really busy on a random Wednesday night. So, make sure you plan in advance for your visit!
On the website, they describe the restaurant as “on the frontier of Japanese fusion restaurants,” and promise the freshest seafood, meat, and produce. The meal I had at Tatsu was definitely fresh and delicious – I will be back!
I recently visited Genuine Goodness in Orinda, which specializes in catering, grab-and-go sandwiches, soups, salads, smoothies, and baked sweets. They also have some really cute gifts for sale there!
There is some indoor seating here and they have good, nutritional options for those seeking healthy food. I thought that all the food I tried was really delicious, and I’d highly encourage anyone to give it a shot when they’re in Orinda.
Maybe my favorite feature, though, is that you can pre-order take-and-bake meals directly from their website. They say a full-size take-and-bake order will feed two adults and two kids, so it’s perfect to call ahead and pick up for the family.
Many of their take-and-bake meals are hearty, healthy, and delicious-looking; full of veggies and protein that we health-crazed Californians will love. Learn more at their website here.
In the shopping center across from Heather Farms, there is a new restaurant that seems to be very popular. At 11 a.m. the day I went, there was a line out the door, so you know the food must be good or just the shinny new place to try! Mendocino Farms is the name of the lunch restaurant, one of the newest locations of a nationwide chain.
Most locations of Mendocino Farms are in the Orange County-Los Angeles-San Diego area, but there are also several in the Bay Area, including in San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland. They have even expanded as far as Seattle, Dallas, and Houston.
The menu looks delicious, which probably explains their popularity! One of the first items you see is “The Happy Hippie” sandwich, with avocado, cucumber, carrots, tomatoes, and more. Or you can order the Mediterranean Crunch Salad, with chicken breast, cucumber, apricot, etc. The creations are creative, colorful, and healthy.
Mendocino Farms mostly specializes in deli-style lunch combos (sandwiches and salads), but they also offer some baked goods, soups, drinks, and an extensive kids’ menu. Opened originally in 2005, Mendocino Farms is a family business that “invites their guests to “Eat Happy.””
National Ice Cream Day falls on the third Sunday in July. This year, I treated clients, friends, and neighbors to a frozen delight! Yogurt Spot sells frozen yogurt, gelato, shaved ice, and floats. I’ve written about them on this blog in the past, actually.
Over the course of two hours, 26 people showed up to get ice cream or other treats at Yogurt Spot. Dana and her daughter, Annabell, came all the way from Antioch! I think you can tell by these photos above that they had a good time!
Below is the store’s owner, Heather, and me. She was a wonderful host. It was nice to chat with everyone and have this great event. Supporting Yogurt Spot is always a worthwhile cause, as is supporting the Rice family, who have been clients of mine (along with some of their family members) for over 15 years.
If you haven’t visited Yogurt Spot yet, add it to your list! And, hopefully, I’ll see you at my 2024 ice cream social for the next National Ice Cream Day. Next year I will remember to take more photos of everyone, you get so busy talking to people, you forget to memorialize it with pictures for social media! I would rather chat with everyone than remember to take a picture.
5 Tacos and Beers just opened after months of waiting in the former Tender Greens location. There was a line to be seated, which was not surprising given the hype surrounding the restaurant. The food was very good (a bit pricey, but what isn’t these days?) and the margarita was excellent. One negative is that you pay for chips and only get a small amount.
A little bit of background about 5 Tacos and Beers: A unique Mexican restaurant that offers healthy, fresh, and traditional food from south of Jalisco, Mexico. Traditional recipes have been passed from generation to generation, making their “homemade” food full of flavor and authenticity. They are also the only restaurant in the Bay Area with more than 25 local beers on tap, coming from award-winning breweries.
The chef, Lito Saldaña, is the Founder and Creator of Los Moles restaurants in Emeryville, San Rafael, and El Cerrito. His cuisine focuses on bringing in distinct flavors from traditional Mexican pueblos and showcasing them with a modern twist. He uses family recipes and keeps the food simple, but enjoyable.
On the menu are three prominent names: Mama Luisa, Don Pedro, and Mama Elena. These are important people in Chef Lito’s life. His parents, Pedro and Luisa, have been the inspiration for his career and his greatest culinary instructors. In the traditional pueblos of Mexico, mothers and grandmothers prepare enough food (with plenty of tortillas) for family and neighbors. Everything is shared and everyone eats well!
Have you tried 5 Tacos and Beers? Let me know what you think by commenting below.
The anticipated opening of Shake Shack in Walnut Creek did not disappoint. It has had a line every time I drive by and the downstairs seating is completely full. There is additional seating upstairs and an elevator for those who don’t want to navigate a tray of food up the stairs.
I really enjoyed my meal there. For $19, I had a regular cheeseburger, fries, and a small drink. I had Shake Shack in New York City many years ago, and I remembered it being good (and there was always a line there, too). I’m glad it stood up to my memory!
Walnut Creek has a few burger joints like George’s on Newell, Burger King by Civic Park, and Gott’s across from Broadway Plaza. When my kids come to town now, we might not have to drive to San Ramon or Pleasant Hill for In-N-Out. We can just stroll over to Shake Shack instead!
Have you tried it yet? Let me know what you think by commenting here.
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.