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Trader Joe's coming to Walnut Creek!

(plus an Elephant Pharmacy next door - would you believe?)
It'll be in the site of the old Albertson's-Lucky-Loray market across from Kaiser next to the (channelized) Creek itself. Which brings up the topic of why neither Contra Costa nor any city within it is listed as part of SF Bay Area. There's really good chow out here, folks; need some recommendations?

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  1. Hey, if you've got recs for out there, let's hear them. There's some talk about that region, but not much. The fact that Contra Costa isn't mentioned in the area header just means that whoever designed the doesn't think of it as a chow destination or think there's a high concentration of chowhounds posting there, but you could prove them wrong!

    I had dinner the other night at Ephesus Kebab Lounge. Pretty good, if a little expensive for the amount of food you get. We ended up the evening with drinks at Habana but the kitchen was closed. Anything there worth a trip back?

    1. If it's "da kine" food you want at a "local" price, try the Park and Shop strip in Concord. It's the little UN around there, with restaurants featuring South Indian, Vietnamese, Mexican, Chinese, Korean, and more filled with their respective demographic clientele.

      My personal recommendations are Namaste, Kevin's Noodle House (actually Pho Hoa Hiep #5), and China Wall buffet. But that's mainly because I do think that you can trust ethnics in the US (as distinct from those Parisians at the McDonald's mentioned on another thread) to know their cuisine best, and because I'd rather adapt myself to their taste than to have it adapted to mine.

      I don't go willingly to restaurants that have tablecloths, so be forewarned - this is the people's food. And I always tip big.

      1 Reply
      1. re: family dog

        I second Namaste. It's very, very good. I routinely make the trip from Berkeley just to go there! Great changing lunch buffet selections (everything's great, but the chicken maharaja, similar to butter chicken, is my particular favorite), and a very friendly owner. Dinner is excellent, too -- lots and lots of North and South Indian options on the entree menu (including dosas).

        Here's a 2004 write-up from the Chronicle:

        And some visitor reviews:

      2. The Mediterranean falafel shop in the Park and Shop in Concord, possibly related to
        the Truly Meds in SF and Berkeley, has the best lamb schwarma in the western hemisphere.
        I'm serious. It's next door to the McDonalds. Concord is what, 25 miles from Frisco?
        With heavy rush hour traffic the drive is maybe an hour one way? this schwarma is
        worth the trip. Go. It's a not-terribly-long walk from BART too.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Chuckles the Clone

          Great tip! Plus good to know I can maximize my gas dollars by hitting Fry's.

          1. re: Chuckles the Clone

            Co-Sign. I always get the spicy lamb shawerma, and two falafels and two dolmas on the side. The owner is super-nice, as well. Every surface from the walls to ceiling and floor is painted with Mediteranean scenes. VERY casual. Vegetarian meze plate is awesome as well. My favorite baba ganoush, and killer hummus. Nothing sucks there. Oh, and the grilled coffe is incredible, too! I live in WC, so I've been there 100 times (or something like that). If you don't go at least once, you're only hurting yourself...

            1. re: Ozumo

              Have only been to the Med once, right after the ownership change and the painters were working away on those murals. When I said I was just window-shopping, the owner offered me tastes of all the spreads for next time. I was impressed by them all and the hospitality.

            2. re: Chuckles the Clone

              I've never been disappointed by this branch of The Mediterranean.

            3. And the presence of a Fry's Electronics (amazing collection of nerd chow!) and Indian, Asian, and Mexican food markets at that same shopping center as well just makes the ride all the sweeter.

              But, I digress. How 'bout Walnut Creek? Great bagels in the AM at House of Bagels on Locust. Don't know why anyone in Lafayette would eat one of those fluffy things at Noah's (after Levy's closed) rather than drive over the hill to WC for a real chew.

              1 Reply
              1. re: family dog

                Yah, I will agree. House of Bagels has some decent bagels for California, and not the dinner rolls which you find at Noah's. But if House of Bagels would just sprinkle some kosher salt on their everything bagels it would make them taste twice as good. It realy makes a difference.

              2. As far as a new TJs, it's about freaking time. The Lafayette store is a complete zoo!
                Having grown up in the area and being a frequent visitor, IMO good 'hound friendly' places are hard to start in a very high cost area with a mainly non-food-adventurous yuppie/executive demographic.
                The Lamorinda Culinary Triangle of Death has only gained a decent variety of ethnic restaurants in the last five years, notably La Cocina in Orinda and the two Indian places in Lafayette.
                Walnut Creek is lucky to have De Afghanan and Ephesus. Pleasant Hill has an decent, inexpensive pho place on Contra Costa Bl. next to Grocery Outlet.
                Needed: Cuban (not ear-bleed noisy Havana in WC), Pakistani, South Indian
                Hey, I love to visit Berkeley and Oakland but that involves traversing the @#%$*& Caldecott tunnel....

                1. The TJ's in Concord is more convienent for me, but it'll be nice to have another option!

                  Two new Vietnamese restaurants in town: Little Saigon (in the Trader Joe's shopping center on Treat Blvd) which had their grand opening last Sunday. I didn't see the menu, but it seems to be more family style cuisine as compared to the other pho restaurants.

                  And Huynh, originally from Oakland(?) with contemporary style Vietnamese on Locust in WC.


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: alag

                    Avoid Little Saigon like the plague. We went there with a Vietnamese-speaking friend on Sunday. Walked-out after (1) the non-Vietnamese waiter said he'd pick up the Vietnamese language quickly; (2) only western utensils were placed on the table; (3) the waiter had told us there was no soup available for the "lunch special", offered no substitute, and had no explanation for what made it still a "special"; and, finally, (4) he went to find out what was going to be on the "special" in place of the soup and never came back. Nor would we.
                    Hey, I like pork blood in my bun bo hue, but I don't think they'd serve it there. PS: No pho on the menu.

                    1. re: family dog

                      how disappointing! I noticed the owners were actually Vietnamese so I was hoping for good things.

                  2. May I ask...why on earth, do so many, go crazy for Trader Joes...Thanks for the tips on The Mediterranean falafel shop....looking forward to that.

                    kim @ apizza

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: gal4giants

                      Is there a thread about comparing chowhound-friendly markets? If so, perhaps this part of the discussion should move there. But, my short answer is: quality, price, selection. Same reasons for liking Grocery Outlet, just different parameters.