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Lunch in Moraga?

My mom and I will be in Moraga in the next couple of weeks. I am not familiar with the area. Are there any decent, non-chain places for lunch? Basically any cuisine and price range -- just would like to find something somewhat of a little better than average quality and not overly noisy, which is not always easy to find in the Walnut Creek-Lafayette area. :-)

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  1. In a couple of years of going out to St. Mary's for classes I never found anything. There is/was a Chinese place in the shopping center at Rheem and Moraga Road near the pet store that was ok (have no idea of the name or if it still exists). I usually stopped in Orinda at Alekos and had one of their yummy gyros or other greek offerings.

    4 Replies
    1. re: SLRossi

      Cool .. insider info ... do you have thought's on the following places in Moraga ...
      - Bianca's Deli
      - Tamami's Japanese Restaurant
      - Ranch House
      - Ristorante Amoroma
      - Terzetto Cuisine
      - Ozzie's Soda Fountain
      - Mucho Wraps
      - La Penne
      - Pennini's Ristorante Italiano
      - Michael's Ristorante Italiano

      1. re: rworange

        Frankly, I can barely remember the course material at this point let alone the names of all the crappy places I tried. Sorry.

        1. re: rworange

          Bianca's Deli - Is a small sandwich shop in downton Moraga. Sandwiches are ok, a step above the Safeway across the way. Warning one of ladies can be a little impatient and mean if you don't order quickly. (think Seinfeld's Soup Nazi)
          Tamami's Japanese near the theater- I have not eaten there in over 5 years. The last time I was there, we were the only table at lunch. Even so the food was slow and cold when arrived and being warm probably would not have helped much. I rarely see anyone in there. It is very quiet.
          Ristorante Amoroma also near the theater- is my favorite restaurant in Moraga. They serve very homey and comforting Italian food. Service is friendly, but reservations are needed for dinner. I'm not sure they are open for weekday lunch. But they have started a weekend brunch menu.
          Mucho Wraps - Basic burrito shop.
          Terzetto Cuisine near Bianca's and Safeway, has pretty good breakfasts and the rest of the lunch menu is basic sandwiches and salads that I have not tried although friends have enjoyed the something like a taco salad.
          I have not been to the rest of the places.

      2. anyone been to Lily's House in Lafayette lately?

        1 Reply
        1. re: kc72

          I took my students for stuff on the Shanghai menu a couple of weeks ago. They really enjoyed the rice cakes and roast pork thigh. The meatballs are very nice. Good flavor and the meatier/coarser texture that I prefer (I don't like it when they get sort of spongy, as if there's too much filler and not enough meat). The Beggars Chicken was flavorful and a fun production number, but on the dry side. Had a sweet warm rice ball soup/dessert that I liked, but I expect is an acquired taste. There are lots of other Shanghai dishes to try, and Lily is very nice and helpful. Just let her know you're interested in the Chinese, rather than the regular menu (don't worry, every dish is described in English). http://www.lilyshouse.com/allchinesem...

        2. there's alway chow in lafayette, and i like geppetos cafe for sandwiches in orinda at lunchtime. if you are craving a big diner burger, nations is good (orinda or moraga)
          and there are a couple other options, but most in orinda

          1. If you're willing to drive the short distance to Lafayette, there are a TON of great restaurants. But, then again, I grew up there so I may be a bit biased. :o)

            -Great Wall or Uncle Yu's for Chinese. I'm not a fan of Uncle Yu's personally, but a lot of people seem to like it.
            -Pizza Antica
            -Bo's BBQ
            -Numero Uno for quick/cheap Mexican

            Avoid El Charro's at all costs - ugh.

            3 Replies
            1. re: adrienne156

              hmmm... why avoid el charros? I have some friends that LOVE that place! is it the food, the service, the crowd, the aptmosphere?

              1. re: shastashark

                Greasy food, lackadaisical service, and I was once served a margarita in a glass with fresh lipstick on it. There is so much better mexican food in the bay area that it seems like a waste of calories to me.

                That being said, their takeout that is open late night (you know, that weird door at the back of the building that opens onto the parking lot) is okay for late night food. I did like their tortillas.

                1. re: shastashark

                  I grew up in Orinda and this place used to be the only Mexican in town. Fortunately when I left town I discovered much more authentic food. You know, salsas with actual taste (not just mediocre pico de gallo or canned red enchilada sauce). Beef dishes that didn't start with ground beef.
                  IIRC (can't find a menu online) El Charro still is pretty much overpriced 1950's Tex-Mex, and not done very well at that. I totally agree with this seven year old review: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...
                  Educate your friends - visit some alternatives and don't give much importance to yelp-like reviews that rave over chips/salsa, cheese dip and margaritas. In addition to El Jarro, try La Cocina Mexicana in Orinda.

              2. The so-so Chinese restaurant in the Rheem shopping center might be china moon.

                I agree, it is worth the 3-5 mile drive to Lafayette and if you are either going or coming to 24 you probably pass through Lafayette.

                My vote would be Pizza Antica or Bo's bbq. Chow is way noisy, can barely hear across the table although food is good. Postino is very high end and probably a $25-$30 lunch bill with a glass of wine.

                2 Replies
                  1. re: adrienne156

                    Husband thinks they purposely don't bother with improving the acoustics to give it a "happening/popular" place vibe and so the tables will turn more quickly. A close friend also doesn't eat there because he has impaired hearing and can't hear the table conversation.

                    On the weekend, it is full of families, and poster specificially mentioned "not too noisy".

                1. Nation's in Moraga is currently closed while they rebuild from a fire that happened a month or so ago. If you want Nations, head down to Orinda.

                  Chef Chao is a Chinese spot across from the Rheem Theater, which is OK. We get takeout dinner there about once a month. Their Schezuan prawns are one of my faves.

                  Terzetto's can be nice for a sit down meal and draws an older crowd and/or families usually. Bianca's has a younger crowd but the sandwiches are good, as mentioned elsewhere in this thread. If you have the time and it's nice out, you can get sandwiches & stuff for a picnic and go eat it at Moraga Commons or somewhere similar & just soak in the sun and breathe the air. Moraga can feel semi-rural depending on where you are; enjoy it.

                  I'm not a fan of the Ranch House or Mucho Wraps, but they seem to stay in business. The former at least has some ambiance.

                  You didn't mention if you would be there on weekends or weekdays; if you happen to be there on a Sunday, visit the Farmer's Market next to McCalou's (corner of Moraga Rd and Moraga Way), open like 8am-1pm I think. There are a few vendors that will sell stuff you can eat for lunch, like hand made tamales, breads, popcorn, etc. And the produce is great too.

                  If you can make it out to downtown Orinda, you have some more options:

                  - Siam Orchid (Thai) - two thumbs up.
                  - La Cocina Mexicana (Mexican) - two thumbs up.
                  - Lava Pit (Hawiian BBQ) - interesting and different, draws a younger crowd. Small, friendly staff, and food quality seems above average. Presentation is typical for hawaiian BBQ; if you like this kind of food you'll like this place. I do.
                  - Yu Sushi (Japanese) - been there once for dinner, had teriyaki chicken and a variety of sushi & really liked it.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: erict

                    Thanks so much for all the info. Wanted to say that my mom and I eat all the time in Lafayette (she lives in Walnut Creek) so we were just looking for something different (and hopefully better) in Moraga, where we've never been. Doesn't sound like it's much of a happening place. :-) We used to like Barbara's Kaffe in Lafayette okay but it's closed down. We like Chow but it's always a zoo and the same goes for Pizza Antica. I very much dislike Petar's and the new tea house (near Chow), which is always changing always tends to be mediocre. Finestra Ristorante is just okay. Uncle Yu's is fine but Yan's is quite underwhelming. Anyone been to Great Wall? We have yet to try Lily's House so thanks for the info. Postino we have been to a long time ago for dinner; maybe it's time to revisit there. Used to like Miraku in Lafayette, which is now closed at that location, but all other Japanese there have been disappointing (as are many in the general area, but I'm picky about Japanese). Also appreciate the Orinda info. We have gone there less often and want to check it out again. We enjoyed Hana Zen a long time ago.

                    1. re: Wendy_san

                      I mentioned Great Wall in my post above. I really like their food and even drive the 30 minutes to Lafayette from where I live now if I'm in the mood for chinese. I find their food richer, more flavorful, and definitely cheaper than Uncle Yu's.

                      1. re: adrienne156

                        Thanks, Adrienne. I guessed I missed the mention of Great Wall. Hopefully I will get to try it soon. Yes, Uncle Yu's can be pricey. :-)

                        1. re: Wendy_san

                          Just an additional note about Great Wall, although I would not say that their food is greasey or heavy, they do not have the "light touch" that Melanie describes at Lily's.

                      2. re: Wendy_san

                        Definitely try Lily's House the next chance you have. The chef has a very light touch so that homey classics feels more elegant and refined.

                      3. re: erict

                        I second the La Cocina recommendation.

                      4. Most have been covered, but...casual, hof brauish kind of place, Europa in Orinda. Great corned beef sandwiches, a ton of tables. And I haven't been to The Great Wall, but I think Uncle Yu's food is great - try the Prawns with Honey walnuts - YUM! Petar's - good food, good service, old school, but with the myriad of buy 1 get 1 free coupons floating around, it is a deal. Ranch House - cool location, unfortunately food is nothing to write home about.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Shermboy

                          Had dinner at Petar's with my Dad who lives in Rossmoor and I must report that it was one of the most abysmal horrid meals I have had in my entire life...the late Petar Jakovina should be rolling ovef in his grave

                          1. re: jungleboy

                            Please tell us, how bad was it? I've heard that it's Rossmoor early and then 20-somethings later for the night scene.

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              I refuse to go to Petar's anymore even though my mom (who, yes, lives in Rossmoor) really likes it. I agree with jungleboy, quite abysmal and tacky service that seems out of the 1960s (e.g. waitresses calling you "honey"). Don't know anything about this early 20's scene late at night, though they do have a bar with entertainment sometimes, I believe.

                        2. Good to finally see a central Contra Costa post.
                          The best Mexican restaurant in Lafayette is El Jarro, a small casual place. I hope it's doing OK - everytime we've been there it hasn't been very full. A recent thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/316049
                          In addition to El Charro, avoid Celia's, home of the wierd NON-pork Carnitas Adobadas.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: DiveFan

                            My mom and I have yet to make it to Moraga (and after all these posts, maybe we'll skip it) but we did happen upon a new place on Main Street in downtown Walnut Creek yesterday called The San Franciscan. I guess they're trying to do old-school "San Francisco" cuisine (caesar salads, specialty burgers, shrimp louie, etc.). They have nice outdoor seating, but we opted for inside since it was a little breezy. At noon there was hardly anyone there. We both had entree caesar salads with garlic prawns and anchovies, which were quite good. I'm not telling anyone to run over to this place because it's so fantastic, but it's so hard to find a quiet, decent lunch spot in the general area and I'm so picky about all the Japanese food over there so nothing pleases me. :-)

                            At first my mom wanted to go to Crepevine on Main Street (the old Ono Maze location) but it's gone and we talked to the people inside and they said it will be opening in August as a small plate seafood place with a fancy bar. The woman told us the name, but I have forgotten.