More good sushi in Walnut Creek!

Downtown Walnut Creek has no shortage of great sushi restaurants. Even when one goes out of business or moves, it seems like another one is popping up to replace it within weeks. As the sushi craze is no longer a craze, and simply a way of life, I found another great new sushi spot in our town. Check out Oyama Sushi between Modern China and 1515 on North Main St.

The decor in Oyama Sushi is a little more upscale than others in Walnut Creek, but still has the feel of a nice, cozy, sit-down restaurant. They take great care to make it a beautiful, comfortable experience with their lighting, decorations and plating (which you can see in pictures below).

I went to Oyama with for a friend’s birthday where we ordered the shrimp tempura, edamame and the ever-flowing sake to start, and then moved to sushi. I had the Cherry Blossom Roll (my favorite, love the way it looks like a flower) and a special order with tempura crunch on top.  Veronica loves Ikura – the salmon roe – and she had that all to herself.  It was all very fresh and delicious, and who can complain about sake? Not me!

If you haven’t been to Oyama Sushi yet, I’d recommend giving them a shot. It is right downtown on Main St. Walnut Creek and the bill won’t break your bank, but also isn’t the cheapest (though cheap sushi doesn’t interest me!). The sushi is fresh and tasty, and they have a nice selection of sake and other drinks to wash it down. Let me know if you visit, and if so, how you like it.

Art Town: Bolero

A recently-landscaped area on the corner of Ygnacio Valley Blvd. and N. Main St. in downtown Walnut Creek is the next subject of our Art Town monthly feature. Though the sculptures themselves may have stood out more before the remodel, the entire area looks a lot better now!

You may recognize the statue since it’s been there since 1988, but the whole corner is much more aesthetically-pleasing now. The flowers and the restructuring of the area make it something you want to stop and look at on the busy corner, rather than pass by. Scroll down for a few more pictures and a little background on the art itself!

The sculptor, Robert Holmes, was originally an engineer who designed and built homes before diving into art full-time in 1981. He works only with bronze, and has a studio in Sea Ranch with a foundry in Sebastopol. In this specific piece, Holmes wanted to distill the human form to essential elements, hence the faceless, dancing features.

Downtown Walnut Creek updates

This little town of ours is always growing and changing. It seems like every other day, we have a new restaurant popping up in the place of a restaurant that was just formerly new, or an apartment complex taking over an empty lot. Here’s some more news:

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There are some rumors floating around about a couple of Hall Equities Group projects.  The first one is there is Prime Hotel Site noted on their website which looks to be the corner of Ygnacio and Civic that will have a large conference space.  There is nothing noted on the City of Walnut Creeks site, but on Hall Equities site they show a rendering of a hotel. Check it out!  Walnut Creek has not seen a new hotel in many, many years, but note: there is a new hotel, A Marriott’s Residence Inn currently being built on the corner Pringle and California (2050 California) where the Jaguar dealership and Bank of the West used to be.

The second rumor may be a high-end spa and hotel where the KFC used to be on California & Botelho. Hall & Associates has been trying to develop it for a few years, but were trying to push on the height restrictions and no resolution occurred, so we will see if this comes to fruition.

And while some of us had gotten used to going to the food truck village in McDonald’s old site by Xtreme Pizza (it was awesome!!), that will become a condo building with some rentable rooms. Those are popping up all around town, but I think it makes sense given the growth in Walnut Creek. And most builders have been pretty smart about making buildings that won’t be eyesores.

There are some condos by BART (Main and Civic), two new apartment buildings right by BART and Riviera (a little Walnut Creek BART transit village), and a big new complex called The Lofts. This is all going in right by BART, and will increase the traffic even more over there. Surely, we will see more buildings, more condos, and definitely more new restaurants and bars infiltrating Walnut Creek in the coming years. Keep an eye out for these new projects!

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Are you seeing green?

Have you noticed an unusually high amount of green on the Walnut Creek streets? No, it’s not St. Patrick’s Day – it’s the LimeBikes taking over downtown! This is Walnut Creek’s new bike share program, which can be accessed through an app, and is an interesting idea.

This will only be a one-year pilot program for the dockless bike share provider, so make sure you take a spin on one while the weather is nice this summer! LimeBike is a Bay Area-based startup that has advanced the bike share program to be dockless, so all you have to do is lock the bike in place where you finish riding, and let the next user unlock it with their phones.

Of course, the bike share program isn’t entirely free. The app on your smartphone will give you access for 30 minutes for $1, and 1 hour for $2. You can find a bike on the map and unlock it from there too. It’s completely built-in to our everyday lives, since everyone knows how to use their maps app (or Pokemon Go, for that matter!).

So, you’re probably wondering how safe the LimeBikes are? Each bike has an anti-theft alarm, double kickstand, and a headlight. It’s a law for anyone under age 18 to have a helmet on, but LimeBike does not require anyone over that age to wear one.

I think this is a pretty cool idea. A lot of different cities in the Bay Area use bike share programs, and I’ve even heard of some places doing dockless scooter shares! It still makes me laugh as I am driving around town seeing all these bikes in random places – once you see one, you keep seeing them. The Bay Area is a center for healthy-living, so another human-powered vehicle option can’t hurt. Have you tried LimeBikes yet? We would love to hear what you think!

Get your groove on this summer!

There’s nothing better than a summer night in the Bay Area. We’re spoiled with perfect weather here, and it means we can spend every evening outside, enjoying the twilight with drink in our hand and a happy hour entree on our plates. It also means it’s time for Summer Concert Series season!

You don’t have to stray too far from home to get to the closest concerts. There will be four free performances outside The Lesher Center, starting with a show this Thursday at 5:30 p.m. All shows go from 5:30-7 p.m. and will sell beer, wine and snacks:

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Courtesy: http://www.lesherartscenter.org/summer-sounds-2018.html
  • June 21: Mariachi Mestizo
  • June 28: The Sons of the Soul Revivers
  • July 12: Tumbledown House
  • July 26: The T Sisters (highly recommend this one – love their sound!)

If you like what you hear in July at The Lesher Center, carry on that momentum into August with Broadway Plaza’s Summer Concert Series. These will take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in Event Plaza, and they are also free to the public:

Courtesy: http://www.broadwayplaza.com/Events/Details/475005
  • Aug. 16: Kalimba (The Spirit of Earth, Wind & Fire)
  • Aug. 23: Caravanserai (The Santana Tribute)
  • Aug. 30: Bee Gee’s Gold (The Tribute)

Lastly, if you want to venture a bit outside of Walnut Creek, check out our neighbors’ Summer Concert Series in Pleasant Hill’s Plaza in front of Jack’s Restaurant & Bar. The shows take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and are, of course, free!

  • July 5: Fleetwood Mask
  • Aug. 2: Top Shelf Classics
  • Sept. 6: Illeagles

No matter which series you choose – or if you try out all three – you’re sure to have a good time jamming to some fun music! Let me know if you visit any of these shows, and how they are!

Event Round-Up: June 16

Welcome back to the newest installment of Event Round-Up! As always, this is where we gather five of the best Bay Area events taking place over the next month or so. Let us know if you go to any of these, and if so, how you liked them!

1. Walnut Creek Uncorked (Weds., June 20)

Walnut Creek Downtown presents a brand new event, designed for the wine-lovers in our town. Tickets are $40 in advance, and get you access to wine tastings, restaurants, artisan fashion and jewelry stands, and live entertainment. You must be 21 to buy a ticket!

2. Danville Summerfest 2018 (Sat., June 23 & Sun., June 24) 

Danville has a little festival of its own that you may want to check out! Our neighbor has a cute downtown that will be filled with local music, art, and food vendors. There is a classic car show on Sunday, and the event is family and dog-friendly. Danville Summerfest will take place from 10-5 each day.

3. Alameda County Fair (Fri., June 15 – Sun., July 8)

It’s that time of year again! The Alameda County Fair at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton kicked into full gear yesterday, and will carry on through the weekend after 4th of July. If you don’t have larger travel plans, you can trek over to Pleasanton for this awesome annual event – LeeAnn Rimes, Blue Oyster Cult, and Sean Kingston are some of the many musical acts expected to perform this year.

4. 4th of July Fireworks (Weds., July 4)

I don’t have any particular event or link for you here. There are generally tons of good spots to choose from to watch East Bay fireworks on the 4th of July. Take the kiddos, your leftover BBQ, and a blanket to enjoy the show. My favorite place to catch them is up at Tahoe.

5. Walnut Creek First Wednesdays (Weds., July 11)

Another stellar outdoors event to celebrate all that Walnut Creek summers have to offer! There is free parking after 5 p.m. in many major downtown garages to help you get around. If you’ve never experienced a First Wednesdays celebration, it is chock-full of live music, food trucks, drinks, games and even a Kids Fun Zone. Check it out from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Cypress St. in downtown.

You pa-gotta try Parada

Nestled in a quaint corner of the new-ish Pleasant Hill BART area – but technically still in Walnut Creek – lies a hidden gem of foreign cuisine. Parada, the latest brainchild of the Michelin rated Chef Carlos Altamirano, is a delicious, colorful display of Peruvian food that will definitely bring you back for seconds.

Chef Altamirano’s name may ring a bell; he has Mochica and Piqueos in San Francisco, Barranco in Lafayette, a fleet of Sanguchon food trucks, as well as La Costanera in Half Moon Bay, where he earned Michelin stars in 2011, 2012 and 2013. He trained under some of the Bay Area’s most renowned chefs, combined that background with an upbringing infused with Latin American culture and cuisine in Southern Peru, and created a food empire.

Now I know from personal experience that Peruvian cuisine, especially when cultivated by Chef Altamirano, is a can’t-miss eating opportunity.

The restaurant itself is quite small, but you wouldn’t know it when you’re in there enjoying your meal. Parada is open for lunch and dinner every day of the week, though hours vary. It’s a little bit pricey, but that’s what quality fine dining in Walnut Creek will get you these days!

If you haven’t been to Parada yet, I insist you do so. When you go, let me know how you liked it!

Art Town: Cost Plus globe!

We have a pretty unique art piece for this week’s Art Town. Normally, we discuss paintings on electrical boxes, or statues that everyone has seen. But this time, we’re making you crane your necks to look up!

You’ve all been to Cost Plus World Market, which shares a block with the movie theater.  I’d always noticed the big, metal globe on top of the building, but I had never taken a really close look.  It may be a tie to their logo, not unlike the circles at the back of the Target building on the corner of Ygnacio and California.  For new business construction, the city requires some sort of art work to accompany our streets and I believe this is exactly that, yet ties nicely with the business.  I may be wrong and if anybody has some insights, please share as I did not find any notations about this piece.

When you get up on the parking deck on the roof, you can actually see it up close behind the gate they have there. It’s much more intricate and detailed than you realize from the ground, and it really is a beautiful, random piece of art. Take a look at this up-close picture here to see the detail:

It almost looks like a nest, or a cage, or what the Earth might look like if only rivers and faults were mapped on a globe. It is all wound together so randomly, but there’s an order to it, as well. Truly a fascinating piece of artwork that many people might not even notice when they’re walking around downtown or parking on the top lot!

“Sure Enough” – new art installation in Civic Park!

You may remember when I posted my most recent Event Round-Up. It featured an artist named Patrick Dougherty who was putting up a massive art installation in Civic Park, culminating in a final reveal/celebration on May 26th.

Well, the installation is done and up in downtown Walnut Creek, and I’d highly recommend you go check it out! It’s extremely unique and interactive, and it draws your eyes right to it. I recently stopped by Civic Park to take pictures and experience “Sure Enough!” It is fun to meander through and get lost in the moment and just watch other people do the same. I got there after the celebration and people were still coming into the park with curiosity and then continuing through to see the Hand of Peace.

As mentioned in my previous blog, the installation is made possible because The Bedford Galley and City of Walnut Creek Public Art Department have a National Endowment for the Arts grant.  This project is inspired by the idea that art is for everyone.   I am continually impressed with Walnut Creeks urban art and how they expose and engage the community to public art.

Dougherty is a world-famous sculptor, known for his larger-than-life woven willow sapling installations. He says that ¨Sure Enough” (which is a Southernism evoking a state of complete satisfaction) is aimed at the open skies to take in “that special California light.”

Dougherty, who has won many awards for his work, started out with single pieces on pedestals and moved into these monumental, scaled works which require truckloads of saplings. He has built more than 250 of them now, and has become internationally acclaimed for sculptures worldwide, including Scotland, Japan, France, and more. The “Sure Enough” installation will be there for a couple years, so no need to hurry, but next time you’re in or around Civic Park, make sure to check it out!

Walnut Creek Yacht Club strikes again

I’ve written about how much I like the Walnut Creek Yacht Club before. You’ll remember my blog about last year’s Lobsterfest at the Yacht Club, but I’ve never actually written just about sitting at the bar, eating dinner, and enjoying my meal in a normal setting before. It has great bar seating, with a view looking outside and is one of my favorite bars to just eat dinner either alone or with a friend. The bar is also a great place to hang out to drink and socialize.

I recently went to meet my friend Victoria before going to a movie. Of course, we sat at the bar, I was running late and when I got there, she was socializing with a neighboring patron soaking up all the good WCYC vibes. I ordered Zarzuela de Mariscos – Spanish Seafood Stew with prawns, octopus, mussels, clams & rock cod tomato-shellfish broth, serrano ham, garlic, almonds saffron rice pilaf, grilled Acme levain bread, and lemon aioli for $29.00; the special for the month of May. It was like a tomatoey seafood risotto. Victoria had WCYC Fish‘n’Chips, with California ling cod beer battered in Anchor Steam, with WCYC tartar sauce, regatta fries and WYCY coleslaw for $18.00.

In the past, the service has always been top notch, this time, the bar service was a bit lackluster or aloof, usually they chat you up and are refilling your water and asking what else you might need, but this night was not to their standard tip-top shape. If you are local, you will usually run into someone you know and this evening was no different! Jodi was there socializing with friends and her new baby!

I love the food and the drinks and their special dinners and tasting – it is great to be a member. Of course, if you go often, you get some sort of gift at the end of the year and an envelope not to be opened until a specific date. After you open the envelope, you have to go back in and eat! Check them out!