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Best restaurant in Contra Costa, Orinda

Wondering what the best restaurants are in Contra Costa, Orinda?

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  1. La Piazza(across from the Orinda Theater)or Casa Orinda.

    1. I believe that this needs a little expansion. La Piazza is a mediterrean restaurant about ten years old. It is reasonable and incredibly consistant. Owned by the charming Charles from Lebanon. He also owns Vincino in Danville. Never a bad meal and very convenient to the landmark Orinda Theater. The Casa is a landmark in itself. Three reasons to go there: The ambiance of the Bar, the Famous Fried Chicken (a bit inconsistant, I feel, but it can be great) and the prime rib. The wine list is weak at both places. They are are my favorite resaurants in Contra Costa.

      1 Reply
      1. re: biseball

        Orinda? Yeah, it's "Set the Way-Back machine, Sherman, to the 1950s and Casa Orinda." ("Right away, Mr. Peabody!")

      2. I am new to this board and I live in Walnut Creek (this is my very first post). I am pretty amazed at the lack of Contra Costa restaurant info on here, so I am going on a personal mission (hopefully many others will join me) to help solve this problem!

        Although I do admit that of course REAL Foodie heaven is on the western side of the Caldecott tunnel, we do have a few spots out this way worthy of attention, and even a BART trip!
        A FEW of my favorites in CCC are (in no partiular order):

        Caffe Delle Stelle, WC (great un-pretentious casual Italian)

        Zheng Long, WC (Pan-Asian, creative, some good, unusual dishes as well as decent standards. Not your typical Chinese)

        Los Toros Taqueria, Monument Bl., Concord (I am amazed at all the taqueria posts and info on here. Now it is time for everyone to discover one of the BEST places to discover GREAT taquerias - MONUMENT BLVD. IN CONCORD!!! There are at least 5 on this street worthy of mention among the Bay Area's best. Los Toros is great!)

        Patrick Davids, Danville (Cal/Med. Not quite the same as many of SF's finest, but among this area's best)

        Kane Sushi - 2 locations: Danville and Lafayette. Fun, lively neighborhood sushi spot, with unique creations that can't be found anywhere. Husband and wife owner team know their customers, create a warm environment, and best of all, customers can create their own sushi roll inventions, and have them posted on the wall with creative names for everyone to try!

        Va de Vi, WC; Curious to see what others here think. I am not totally wowed by the food, but the wine choices are very good and the prices for the wine flights of 3 2-oz. tastes are great. Check out the entertaining wine descriptions by the owner...

        More to come...

        1. My mom lives in WC so I eat there and in the surrounding areas a fair amount of the time. You're quite right, I don't think there are any destination places in that neck of the woods, but there are decent restaurants to be had. I'm a big fan of Zheng Long, but for traditional Chinese food I like Tin's Tea House near Marie Calendar's in downtown WC. I also like Cafe Delle Stelle. I have never been to Patrick Davids or Va de Vi but they sound promising. Recently we went to La Finestra in Lafayette. It was pretty good. However, I dislike intensely Petar's, which is nearby and way too old school for my tastes. My mom likes, it though. :-) I haven't found any really good Japanese restaurants in the area (I'm picky) but I remember Hana in Danville as being good (and operated by a Japanese proprietor), though I haven't been there for a long time. There have also been good reports on this board for a Japanese restaurant in Orinda called Hana Zen, but I have yet to go there. As for reliable chains, we enjoy Pizza Antica and Chow (Lafayette). We also had a pleasant lunch recently at Lark Creek Cafe on Locust in WC.

          1. The question of "best" restaurant is a pretty broad one. There are some decent ones in the Lamorinda area and beyond in Contra Costa, but not many destination places such as might exist in SF and Berkeley/Oakland. Here are some names not mentioned as yet, though I haven't been to some in a few years:

            Postrio, Lafayette - A higher end Cal/Ital/Med place made famous by Cat Cora who left a few years ago for Iron Chefdom.

            Lily's House, Lafayette - Authentic Shanghainese. Best Shanghainese smoked fish. Also excellent shrimp dish and tofu dish.

            Amoroma, Moraga - Authentic Roman cuisine. Best appetizer is the Suppli al Telefono (Roman version of arancini).

            Hana Zen, Orinda - Run by a husband and wife team. He used to work at Kirala in Berkeley.

            Il Cocina, Orinda - Local Mexican place with a good chicken mole.

            El Jarro, Lafayette - Excellent burritos and taco salad.

            Most of these places are casual, with the possible exception of Postrio.

            1 Reply
            1. re: anli

              Hi Anli:

              I agree with many of your choices, but to correct a few names...It is La Cocina Mexicana in Orinda, and Il Postino in Lafayette...

              Lily's is my favorite on the list, of the ones I've tried. Will have to get to Hana Zen soon!

            2. In addition to the above posts,
              Ranch House, Moraga - American comfort food
              Tamami, Moraga - Japanese (not sushi centric)
              Swad, Lafayette - north Indian (I think that's the new name)

              Honorable mentions:
              Alekos, Orinda - Greek take-out

              1 Reply
              1. re: DiveFan

                Alekos changed hands and is now called Alex's. I tried it twice after the change and it was horrible both times. The calamari in the calamari salad tasted old. The meat in the sulovki was fatty and tough.

              2. I'd recommend Cafe Esin in San Ramon. The SF Chron gave it three stars, and based on my one meal there, it's worth it. A bit hard to find, tucked away at the rear of a small mall, but inside it's handsome, well-appointed, quiet, with fine service and a good Cal/Med style menu. Reminded me a bit of Rivoli.


                1. EDIT due to phone line glitch and CH website bug/feature:

                  Honorable mention:
                  Tandoori Chicken USA, El Sobrante - Indian take-out

                  1. Hi Anli,

                    Did you mean El Charro in Lafayette? It's been around forever, but always packed.

                    What about Prima in Walnut Creek? Four of us were there recently and it was excellent. I was also impressed that the waiter recommended a wonderful Zin to go with our meal and it didn't break the bank. Would love some feedback on Prima from the Contra Costa Hounds.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Cerise 37

                      NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! El CHARRO is old-style Mexican food for white suburbanites - RUN AWAY, RUN AWAY!.
                      El Jarro is a small place almost next to Postino, see http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...
                      Sadly, I didn't know any better (and had very few options) until I left for college.

                      1. re: DiveFan

                        Totally agree El Charro is old-style mild, no flavor, Mexican food.

                    2. My last post got me thinking. I REALLY miss Cape Cod House in Lafayette which unfortunately was replaced by Celias.
                      Can anyone recommend someplace that serves good seafood (not super upscale, preferably broiled, minimal spices but nothing against ethnic)?

                      1. In Lafayette:

                        Blue Gingko for sushi, good tempura and gyoza

                        Amarin for Thai

                        Both restaurants are multiple Diablo Magazine winners

                        In WC Sorabol for Korean--a mini chain--up and down but the bi bim bab (vegies over rice) is reliable.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: exboonie

                          Had lunch at Amarin today. Food was really poor. Sauces gluppy, flavors bland. Presentation unimaginative for the high prices.

                          The strangest part was my friend and I ordered Tom Yum Goong soup to share before our standard lunch menu items. Menu says $4.95 for the soup. Nothing about it being a cup or bowl, nothing was said. (Who would even think??) I travel regularly to Thailand and believe me the portion, ingredients and presentation and flavor of this usually delicious soup was disappointing. When the check came, it was $11.95 for the soup!! Waiter said that was because it was a bowl, not a cup.

                          Thumbs WAY down. Plenty of great Thai restaurants around, especially Oakland and Berkeley. (Current favorite is the nightmarket in Chaing Rai, Thailand :-) or Oakland's Champa Garden.) I can't believe Amarin gets good reviews from Diablo magazine.

                          Glad I got this off my chest, $35 lunch for two (and NO drinks!) that I wouldn't pay $10 for if i knew.

                        2. We recently had a wonderful anniversary dinner at the previously mentioned Il Postino in Lafayette. That's probably our favorite at the moment.

                          Others --

                          Thai Osha in Pleasant Hill - very clean flavors; careful preparation.

                          3 Brothers from China, also in PH -- Very popular among local Asians; Make sure you get both the regular menu and the larger menu of specialties.

                          Pizza Antica in Lafayette and Breads of India in Walnut Creek are branches of bay area restaurants (from San Jose and Berkeley, respectively) that never disappoint.

                          Finally, for reliably good Texas barbecue in comfortable surroundings, try Back 40 on Oak Park in PH. I grew up in Kansas City and will always think Texas bbq is inherently inferior, but Back 40 is honest and consistently tasty. Just about everything is good, particularly the sliced beef (order it "juicy" -- i.e., fatty) and the chicken.

                          1. Another restaurant that is consistently good but not perfect is Chow in Lafayette. A few weeks ago my medium Cobb salad was decent but a stingy portion; last night I revisited the Fennel Sausage pizza - 12 inches big, crispy crust, superior toppings - a much better value at $9.50.
                            Besides the good food values, the top reason we visit Chow a lot is that they are one of EXTREMELY FEW non-fast food places in the Lamorinda area OPEN LATER than 9PM. Downtown W.C. is a little too far but mostly inhabited by overpriced and noisy meet markets for twenty-somethings.
                            I know Chow is a small chain - if anyone knows their web site please post. TIA, Mike

                            1. BBQ: Bo's in Lafayette
                              Italian: Postino and La Finestra in Lafayette, Prima & Cafe delle Stelle in WC
                              Japanese: Hana Zen in Orinda
                              Pizza: Pizza Antica, Lafayette & La Piazza in Orinda (or go to Zachary's in Rockridge or San Ramon)
                              Taqueria: Casa Gourmet (across the street from Ace Hardware) in Lafayette

                              1. Just wanted to add a note about Amoroma, an Italian place in the Rheem shopping center in Moraga. It is next door to the Japanese place, Tamami's, (that is mentioned a few posts earlier) and steps away from the Rheem movie theater. While it is not a destination place like Postino's, it deserves mention as a place that serves authentic Roman food in a very friendly atmosphere. It is frequented by many Italian transplants in the Lamorinda area. We just enjoyed a New Year's eve dinner with 7 other couples and it was festive and tasty. As a special concession to our dinner's host, the restaurant stayed open until midnight.

                                The restaurant also has an Italian style cafe next door that sells lunch items and imported snacks and wine.


                                1. Let me add my 2 cents to this posting. Here are my favorite local places to eat.

                                  De Vino's Pizza in Pleasant Hill--Better than Mello's

                                  Bulldog BBQ in Martinez--As good as Texas Back 40 but closer to home (I live in Martinez)

                                  Hanabi Sushi in Martinez--Excellent quality product at an excellent price and the place is ALWAYS busy. Really the best in the area and the best kept secret. Worth the trip....seriously it's worth the trip.

                                  Sunflower Garden in Martinez--Great Chinese with emphasis on fresh seafood.

                                  Los Panchos in Pacheco--take out Mexican better than you'd expect. Always busy.

                                  There are a few more...when I can think of them, I'll add them to this list.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: michele_corum

                                    Thanks for the Martinez recs. I'll be moving there soon (from Oakland, hopefully for a short time) and have been sad about the loss of great chow options. This really helps.

                                  2. Unless I missed it, no one has mentioned Chopin, in western Walnut Creek (near the borders with Pleasant Hill and Lafayette). Very good Polish food, which is rare in the Bay Area, in a very unlikely location. The peirogi and golabki (stuffed cabbage) are great. Haven't tried the fried breaded cutlets but they looked great as they passed by headed for other tables.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: jmarek

                                      The cutlets are very good. Thanks for mentioning this place. The food is very good.

                                      1. re: jmarek

                                        Chopin is great - try the Bigos.
                                        Another fun place is Nibblers in Pleasant Hill. I've only been there once but enjoyed it a lot; it's down the street from the Back 40 BBQ. Nibblers does small plates themed around a culinary region that changes every month.

                                      2. The best Cheap Eats joint foodwise is The Mediterranean in Concord. Everything on their menu's a winner. Falafels, Shawerma, etc...

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: J T

                                          I completely agree with you on this, We actually had the Mediterranean Cater our wedding. Their food is some of the best casual Mediterranean fare I've had, and it's crazy cheap. don't let the location fool you, these guys do it right. Try the Mujadara salad, the best one I've had anywhere.

                                          also with taquerias making the list should be Salsa's (across the street from park and shop, by thew old pier one) the have some of the best rotisserie chicken around, it's free range natural fed chicken and the chicken quesadilla's are one of the best in the area. Also if you can get there before 11 am they have a killer breakfast burrito.

                                          I would also like to reiterate someone's earlier post for Los Pancho's in Pacheco, I have been eating here since they opened in the now chinese food place next to their current location and it was no more than a counter to pick up from and you used to have to stand in a line that almost always went into the parking lot. Their food is very authentic and CHEAP, you can get a BCR w/ Guac & Sour cream for like $2.25 or something (though it's no .75 cents like it once was.)

                                          Bangkok kitchen for Thai on Galindo (across from Brenden theaters) has some really great dishes and the staff is always incredibly nice. This is one of my favorite spots for quick cheap Thai. (but if you want great Thai, which we luckily have an abundance of, go to Benicia and try Sala Thai)

                                          Pizza, hands down goes to Melo's. Consistently great pie's, though service often blows, but you just can't beat those pies. ( and while de vino's,which is in an earlier post, is good, the owner is a former Melo's trainee, it's just not as good or as clean as Melo's)

                                          Though I have yet to try Gigi, in Lafayette I am surprised to not see it on this list anywhere. It's been consistently reviewed very well, and the chef who is the former head chef at Chow Lafayette and San Francisco prior to that, is from what I have seen putting together some really clean and elegant food. I have been meaning to try this place since it opened and just haven't made it out yet.

                                        2. I agree with The Mediterranean in Concord. Excellent falafel. Actually, there are a few others in the Park n Shop center on Willow Pass in Concord. Decent mexican and vietnamese there.

                                          1. First, I'd definitely recommend Cafe Esin, Amarin Thai, Patrick David's, Pizza Antica, Nibblers, Breads of India & Tin's as being amongst the best in the county, but there are some top knotch restaurants not yet mentioned: Amber Bistro(Danville), Ephesus(Walnut Creek), Matsu Sushi(Pleasant Hill), Bridges(Danville-I know it's been down but Kevin Gin is makin some rockin' fusion cuisine). And just to be picky: its Postino, not Il Postino or Postrio; Lark Creek Walnut Creek dropped out the "Cafe" moniker like six years ago; the cute wine descriptions at Va de Vi are written by their wine buyer Brendan, not one of the owners; Melo's has one l & you need to see Diamond Dave sing to really appreciate Petar's!

                                            1. For authentic Chinese (Sichuan) try Sichuan Fortune House in Pleasant Hill/Walnut Creek.

                                              The chef is the old chef from China Village in Albany.

                                              Tin's is okay for Cantonese dim sum as they're the only one around the Lamorinda/WC/Pleasant Hill area. Their food is just okay.

                                              Sichuan Fortune House
                                              41 Woodsworth Ln, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523