Lokanta is the new Mediterranean spot downtown

Mediterranean food is a favorite of mine – from hummus to kebobs to fish, they always make their dishes with savory flavors that keep me happy. Here in Walnut Creek, we just got a new place for all you foodies to try and will probably give Opa a run for their money: Lokanta!

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Lokanta has menus for all types of occasions: brunch, lunch, dinner, happy hour, dessert, kids’ menu and more. I tried the Lokanta Classic Martini, it was perfect, the St. George Botanivore Gin made a big difference.  Of course the flaming cheese is an attraction and delicious along with the mixed platter.

Their daily happy hour is from 3-6 p.m., and their delicious appetizers (hummus, pita, meatballs, dolmas, soup, salad, calamari, lamb burger, shish kebab…to name a few) are all $10 or less at that time. Beers and wine are $5 or less and they have bottomless mimosa brunches both Saturday and Sunday.

Lokanta has another popular location in Pleasanton, but only recently opened its doors on Locust St. in Walnut Creek where you will see the owner making his rounds that everything is running smoothly and the customers are happy.

For you wine-lovers, there is a half-off wine deal on Mondays and no corkage fee on Tuesdays if you want to bring your own bottle to the restaurant.  The atmosphere is cozy, a great bar area and community table  to eat as seats become available.

All in all, I highly recommend giving Lokanta a shot next time you’re downtown or craving some Mediterranean/Greek food in Walnut Creek. I give it 4 out of 5 Mt. Diablo’s!

Brewery madness in the Bay!

I occasionally like a good beer and love trying new brews, especially with all the microbreweries popping up around the Bay Area. We had our annual Parkmead Community Associate block party this past Saturday and Adam, one of our Board members, was adamant about getting a keg of quality beer. He was given a budget and the task of ordering it. He got a beer called Simtra, a triple IPA by Knee Deep Brewery in CA with 11.25% alcohol. Apparently, there are folks who are very serious about their beer. This blog is for you.

We’ve blogged about Farm Creek Brewing and Calicraft in the past, and they remain standouts in Walnut Creek. There is also no shortage of amazing breweries in San Francisco, where the craft beer scene is unmatched in Northern California. Check out this list of lesser-known places to try next time you’re craving a beer in the city.

In the intro of that article, they mention my writer’s favorite local brewery, 21st Amendment. They recently built a massive new brewery and factory in San Leandro.

Of course, Oakland is also stocked full of good spots to check out the beer scene. Oakland Brewing Company, Faction, and Golden Gate Brewing come to mind, but I’ve heard great things about all the little breweries popping up in Oakland!

If you’re into beer, you’ll want to try as many of these cool places as possible. Start here in Walnut Creek and then move West from there. Make sure you take Lyft, and give a shout-out to your favorites!

Join us this Saturday for the Dewing Park Pool Party!

Parkmead neighbors: come join us for our annual pool block party at Dewing Park this Saturday! We’ll be grilling burgers and dogs from 11-3 and the pool will be open to all.

Also, Adam (one of our board members) really wanted a keg of quality beer for the adults. So, he was given a budget and tasked with ordering: he decided on a triple IPA by Knee Deep Brewery called Simtra.

You don’t want to miss out on this Parkmead Community Association block party. The burgers, dogs, sunshine, 11.25% beer music by Funky Jams from Las Lomas and cool pool will be well worth your time on a hot day, temperatures are forcasted to be 95 degrees.

Living in the neighborhood all these years, I can attest to the close-knit community that is only grown through events like this. It is a great way to get to know your neighbors and be part of your community.

Check out some fun photos from years past:

 

George’s Giant Hamburgers – new and improved!

The Burger Blogs Continue…George’s Giant Hamburgers is under new ownership, and I, for one, am happy with the change! 

I used to love going to George’s to get a burger, but the old owners didn’t take credit cards and gave me a hard time on my to-go order when I asked for my toppings to go in a separate bag so my food wouldn’t be soggy when I got home. It felt like they were being cheap, so I stopped being their customer.

Now, the new friendly owners not only takes cards, but had no problem giving me an extra bag. I know those are small things to worry about at a restaurant, but the experience and how you feel makes a difference.

When I was in the other day checking it out, I noticed a little bit of re-decorating, but it’s pretty much the same old George’s that has been a Walnut Creek staple for years. One thing I did notice was a Marine Corps. flag on the wall, which hits close to home with my family’s military background.

There was a group of young Marines in the restaurant, and the owner’s son was in the Marine Corp (who also works at George’s) and is mentoring them. It sounds like the owners work the night shift and their son works during the day. A perfect little family business!

As for the food itself, George’s still grinds their meat fresh every day and has a tasty burger – I am not sure if the patty is slightly smaller. They added a couple new things to the menu and are applying for a beer and wine liquor license. I love the new ownership and the food is still good.

They earned four Mt. Diablo’s from me, and I’ll definitely be back, especially since I live only a few blocks away. I would love to hear what you think of George’s Giant Burgers under the new ownership.

Burger Lounge, Hella Good!

Burger Lounge, the new burger joint on Oak Grove Rd., is making its first foray into Northern California with its Walnut Creek location.

Rooted in San Diego, they are well-known for their grass-fed beef, craft sodas, huge salads, half-and-half fries and onion rings and delicious shakes. The decor is fresh and stylish; I saw lots of people comfortable and conversing.

(Note: if you get there after 11:30 on weekdays, there will be a line out the door)

Burger Lounge also serves wine and local craft beer (Calicraft at the Walnut Creek location). Maybe the coolest aspect of the Burger Lounge mission is that they try so hard to make food that tastes good but is also as sustainable as possible. As mentioned, their burgers are grass-fed and they avoid a lot of the processed ingredients other places use.

I really liked my burger. I got mine to go and it was gone before I hit 680. Overall, I give Burger Lounge FIVE Mt. Diablo’s! Give it a try and let me know if you agree.

Is my real estate “on fleek?”

I recently had a beer with my son at Ol and on the menu, one was named “On Fleek.” I asked him what it meant and later mentioned this to my team. That discussion turned to funny, popular words and phrases, like “on fleek” so we decided to blog about it and my freelance writer Jeremy wrote this witty piece…

I asked my team what “on fleek” meant, and they said it basically is when something is good, or looks good. I believe the example they used was “her eyebrows are on FLEEK!” So, I asked them: Is my real estate on fleek?

We got a good laugh out of that. I can’t believe how many new words there are with younger generations! For example, I recently learned what the “dab” was, and by the time I learned what it was and how to properly “dab on ’em,” the fad was already over.

There’s “sus,” which is short for “suspect,” and “extra” which means you’re doing too much or going over the top. There’s every Bruno Mars lyric (“hashtag blessed”) and “bae” for “babe” to describe your significant other. You can be “basic,” or have “no chill” or just straight up say “TBH” for “to be honest.”

Upon doing a little research, guess what I found out? “On fleek” has already been replaced by “snatched.” So, for example, “her eyebrows are snatched!” That makes absolutely no sense, but I can roll with it!

Maybe my new business tagline should be “TBH, I’m hashtag blessed to be your agent because we are so snatched!” On second thought, maybe not.

Two new breweries have opened in Walnut Creek!

img_9237 Attention, beer lovers! The Walnut Creek brewery scene has added two new hotspots to supplement shops like ØL. The most well-known, probably, is Calicraft Brewery, which opened its doors recently over by Shadelands, just off Ygnacio Valley Rd.

Calicraft, famous for its fun, local beer names (“The Bay,” “Oak Town,” and my personal favorite, “Buzzerkeley”) and for using unique California-grown ingredients like starthistle honey and cluster hops, was officially founded in 2012.img_9235

The small taphouse is in an industrial area at the back of a parking lot across the street from Fieldhouse Sports Center. Besides the beer on tap, Calicraft sells chips and jerky and growlers. They have a cool interior space with a huge TV and an outdoor deck with corn hole and a grass area with Adirondack chairs. It’s a really cool place to spend an evening with friends after work!

Closer to downtown is Farm Creek Brewery, which is literally just a small img_9346tasting area next to the tanks of the brewery. It’s located on Pine St., just around the corner from Pinky’s Pizza. Even though the space is small, it’s very hip and fun, and the service is friendly.

The owner and founder started homebrewing years ago and finally made img_9347his dream come true to open a location in Walnut Creek, where he and his family live. The brewery has a 12-tap system and homemade flights.

I can’t recommend their “Heather’s Limit” stout highly enough. Even members of my Walnut Creek Lifestyle team who hate stouts said it was delicious, and it made for a really nice addition to my homemade chili – a future blog!

Calicraft is open Weds.-Fri. from 4-10 p.m., as well as Saturday from 12-10 p.m. and Sunday from 12-8 p.m. Farm Creek Brewery is open Mon.-Fri. from 4-9 p.m., Saturday 12-9 p.m., and Sunday from 1-7 p.m. Enjoy!

ØL keepin’ Walnut Creek hip and hydrated

IMG_9143Have you ever been to ØL Beercafe and Bottleshop in downtown Walnut Creek?

Since opening in 2013, ØL has become a mainstay on the East Bay beer scene.

With its dark, cozy interior and constantly-changing FullSizeRender (3)kegs of unusual, often strangely-named beers, it’s a great place to grab a drink.

The bar rotates small kegs of beer as they run out, so unless you’re a regular, chances are you’ll never taste the same beer here twice!

If you haven’t already, check ØL out next time you go downtown. It has plenty of tables in a small, private space, as well as a full bottleshop, separate bar area and a couple of refrigerators with unique beers available for purchase (both to drink at the bar and for take-home). If you’re hungry, you can order in a pizza from Skipolini’s next door or get some charcuterie.

And, of course, the crown jewel of ØL is its beer, which is just fantastic. When my team and I met there last week, we tried a few different beers, with the best of the bunch being a Mike Hess Ficus Fig Saison and a Mahrs Bräu Hell.

In past experiences, I’ve tried everything from barleywine to heavy ambers to sours. ØL is a local watering hole in Walnut Creek that resembles a European beer cafe, in that there are no TV’s and it’s not too loud to have a conversation.

The focus is on the delicious drinks and socializing with good company. ØL is a perfect place to start or end your night!

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“Flux” on display at Bedford

IMG_9128 Sometimes you just have to get out of the office. Our Walnut Creek Lifestyle Group decided to take a little outing to the Bedford Gallery for its new exhibit (free to the public each first Tuesday of every month!), which preceded our meeting over beers at ØL around the corner.IMG_9125

The exhibit on display through the end of August is called “Flux” by artist Crystal Wagner.

The colorful art installation was built from chicken wire and disposable tablecloths and takes up almost all of the gallery space.

One of the most interesting things about the artist is that she does not pre-plan her installations; she looks at the space available and creates a twisting shape to fit it.

Wagner, according to the accompanying information at the exhibit, intentionally builds installations where the viewer is overshadowed by an enormous sculpture. She wants the viewer to be surrounded by bright colors and feel as if they are dwarfed by all the surrounding textures.

IMG_9127Her work is anchored in herIMG_9126 anxiety about the compromised state of the natural world but is designed to bring joy to her audience. The piece was really quite remarkable.

Check out the timelapse from the Bedford website below, as well as all the pictures my team took.

Also, keep an eye out for that ØL blog next Tuesday!

East Bay Booze Boom!

The Bay area is leading the nation in innovation, and not just in the tech sector. A new industry on the rise in the East Bay is the alcoholic beverage market!

75e4cb_70530afefa2c4ac597c7198da59bd280With the craft brewing industry on the rise, many local entrepreneurs have hopped (get it?) on the bandwagon, starting many new breweries in Oakland, San Francisco, and even Concord! Many of these East Bay brewers are really pushing the envelope by making unusual beers, like sours, rare varietals, and other creative concoctions.

One such brewery in the sour beer market is Rare Barrel in Berkeley. They go the extra mile by aging their beer in oak barrels for about a year to develop the lovely tart flavors in their brews. Some other notable East Bay breweries are Linden Street Brewery and Pacific Coast Brewery in Oakland, Jupiter and Pyramid Brewery in Berkeley, and EJ Phair in Concord. Don’t sleep on 21st Amendment Brewery, famous for their Hell or High Watermelon beer, which just opened a huge new brewery in San Leandro. Or the popular Calicraft Brewing Co. based right here in Walnut Creek which is my favorite; I love their Buzzerkeley champagne beer.

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Beer is not the only game in town, however. The wine and liquor industries in the area have also been growing in popularity. St. George Sprits in Alameda has become well-known for their brand, and Hangar One vodka is named after the old World War II-era hangar where the distillery is based. Although they recently sold the brand to be produced next door, the distillery is excited to have more space to focus on new experiments in distillation. Some of their more creative liquors include Green Chili Vodka, Absinthe Verde (I know this one from personal experience and it was not a good one), Agricole Rum, and several Fruit Brandies. They have a great guided tour for $15, which includes a tasting of six spirits! They even have a small outdoor seating area where you can hang out with a drink after your tour and check out the San Francisco skyline from the other side of the Bay.

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Many wineries have also begun to spring up throughout the East Bay. Although this may seem like a new development, the East Bay, especially the Walnut Creek area, was actually one of the main wine-grape growing regions until prohibition in 1920. One such winery making a revival in the area is Urban Legend Cellars in Oakland. They source grapes from other local regions, and use various blending and oaking techniques to produce unique and delicious wines.

Walnut Creek has also been put back on the map with Shadowbrook Winery. This vineyard grows Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah, right on the foothills of Mount Diablo. Mark Lavezzoli, the Winemaker there, combines traditional and innovative techniques to create some very tasty vino. The entire team there is very excited about Walnut Creek’s potential to produce a first-class wine.

With so many great beverages to try right here in the East Bay, it’s hard to find a reason to leave and another great reason to own a home in this amazing area.

Have you been to any of these places? Please share your thoughts – we would love to hear from you!