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Any Hidden Gems in LaMorinda?

p
PulledPork Nov 6, 2011 08:10 PM

We just made the move from San Francisco out to the burbs and have set up shop in Orinda. I'm looking for hidden gems in Orinda, Lafayette, Moraga, Concord, Walnut Creek, or Pleasant Hill. I've got a good sense for the obvious spots out here that folks seem to like, but am looking for new ideas. Any cuisine, any price range . . .

Much appreciated.

  1. g
    gy94 Aug 9, 2013 04:10 PM

    To add on to this, I'm making a similar move from SF to Orinda. Does anyone have suggestions for good places for grocery shopping?

    Berkeley Bowl isn't too far away, and there are also two 99 Ranches within 15-20 min driving. However, I'd love to hear if anyone has any other great places to check out.

    Not that this is surprising, but I like local, lower priced, interesting selections. I love Milk Pail Market in Mountain View and the Alemany Farmers' Market - would love to find something similar nearby.

    Thanks for any suggestions!

    2 Replies
    1. re: gy94
      Melanie Wong Aug 9, 2013 05:25 PM

      The legendary Bill Fujimoto landed at Lafayette's Diablo Foods after he left Berkeley's Monterey Market. I've not been in the store since he started there, but it's certainly a place you should check out. And please let us know what you find.
      http://www.diablofoods.com/index.php/about-us/our-people/item/bill-fujimoto

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/649715#5001572
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/623288#4729993
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3305...

      1. re: gy94
        w
        wally Aug 9, 2013 05:34 PM

        I frequently drop someone off in Orinda and then go to the Berkeley Farmer's market. It is not that long of a trip. This is on Saturdays.

      2. The Chowhound Team Nov 9, 2011 09:04 PM

        We've split some posts about Cuba Linda in Concord to their own thread; you can find it here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/816913

        1. o
          ola Nov 9, 2011 07:48 PM

          Sichuan Fortune House in Pleasant Hill. Excellent food, many unusual dishes ,organ meats, etc, and a really helpful waitstaff. Owner encourages you to be adventurous by his offer to replace dishes that you don't like.

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

          2 Replies
          1. re: ola
            p
            PulledPork Nov 9, 2011 09:01 PM

            Thank you all! I'll be sure to report back to keep the list updated.

            I have had Sichuan Fortune House on my list for a while but haven't made the trip yet. Cannot wait to try Cuba Linda.

            Does anyone have anything to report about this spot? Hanazen in Orinda. http://articles.sfgate.com/2006-04-26...

            I went to El Molino. Loved the tortillas. Thought the rest of the grub was B/B+.

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

            Hanazen
            87 Orinda Way, Orinda, CA 94563

            1. re: PulledPork
              j
              jmarek Nov 14, 2011 10:40 AM

              Hanazen is great. Stick with the true homey Japanese dishes, not American-style sushi rolls and teriyaki. The stuff on the white board is consistently good, both the more interesting seasonal sushi and the prepared dishes. This is another one of those great places where the chef makes everything from scratch (e.g., his own miso), to his own specifications.

              Also, Coco who runs front of the house is a sake sommelier (descended from a line of sake sommeliers back in Japan). She imports seasonal sake to go with the food. Her monthly sake dinners are to die for.

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              Hanazen
              87 Orinda Way, Orinda, CA 94563

          2. Melanie Wong Nov 7, 2011 10:38 PM

            Not sure if you'd categorize these as hidden or well-known, but I can list some of the places I've tried where I didn't regret driving over from San Francisco. My experience is not recent, so I hope we can get some updates (and confirmation that they're still open).

            Lafayette:
            El Jarro
            Lily's House

            Walnut Creek:
            Chopin
            Babushka
            Dragon 2000
            Shanghai Gourmet

            Concord:
            DJ's Bistro
            Chopan
            Delikateski (retail)
            Las Montanas (retail)

            Pleasant Hill:
            Sichuan Fortune House

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            DJ's Bistro
            1825 Sutter St, Concord, CA 94520

            El Jarro
            3563 Mt Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, CA 94549

            Chopin Cafe
            1574 Palos Verdes Mall, Walnut Creek, CA 94597

            Babushka Russian Deli
            1475 Newell Ave, Walnut Creek, CA 94596

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

            Dragon 2000
            1651 Botelho Dr Ste 120, Walnut Creek, CA 94596

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

            Delikateski
            1984 Monument Blvd, Concord, CA

            Chopan
            2699 Monument Blvd Ste A, Concord, CA 94520

            Shanghai Gourmet
            1291 Parkside Dr, Walnut Creek, CA 94596

            Las Montanas Market
            1725 Willow Pass Rd, Concord, CA

            8 Replies
            1. re: Melanie Wong
              s
              shanghaikid Nov 7, 2011 10:46 PM

              at chopin and dj's bistro, you get your monies worth. pretty close to german food but the owners are not germanic, pole and czech?

              el jarro is great, not typical mex, more in the authentic vain.

              1. re: shanghaikid
                Melanie Wong Nov 7, 2011 10:56 PM

                Yes, Chopin serves Polish food. (And ChopAn is Afghani, formerly Uzbeki-owned.) The dinner I had at DJ's a few years ago was better and more carefully prepared than just about everything I had in Prague. I loved the tripe soup, hope it's still the same. And you can get genuine Budvar there.

                My recollection is that El Jarro is Oaxacan-owned though the menu is more diffuse. I had a very good torta there.

                P. S. Has anyone had the XLB at Lily's House or Shanghai Gourmet lately?

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                El Jarro
                3563 Mt Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, CA 94549

                1. re: Melanie Wong
                  s
                  shanghaikid Nov 7, 2011 11:42 PM

                  heartell the xlb at lily's is the frozen kind.

                  1. re: shanghaikid
                    p
                    PulledPork Nov 8, 2011 09:33 PM

                    Now that's what I'm talking about Melanie. Thank you so much.

                    I've been to Lily's three times so far. I had the XLB on my last visit. Definitely not up to SF (Dumpling King, Yank Sing) standards. The Szechuan items and noodle soups at Lily's have been solid.

                    Been to El Jarro twice. Good stuff. Oaxacan is correct. I had cactus on my carne asada plate. Good meal for sure.

                    Can't wait to explore the Walnut Creek and Concord places you mentioned.

                    -----
                    Yank Sing
                    49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105

                    El Jarro
                    3563 Mt Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, CA 94549

                    1. re: PulledPork
                      Melanie Wong Nov 8, 2011 10:04 PM

                      The trick at Lily's House is to ask if the chef is making the XLB fresh himself, that's the only time to order them. Then they can be the equal of Dumpling King's.

                      Here's a pic of the braised pork belly dish I loved at Lily's. Unlike the larger tipang (make with pork shoulder and trotter), you don't need a full table of diners to help you finish it.
                      http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniewong/53291294/

                      In case you missed it, here's a thread from last year when Jim Leff was visiting Moraga that has some more ideas.
                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/708705

                      I'm looking forward to hearing about what you find in your new nabe. We haven't heard much from CoCo county, time for a re-look.

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

              2. re: Melanie Wong
                j
                jmarek Nov 9, 2011 12:46 PM

                I'm eating pelmeni from Babushka right now. They are good but the vereniki are even better. We had the potato vereniki over the weekend and they were the best local substitute I've found for peirogi (I'm Polish, so that's my standard). Even better that that are the sour cherry vereniki. Believe all are made in house. We also got a Polish wedding sausage there which was quite tasty.

                On Lily's House, our latest find there is the tea-smoked duck, which they make in house. I loved it. Warning, you do have to like salt (I do). The Shanghai rice cakes, smoked fish appetizer, and sweet rice wine soup (dessert) are also great. Agree that the XLB and lion head meatball are better elsewhere -- though of course they are the best and probably only in Lafayette :)

                Chopin is great, though I haven't been in awhile.

                Fresh corn tortillas at the tortilleria (el molino?) on Monument Blvd are also worthwhile.

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

                1. re: jmarek
                  Melanie Wong Nov 9, 2011 07:20 PM

                  Reading about your Russian repast before I've had dinner is making me a little weak in the knees. Thanks for the update on Babushka. My lunch (under the disco ball) was a long time ago.

                  I always get the smoked fish appetizer at Lily's House. This was a dish that I've hated everywhere else and it took some doing before I was willing to order it here. Yep, chef does a great job with that and he ferments the sweet rice himself for the dessert.

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

                2. re: Melanie Wong
                  g
                  goldangl95 Aug 10, 2013 09:48 AM

                  Dragon 2000 still does competent, satisfying renditions of the "standards" with a few interesting regional specialties thrown in. Comforting, but not genius. I worry about them as it's been rather empty when I've been in the last couple years.

                  Also had a solid meal at Le Chevalier and have heard good things about Artisan bistro.

                3. j
                  Janet Nov 7, 2011 12:37 PM

                  Orinda is very close to Oakland. We have lots of good eats. Chu, B,Flora, do a search, great places.

                  1. v
                    vulber Nov 6, 2011 08:24 PM

                    va de vi is pricey, but has excellent tapas.

                    the name of the pizzeria from the spruce restaurant group escapes me, but it's also quite good.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: vulber
                      s
                      shanghaikid Nov 6, 2011 08:42 PM

                      pizza antica is good for the entrees. the pizzas are average cuz they use aluminum ovens, not brick ovens.

                      most people love patxi's chicago pizza.

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