I went up to Castle Rock Park in the Open Space the other day to try and catch an evening sighting of the Neowise comet! I decided I had to do it in style, rather than just hike up there to stand around!
So, I brought my dog, Bodie, a picnic, some wine (shh!), and a friend! The views were spectacular as usual with the twilight colors and a dim orange sun reflecting off Mt. Diablo. It was absolutely beautiful. We eventually found Neowise, but needed binoculars to see it, as the light pollution from Martinez refineries didn’t lend the naked eye a view. Though I was hoping for some spectacular images like those posted on Jackson Hole’s Twitter account, it was not meant to be in highly populated Contra Costa County.
Days earlier, I also took a hike in a different direction at Castle Hill Park to Pine Canyon where there is a rock formation where the Peregrine Falcon makes it nest (once an endangered species) and a bench that you can sit on and just take in the scenery and maybe see a falcon flying high above. It is a short walk in, but nice to take it all in and just be outside.
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!
Want to know about one of the East Bay’s best-kept secrets? When it rains like it has for the past few weeks, the little trickles on the Clayton side of Mt. Diablo turn into magnificent waterfalls!
And there’s a 6-7 mile hike loop that takes you past all of them. If you live in the Bay Area, there’s a good chance you enjoy outdoor activities like me. Hiking in the Open Space or up on Mt. Diablo is one of my favorite pastimes, and we are lucky to live in such a beautiful region full of options.
One of my Walnut Creek Lifestyle team members went on the hike last weekend on a sunny day and was blown away by the amount of water that transformed the waterfalls into full-blown spectacles. It’s a can’t-miss this season!
To get to that entrance, get into Clayton on Marsh Creek Rd. or Clayton Rd. and take a right on a residential street called Regency Dr. (just past the middle school). Take that street to the end, and you’ll be at the Regency Gate, which opens up to a few trailheads. The map there will tell you which one is the loop for the falls!
At the top of the biggest, baddest waterfall they’ve got (not pictured, but now the surprise isn’t ruined!), there’s a pretty cozy little spot off the trail to stop, sit and take in the view. Pack a small picnic and enjoy the beauty Mt. Diablo offers and the spectacle the rainy season has brought. You’ll thank me later! Happy Trails
If you haven’t been to Sideboard for breakfast or lunch yet, drop everything you’re doing and go now! I recently visited the new Danville location (it was moved down the street to a cool old B&B-style building) and absolutely love the vibe there!
To go along with a rustic, hip feel, the new location has a huge back patio for diners and all their same amenities still apply: dog treats for our furry friends, awesome holiday decorations and clever order markers for the tables.
As an added bonus for those who love their weekend bike rides on the Iron Horse Trail, Sideboard is only about a block from one of the trail exits!
I have now been a couple of times and have had their chilaquiles, which is a Mexican dish with fried tortillas, sauce, salsa and fried eggs, topped with feta cheese.
A lady who I was sitting by on the big farm style tables says she comes all the way from Oakland to eat breakfast there often. I have ordered their delicious, fluffy beignets twice, once as a take out and once served – they are best fresh and warm, but delicious no matter what.
A new addition is Sideboard is in Lafayette. I have yet to visit, but have been told they have a picnic service, where they’ll bring your meal out to you on a blanket on the grass in a picnic basket. What a nice touch! If you haven’t checked out Sideboard yet, make sure to do as soon as possible. It’s well worth it!