Lemonade is a healthy, delicious lunch option

Lemonade opened up a location next to Corner’s Tavern and across from Stanford’s at the outskirts of Broadway Plaza – if you haven’t tried it yet, you should!

Lemonade is best known for its healthy options and a buffet-style bar of grab-and-go meals. You can get anything from sandwiches, salads and soups to four samplers in one box of premade options much like the Whole Foods hot bar.

It’s quick and easy and all the food I’ve tried there has been really great. Most recently, I had a poke salad with avocado mash. Oh, and as the name implies, they also have a great selection of fresh lemonades to choose from!

I really like this as a healthy lunch and quick lunch option as you can be in and out in 10 minutes, but I still miss La Boulange and wish Starbucks would have kept them around. Let me know what you think!

True Food Kitchen is a must-try

img_9489Tucked between the brand new parking structure and the side of Macy’s in the fancy new Broadway Plaza is another fashionable restaurant: a friendly hostess, tables scattered everywhere, a kitchen and a cozy patio with extra seating.

And soon enough, this spot will be teeming with Walnut Creek foodies trying to get a reservation.

True Food Kitchen, which was founded in 2008 in Phoenix, has now spread to six states and will be opening up locations in five more over the next couple years.

The reason for its success, I presume, is the trend towards healthy whole food! They say “it’s honest food that tastes really good,” and it really does.

Most of the menu consists of meals that are made up of healthy ingredients to make you feel good. They try to make everything organic and locally sourced because they believe one can eat healthily and sustainably and still have a delicious meal.

img_9490I have now visited a couple of times and had two really great meals with friends. One time, I split the roasted Brussels sprouts appetizer, and I ordered the albacore tataki starter and a grapefruit martini, which was delicious!

The second time I went was with a paleo foodie! We split the spaghetti squash casserole and the roasted Brussels sprouts; it was like eating lasagna without the meat. However, she did inquire about the gluten-free pizza and found the crust was made with potato and tapioca – which are not really the best options if someone is really focused on truly clean eating.

The good news is there are a lot of great-tasting gluten-free options and you can decide for yourself. It is a large space and, of course, there was a long lunch wait of almost 50 minutes over the weekend. Both times I sat on the patio as it does not seem as loud. As we walked through the dining room, many tables were empty, so they still need to work on seating and flow.

I would love to hear your thoughts on True Food Kitchen!

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My new favorite breakfast place: Sideboard

img_9371If you haven’t been to Sideboard for breakfast or lunch yet, drop everything you’re doing and go now! I recently visited the new Danville location (it was moved down the street to a cool old B&B-style building) and absolutely love the vibe there!

To go along with a rustic, hip feel, the new location has a huge back patio for diners and all their same amenities still apply: dog treats for our furry friends, awesome holiday decorations and clever order markers for the tables.

As an added bonus for those who love their weekend bike rides on the Iron Horse Trail, Sideboard is only about a block from one of the trail exits!

I have now been a couple of times and have had  their chilaquiles, which is a Mexican dish with fried tortillas, sauce, salsa and fried eggs, topped with feta cheese.

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A lady who I was sitting by on the big farm style tables says she comes all the way from Oakland to eat breakfast there often. I have ordered their delicious, fluffy beignets twice, once as a take out and once served – they are best fresh and warm, but delicious no matter what.

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A new addition is Sideboard is in Lafayette. I have yet to visit, but have been told they have a picnic service, where they’ll bring your meal out to you on a blanket on the grass in a picnic basket. What a nice touch! If you haven’t checked out Sideboard yet, make sure to do as soon as possible. It’s well worth it!

Walnut Creek starting to rock the foodie scene

IMG_9049Do you smell that? It must be the eclectic mix of fresh, local dishes and fancy San Francisco-transplanted restaurants that dot the little town of Walnut Creek. It’s no secret anymore: Walnut Creek has become a foodie haven.

In fact, earlier this year, Livability.com ranked Walnut Creek as the 10th-best foodie city, based on the residents preferring independent and locally-owned restaurants over fast food chains (that might explain the disappearance of McDonald’s and Taco Bell over the last few months!).

Also getting a shout-out was The Art and Wine Festival, which draws thousands of visitors every year. From highly-rated stops like Walnut Creek Yacht Club, to the neverending list of new restaurants popping up, Walnut Creek has put itself on the radar among the best food cities in the country.

Is it any wonder that Walnut Creek is getting so much attention for its culinary game when places like Teleferic, Rooftop and Slice House can all pop up within a few months in the same building? A building that is next door to long-time favorites like Tomatina and La Fogata? Just down the block from hip dessert shops like Kara’s Cupcakes and Cream?IMG_9045

Walnut Creek has become an extension of the nearby food meccas of Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco.

It has become the crown jewel for tourists craving good eats in the East Bay. It may not have any restaurants listed in the Yelp Top 100 nationwide, but the Bay Area has a ton.

So if you are looking to expand your epicurean tastes, check out Open Table top 10 Diners’ Choice Winners for the greater Bay Area. We are so lucky to live in this beautiful place and taste the bounty of menus it has to offer.

Dunkin’ Donuts Delights Downtown

IMG_4536The days of Las Lomas students darting over to San Miguel Plaza after school to grab a couple Taco Bell specials are over. Instead, they can check out Dunkin’ Donuts, which took over the old Taco Bell space and has seen lines around the corner in its first week of business.

Dunkin’ Donuts will be open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day and serves a variety of breakfast sandwiches, coffee drinks and, as the name implies, donuts. The East Coast-based chain is incredibly popular in other regions of the country and now adds another well-known food and drink option to Walnut Creek’s growing downtown.

For a town that recently rid itself of the long-standing McDonald’s and has now cut its Taco Bell consumption in half, this may be a surprising add (especially given IMG_4540Dunkin’ Donuts’ proximity to Whole Foods), but the world can never have enough coffee shops!

I decided to visit Dunkin’ Donuts this morning and see what all the fuss was about. I waited in a long line, as expected, before being helped by a very kind girl at the register. They offer a lot more than just donuts at Dunkin’, though their only healthy choice is the oatmeal. I tried their cappuccino, some donuts (Bavarian chocolate donut and the fritter, among others) and a variety of IMG_4538donut holes.

The coffee was amazing. I asked why, and they said it was because they never let it sit for more than 15 minutes at a time. And the donuts, which tasted a lot less fried than they do at other places, were really good! I chatted with an East Coaster who said he now feels complete with a Dunkin’ Donuts in town.

The parking is easy in that plaza, especially in mornings before the other businesses open up. I have a feeling that Dunkin’ will develop quite a following!

Calling all Foodies, Walnut Creek’s Restaurant Boom!

Good luck reading this blog and not drooling everywhere. In the most recent issue of Walnut Creek Magazine, they laid out a long list of new restaurants coming to town. Here is a quick run down of twelve new places to eat.

Credit: tonygemignani.com
Credit: tonygemignani.com

As part of Walnut Creek’s transition from sleepy suburb to must-see Capitol of the East Bay, the already thriving restaurant scene is getting another injection of new, hip hot spots.

First, let’s talk about pizza. As if we weren’t already spoiled by good pizza joints in Walnut Creek, MOD Pizza is moving into The Orchards, Slice House – from the world-famous Tony’s in San Francisco – will set up shop right below Teleferic and Rooftop, and Pizza My Heart will snag Project Pie’s old space on California.

The artist formerly known as Pyramid is going to be (highly-anticipated BBQ joint) Sauced, McCovey’s is turning into brunch king Momo’s, and the Hubcaps team is transforming their space into Broderick Roadhouse.

Credit: Twitter

Lemonade, a SoCal chain that serves fresh California cuisine, is coming to the old La Boulange space, and the aforementioned Rooftop is already enjoying a swell of crowds every night to dine and drink under the stars.

Looking for comfort food among all the fancy feasting joints? Hops & Scotch on Treat Blvd. will bring a restaurant and bar with mac n’ cheese, chicken strips, fried cheese curds and more.

And just to pile on top of the never-ending sushi craze, Kona Grill will enter at The Agora on Main, and also offer burgers and pasta.

Lastly, look for Limon Rotisserie and Lokanta Mediterranean Grill & Bar on Locust St.

Whew … just in time for summer dining!

 

Best of Walnut Creek: Coffeeshops

Image: http://va388.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Pacific-Bay-Coffee-outside-710x363.jpgLike most things in town, there is no shortage of coffee to drink in Walnut Creek. There’s Starbucks for the on-the-go coffee drinker. Peet’s Coffee has been opening its doors to loyal customers for decades. The Coffee Shop is new and attracting a young, hip crowd. And La Scala has a European feel, but is also popular as a corner spot perfect for a laptop and latte.

Then, there’s a local favorite right across from Kaiser: Pacific Bay Coffee Co. They opened up around the corner from Las Lomas and across the street from the hospital in 2004. It was founded as an independent coffee shop, offering on-site roasting. In 2010, they upgraded their brewing methods to siphon coffee, 24-hour cold-brew, aeropress and Japanese drip style pour-over. Additionally, they’ve expanded into loose-leaf tea from all over the world.

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In January, when we saw the windows papered and the shop closed, many assumed the worst. Via NextDoor.com comment boards, the potential closure led to concerns about, and a spirited discussion of, the support of small businesses in Walnut Creek. Since I live only three blocks away and needed some tea, this prompted me to stop by and ask a few questions.

I spoke with the owner Richard Fong, checked out the remodel (it feels brighter, more upbeat, and has more seating) and asked about the reason for the remodel. He told me that it was time for an update. Originally, the remodel was set to start in March, but the contractor was available in January and moved it up. As a side note, competition is moving closer with Starbucks opening below the not yet completed Agora Apartments just across the way.

IMG_4225What sets Pacific Bay apart is the on-site roasting of beans. They have perfected the medium-to-light roasting technique of single-origin beans. They work in small batches, in order to maintain the highest quality and freshness. Pac Bay recently won a Bronze Medal at the Roasting Awards in Oregon, and have purchased the Victoria Arduino Black Eagle espresso machine – one of only two of its kind in the area (the other is at Sextant Coffee in San Francisco). IMG_4220

They also have a new slow bar, which takes anywhere from two to seven minutes to fill, and is a process deemed “the third wave of coffee.” Lastly, they added custom drip teapots to strengthen their already delicious tea selection! If you want fresh coffee, this is the place to go, as they roast a couple times a week. You can find them up at 4 in the morning on Saturday’s brewing and roasting fresh batches.

Pacific Bay is keeping up with the trends and continues to set the standard for coffee and tea in Walnut Creek. The freshness and quality of their drinks, on top of a great location and updated decor, makes it well worth a visit, along with supporting a local small business that helps keep Walnut Creek unique.

We would love to hear your favorite coffee place along with any comments you would like to share!

Best Sandwich in the Bay Area: Morucci’s

One of my favorite lunch time eateries in Walnut Creek is Morucci’s. They have great sandwiches, soups and salads. My personal favorite is the #1: Roasted Turkey.

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One of the best aspects of this deli is their creative menu, which lists their sandwiches from 1-17 (with some items being fractions, too!). It is always fresh and tasty and has my vote as the best deli in the area.

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Some of the most popular sandwiches are the 6 3/4, which is a delicious combination of caprese salad-style tomato and mozzarella, turkey, lettuce, roasted bell peppers, and balsamic dressing, all on a perfectly-toasted ciabatta; and the #5 (California club – fully loaded with turkey, swiss, bacon and veggies).

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For the vegetarians the Caprese is also tasty. I can truly say that every concoction they make at Morucci’s is awesome, and apparently everyone agrees – just check out the line at lunch time! Try to get there in off-hours, though. The secret got out a few years back and now East Bay residents from high schoolers to retirees form lines around the block on any given day at lunch to nab one of these famous sandwiches.


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Consistently voted one of Walnut Creek’s best, Morucci’s is a must-try if you are living in or visiting the area. From their sandwiches, to fresh Italian salads, Morucci’s definitely earns their rave Yelp reviews.

Which sandwich at Morucci’s is your favorite?  Please let me know.

Top Five Date Ideas in Tahoe

Attention! We have snow in Lake Tahoe!

While the main draw to a winter in Tahoe may be cozying up to the fireplace in your cabin or hitting the slopes at Heavenly, Squaw, Kirkwood or Sierra Ski Ranch (just to name a few), there are some fun ways to create a less traditional wintertime date. Inspired by some suggestions we came across, here’s a list of five fun date ideas in Tahoe:

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Photo credit: TheLandingTahoe.com

Dinner at The Landing

Tahoe’s newest top-ranked boutique hotel has brilliant lakeside views and a cozy dining room. This is the perfect place to warm yourself up with some wine and a good meal while watching the snow fall on the lake and surrounding mountains.

Hot Springs

The one time it’s acceptable to wear a swimsuit in the Tahoe snow is when you’re soaking in hot springs. At Sierra Hot Springs, a non-profit retreat and workshop center, you can dip into the springs at any hour of the day for just $20-25 per person (though we don’t recommend this for the first date, clothing-optional pools do exist here…). Grover Hot Springs State Park, where minerals turn the pools green, is also a good post-Kirkwood stop for a relaxing dip. For more of a resort feel, there’s always David Walley’s in Genoa, close to Carson City, which will pamper you with a full-service spa and dining options in addition to the pools.

Movie in Heavenly Village

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Photo credit: TheShopsAtHeavenly.com

Even if you’re a traditionalist and don’t always gravitate towards the new, upscale resort villages, you can’t ignore the beauty of Heavenly Village and all the amenities it has to offer. In the mood for a cheaper, casual date in a beautiful setting? You’ll find no shortage of showtimes at the cinema at Heavenly.

Dinner at Cafe Fiore

Another well-known dinner spot in Tahoe is Cafe Fiore – a small but vibrant restaurant in South Lake that has earned its reputation as a go-to destination. It’s not cheap, but the food and wine pairings will make for a memorable and delicious night out. Plus, there are only seven tables in the entire place, so you’re sure to get an intimate atmosphere.

Ice Skating

Northstar village
Photo credit: CarrLong.com

What is more “winter romance” than a couples’ skate on an ice rink? The best one around is at Northstar, where the revamped village boasts shops, restaurants and a huge, central rink area. Afterwards, you can have a drink by the outdoor fireplace too! If you’re craving the best view from an ice skating rink in Tahoe, Squaw Valley is the one you want. Panoramic views from the rink on its upper mountain are unmatched. And you can always take a break from the numerous distractions in Heavenly’s village to skate a few rounds as well!

There you have it – get up to Tahoe while the snow is still in town, but be sure to treat yourself to a date night out after skiing or boarding, too!

Main Street Kitchen

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I recently tried the new restaurant on Main Street, creatively named Main Street Kitchen.  Luckily the menu was much more interesting than the name.  The restaurant features farm to table, local ingredients, and seasonal menus.

 

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To start, I had  the Grilled peach salad with Point Reyes bleu cheese, bacon, and mixed greens.  It was very tasty and refreshing on this warm evening. For my main course, I chose the fish of the day, which happened to be swordfish.  The dish came with a seasonal vegetable salad, consisting of kale, corn, roasted squash, blue lake beans, cranberry beans, and saffron pistachio pesto.  It was delicious and filling, without being overly heavy.  For desert, I nudged in a peach crisp with almond streusel topping, and house made ice cream.  This was my favorite part of the meal, especially the home made ice cream.  Yum!

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I went there again for breakfast recently, and was able to enjoy the peaceful patio.  I had 3 duck eggs, with toast and fresh tomatoes.  I have never had duck eggs before, but
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With its eclectic variety of California cuisine, made with fresh and local ingredients, Main Street Kitchen definitely earned my repeat business.  I definitely recommend you check out this great new eatery in town.