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Moraga Options

I'm headed to Moraga for a week.

Aside from a thread about the farmer's market in early 08: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/481430

....and a thread about lunch options in 07: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/392971

....I haven't seen much discussion about Moraga.

Anything new and great? Any close-by stellarness that warrants renting a car?

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  1. I'll be interested to see if you get much response. I'm guessing there isn't much discussion about Moraga because there's not much there: it's a small, upscale suburb without much of a business district. Unless you have good access to BART, I can't imagine you won't go crazy spending a week in Moraga without a car. But I do know you have an amazing ability to find good chow in the most unlikely places, so I wish you luck.

    25 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      Amoroma in Rheem Plaza

      Thai place in same mall is good

      Terzettos decent

      Stay away from the Farm House or Ranch House or whatever, let me down

      Easy bus or bike ride to Lafayette or Orinda with more options...Lamorinda as an area is solid

      -----
      Ranch House
      1012 School St, Moraga, CA 94556

      1. re: Munching Mark

        Thanks! What do you have in Lamorinda?

        Maybe I will rent a car, though that sort of puts me in the opposite predicament.....so much geography, so many tips....

        1. re: Jim Leff

          Just for clarification, "Lamorinda" refers to the neighboring towns of Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda.

          1. re: Jim Leff

            If you end up getting a car, may I request a special chowhound mission for the bridge and tunnel crowd? Monument Blvd in the town of Concord is target-rich but we have next to no reports. I've not been there for a few years myself. The area is Persian-Salvadoran-Polish-Afghani-Mexican and various iterations thereof and seems like it should be a chowhound's paradise in the land of chains.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Meno's in Concord has excellent chile rellenos, I've heard...perhaps another adventure awaits an interpid CHound!

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Yeah, bingo, Melanie, thanks. You've sort of isolated the whole thing right there. If I ever launch another food site (lord, take me now), maybe we'd confine discussion only to lesser-known stretches and people's discoveries there. I've never felt comfortable with lists of restaurants to tick off my to-eat list. This is really what I was looking for all along!

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Seems like Afghani businesses have been inching up the 680 corridor to Dublin and north to Concord. Fremont might not be the hub it once was.

                  2. re: Jim Leff

                    Take me with you! Better yet, I'll drive my car and you can ride shotgun as the lookout.

                  3. re: Melanie Wong

                    Concord finds:

                    Afghan Market (1500 monument bld) amazing homemade bulanee (bread stuffed with spinach and onions). Best I've ever had.

                    Chopan Kabob (2699 Monument) good minimialist Afghani - the chopan kabab wrap is really subtly complex and wonderful. Around corner in back of same shopping plaza is a tacos restaurant with pambazos, though, alas, not good ones. Also a huge hispanic supermarket including a salvadoran ice cream concession with amazing-looking corn-and-cream ice cream which I didn't get to try (just stared at it longingly).

                    Paletaria Guadalajara (1500 monument): great for melon (i.e. cantaloupe) agua fresca. Everything else is variable. Also there's a busy but unexceptional-seeming Mexican restaurant adjoining.

                    -----
                    Chopan
                    2699 Monument Blvd Ste A, Concord, CA 94520

                    Afghan Market
                    1500 Monument Blvd F12, Concord, CA

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I wonder if any of those are connected to the (insanely charming) Afghan bolani folks that are ubiquitous at Bay Area farmers markets. The address on their labels is also in Concord.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          The farmers market folks are East & West Gourmet. The growing number of Afghani food businesses in the Concord area is the reason for my May 21 comment above to Robert.

                          -----
                          East & West Gourmet
                          108 Medburn St B, Concord, CA

                      2. re: Jim Leff

                        I'm glad you headed to Concord, we've needed an update on the area. For the not good pambazos, would that be El Yahualica? Here's an online menu,
                        http://www.allmenus.com/ca/central-co...

                        I can't figure out the supermercado, but I'm super interested in finding the ice cream concession.

                        Does Palateria La Guadalajara make its own ice creams and paletas?

                        Edited to add:

                        Found a website for:
                        Guanatos Ice Cream
                        2691 Monument Blvd.
                        http://www.guanatosicecream.com/

                        And that address leads me to
                        Pacifico Foods
                        2691 Monument Boulevard
                        Concord, CA 94520-3108
                        (925) 686-5123

                        -----
                        El Yahualica Tacos
                        2699 Monument Blvd Ste I, Concord, CA 94520

                        Paleteria La Guadalajara
                        1500 Monument Blvd, Concord, CA 94518

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          Correct on all counts!

                          Skip El Yahualica. I tried a good variety of things, nothing's better than fair. The place next to the paletas place, which I undersold, above, as "unexceptional-seeming", has a lot more promise.

                          Let us all know if you ever try that corn-and-cream ice cream (like a salvadoran tamal de elote rendered in frozen dessert). I grieve for missing it.

                          1. re: Jim Leff

                            I wanna know too, so I started a new topic here,
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/715951

                            Not too far away is Ramar, who is the US licensee for the Filipino brand, Magnolia Ice Cream, famous for mais queso flavor. Maybe we're in the corn ice cream capitol of North America and don't know it.
                            http://www.ramarfoods.com/mais-queso.php

                            -----
                            Guanatos Ice Cream
                            2691 Monument Blvd, Concord, CA

                            Pacifico Foods
                            2691 Monument Blvd, Concord, CA 94520

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              My interest in corn ice cream launched when I was 24 or so, and my favorite (at the time) food writer invited me for dinner and proposed making ice cream after. We tried shaving a bunch of ears of corn, but the result was way too subtle. But I've been dreaming ever since.

                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                If you're still in the Bay Area, Nieves Cinco de Mayo usually has elote ice cream -- handmade the traditional way, too. It's easily accessible via BART (just a block from the Fruitvale BART station).

                                -----
                                Nieves Cinco de Mayo
                                3340 E 12th St, Oakland, CA 94601

                                1. re: Jim Leff

                                  If you are ever in ..

                                  Antigua, Guatelmala: The tantalizing and terrific Tienda de Doña Gavi - It snows supurb organic ice cream
                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/723073

                                  Cream often overpowers the corn flavor. I don't know how they make this, but, while it is ice cream, it has the light texture of fresh fallen snow and allows the corn flavor to star. .

                          2. re: Jim Leff

                            The center at 1500 monument is interesting. I agree on the bolani. There is a regular churro vendor (maybe just on Saturdays?) outside the market that fries and stuffs fresh churros, just like DF.

                            If you go down through the breezeway, Tortilleria El Molino makes great still-warm corn tortillas (and the machinery is cool).

                            The coffee shop and internet cafe next door look promising as well. Had a empanada (I think they have a different word) stuffed with pollo in mole rojo. I thought the crust was just OK, but the filling was great. Also had a really good alfajor. The Mexican hot chocolate was fine but nothing special.

                            -----
                            Tortilleria El Molino
                            1500 Monument Blvd Ste F, Concord, CA 94520

                            1. re: jmarek

                              Lard in the alfajor, or was it "cleaned up"?

                              Great post, thanks.

                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                Not sure. I didn't know enough to ask (but next time I'll know better...)

                                1. re: jmarek

                                  Better to taste than to ask! Wait till after swallow, then examine aftertaste in mouth. Anything pork choppy going on? If so....lard. And properly so!

                            2. re: Jim Leff

                              Woops, forgot. Exceptional Polish grocery, with really nicely selected items (including a great polish beer selection, best of which is Okocim Porter.

                              Polish & European Delikateski 1984 Monument Blvd, Concord, (925) 849-5580

                              -----
                              Delikateski
                              1984 Monument Blvd, Concord, CA

                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                Oh, good, I'm glad you found Delikateski. I promised all those hyphenated ethnicities in that nabe, and where would we be without the Polish. Eastern European is weak in the Bay Area compared to NY, so it's nice to hear a vote of confidence.

                                We do have a first mouth report on the ice cream in the other thread. And, i found the report from 2003 on Chopan, where the chowhounds raised $200 to support this site.
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/26545

                                -----
                                Delikateski
                                1984 Monument Blvd, Concord, CA

                                Chopan
                                2699 Monument Blvd Ste A, Concord, CA 94520

                    1. Lamorinda (Lafayette-Moraga-Orinda) has sort of let the town of Lafayette take the lead foodwise with markets and eating places.

                      Across the street from the Lafayette BART station is Lily's House, my favorite Shanghainese restaurant in the Bay Area. Most of the business is take-out orders for commuters on the way home from work, but there is a small, separate menu (translated into English) of the Shanghai dishes. The chef/owner came from a famous restaurant in Shanghai. His wife works the front of the house, but I've had more luck ordering directly with the chef, if you can get him to come out from the kitchen. His English is fine.

                      It amuses me that I've had the opportunity to dine with three Chinese chefs who have cooked for Margaret Thatcher. Willy Ying here at Lily's House, Chef Liu of Hunan Restaurant in Fresno, and Lawrence Chu of Chef Chu's in Los Altos.

                      -----
                      Lily's House
                      3555 Mt Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, CA 94549

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Willy sounds awesome. Does he do it all? Brown sauce stuff, yellowfish stuff, soup dumplings, cold stuff?

                        Also, before I totally obsess about getting past the wifely gatekeeper, what exactly does one achieve by direct contact?

                        1. re: Jim Leff

                          I don't know about all of it, but certainly a lot of it. The xlb aren't their forte (though my 6 yr old son regularly eats 2 baskets whever we go). OTOH, the smoked fish appetizer is amazing, as are fish bellies (or tails) in master sauce. The Shanghai rice cakes are great. And the pan fried heads-on shrimp app. And the dessert rice drop soup thing (don't recall the real name). And probably more stuff i haven't tried yet.

                          We live in Lafayette, so we eat at lots of local places. But in my judgement, there are precisely two "destination worthy" restaurants in Lamorinda. One is Lily's. The other is Hanazen in Orinda for the whiteboard specials, and especially for the monthly sake dinners!

                          -----
                          Hanazen
                          87 Orinda Way, Orinda, CA 94563

                          1. re: jmarek

                            Thanks, I've not been to Lily's House since last fall, good to hear a current assessment. The dessert soup is tang yuan. This has housemade mochi balls (other restaurants use frozen) in a slightly sweet soup with rice wine lees. Willy ferments the rice himself.

                            -----
                            Lily's House
                            3555 Mt Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, CA 94549

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              What is the fermented rice used for? I don't think the sweet rice used in mochi is fermented...

                              1. re: Tripeler

                                The fermented rice is used to make rice wine although for dessert making purposes, the rice is the main product rather than the wine. Think of sake lees used as a flavoring.

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  Now this all makes sense. I'd misunderstood your post and thought that Willy was fermenting the rice in the mochi, not that used in the soup as flavoring!
                                  Thanks!

                            2. re: jmarek

                              I would add Postino. Really a bargain for the quality of food, wine and service.

                              -----
                              Postino
                              3565 Mt. Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, CA 94549

                            3. re: Jim Leff

                              Sorry, not that big a difference that direct contact is a must. I only order XLB here if I speak directly to the chef and he tells me face-to-face that he made them fresh himself. I've had some bad example that were outsourced. The other problem is the tendency to crowd them such that they stick together.
                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/309873

                          2. I don't know if we can keep you gastronomically entertained for a whole week but there are choices beyond those mentioned - Asia Palace, Mondellos, Si Si for breakfast coffee, and Bianca's for a sandwich. For dinner venture into nearby Lafayette - Artisan, Chevalier, Metro, Duck Club, Chow's, Papillon for morning coffee, Yankee Pier for seafood... the local blog, EastBayDaze, has been writing about all the comings and goings on the restaurant scene for months, and there's a lot going on. New York? No. San Francisco, nyet... but there's action if you know where to look.

                            -----
                            Duck Club
                            100 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                            Duck Club Restaurant
                            3287 Mt Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, CA 94549

                            1. You might also consider going to Walnut Creek. Prima Ristorante is nice. Plus bunches of other options are available.

                              -----
                              Prima Ristorante
                              1522 North Main St., Walnut Creek, CA 94596

                              1. Hasn't there been a recent posting about Chopin? answer. yes.
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3153...