The new Riviera Apartments: SF in WC?

The new Riviera units downtown are pricey, but they give some people San Francisco vibes. Top and middle level ones are going in the $1-2 million range, but their target buyers are people moving out of the city for a reason. Not only is there parking, but it’s near BART and Target and have an HOA.

Some new tenants like the “city feel” the building itself puts off, with all the amenities you’d expect from newer units in downtown San Francisco. There is a nice upstairs lounge area, it’s close to public transportation, and best of all, there is car and bike parking!

There is even a fire pit, a bike lock and repair station, and views of Mt. Diablo. I know of one tenant who opted for one on the non-Mt. D side because looking at another building actually reminded her more of living in San Francisco. To each their own!

So far, the units are about 40% filled, but I’m sure that will continue to go even higher. Units get snatched up in Walnut Creek super fast these days, and the location is pretty ideal. It will be interesting to see how many SF transplants the Riviera apartments end up getting!

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!

Main Street Kitchen gets a re-boot

One of my favorite restaurants in Walnut Creek received a bit of a makeover recently, and since it’s been about three years since my last review, I wanted to re-visit it! Main Street Kitchen aka MSK has become a new staple for foodies in Walnut Creek, and now they’ve expanded and remodeled to match their popularity.

I went recently on a chilly, smoky day so nobody sat outside. But that just meant more of an opportunity to take in the beautiful new interior! I really love that this place has opened up a bit and can now accommodate more guests in addition to a full bar with seating. It allows even more locals and travelers alike to experience the excellent atmosphere and cuisine. My favorite feature is sitting by the living wall and eating Sunday Brunch!

We tried a couple different dishes. The first was Burrata with greens, but you can also get it with avocado, prosciutto, heirloom tomato, or tapena (mix and match) and Sunchokes, which were amazing.  Our order consisted of fish tacos with tortilla soup, their the BLT, however the star of the show may have been their signature dish called Chicken al Mattone where boneless thighs are cooked between two cast iron skillets. It was absolutely delicious!

As you can see, Main Street Kitchen is still serving up farm to table gourmet bites in generous servings. And now they’re doing it in a brand-spankin’-new space that really takes the experience to a whole new level. If you have yet to jump on the Main Street Kitchen bandwagon, I’d highly suggest doing so soon!  p.s.  their fried chicken isn’t always on the menu, but it is always available and is fantastic on their delicious salads.

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!

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.

Downtown Walnut Creek updates

This little town of ours is always growing and changing. It seems like every other day, we have a new restaurant popping up in the place of a restaurant that was just formerly new, or an apartment complex taking over an empty lot. Here’s some more news:

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There are some rumors floating around about a couple of Hall Equities Group projects.  The first one is there is Prime Hotel Site noted on their website which looks to be the corner of Ygnacio and Civic that will have a large conference space.  There is nothing noted on the City of Walnut Creeks site, but on Hall Equities site they show a rendering of a hotel. Check it out!  Walnut Creek has not seen a new hotel in many, many years, but note: there is a new hotel, A Marriott’s Residence Inn currently being built on the corner Pringle and California (2050 California) where the Jaguar dealership and Bank of the West used to be.

The second rumor may be a high-end spa and hotel where the KFC used to be on California & Botelho. Hall & Associates has been trying to develop it for a few years, but were trying to push on the height restrictions and no resolution occurred, so we will see if this comes to fruition.

And while some of us had gotten used to going to the food truck village in McDonald’s old site by Xtreme Pizza (it was awesome!!), that will become a condo building with some rentable rooms. Those are popping up all around town, but I think it makes sense given the growth in Walnut Creek. And most builders have been pretty smart about making buildings that won’t be eyesores.

There are some condos by BART (Main and Civic), two new apartment buildings right by BART and Riviera (a little Walnut Creek BART transit village), and a big new complex called The Lofts. This is all going in right by BART, and will increase the traffic even more over there. Surely, we will see more buildings, more condos, and definitely more new restaurants and bars infiltrating Walnut Creek in the coming years. Keep an eye out for these new projects!

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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.

More change coming to downtown WC

The ever-evolving landscape of downtown Walnut Creek is about to change again. Soon enough, there will be another new restaurant and Amazon’s new brick-and-mortar location.

Citra Grill, which has held a corner location by the movie theater for a few years now, is already out. In its place goes KoJa, which is a food truck-turned-restaurant that serves up a Korean-Japanese sandwich fusion with crispy garlic rice buns instead of bread.

Additionally, there is a physical Amazon location coming to Walnut Creek. The new bookstore, which will go in Broadway Plaza, will infuse a little literature into a town that lacks it. I find it ironic that Amazon’s business model literally (pun intended) closed most of the brick and mortar stores because it was much cheaper to order books via Prime. How I have missed browsing a book store before a movie, but isn’t that the problem? We as consumers browsed and then bought online and now with Audibles, I just download a book. I am curious to see how and why this fits their warehouse-style business model that ships to your door.

The last update is one recommended to me by a team member. Apparently, there’s a new sushi joint next to Crepes Ooh La La called Kurumi Sushi that gives gigantic portions for fair prices and which he says is above average in taste! I personally don’t think you can have both (great food and large portions), especially with Walnut Creek real estate rents, so you decide and let us know.

Sauced Opens in the old Pyramid Location

Pyramid Alehouse was a long-standing favorite in downtown Walnut Creek, but has recently given way to a new barbecue joint called Sauced.

The owners are cousins (one raised in Pleasanton, one in the South) and imported everything from the South – from the wood used in the restaurant to the menu and drinks. Their goal is to bring authentic BBQ to Northern California, but they did not bring southern pricing to the table.


Where the old Pyramid brewery tanks were is now a huge, open bar and that seating area looks massive with the new layout. They do trivia on Tuesday and Bingo on Wednesday each week, and the dining area also has plenty of space for big groups.

I had the brisket which was served with apple coleslaw (very good) and a slice of corn bread with whole kernel corn (authentic and tasty) plus two drinks. It was rich and I had a food coma for a few hours, but maybe the drinks attributed to the feeling.

The food and ambiance is good; my son ordered a Cubana, which includes a fried pickle in it and two sides, the cost $20. The BBQ I have had outside of Austin, TX would cost much less and is just as good, but we can’t all go to Austin for some down-home BBQ and I am sure our rents are much higher, thus Sauced is local and may be the next best thing if you are hunkering for BBQ.

They do have a great bar area, tons of mico-brews to choose from and a daily happy hour. It is a great place to gather with friends and enjoy a game. Pyramid left some pretty big shoes to fill, considering its popularity, so time will tell if Sauced can keep the seats filled. I do hope they continue the live music on the patio in the summer and would love to hear what you think and if you know of any other great BBQ spots!