Oktoberfest comes to Walnut Creek!

There’s one event – a holiday, even, if you stretch that definition – that takes place each Fall that all adult should take part in. It’s not Thanksgiving. Not Halloween. It’s the German beer event known as Oktoberfest! The festival has become so popular, that pretty much every town has their own version.

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Even here in Walnut Creek, we have an Oktoberfest event, and it’s taking place this coming weekend! This year, it will be held at Civic Park from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can head there to drink copious amounts of beer, eat great food, and meet fun people! This is the 4th annual Walnut Creek Oktoberfest and will span all 16-plus acres of the park.

At the Walnut Creek event, there will be a Biergarten, Microbrews, gourmet food, live music, Autobahn and vendors. All ages are welcome to the Kids Zone but the beer areas will be the main draws. Best of all, tickets are FREE.

Oktoberfest, of course, originated in Germany and is celebrated widely in cities like Munich and Berlin, where people dress up and stand on tables and drink beer all day. I actually had the pleasure of attending Oktoberfest in Munich back in my 20’s – lots of drinking, a carnival…and I really don’t remember much else.  Walnut Creek’s isn’t quite as celebrated, but it’s still a good time! Hope to see you there – lederhosen and dirndls not required, but encouraged!

The ultimate Berkeley bucket list

Everyone loves going to Berkeley. Whether you’re catching a concert at the Greek Theatre, wandering around Cal’s campus, or hitting up one of the many incredible dining and drinking spots, Berkeley is the perfect mixture of private, chill, and weird in the Bay Area.

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TimeOut.com has their list of 10 must-do items in Berkeley here, and it inspired my short list of how to best spend your day over there. It obviously depends on the weather, but we’ll start with some outdoor activity and go from there. What are your favorite things to do in Berkeley?

Morning: Wake up early and drive out to Tilden Park in the Oakland Hills overlooking the Bay. It’s one of the most beautiful views you’ll ever see, and you can hike around above and through Berkeley for hours without getting bored. If you’re way up by Fish Ranch Rd. and Grizzly Peak, you can keep going to Tilden Park, where you can stay busy all day.

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Noon: You have to hit up the Berkeley Bowl downtown. It’s the most iconically Berkeley market there is, and you can get a super fresh meal to gorge on after your long hike.

Afternoon: Not tired of walking around outside yet, are we? Good! The Berkeley Rose Garden is a breathtaking sight, and if flowers aren’t your thing, you can cruise through the gorgeous Cal campus. Feeling like shopping? Okay, wander through downtown and check out some of the random clothing and art vendors that dot the street!

Dinner: I can’t just recommend one place. From popular local jaunts like Zachary’s pizza, to more celebrated restaurants like Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen, it’s hard to go wrong in Berkeley.  Hit me up and tell me your favorite places to ea – I would love to try them.

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Nightcap: You’ve earned a drink after a long day soaking up the Berkeley sun. Again, there is no shortage of libations in Berkeley, from your average dive bar to the craftiest of craft cocktail bars. Try out a place like Tupper and Reed on Shattuck and tell me it isn’t a perfect end to your night!

Best tours in San Francisco

Just because we live in the Bay Area and are “locals” of San Francisco doesn’t mean we can’t still play tourist when we hit The City! In fact, it’s one of the more fun things you can do when you cross the Bay Bridge. I love just wandering around and finding new nooks and crannies of the city I had never noticed before.

As with any major city, San Francisco has its fair share of awesome tours, and these are five I have researched that I think you should take a chance on next time you visit! From art, to history, to food, you’ll get the real, full, behind-the-scenes experience of San Francisco with any of these. If you go, let me know how it went!

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1. Precita Eyes Mural Tour

On the third Saturday of every month, founder and director or the Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center, Susan Cervantes, leads guided mural walks through the Mission. It’s $20, but it takes you through an array from over 200 alley murals in the hippest neighborhood in San Francisco. You can get more info here.

2. San Francisco Urban Hike

Now, I hate to do this, but I think you can self-lead a tour rather than spend $49 on having it guided. This “urban hike,” which has gained in popularity given San Francisco’s plethora of lush areas, is something you can certainly research and do yourself. If you’d rather go with a guide, check out this link!

3. San Francisco Love Tour

If nothing else, San Francisco is known for its role in the Summer of Love. Former hippies and music lovers should be excited to pony up $48 for this radical tour, which takes participants through iconic neighborhoods from the 60’s, and hit main attractions like Golden Gate Park. You’ll see the homes of Hendrix and Joplin, and do it all from an old-school VW van!

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4. Teas, Temples and Beatniks Tour

Okay, you can’t beat a tour that combines two of the coolest neighborhoods in a city full of cool neighborhoods: Chinatown and North Beach. You get to try local food, get your fortune read, taste the famous fortune cookies, and venture into North Beach to see the old hangouts of legends like Jack Kerouac. Check it out here.

5. City Guides

You’ve probably at least heard of this tour. City Guides is a full-blown non-profit with more than 200 volunteers leading 50 walking tours all around San Francisco. Local history buffs share their knowledge and whisk you around the beautiful city. And the best part for those who want to pinch pennies – City Guides is all donation-based, and technically admission is free!

Road Trips: BottleRock

We touched on this event in my recent music festivals blog, but I had to expand it into its own feature. Because BottleRock is constantly the best day of the festival season each Spring! This was my third year going and what I like about it the best is that for the most part, it is a laid back concert scene. People either hang out on their blankets in the back, sit it the wine lounges or jostle to get up front. Even if you are up front it is still fairly chill

This year’s lineup included Bruno Mars, The Killers, Muse, Incubus, Snoop Dogg, Halsey, Earth, Wind & Fire, Billy Idol, and dozens more. I did one day at BottleRock (Friday) and took in Incubus (the lead singer Brandon Boyd has charm and sex appeal; I couldn’t stop looking at him! Did you know Incubus means “a male demon believed to have sexual intercourse with sleeping women?” I also saw The Struts (a band I hadn’t heard of, but the singer reminded me of Freddy Mercury), FLOR (the long-haired redhead pictured below was a great new band), and The Chainsmokers. In hindsight, we maybe should not have gone with The Chainsmokers instead of headliner Muse – I didn’t realize The Chainsmokers were a DJ duo, but they rocked it and that was the one place where the people were very pushy. It was a younger crowd and lots of lights and smoke as shown above. We got a little bored with Earth Wind & Fire, but really liked the jam of Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue.

One of the best things about BottleRock is that it’s a combination of music and culinary excellence for an entire weekend. Being in Napa makes it a requirement to have awesome food and wine to go with the music (but they really do come up with an awesome music lineup every year). So in addition to seeing some great shows, we saw Shaun White, a 3-time gold medalist in snowboarding on the Culinary Stage. It was awesome – they had a winter-themed cooking show that included cotton candy made into huge snowballs and they were tossed into the audience where the promptly broke apart spreading blue cotton candy around. At the end, they were tossing Hostess snowball packages out to the audience.

Words can barely do this experience justice. Check out the art and experiences created by various vendors in the following photos. You can’t beat sitting in the grass under the sun with a glass of red, watching a famous band play live music to thousands of people. If you haven’t been yet, plan ahead for next Memorial Day weekend  – it is always Friday/Saturday/Sunday and tickets sell out quickly. So, prepare to make that short drive up to Napa to experience BottleRock!

Event Round-Up: June 16

Welcome back to the newest installment of Event Round-Up! As always, this is where we gather five of the best Bay Area events taking place over the next month or so. Let us know if you go to any of these, and if so, how you liked them!

1. Walnut Creek Uncorked (Weds., June 20)

Walnut Creek Downtown presents a brand new event, designed for the wine-lovers in our town. Tickets are $40 in advance, and get you access to wine tastings, restaurants, artisan fashion and jewelry stands, and live entertainment. You must be 21 to buy a ticket!

2. Danville Summerfest 2018 (Sat., June 23 & Sun., June 24) 

Danville has a little festival of its own that you may want to check out! Our neighbor has a cute downtown that will be filled with local music, art, and food vendors. There is a classic car show on Sunday, and the event is family and dog-friendly. Danville Summerfest will take place from 10-5 each day.

3. Alameda County Fair (Fri., June 15 – Sun., July 8)

It’s that time of year again! The Alameda County Fair at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton kicked into full gear yesterday, and will carry on through the weekend after 4th of July. If you don’t have larger travel plans, you can trek over to Pleasanton for this awesome annual event – LeeAnn Rimes, Blue Oyster Cult, and Sean Kingston are some of the many musical acts expected to perform this year.

4. 4th of July Fireworks (Weds., July 4)

I don’t have any particular event or link for you here. There are generally tons of good spots to choose from to watch East Bay fireworks on the 4th of July. Take the kiddos, your leftover BBQ, and a blanket to enjoy the show. My favorite place to catch them is up at Tahoe.

5. Walnut Creek First Wednesdays (Weds., July 11)

Another stellar outdoors event to celebrate all that Walnut Creek summers have to offer! There is free parking after 5 p.m. in many major downtown garages to help you get around. If you’ve never experienced a First Wednesdays celebration, it is chock-full of live music, food trucks, drinks, games and even a Kids Fun Zone. Check it out from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Cypress St. in downtown.

Walnut Creek Yacht Club strikes again

I’ve written about how much I like the Walnut Creek Yacht Club before. You’ll remember my blog about last year’s Lobsterfest at the Yacht Club, but I’ve never actually written just about sitting at the bar, eating dinner, and enjoying my meal in a normal setting before. It has great bar seating, with a view looking outside and is one of my favorite bars to just eat dinner either alone or with a friend. The bar is also a great place to hang out to drink and socialize.

I recently went to meet my friend Victoria before going to a movie. Of course, we sat at the bar, I was running late and when I got there, she was socializing with a neighboring patron soaking up all the good WCYC vibes. I ordered Zarzuela de Mariscos – Spanish Seafood Stew with prawns, octopus, mussels, clams & rock cod tomato-shellfish broth, serrano ham, garlic, almonds saffron rice pilaf, grilled Acme levain bread, and lemon aioli for $29.00; the special for the month of May. It was like a tomatoey seafood risotto. Victoria had WCYC Fish‘n’Chips, with California ling cod beer battered in Anchor Steam, with WCYC tartar sauce, regatta fries and WYCY coleslaw for $18.00.

In the past, the service has always been top notch, this time, the bar service was a bit lackluster or aloof, usually they chat you up and are refilling your water and asking what else you might need, but this night was not to their standard tip-top shape. If you are local, you will usually run into someone you know and this evening was no different! Jodi was there socializing with friends and her new baby!

I love the food and the drinks and their special dinners and tasting – it is great to be a member. Of course, if you go often, you get some sort of gift at the end of the year and an envelope not to be opened until a specific date. After you open the envelope, you have to go back in and eat! Check them out!

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas Eve tomorrow and Christmas Day after that. Happy Kwanzaa and Hannukah, as well!

No matter what holiday you celebrate, this is the most wonderful time of year to be with family and friends, eat good food, drink good drink, and to be thankful for what we have in life.

Enjoy your holiday season!

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Check out Limon for great food and drinks!

I recently tried one of the new restaurants in Walnut Creek, Limon, and it did not disappoint! It’s situated on Locust St., next to Vitality Bowl. I have now been for both lunch and dinner; both times I ate some great food, and right before the Warren Miller movie, fantastic pisco sours!

The vibe is like many new restaurants in Walnut Creek: a nice, hip atmosphere, slightly overpriced, but it delivered on results.  The roasted chicken and ceviche are their signature dishes and the Pisco sours do not disappoint.

In our rush to get to the movie, we sat at the bar and shared a half chicken, green beans and we just had to have the truffle macaroni and cheese.  My only complaint is when we left, my clothes smelled smoky like cooked food.

Overall, I really enjoyed Limon, especially those pisco sours! They have an extensive bar and a fabulous selection of Tequila.  A handful of restaurants have recently closed (Lark Creek, Sunol Ridge and Vic Stewart’s), making Limon a great option for a nice dinner.  There are two locations in San Francisco, one in Burlingame, and one opening in Hawaii this year.

I give Limon 5 out of 5 Mt. Diablo’s.

Check out Boundary Oaks’ Harvest Block Party!

Are you looking for a fun, free, family-friendly event this weekend? Check out the Harvest Block Party tomorrow (Fri., Nov. 17) from 3-7 p.m. It should be a real hole-in-one!

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The Boundary Oaks Golf Course is hosting the party, which is free for Walnut Creek residents. They will have games for kids, a pie-eating contest, live music, pumpkin decorating, and food and drinks. Even if you don’t live right next door, you can swing on over to a beautiful venue to take part in the free (!) festivities (again, as long as you’re a Walnut Creek resident).

You don’t have to be a golfer, either, to appreciate Boundary Oaks. And you don’t have to be a neighbor to appreciate free events like this, just a Walnut Creek city resident! It’s a perfect way to keep your kids entertained for a few hours and mellow out before the weekend.

Boundary Oaks is at 3800 Valley Vista Rd., over by Arbalado Field and Northgate High School. For more information, you can call (925) 943-4775, or visit their website.

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Lokanta is the new Mediterranean spot downtown

Mediterranean food is a favorite of mine – from hummus to kebabs 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 to ensure 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 a community table to eat at 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!