Tomatina a lasting WC classic

As we’re all well aware by now, restaurants and stores open and close in downtown Walnut Creek on a weekly basis these days. Downtown is prime real estate, and as such, prices continue to rise and push out smaller, poorer businesses.

Unfortunately, that means some Walnut Creek classics end up falling by the wayside (I still miss places like Taxi’s, for example!). Then, there are the restaurants that have been popular downtown for many years and remain that way even in the face of massive churn.

One of those places – a steady favorite – is Tomatina. It is right there on the busiest corner of downtown, next to La Fogata and Teleferic/Rooftop. They’ve been turning out truly delicious Italian food in Walnut Creek since the 90’s and will hopefully be doing so for many more. They are known for their focus on fresh ingredients and seasonal specials.

The piadine is one of their signature dishes. Many know it as an Italian flatbread sandwich, but it’s so much more. After having one, it is easy to understand why so many always order this dish. It is essentially a flatbread topped with a fresh salad and a protein that you fold and eat. Everything is handmade here, and it shows in their food.

My favorite item, of course, is the piadine, but their pastas are also really good. The piadine is also great to go and take into the movie theater – shhh, just don’t tell Century Movie Theaters! It is also a great place to take the kids – or even your dog – as long as they sit outside the fence next to your table on the patio.

Keep supporting local businesses downtown; especially those like Tomatina that we don’t want to see fall victim to the ever-rising rents in Walnut Creek. They are located in seven Bay Area cities.

Go check out First Wednesdays tomorrow!

Every first Wednesday of every month from May through September, Walnut Creek Downtown will be hosting Walnut Creek First Wednesdays! That means that tomorrow is the first celebration of the entire season.

Walnut Creek First Wednesdays
Credit: WalnutCreekDowntown.com

Walnut Creek First Wednesdays include live music, dancing, food trucks, wine and beer, a Kids Fun Zone, interactive games, free prizes, and a Chef’s Demo – sounds like a mini Bottlerock! To add a little bonus, parking in garages downtown after 5 p.m. on Wednesdays is free.

Tomorrow, the festivities kick off with the band Neon Velvet. You can take part from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Cypress St. Admission is free, and it’s a great way to explore our little downtown that has become so hip in recent years!

I’d highly recommend checking it out. I’ve been to events like this in the past on Cypress St., and it’s always a good time with the family or friends, especially on warm evenings. The Walnut Creek Downtown organization does a great job hosting, so check it out if you are not in the mood to cook!

Celebrate Arbor Day tomorrow!

Did you know Arbor Day was founded by a journalist? Or that it started in Nebraska almost 150 years ago? Neither did I! The last Friday of every April is now Arbor Day, and we should use it to spread proper tree-care knowledge. For example:

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  • Water regularly so trees don’t dry up
  • Know the prominent pests in your area, so you can protect your trees
  • If you can, talk to a licensed forester to properly plant
  • Don’t overwater! Talk to a specialist about soil analysis
  • Be careful with your trimming so trees don’t die or topple

Arbor Day is all about taking care of our planet, which could always use a clean-up effort or a new tree planted. Trees provide the very necessities of life itself. They clean our air, protect our drinking water, create healthy communities, and feed the human soul. But these life necessities are threatened around the globe.

To address this, the Arbor Day Foundation is launching an unprecedented undertaking: the Time for Trees initiative. Learn more about their efforts to plant 100 million trees in forests and communities and inspire 5 million new tree planters by 2022 — the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day.

If you know of any local Arbor Day events, please share with me so I can re-post!

The best breweries in the Bay Area

It’s always brewery-hunting season for some people, but the crowds really seem to pick up when Spring is in full bloom and the warm summer months approach. If a cold craft brew in the sunshine is your thing, you’ll want to see this list from TimeOut.com of the best breweries in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley.

Almanac Brewery's bar area
Photograph: Mariko Reed (TimeOut.com)

Fort Point Beer: San Francisco

Fort Point Beer Company is known for its ales and is run by two brothers with local roots.

Novel Brewing Co.: Oakland

You can snag a book from the communal shelf at this brewery and sip on the Dust Jacket IPA in Oakland.

Cellarmaker Brewing Company: San Francisco

IPAs are beloved at Cellarmaker, and now they’ve opened a House of Pizza extension on Mission St. to complete a perfect combo.

Fieldwork Brewing Co.: Berkeley

Fieldwork now has locations in Berkeley, Napa, San Mateo, Monterey, Sacramento, and San Ramon and they produce more than 200 beers!

Rare Barrel
Timeout.com

The Rare Barrel: Berkeley

If you like sours, this is the place to be in the East Bay. Try the kimchee dumplings at the Berkeley tasting room on weekends!

Standard Deviant Brewing: San Francisco

Sports on the TV, unique beers, and a pinball machine? What more could you ask for from a brewery? Standard Deviant delivers.

Temescal Brewing: Oakland

You’ve definitely heard of this one – and probably tried their beer! They have a cozy outdoor beer garden and features food trucks on property for your eating needs.

Ale Industries: Oakland

This is Oakland’s biggest and oldest brewery, located in the Fruitvale neighborhood. It serves seasonal beers, live music, and allows outside food.

Almanac Beer Co.: San Francisco

Like Temescal in Oakland, you’ve definitely heard of – and tried – this Mission-based brewery. Also check out their huge new brewery and taproom in Alameda!

Seven Stills: San Francisco

Seven Stills has good craft beer, but also distills liquor from their beer! They can be found in the Outer Sunset, Bayview and Mission Bay – the latter has a dog-friendly beer garden.

Kristin’s note: on top of all these, I’d add 21st Amendment’s newer brewery and tasting room in San Rafael for excellent beer and friendly service!

Event Round-Up: April 20, 2019

The weather is heating up, and with it is the Bay Area event calendar! Usually we give you five, but since this is such a fun time of the year, we’ve given you a few bonuses to look out for. Let me know if you go to any of these so we can write about them in a future blog!

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Moonlit Walking Tour: San Francisco (May 1st)

You can take a 90-minute walking tour through one of San Francisco’s most famous – and infamous – neighborhoods. Start in the Tenderloin at 6:15 p.m., and your $20 ticket gets you an awesome tour and a whole new perspective. Tickets here.

Wanderlust: San Francisco (May 4th)

Wanderlust Festival, which brings teachers, experts, musicians, and creators for “transformational experiences” is coming to Golden Gate Park on the weekend of May 4th. Get more information here!

Cinco de Mayo Eve Pub Crawl: San Francisco (May 4th)

8 p.m. in Lower Nob Hill/Union Square. Be there, or be square. The night before Cinco de Mayo, you can get the festivities kicked off early with a themed pub crawl! Get tickets at this link.

SF Maritime Beer Fest: San Francisco (May 10th)

Okay, this one is really cool. You can get a $25 ticket for a really unique Beer Fest on a submarine at Fisherman’s Wharf! There will be music, craft brews, and some amazing views of the San Francisco Bay.

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Creek Cleanup Day: Walnut Creek (May 11th)

City and Friends of the Creek are making plans for the 30th Annual Creek Cleanup Day! This year’s event hops to top the 140 volunteers and 16 cubic yards of debris and vegetation that was removed in 2018. More details here.

Youth Art Show: Walnut Creek (thru May 15th)

The Center for Community Arts celebrates its youth artists in this show at Shadelands Art Center. This will include students from preschool up through teen classes. Over 100 artists! Opening reception is on Fri., Apr. 12th from 5:30-7:00 p.m., too.

Beginning Beekeeping: San Francisco (May 18th)

For $25, you can learn how to become a beekeeper! The class is designed for people with no experience in the field, and protective clothing will be provided. This sounds really interesting, especially with beekeeping becoming such an important part of the ecosystem!

Bedford Gallery Exhibit: Walnut Creek (thru June 23rd)

The newest Bedford Gallery exhibit, Tradition Interrupted, is on display downtown. It explores the methods used by artists to conflate contemporary ideas with traditional art and craft. Check it out! And remember that every first Tuesday at the gallery is free.

Historical rates and the current market

The Kiplinger Letter is the most widely read business forecasting periodical in the world, and lender Bob Schwab sent a recent one that gave me a lot of interesting information. It says:

“We don’t think a recession is imminent, despite a recent warning sign from the bond market. But that doesn’t mean the economy is fine. A substantial slowdown is in the works. “

The letter also hints at the recent slowdown in the European economy, which we touched on in a recent blog. I recently mentioned the inverse yield curve and the Kiplinger Letter noted the rate on short term bills briefly topped long-term yields last month, a situation the presaged recessions in recent decades, though long term rates soon rose again. Bob also mentioned that it was the 1-year treasury note that had a higher yield than the 5-year. It is when the 1-year and 10-year inverse that has led to a recession in the past.

Suddenly, the U.S. doesn’t appear immune to a recession.

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Kiplinger

Here are the reasons for guarded optimism, as Kiplinger see them…facts about the underlying strength of the U.S. economy that ought not to be overlooked:

  • The jobless rate is low. Inflation is modest.
  • The housing market is starting to rebound. (I feel our area is rebounding, just not as robust as a year ago)
  • Consumers continue to feel fairly confident, though their mood varies as stock prices rise or fall.
  • A trade deal with China still appears likely to happen later this spring, which would give a badly needed boost to global trade.
  • The stock market isn’t pricing in a recession yet. Nor are corporate bonds, whose yields relative to safe Treasuries indicate investors aren’t afraid of defaults.

It is also interesting to look at in the context of historical rates, which for buyers is a key motivator to whether they will buy or not. At the end of the day, we still look great, as shown below:


Rooted Coffee’s roots in WC

Rooted Coffee, which has been serving the Walnut Creek Farmer’s Market for years, has found a home in Pleasant Hill on Oak Park. They’re known for their paleo waffle and they now have a bunch of vegan and gluten-free items, too!

The owner of Rooted, Jon Gilmore, is a Las Lomas High graduate who says on the website that he’s wanted to open a coffee shop since graduating college. He and his wife, Jenny, focus on making a difference with their business both in the local community and in the global farming community.

One cool thing they do is a promise to donate 10% of profits to local and global charities. They source beans that are organic and fairly traded, only use plant-based milks, exclusively use compostable and petroleum-free cups, and keep a relationship with one independent, local roaster. Very cool!

I think the coffee itself is good, but I really love the paleo waffle and their food menu; though it’s not extensive, it has some awesome items on it. I highly recommend checking out Rooted when you get a chance! I also miss them at the Farmer’s Market, but wish them nothing but success at their new brick and mortar location – it has been a long time coming.

Art Town: Egrito Grande

This utility box, though it’s beginning to peel, is so majestic to add to the utility box blog posts for art in Walnut Creek! It’s called “Egrito Grande” and features what looks like a giant, white crane with a nice red-orange backdrop that reminds me of a sunset.

You can check out this box on the corner of Broadway and Cypress. It’s been there since 2015, which is quite a long lifespan for utility box artwork in downtown! The artist, Chris Giotta, is local to Walnut Creek.

I tried to find out more information on the artist, but nothing came up in my search; it would be nice if Walnut Creek added a bit of information about each artist and the work even if it just a utility box. Luckily, one of my team members personally knows the artist and said Chris Giotta is a long-time resident of Walnut Creek who used to teach at W.C.I.!

Do you have a favorite utility box in Walnut Creek? Share them with me!

Bounty Hunter Open as of 4/8!

Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of how many new restaurants open and how many old ones close in Walnut Creek. It’s an endless merry-go-round of openings and closings, which can be exciting but hard to track! Recently, my team member Denise tried Bounty Hunter, plus her daughter Erica is a hostess there, so they tried it three times during the past weekend soft opening for friends and family! Here are her insights:

Bounty Hunter Walnut Creek is the second location for this wine and spirits merchant. The rustic decor and only 25 tables create a comfy atmosphere. While the combination of a wine merchant serving BBQ sounds a bit odd, Bounty Hunter pulls it off amazingly well. The food is fabulous! The pimento cheese dip appetizer is a new twist on the southern version with a bit of a kick to it. The BBQ platter is a good way to try the pulled pork, brisket and ribs with the three house made sauces, a great dish to share. Not a huge fan of BBQ? The salmon on shaved brussels sprouts and tri-color quinoa was cooked perfectly (and looked beautiful too). The beer can chicken is one of their specialties and quite a site when the whole chicken (including the beer can) arrives at the table; and you can’t beat mac and cheese as the ultimate comfort food to go along with it all. Ah, the desserts . . . s’mores pie, cobbler, and panna cotta with kumquats are just a few of the tempting options. Even with the soft opening, service was very good with the entire staff creating a welcoming vibe.

The restaurant officially opened on April 8. Reservations are recommended and can be made up to two weeks out but only by phone or in person. The 15 bar stools and lounge area are open seating. The full menu is available at the bar. Beverages and appetizers are available in the lounge area. There are 24 wines by the glass available and 8 wine flights that have been put together for those who want to taste some great wines. Bounty Hunter is one of the few restaurants in Walnut Creek with a sommelier. Brandon has hand picked the 500+ wines that are available for purchase in the retail wine and spirits shop. There is a full bar and Bounty Hunter has 4 specialty cocktails on the menu. There is no happy hour nor door dash at this time 🙁

p.s. I can’t wait to try it and note, there are some vegetarian options!