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:

The Landing
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

Heavenly village
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
they sure were yummy

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.

Banjo Hall of Fame Artist Live in Walnut Creek

Peets Coffee & Tea

There’s absolutely nothing better then a crisp California morning with a hot coffee and live banjo music. Yes, I said it banjo music. Most mornings from 8 to 9, Harry Higgins and friends come together to entertain folks getting their day started with a hot drip. The group performs for fun outside Pete’s Coffee and Tea on Locust Street in Walnut Creek. If only I could start every morning listing to the beats of a Banjo Hall of Fame musician. Hopefully you can make it one morning, this video doesn’t do it justice.  Just another thing I love about living in Walnut Creek!!!

The Orchards

the orchards

At Oak Grove Blvd & Ygnacio Valley Road in the Shadelands Business Park. Safeway is finally building on their lot that has sat empty for so long – the last of what was once real orchards.  Safeway’s new store will replace its smaller Encina Grande location across the street, where Whole Foods will move in.

The Orchards will include a Stein Mart, Crunch Fitness & Petco along with specialty shops, restaurants, 200 units of senior housing, green space, play area and jogging trails.  This area has been languishing from a business perspective and the city has been trying to figure out how to reinvigorate it to be more like a Bishop Ranch.  The problem is the commute – there is no easy access from Bart, thus people have to drive so many of the business once housed in the Shadelands have moved.

Hall Equities Group will be transforming the building Contra Costa Times occupied in a Recreational Sports Facility and will become the regional go to place for youth basketball, soccer, lacrosse, etc. – this is sorely needed in our area as field space is a premium – now parents will be able to drop off the kids to warm up and walk over to grab a coffee or do their shopping.  It will be interesting to see if it attracts actual business vs. retail.
~Kristin
“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beate.” G. K. Chesterton

Cadillac Corner?

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Once building permits are obtained, developer Brian Hirahara of BH Development plans to break ground on “Cadillac Corner”, an elegant center of retail and restaurants in the heart of downtown Walnut Creek.

Located at the current La Fogata parking lot, Cadillac corner will be a two-story space including retail space, a café, first-floor restaurant and second-floor roof top dining.

It will be adorned with a two-story living green wall and a living green roof.

Construction will hopefully be completed in early 2015.

City officials feel that this corner will be the final piece in the city’s core downtown and Broadway Plaza area.My main question regarding this development being, how did this area come to be named Cadillac Corner? Sources cite it is because of the areas proximity to Tiffany and Neiman Marcus, however, I have never heard this corner referenced as such and am curious if it was just nick-named by city officials.  I wonder if the name will catch on?  I say no, what do you think?

Book it or Blog it Danno!
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A view of the building site from across the street.
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Both Tiffany and Neiman Marcus neighbor “Cadillac Corner”.
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The future site of construction.
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An overall view from where the new development will sit.