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Feb 7, 2012 10:31 AM

East Bay - Big group with a side of fries

So here's an odd one for you. Once a week, I organize dinner for a large group of friends scattered about the East Bay. On average, about nine of us turn up, though in theory we can hit as high as 15. We're moderately flexible on location, but are pretty well tied to 680; anything from Pleasant Hill to Pleasanton or so is fair game, though we'll stretch a bit on special occasions.

The kicker: one of our regulars has several crippling food allergies, along with Adult Selective Eating Disorder: for all practical purposes, if there are not french fries on the menu, he'll be nursing a drink all night.

Since we've been doing this for quite nearly a year now, you can imagine that the fries-friendly options we know about are getting pretty stale, especially around the Danville / San Ramon area. Breaking up the samey Diner type fare without leaving said friend out in the cold would be wonderful, but we're coming up short on ideas. Does anyone have some appropriate recommendations, particularly for a group of this size?

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  1. Bruce Paton, aka the Beer Chef, reworked the menus at the Hopyard in Pleasanton and San Ramon not long ago.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Pius Avocado III

      Hopyard is one of the few options we knew of that we haven't done to death, and we'll definitely be going again. I do seem to remember a new menu on our last visit; interesting to know who's behind it.

    2. Maybe Chow in Danville if you haven't already tried that. Another idea may be Jack's brewpub in San Ramon.

      4 Replies
      1. re: baseballfan

        We did try Chow on one occasion, but none of us were terribly impressed for the price. Given how popular the place is I'm starting to wonder if that evening was just a fluke.

        As for Jack's, this is the first I've heard of it; might be worth a shot, thanks.

        1. re: aal00

          Jack's is on San Ramon Valley Blvd. across the street from the Safeway shopping center. They have their own brew that is pretty good as well as a full bar. I think the food is better than the Hopyard. I have often seen large groups there so that wouldn't be a problem.

          1. re: baseballfan

            Extremely belated, but we finally gave Jack's a try maybe a month and a half back. The selection was good, and as best I can recall everyone came away happy with their meals. This is another keeper- thanks for the tip!

      2. Awesome fries w/ blue cheese dressing at Sideboard. The sandwiches and other things are good too. You could fit a big group outside maybe.

        5 Replies
        1. re: dubbfoolio

          Did I mention that one of the crippling allergies was dairy? =D

          That notwithstanding, where is Sideboard? I'm not sure I've heard of them.

            1. re: drewskiSF

              Oh, that little spot on the corner of the old hotel building... interesting. Can they accommodate a group of our size? I've never been inside, but they've always looked a little cozy.

              1. re: aal00

                You know it's just a cafe. It's usually not too crowded, but you guys might have to wait or get creative with a group your size. The side patio was empty last night, and they do have heat lamps. Maybe this wouldn't work for you guys.

                1. re: dubbfoolio

                  We finally got around to trying Sideboard the other day and I'm glad we did. Among the eight that showed up, most ended up getting the seared ahi or strip steak sandwiches, and none were disappointed. The wasabi sauce on my ahi sandwich was much better balanced than I was expecting- good kick, but not overpowering. The macaroni and cheese was fairly standard comfort-food fair, but well done regardless- most of the table took a nibble when the one that ordered it was finished. I must say, the tea service they offer was also nice touch. We'll definitely be back again. Thanks for the suggestion!

        2. Have you tried Eddie Papas on Hopyard in Pleasanton? Varied menu and plenty of different types of fries to choose from.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Cheesy Oysters

            How is the food at Eddie Papas? I have only had drinks in the bar and the one time that I did the place was absolutely filthy. Lots of uncleared tables, sticky bar, crumbs on the floor etc.It didn't entice me to stay but maybe they were shorthanded or having an off night.

            1. re: baseballfan

              I have gone a couple times for a work lunch. I was skeptical because the site seems to change so much and the menu is all over the map. But it was better than I thought it would be. One time I got the half sandwich soup combo. The other time I was more adventurous and ordered the Monte Cristo and it was good and fun to share with the group. I don't think I'd choose it with the other places around but I'm fine going there.

              1. re: baseballfan

                We've been down to Eddie Papa's once- it's one of the few spots in Pleasanton we've tried, and the variety was definitely worth the extra distance. Nothing mind-blowing, but definitely head and shoulders above a lot of American food in the east bay.

                1. re: aal00

                  Good to know. I will give them another shot.

            2. How about Cafe Esin - Danville/Pleasanton area - also, great desserts

              3 Replies
              1. re: heartysoul

                I'd forgotten about Esin, we've still not given them a try. That definitely goes on the list.

                1. re: aal00

                  Esin is wonderful but it seems like it might be tough for a large group. They have a patio that might work depending on the weather. I would definitely call in advance and see if they can accomodate you. Don't skip dessert, it is wonderful.

                  1. re: baseballfan

                    Odd, I kind of figured they had the lion's share of that building they're in. That's fine though, the way the weather's been we should be able to snag the patio before too much longer.