American Kitchen in Lafayette is cute, cozy and comforting

A friend recently treated me to dinner at American Kitchen in Lafayette for my birthday. This was my first visit and I enjoyed the atmosphere, service and food. What I am most excited about is a having a new place for breakfast! Tucked in between Chow and some non-descript office buildings in downtown Lafayette, American Kitchen is a hidden gem among the other well-known restaurants and bars.

It is actually an 80-year-old converted farmhouse that is run by locals Victor Ivry and Sariah May. They emphasize American comfort food and use the freshest, healthiest, most local ingredients. The coolest part about the space itself isn’t necessarily the adorable indoor dining area. It’s their “front yard,” which has a fire pit, a patio and multiple seating areas. It gives off the vibe that you’re enjoying your meal at a homey picnic more than a restaurant, which I loved.

I had the Gingered Squash & Pear Soup and a small Autumn Chopped salad with chicken, along with a glass of champagne. I was so enjoying my dinner and conversation that I forgot to take pictures of the food, but there are enough of the venue to entice you to try American Kitchen. They also have “themed nights,” like burgers on Monday, “Breakfast for Dinner” on Tuesday, and grilled cheese on Sunday.

It is truly a family spot, with drawings from the kids posted at the front door and only beer and wine being served. Stop by American Kitchen and give it a try for breakfast, lunch or dinner – I would love to hear your review.

Overall, I give American Kitchen 4 out of 5 Mt. Diablo’s!

You’ve Gott’s to try the new burger joint in Walnut Creek

See what I did there? Gott’s Roadside officially opened in the old Fresh Choice space on S. Main St., across the street from The Container Store. I tried dinner there recently, and enjoyed it!

Their picture of Mt. Diablo on the wall kind of looks like my logo!

I went to Gott’s around 4:30 and there was a line out the door – the first sign that a place is new, and/or worth eating at in Walnut Creek! When we left after our meal, around 6:30, the line was just as long. The location is excellent – very easy and convenient, especially if you want a quick bite while you’re out shopping or before you go to a movie.

Some highlights of the Gott’s menu includes their milkshakes, salads and, of course, the burgers. I had a bacon cheeseburger with sweet potato and regular fries. Everything was really delicious, including the Mahi Mahi tacos my friends ordered. I also liked that they have roll-up garage doors for the summer, so you can order a wine or beer with your food and hang out in the warm months, too.

With its proximity to downtown and Broadway Plaza, as well as being walking distance to the movie theater, I think Gott’s will have staying power in Walnut Creek. Not to mention they have good food. I did find it to be a bit pricey for a self-serve restaurant, but they have to pay Walnut Creek rents.  All in all, it’s a massive improvement over what used to be there, and should be a go-to spot for hungry locals and visitors alike!

Gott’s Roadside gets 4 out of 5 Mt. Diablo’s from me.

Art Town: Geological Evolution of Mt. Diablo

Most of the art we feature here are one-off pieces. This piece, however, is multiple independent parts that come together to form one. And it’s a dazzling recreation of one of the Bay Area’s most treasured jewels: Mt. Diablo. You can check it out by the Century Theaters downtown. Give a quick stroll before or after your next movie to see it!

You can see the cascading art from the top piece (above), to the first part of the next (below). It’s granite in stone, created by Doron Robinson in 2003, and represents the geological transformation of Mt. Diablo. What a cool piece! Follow along as Mt. Diablo is created from top to bottom (or, in geological terms, from bottom to top!).

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.

Walnut Creek experimenting with long-term street parking meters

These days, Walnut Creek is the hip place to be. But at its heart, our city is still the little town of 60,000 suburban residents, nestled in the shadow of Mt. Diablo. So, with the influx of visitors to Walnut Creek, one of the issues that have cropped up has been especially glaring: parking.

Or, rather, the lack thereof. With a rising demand in downtown parking options, Walnut Creek has started offering long-term street parking in “underutilized” areas outside the downtown core center.

We actually have some long-term meters just outside our offices here at Better Homes and Gardens, which are marked with purple poles. The new meters will cost $1 per hour, and do not contain the 2-hour limit imposed by regular meters downtown.

It will be interesting to see if this move pays off to unclog the downtown area during peak hours. I haven’t personally noticed a difference yet, but the idea is a bit retro. Another thought, how about outside the core downtown parking is free on Sundays? I can’t park in my office garage on Sundays, but can still get a ticket. You can see more about the long-term street parking below.

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Enjoy some gorgeous hikes before summer ends!

With the warm summer weather starting to tail off a bit, all you hikers will want to get out there and hit these last few trails before the season changes completely. Here are four great hike ideas close to San Francisco, from Time Out San Francisco.

  1. Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve: a more remote, forested getaway in the Oakland hills with stunning views of the Bay in every direction!
  2. Angel Island: 360-degree views of the Bay Area from the highest point, and just a cool getaway for some nature and history.
  3. Alamere Falls: If you’re brave enough, you can sneak close to the edge of the 40-foot falls that drop into the ocean.
  4. Lands End: An oldie, but a goodie – you can’t beat this classic hike, which can take you through the Sutro Baths, along the coastline, and towards breathtaking Golden Gate views.

Obviously, there are plenty of local hikes in the East Bay to explore, too. Mt. Diablo and The Open Space are always fun, as are the views from the Berkeley Hills and Grizzly Peak. If you want something easy to take a stroller or a couple dogs on, try the Lafayette Reservoir!

We are very blessed to live in an area that has temperate weather even in the winter, but the beauty of the trails (and the lack of mud!) disappears as fall converges on the summer.

It’s supposed to stick in the low 90’s for the rest of this work week, and then start the decline into the 80’s and 70’s in the weeks to come. Take advantage now before you hole up next to the fireplace for the winter!

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!

Art Town: Liliales

This piece by Cliff Garten was created in 2016 and blends aluminum sheets and mesh with LED lights. It currently adorns one of the new S. Broadway entrances to the Broadway Plaza parking structure.

According to its listing on walkwc.oncell.com, the abstract floral motif of Liliales references two flowers essential to the lives of the area’s original inhabitants – the Volvons, and one of the early Bay Miwok tribes based around Mt. Diablo.

Garten is an award-winning artist and often incorporates light and space into his large designs. His other work in town is the Walnut Creek Veteran’s Memorial.

The LED lights on Liliales change colors with each season, too! You can get more info on Liliales on one of the public art walking tours downtown.

Open House at 10 Stugun Ct. (Pleasant Hill) today and tomorrow!

Are you a family with kids looking for a new Bay Area home? Check out this spacious Valhalla North property, located walking distance from Valhalla Elementary!

It’s situated on a cozy court and has a massive, naturally-shaded hillside deck with a perfect view of Mt. Diablo. This home will adapt to changing needs – whether you have a small, growing family or one that spans multiple generations. The five bedrooms and three bathrooms will do the trick.

Downstairs, you have one large bedroom with a full bath that can serve as a master suite. Add to that newer stamped concrete, recessed lighting, plantation shutters, updated baths and ample storage, and you’ve got a winner here in Pleasant Hill.

You can check out a virtual tour of the home here.

Come swing by our Open House at 10 Stugun Court in Pleasant Hill from 1-4 p.m. both today (Saturday, 8/26) and tomorrow!

 

Art Town: Secret Garden

This is one of the more “flowery” utility boxes in downtown Walnut Creek. Most of them have cool, unique designs but you really have to look at them to get the picture.  This piece by Casey Rasmussen White, entitled “Secret Garden,” is one you can just enjoy.

On the corner of N. Broadway and Mt. Diablo, this beautiful piece really catches your eye. It is simple and colorful.

If the name of the artist sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve featured another great piece by her on a separate utility box in downtown Walnut Creek. That one is called Sea Queen and is on a different corner of the same street.

I am always amazed at how much art there is to look at in downtown Walnut Creek if you just take a moment to observe.