Rotator Taproom rotates in

You won’t be surprised to hear this, folks! There is yet another new brewery to check out in the East Bay. The craft beer boom has really been embraced by Walnut Creek in the last half-decade, and Rotator Taproom is the latest to join the party.

I went to check it out recently and thought they did a fantastic job advertising themselves: happy hours, yoga events, and even poker nights were broadly marketed to anyone who walked in. They had a ton of beer on tap and also some bar snacks!

When I went, we tried four-beer flights for just $12 and thought the selection was pretty good. I also had a refreshing grapefruit lager. They serve beers from a ton of different breweries, and the price was definitely fair for the amount of beer you got in each pour.

Rotator Taproom is a little off the beaten path in the north part of downtown, but still very easily accessible. It’s hidden away on Pine street with lots of automotive shops, just around the corner from either Pinky’s Pizza or down from Walnut Creek BART. Parking can be limited and one of my servers was annoyed with all my questions, but I would recommend checking it out if you like to taste a wide range of beers, they had a lot of IPA’s even triple IPAs!

Pianos everywhere!

The other day, I was wandering in downtown Walnut Creek and had to do a double-take as I passed a spot I’d seen a thousand times before. In that spot, there was a wildly painted piano with a sign saying “play me!”

I’m not sure exactly when this art installation was put in place, but it’s really cool! There are eight pianos around downtown all painted different colors. They are really eye-catching, and all of them invite people to play on them.

Check out this article for a little more background on the project. It looks like the project is called “Painted Pianos” and they were donated by Steinway Piano Gallery and hand-painted by local artists. They will be out there for the public to play until Oct. 18.

Additionally, there will be some live performances by special guests every Tuesday from 12-1 p.m. (September 10, 17, 24 & October 1, 8, 15) from 12-1 pm at three locations: 1655 N. Main St., 1501 Locust St., and 1328 N. Main St.
The goal of the project is to bring community members together to create a musical memory! I love this! Take your lunch, walk downtown, and enjoy some music!

Art Town: Broadway Plaza

You can walk around Broadway Plaza anytime, and between the masses of people and the high-end stores, you’ll discover some truly stunning works of art. This has always been the case, but even more so now that have remodeled the entire plaza.


Not long ago, I was wandering downtown and found this elegant deer sculpture in the bushes on one of the main roads of the Plaza. As you can see from the placard, it is aptly-named “Bronze Buck.” It’s a nice, nostalgic piece in my opinion – I don’t know about you, but I regularly get deer running around my neighborhood! It’s kind of a staple of the suburban areas of Walnut Creek! This statue is almost life-like.

Across the street from the bronze buck, I discovered this gorgeous mosaic on the side of the building next to L’Occitane. It looks like there is a string of flowers coming from each side of the frame and wrapping around the trunk of a luscious tree. It won’t surprise you to hear that this reminded me of walking in the Open Space.

What kind of artwork have you found while exploring Broadway Plaza? What about the rest of downtown? There is never a shortage in this charming little city of ours!

A new taco shop in Walnut Creek!

Tacos Walnut Creek is the name of a new taco shop in Walnut Creek. A very appropriate name, I’d say! I tried it recently and really thought the food was great. They make recommendations to which sauce (red or green) depending on the type of meat you are ordering..

According to the website, Tacos Walnut Creek is guided by a father that owns two restaurants in the Santa Cruz area. But, the Walnut Creek location is actually run by his two sons. They’ve grown up going to their father’s restaurant and learning how to prepare authentic Mexican cuisine. Tacos Walnut Creek’s team is committed to working hard in the kitchen to put a smile on your face with delicious food in your tummy!

We really needed a good casual Mexican restaurant and it shows: lines out the door at lunch and this past Saturday evening, plus a 4.9 Yelp rating. That corner has finally hit a home run with a great place to eat that is affordable. With Taco Walnut Creek’s doors now open, I am not sure how long Patron’s (click to see my last blog) doors will stay open.

You can check out Tacos Walnut Creek at the corner of Locust and Giammona downtown! Let me know how you like it! Your comments are most welcomed!

Patron Mexican Grill: Decent, not super authentic

Patron Mexican Grill replaced Cindo de Mayo, a restaurant which I’d enjoyed immensely. In my opinion, Patron is not very authentic, thus the name Mexican Grill, definitely not a Taqueria!

On the bright side, they do serve breakfast. My go-to order is always tacos and I like the crispy tacos, but street tacos are equally as good. I ordered a crispy taco and it was put in a pre-made corn shell – eh. I’d prefer to see Los Ponchos out of Martinez there, but if you need a quick bite of Mexican food downtown or breakfast, it is an option. Not sure they will be around for the long haul, but they did do a nice job with the decorations.

Stay tuned for some more blogs on other Mexican fare. The new taco restaurant on Locust, and one of my favorites: Los Panchos!

Peet’s Coffee is holding its own

In a town dominated by big chains like Starbucks and Dunkin, and little hipster shops like The Coffee Shop, it’s impressive that Peet’s Coffee (also a chain, just not as big as the others!) is still standing in downtown Walnut Creek.

I still love going there for a cup of coffee, especially on the weekends when a group of regulars play some music in the morning. It’s such a good “locals” spot, they have some great seats out front and it seems like I always know somebody when I am there.

Peet’s recently remodeled, updated their interior and seating, they even changed the color of the ceiling – check it out if you haven’t already or just enjoy the pictures.

There are no shortage of coffee options in downtown Walnut Creek, but if you like a good strong cup of Joe and want to listen to some music wander down to Peet’s on a Saturday morning and see how you like it!

Art Town: Painted Frog!

I recently came across this in sculpture on my way to Physical Therapy. I hurt my shoulder back in March while skiing at Jackson Hole and kept thinking it would heal. In June, I finally went to my doctor to see if the PT would help. Muir Orthopedics recently moved to 2625 Shadelands Dr. in Walnut Creek. On the corner of Shadelands and N. Wiget, there is a community garden. On the Wiget side, I drive past this artwork and every time I laugh. This may not be the typical type of Walnut Creek art that I have shared in the past, but it is so funny and cute, I couldn’t pass it up!

The structure is made of rock, and shaped into a large frog with its tongue out, which is like a mosaic. The rocks have been painted to create a cute sculpture by the garden. I don’t know who created it, but I love it!

It’s refreshing to have a nice mix of goofy and eclectic art in our little town. We have a beautiful city to wander through, and this just adds another level of charm!

Art Town: BART parking

We discussed these cool pieces in a previous post about the Walnut Creek Transit Village, but I wanted to share the art and focus specifically on that. Also, you might need this link with so many changes coming to the BART parking situation. You’re welcome!
https://www.wcbartparking.com/

Dan Corson was the selected artist for the BART Station and it looks like it is part of his Grandicus work. This artwork celebrates its urban nature with bold colors that juxtapose its silhouettes against the beige backdrop of the parking structure. Sculpturally expressive in the daytime, the form and colors are designed to stand off against the neutral backdrop of the parking structure night, the artwork is designed to be responsive to the adjacent train environment.

It will celebrate the arrival and departures of the trains by changing color and providing chasing sequential colors that emanate from the cobra head fixtures. It is the intention that the colors will be more quiet and subdued (shifting between blues/teals/greens/yellows) and both sculptures slowly morph in the same color palette most of the time. When the trains arrive, the colors and speed of color changes and chases will become more “dynamic” and “active” and moveto a warmer palette (oranges/reds). Each train platform will be assigned to interact with one sculpture providing a sense of interactivity and dynamic change.

I have not seen it at night, but think the changing light will be in line with his other work that is quite spectacular. Check him out at: www.corsonart.com.

Monthly prices for a reserved spot in privately owned BART parking lot is now $120 a month. With Walnut Creek becoming such a hub for traveling workers, (see Riv.com a recent blog) it makes sense. All rents seem to be rising, look at the all changes in our local restaurant scene lately. At least this art brightens things up a bit!

Sunol Ridge is now TKK and that means Thai food

It must be a day ending in “y” if a popular restaurant in downtown Walnut Creek couldn’t keep its doors open. Sunol Ridge, which was a great little spot to get together for casual drinks or to watch a game, has given way to a new Thai restaurant called TKK.

It’s the way of the world in our little town now – high rents mean you always have to be busy, so I said goodbye to Sunol Ridge, and checked out TKK! You’ll be happy to hear that all those same TVs and a similar layout grace the building, so it’s still a good hang-out spot after work.

Obviously, the menu has changed now, but there is still a good Happy Hour at TKK, too! I went during the Warriors playoffs twice; once with a friend and once alone (when I ended up sitting next to an old friend!). The first time, we got the lettuce wrap appetizer and a couple of cocktails. The second time I had the lemongrass fish and both were amazing. The volcano beef (which is apparently very popular here), looked very appetizing. I was very happy with the food we got, and will definitely be back!

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.