Road Trips: Beach Blanket Babylon

I’m very sad to report that, if you haven’t already heard, the world-famous Beach Blanket Babylon will officially close it doors on December 31st in San Francisco. Beach Blanket Babylon is a musical revue that’s been playing shows in North Beach for 45 years.

The pop culture and political satire song-and-dance show has been treating audiences to hilarious routines since 1974, but they will play their final show on New Year’s Eve this year. I was able to squeeze one more show in this year before it shuts down, and I’m so glad I did!

We went and enjoyed drinks while watching the hilarious performances on stage, complete with all the famous custom-made hats that are larger than life! It will be really sad to lose this outrageous aspect of San Francisco’s soul, and hopefully, they will find a way to keep the tradition and spirit of the show going long after, or create something new!

I had a friend in town on business who had never seen the show, so we met up before and had dinner at Soto Mare which is famous for “The Best Damn Crab Cioppino,” and it is damn good! We ordered it and each had a cup of their clam chowder because the people sitting next to us ordered it and we could smell its delicious goodness and our mouths began to water. There is a long history of this venue and the restaurant – a great way to spend an evening in SF, or make a date of it and grab a hotel for the night. We then walked a couple of blocks to the Beach Blanket Babylon venue. Tickets are going fast, so book now or forever miss out on this iconic SF show!

You can learn more about the performances and buy tickets on the website here.

A new seafood restaurant on the outskirts of Walnut Creek!

I recently tried a new SoCal chain in Walnut Creek, and it was good for quick fish dishes! California Fish Grill, primarily located in Southern California, has opened a new spot in Walnut Creek at the corner of Oak Grove Rd. and Ygnacio Valley Rd. in The Orchards, which is continuing to become a go-to place in Northgate.  You can even grab your food and take it over to the new brewery called Mike Hess, which I will have to check out in 2019.

It advertises healthy food, even though the most popular dish at the restaurant is a 1,500-calorie fish and chips dish. That said, there are quite a few good, healthy options here. They serve everything from sockeye salmon, to Hawaiian swordfish, to ahi poke and grain bowls. I tried the shrimp with Dynamite sauce, grilled zucchini spears and Brussel sprouts. The fish tacos actually look really good too.  They have a salsa bar and a help-yourself artisan soda fountain.

I’d recommend checking out California Fish Grill next time you’re hankering for some quick fresh seafood. We don’t have a ton of affordable seafood options in Walnut Creek, so this is definitely a step in the right direction. Let me know if you try it!

The Dead Fish in Crockett: Tastier than it sounds

Even though all the fish you eat, whether in raw or cooked form, is technically dead, the term “dead fish” conjures up images of scaly carcasses washed up on a beach. Needless to say, that’s not very appetizing. However, The Dead Fish in Crockett gives reason to love its namesake with their food and stunning atmosphere.

The Dead Fish is located about 25 minutes North of Walnut Creek. It is just up the coast from Martinez, and across the Bay from Vallejo. It’s worth discovering, if only for its endless view of the Carquinez Straits. That’s the first thing that catches your eye when you arrive at the restaurant: round-the-dining-room views of the water, the lit-up bridge, and the hills that accentuate both.

Image result for the dead fish crockett ca
walking-the-bay.com

The owners of The Dead Fish also own such Bay Area seafood hotspots as Franciscan Crab Restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf, The Stinking Rose in North Beach, and Salito’s in Sausalito. For what it’s worth, The Dead Fish gets its name from the chef’s Nonna, who cooked for a large family, and couldn’t keep track of all the different recipes she prepared. So, when the chef (her grandson) asked what kind of fish she cooked, she told him, “It’s a dead fish!” Hilarious!

Anyway, the food itself at The Dead Fish is what you’ll come for as they are known for their Dungeness crab, which is only bought if it weighs more than two pounds (to ensure peak meatiness), and is only caught in the Pacific Ocean. They do have options for prime rib, filet mignon, and other non-seafood meals. Menus are subject to change daily, so make sure you check online before you go!

Image result for the dead fish crockett ca
TheDeadFish.com

I went for lunch. when the atmosphere is a little more light-hearted and not as crowded and you can fully make out the little decorations hanging from the ceiling. From all the photos I’ve seen, it is more of a dimly-lit, low-key vibe in there for dinner. Anyway, the food was good but not as incredible as the reviews said it would be. I still enjoyed my meal though! I had the asparagus with blue cheese and the single crab enchilada. Overall, I’d give The Dead Fish 3.5 Mt. Diablo’s out of 5.

Vanessa’s Bistro has great drink specials and staying power

Restaurants in Walnut Creek don’t tend to stick around for a long time these days. It seems like every month we’re writing a blog about an old favorite closing down and a new, trendy spot taking its place.

Vanessa’s Bistro is an exception to that rule. They’ve been serving patrons in downtown Walnut Creek since 2009, which feels like an eternity at this point! I’ve stopped in there a few times. My favorite is their crispy garlic salt & pepper tofu with sautéed scallions and bell peppers. I also love their special cocktails.

Vanessa’s also has Happy Hour all day on Sunday, $6 margaritas on Monday (and $30 margarita pitchers, yikes!), 50% off tapas on Tuesdays and 50% off all wine and champagne on Wednesday. A big plus (especially in trendy Walnut Creek) is that they hold happy hour Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9 PM until 11:30 PM, which consists of $5 specialty cocktails, $6 tapas and $3 and $6 select beer and wines. That is my kind of place!

They have pretty good food, too – Vietnamese tapas with a French fusion twist! They have a huge list of tapas, banh mi, seafood and vegetarian options. I think there’s a reason Vanessa’s has stuck around so long.

I give it 5 out of 5 Mt. Diablo’s!