Best dive bar in town? Dan’s!

We’ve covered lots of bars, restaurants, and businesses in Walnut Creek, but we have yet to touch on one of the oldest, most popular institutions downtown. It’s a bar known for its themed nights and general debauchery in an otherwise fairly tame city.

When you go downtown, Dan’s is the place to be, especially if you are young, or older and single. They have everything from drink specials, to an outdoor patio, to pool tables, to live cover bands. They actually attract quite good musicians from around the area, and usually have one of the larger crowds at the bars on the weekends.

I’ve been there plenty of times, love to listen to live music and dance. They charge a cover on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights of $5 after 9 pm to cover the music. The place doesn’t really get busy until after 10 and last call is around 1:30. I haven’t been in a while, but I went with a friend about a month ago, and it is a great place to people-watch and listen to music. Careful though: if you are dancing out on the floor, a beer may get jostled and the floor can be sticky.

If you haven’t yet popped into Dan’s when you’re downtown, you have to give it a chance. All ages are there! It’s just around the corner from Skipolini’s and Ol, so you can make a full night out of it without even leaving the block. Let me know what you think.  

This weekend is Pop Rocks and the Ripplers, and next weekend is a great line-up with Brodie Stewart Band, the Spazmatics (one of my favorites) and Mad Karma ready to rock in Halloween. Music starts at 10 and you can check out the events calendarIf you are not into music and like games, there is also Trivia Tuesday, along with some TVs for those sports fans.

Event Round-Up: Oct. 13, 2018

It’s finally that time of year, when the summer heat melts away and the brisk Fall air rides in on the San Francisco fog. Everything turns orange with Halloween and Thanksgiving on the horizon, and schools are in full force again. There are still heaps of fun activities to do this season, and I’ve chosen a few of the best:

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East Bay Walk to End Alzheimer’s: Walnut Creek (Sat. 10/20)

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event for fundraising for the disease, and supports the care and research of it. The East Bay chapter will do their run from 8-11 a.m. next Saturday, Oct. 20th at Heather Farm’s Park. Check out their Facebook event here.

Beach Blanket Babylon: San Francisco (Sat. 10/27 and more)

If you’ve never experienced the hilarity of Beach Blanket Babylon, now is the time. Tickets are still available for the Sat. 10/27 show, and you don’t want to miss the artful, gut-busting show that pokes fun at politicians, celebrities, athletes and more. A fun family outing, especially if you have older kids.

Boo at the Zoo: Oakland (Sat. 10/27 & Sun. 10/28)

From 10 am to 3 pm on these days, bring the kiddos out for a fun pre-Halloween stroll through the Oakland Zoo! Costumes are encouraged, and the kids can trick-or-treat, ride a train, join a dance party, get their face painted, and more. Not to mention, you’re at the zoo watching the animals play! More info here.

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Warren Miller’s “Face of Winter”: Walnut Creek (Tue. 11/6)

There is truly no better way to get fired up for the skiing and snowboarding season than watching the latest Warren Miller film. It’s an annual tradition for serious snow-goers, and this year’s version is bound to be just as awesome! Check it out at The Lesher Center downtown.

Her Room/Her World: Walnut Creek (thru 12/30)

Her Room/Her World is an exhibit at the Bedford Gallery that showcases prints, video, paintings, and installations by New York artist Portia Munson, who does feminist art. The key attraction is an installation called Pink Room that specifically appeals to women and girls. Check it out!

Art Town: AVE Apartments

New luxury condos and apartments are springing up all over our little town! One of the recent ones is the AVE Apartment complex across from Target. It is a really nice little apartment community that allows you to utilize their rooftop pool area, decks, rent bikes, and is even pet-friendly.

AVE Apartments definitely cost a lot to rent, as they are some of the newer, nicer apartments in Walnut Creek. However, you get what you pay for. They worked hard down to the last detail to make the complex livable and beautiful. One of my favorite aspects is, of course, the art!

On the doors surrounding the front and the pool deck, they’ve etched a bunch of trees that look kind of like shadows and give it a real natural feel. For being a huge complex cramped into a small space in a rapidly-growing town like Walnut Creek, I love what the tree art brings. Check out these pictures. I especially like the one with the sun coming through:

Road Trips: A hike up Mt. Rose

Ah, Reno. One of my favorite places to visit in every season! My son was attending school UNR so I had many more opportunities (and reasons!) to visit, but you can find me up at Tahoe for skiing in the winter, or on a hike like the one I recently took. No complaints either way from me!

On one of my recent trips to Reno I took a drive back home via Mt. Rose and Lake Tahoe.  At the top of Mt. Rose summit, is a trail head for various hikes. The path taken this day was a 2.5-mile trail in and out of a beautiful waterfall. It’s amazing to see what these majestic Tahoe mountains have to offer us when they aren’t covered in snow or recently dusted after a storm – check out the difference!

After the hike, my friend drove back to Reno and I continued on home via a stop at Char Burger. Since it was Labor Day weekend, and the last of summer vacations, it was crowded and a line was way out the door, but the wait was worth it.

Even though this might be a long way to go for a day trip, it is something you might consider on to a longer vacation to the area and a nice tidbit of information.  I personally always feel rejuvenated after time spent in Tahoe and the surrounding mountains by taking advantage of this little slice of heaven.  On another blog, I will highlight more details about Reno where I grew up and am one day looking forward to where I will retire, me and everybody else from California!

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Art Town: Fish Benches

No, I’m not being koi, this piece of art is really titled Fish Benches! It’s located just downstream, er, across the street from the Walnut Creek BART station in Ygnacio Plaza. You can see them when you wander through the plaza at the corner of N. California Blvd. and Ygnacio Valley Rd. in downtown Walnut Creek.

When you’re trout and about in Walnut Creek, and you need to rest your legs a bit, you can always cross over from BART or Target to take a seat on these bronze benches designed by Judy Kensley McKie in 2003. They are surprisingly comfortable for being flat, metal benches, but you have to admire the artwork itself!

They truly look like fish swimming, and that must have been the goal from the start: to tuna public space into a relaxing retreat for pedestrians. I can’t say it’s the most impressive, attractive, or exciting piece of art in downtown Walnut Creek, but it deserves recognition nonetheless. Don’t flounder and go check it out!

Gotta love Mr. Green Bubble!

It’s just fun to say this new tea shop’s name, but it also happens to be a great place for a quick pick-me-up! Boba tea shops and poke places seem to be the new craft cocktail and food crazes, respectively. Tea shops are popping up all over Walnut Creek, and Mr. Green Bubble is one of them.

Located on Locust St., Mr. Green Bubble serves mainly boba teas, but also has bento boxes, egg puffs, mochi waffle treats, and smoothies. I found out about this place when I was visiting my friends Todd and Jocey to see their new baby. Todd came rushing into the house with a package of diapers and two teas from Mr. Green Bubble. I asked about the chewy balls at the bottom called boba – it is a tapioca gelatin that comes in different shapes, like sharks (not sure how they fit through the straw). So I went in and tried the tea in a passion fruit flavor, which can be adjusted for sweetness at 25%, 50%, or 100%. I have since been back three times and have found a preference for the green tea. They have a fancy machine that puts a plastic seal on the cup and you push the large straw through which helps suck up the boba!

I thought the interior was cute, and it’s a place with friendly, fast service. If you’re out shopping or wandering Walnut Creek and are craving something new or love the refreshing taste of the freshly brewed tea with your choice of flavoring and boba, check out Mr. Green Bubble – and try not to giggle when you say that out loud!  Todd says one of his favorite bubble tea joints is in San Ramon, but I am not going to drive that far to find out!

New and improved Stem salon does great work!

Stem salon – which used to be on Locust up until about a month ago – has moved to the new Lyric building across from MoMo’s. They’re newly located, renovated, and decorated and it really gives the business an upscale, modern vibe. Elizabeth Vawter (not present the day I took pictures) has done a fantastic job of building this business. I go here for my hair often and I think they do a great job!

They used to be in an old location by Peet’s. They weren’t happy with some of the tenant improvements or lack thereof, so they signed a lease with Lyric and are better than ever! I love the modern look with an amazing flowery wallpaper you can look at on the ceiling while getting your hair washed. I primarily go to Jessie for my hair color because I am there every three weeks or so. Her mother, Olivia, usually cuts my hair, but Mary Alice and Lauren are also fantastic. There is a large crew and varying price points depending on experience.

They will also offer you a glass of rosé, or a cup of coffee or tea while you get pampered. I think Elizabeth has hit her stride with a new home and continues to do it right. Stem Salon is my go-to hair salon!

Art Town: Uno Dos Tres

Here’s a fun “did you know!” You’ve seen that mural of three targets on the back of Target on the corner of Ygnacio Valley Blvd. and N. California Blvd., right? You can see it when you’re walking back towards downtown from the Walnut Creek BART station. Anyway, did you know…those aren’t actual targets?

That’s right, this mural, designed by Seattle-based Ann Gardner in 1991, was already created before she knew it was going on a Target. How ironic! She got the glass for the mosaic from Venice, and then supervised the construction of the project. She installed the artwork in Walnut Creek with mosaic fabricator Steve Miotto, who is known for his work in the New York subway system.

Gardner often uses circular motifs in her art, likes using mosaic because of the durability of glass. It’s her way of, as she says, “honoring an artistic tradition that dates back to the Byzantine era in Constantinople.” She also mentioned she likes to not overwhelm the available space, but to make it pop and give the viewer a good experience.

Now you know, next time you’re wandering around downtown in that general area, to take a closer look at the mosaic mural on the back of Target. It’s not an advertisement for the store – it’s just a funny coincidence and a really beautiful piece of art!

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.