Event Round-Up: June 15th

It’s officially summer, in case you missed that massive heat wave at the beginning of the week! Time to plan around pool parties, trips to the beach, and picnics at the park! Here are some fun, local events for the next month or so happening in the Bay Area:

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Exploratorium: Self, Made (thru Sept. 2)

A really cool-looking exhibit about self-discovery that is on display for all ages at the Exploratorium all summer. Find out what makes you, you at this interactive-heavy exhibit. Information here.

Walnut Creek: Uncorked (June 20th)

The best restaurants in Walnut Creek offer delicious food, you’ll get to sip wine and walk through downtown, and mingle with the rest of the local community at this annual event. Get tickets here!

Walnut Creek: Music and Movies at the Park (June 21st)

This summer movie and music series will start at Tice Valley Park on 6/21, showing Bumblebee and playing the Rossmorr Band. Music starts at 7 p.m., and the movie starts around 8:30 (at sundown). Bring your family! Information here.

Pleasant Hill: Summer Concerts by the Lake (June 23)

Every other Sunday in Pleasant Hill, you can enjoy free music by the lake from 6-8 pm. On this date in particular, you can take in the sounds of Midnight Flyer. For more info and a full schedule, visit:
https://www.ci.pleasant-hill.ca.us/888/Festivals-Events.

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The Mercury News

Orinda: CalShakes (July 3rd)

Can’t beat a great outdoor venue for some small-time theater. Though the run on A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be over at CalShakes, you could take up The Good Person of Szechwan or plan ahead for House of Joy or MacBeth later in the season. Get more info here.

More apartments to come in WC Transit Village

As you may have noticed, the Walnut Creek BART station has taken on some renovations. There is now a new large 900 space parking structure along with a bus terminal at street level on the southwest side of the Bart station. Now, the loading zone is on the opposite side and getting there is trickier than it used to be as you can’t get in and out of area the way you could before.

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WCTransitVillage.com

This is all part of the transformation to the Walnut Creek Transit Village which is starting to taking shape. In addition to all the construction of apartments and condos on the side streets around Walnut Creek BART (see past blogs), they are building a mixed-use development with 360 apartment units, shops, restaurants and public plazas in the northwest lot next to Pringle Ave. It is supposed to have all the amenities you’d expect from a modern housing development (co-working space, pool and spa, rooftop deck, bike repair lounge, fitness center, etc.). Currently, there is a fence surrounding this old parking space and lots of weeds.

The second part of this project, on the corner of N. California Blvd. and Ygnacio Valley Rd. will have about 240 units and 12,000 square feet of retail space. That is expected to break ground next year. Combined with all the other new living areas around BART, the station really is being transformed into a living/shopping village.

The renderings look beautiful and the BART police station rendering turned out exactly like the finished product. As with any new development, the city requires some sort of art work to be installed and the most recent garage addition recently added their personal touch. We’ll discuss these pieces later in a separate blog post. My son visited me this weekend, hasn’t been in Walnut Creek since last August, and he feels it has really changed in nine short months. Our once sleepy town has grown up and continues to transform.

Event Round-Up: May 18th

We’re almost all the way into summer here in Walnut Creek! The kids will be out of school soon, and the days will keep getting longer and warmer, giving us ample opportunities to take advantage of some awesome Bay Area events.

Diablo Symphony – May 19th (Walnut Creek)

The Diablo Symphony presents Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and Bach’s Double Violin Concerto tomorrow at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek! You can get tickets at the door, preceding the 2 p.m. concert. The Symphony Orchestra will be joined by members of the San Ramon Valley High School orchestra for this performance!

Rooftop History Walking Tour – May 31st (San Francisco)

Real estate nerd alert! This sounds so interesting to me, and if you like rooftops with beautiful views, you’ll be amazed by which buildings in the city might have them. This is a really cool tour to take if you like history, as you’ll get into some of the more exclusive private buildings in SF. Tickets are just $35.

Art & Wine Festival – June 1st (Walnut Creek)

For the weekend of June 1st, you can take advantage of an awesome event right in our own backyard! Pair your wine and beer with food vendors, art, live music, a Kids Zone, and more! It’s time for the Walnut Creek Art & Wine Festival. More info here.

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Walnut Creek First Wednesdays – June 5th (Walnut Creek)

Did you miss out on last month’s First Wednesday celebration? Because they are a great time! You can make up for it by coming downtown on Weds., June 5th to take part in a small street fair right here in Walnut Creek. Get more info here – you won’t want to miss it!

Walnut Creek Uncorked – June 20th (Walnut Creek)

Sip, stroll, socialize. Walnut Creek’s Uncorked event is taking place on June 20th downtown! You can sip wines, eat local food, listen to live music, and just wander downtown with your wine. I’d recommend getting tickets in advance, as this event is popular every year!

Art Town: “Dogs” and “Cats”

Anyone who knows me knows I love animals. I have a Weimaraner, Bodie, who is my best buddy! We go hiking together all the time, and I can’t wait to get home to him every day. He even occasionally comes into the office.

So, when I saw this utility box, you know I had to stop and check it out! They are simply titled “Dogs” and “Cats” by Ammo Waylon. I couldn’t find much information on these online, but they speak for themselves!

Two sides of the box are dedicated to dogs and two sides dedicated to cats. It sits right in front of Walnut Creek Yacht Club, which has some fun upcoming events and starting their 23rd year in Walnut Creek on May 7th. Check out the utility box when you stop by for either Mother’s Day lunch or dinner with a special fixed price menu (note: they are normally closed on Sundays or May 29th with their annual Rum Dinner); June 26th is not a Wine Dinner – its a Beer Dinner with the special guest founder of Calicraft Brewing. And finally Oysterfest #7 is on August 11th.

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!

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.

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!

Bondadoso Coffee is charming and quirky!

My colleague recently visited Bondadoso Coffee on Pine St. in downtown Walnut Creek. It is chock full of cute, fun, and interactive stuff but also serves good snacks and drinks. Altogether, it was just a great place to hang out!

Some of the most interesting aspects of Bondadoso Coffee is that there are quotes, social areas, a question of the day place to write your own answers, and a rock-painting station! If you were ever worried about bringing your kids to get coffee with you, you don’t have to worry here. The hardest is remembering how to pronounce the name. However if you speak Spanish then you know Bondadoso is Spanish for “kind.” Simply stated, this is a place for people to gather and share great coffee and tea in an environment that is uplifting, welcoming, and kind.

With so many great coffee shops popping up these days and leaving (i.e. Sweetwaters Tea), it’s going to be tough to break into the market. But if Bondadoso can keep up its charming, fun atmosphere, they should create a specific niche. In addition, the city is looking to make this area more into an artisan destination with craft breweries, artist collectives, etc., but for now there is quite a bit of automotive business in the area.

They have an extensive collection of unique coffee and tea representing nearly every growing region of the world, a traditional espresso bar, a single cup brew bar, and a tap wall with 8 types of cold-brew coffee and tea offerings including nitro-coffee. The only thing I would like to see – since they are only a few blocks from my office – is some lunch menu items such as soup, salads, and sandwiches.