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.
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:
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!
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!
We’ve talked about Pinky’s, we’ve talked about Pizza My Heart, and most recently, we talked about Pan Coast Pizza. But I wouldn’t want to leave out one of the best (if not THE best) pizza places in Walnut Creek when discussing great local food: Extreme Pizza might top them all!
The first thing you’ll notice about Extreme is it does all the little things right. They are open until the bars nearby close (smart move!), make good use of the physical restaurant (and decorate it in an interesting, attractive way), and seem to always have good customer service.
Then, there’s the pizza itself. Not only is the pizza top quality, but they have some really great styles on the menu, as well as sandwiches, salads and drinks. They serve beer on tap, make calzones and wings, and will make you a gluten-free or vegan pizza as well. On nice days, check out the patio outside!
Lastly, an ode to the title of this blog: the “slices” you can order there? Yeah, it’s two slices. Every time. Last time I ordered two slices to go, it was essentially four because the slice is so big, but they only charge you for the original two! They also deliver into the wee hours and can do large parties. We recently got 12 pizza’s for the Parkmead Pathway Meeting, the pies were hot, it included all the paper products and I also was able to get the sodas in one stop. They also gave my son a job for a few summers and the owner lives up the street from me, so I am a big fan! Give them a try if you have not already, they are located on Cypress next to Philly Cheese Steak, around the corner from where Crogan’s used to be.
Downtown Walnut Creek is always getting new restaurants. Every genre and culture of food seems to be represented. However, one that I hadn’t seem much of was poke. That is no longer the case – enter, Pokeatery on Newell Ave., in the set of shops by Whole Foods.
Pokeatery has locations throughout California, as well as one in foodie-haven Austin, TX. For those who are unfamiliar, poke is pronounced “poh-kay” and is typically a raw, Hawaiian salad. Usually, it’s made with ahi tuna, but Pokeatery offers different fish options, as well as vegetarian and gluten-free styles.
I went in to try out their menu- it is a bit different than poke I have had in the past and it is a LOT of food. You start with the base and then add the fish, the salad, the spices and the veggies. You make it your own!
The origin of Pokeatery is pretty cool, too. The owners and their family love Hawaiian food, especially poke. They wanted to bring those flavors back to the mainland, where it is less plentiful. In their family, they have more than 20 years of experience in sushi restaurants. Those skills go into crafting every meal at Pokeatery.
You can see from these pictures that the ingredients are fresh, the dishes are colorful (and plentiful!), and they really take great care to provide you with a good meal. The owner is pictured here at the bottom. There are a couple of other poke restaurant that have opened up downtown called Oke Poke (which just opened) and T4 and Poke that also has bubble tea. I have to try both eventually. Overall, I give Pokeatery 4 Mt. Diablo’s! I keep comparing all the poke I eat to the Da Poke Shack on the big island of Hawaii – hang out at the beach all day, walk over to Da Poke Shack and have a cold beer – magic!
There are a lot of great pizza joints in and around Walnut Creek. I’ve written about many of them in this blog, but most are also located right downtown in an easy-to-find spot. However, one of the best pizza in Walnut Creek is hidden in a tiny building right next to the main Las Lomas entrance!
If you want affordable combos and really great pizza, try Pan Coast Pizza! It’s a popular spot for high school kids after school lets out, and I can see why. They have a pizza, salad and drink combo for $9 and their large slices go for about $3 each. This place is well worth it.
I’m a huge fan of the cheese they use on their pizzas – it really just brings everything together. You can taste the quality in every bite. And it’s evident that the husband and wife duo who own and run the place have taken time to perfect their pizza. They told me they get their cheese from Wisconsin and their tomatoes from Italy. I like the thin-crust style and my favorite is the cheese pizza. They also serve strombolis, hoagies, salads, and more. Their motto is “a taste of the East Coast,” and they really mean it!
Julie and Robert have both worked in pretty much every cooking position there is, in states all over the country. They started in Pennsylvania, which may be where they get a lot of their inspiration from. They also both have experience working in acclaimed San Francisco restaurants.
Whatever they’ve done here, it is working out fabulously. Luckily for me, Pan Coast Pizza is just a short walk from my neighborhood, so whenever I am hankering for a slice, I know where to go. I give Pan Coast Pizza 5 Mt. Diablo’s!
It’s no secret that rents are extremely high in California. Rents are high in the Bay Area, especially, and Walnut Creek is no exception. For how crazy home rents can be, commercial rent prices are even worse! That’s why we’re seeing so much turnover in bars and restaurants in downtown Walnut Creek.
It seems like we see 10 new restaurants per month popping up downtown which keeps my blog interesting. And when those come in, something must go. Some are so short-lived, we hardly even have time to try them before they disappear!
One especially pricey area is the corner of Locust and Cypress. Sauced has taken over for Pyramid Alehouse, Sunol Ridge came and went incredibly quickly, Lark Creek Cafe is closed, and new places like Urban Alley and Gotts are popping up every time we turn around. Not to mention, the place where Chili’s was a long time ago, which most recently was Caffe Stella, is clearly too expensive for anyone to come in and stay. Not to mention Crogan’s shut down, too, which may be a blessing.
That entire intersection is constantly changing, and it’s happening all over the place in downtown Walnut Creek. I know people who have moved out of Walnut Creek, and every time they come back (even if it’s only been a few months), they say certain parts of downtown are unrecognizable. Even Walnut Creek mainstay Vic Stewart’s is going to be replaced by retail!
This has both good and bad effects for Walnut Creek residents. As more fancy, expensive stores go in downtown, they will raise their prices to afford their own rents. More out-of-town shoppers will clog up downtown, too. But, those of us who do live here will benefit from having more amazing new restaurants and bars to try!
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.
There’s a new sushi place in town, and I tried it recently – it did not disappoint! It is hard to break into the sushi game in the Bay Area these days, but I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed my meal along with the sake at IKOI, which is located across from La Scala.
The sushi itself was very fresh, though it took a while to get the second roll I ordered. It’s so new, there’s still a coffee logo on the floor of the restaurant from the previous tenants!
We ordered the small plate sampler with ceviche and “Hamachi Love,” all unique and deliciously fresh. Though they don’t have a large selection of rolls, the select few are quality and tasteful. I found the information about their chef and co-owner on the website really interesting, too: Chef Koji has been cooking for 40 years and trained under famed sushi master Chef Hiroshi Hiyama. He has worked in acclaimed restaurants in Japan before opening the first of three restaurants he now has in the Bay Area.
Apparently, “Ikoi,” means “rest and relaxation” in Japanese, which is perfect. I felt very satisfied and happy after eating there. I’d definitely recommend Ikoi to any sushi fans out there in Walnut Creek! It gets 4 out of 5 Mt. Diablo’s from me only due to the delay in getting the second roll. If it was on quality of sushi alone, it would be a 5+!