Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Oct 30, 2013 10:06 PM

Please... looking for affordable restaurant recs for the Walnut Creek area....

Hi Everyone,

A relative recently moved to the Walnut Creek area and we will be visiting for the next several days and again in the future.

We are looking for affordable restaurant recs near Walnut Creek.

We don't eat red meat, but do eat everything else. We are adventurous eaters.

So far we have tried and enjoyed Le Cheval (Vietnamese), Zachary's (Pizza), and Kacha Thai Bistro.

Other ideas? Looking for affordable. Deliciousness of food much more important than service, atmosphere, etc. Close (within 15 minutes) of Walnut Creek is what we are looking for. We already know of lots of great restaurants in Berkeley and San Francisco, etc.

Thank you in advance for any recs.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. A couple recs for Tender Greens in this thread,

    The nearby town of Lafayette is kind of the restaurant row for Contra Costa. You might find more to your liking there though I'm not sure about the affordability factor.

    The last time I was in Walnut Creek, I tried Sichuan House.

    Guanatos ice cream is on the other side of the same shopping center for a great second stop.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Haven't been to the WC branch, but ate at Tender Greens in Hollywood a couple months ago and it was good only in a pinch. I had a wild boar ragu pasta, roasted cauliflower and a small, not-what-I-ordered caesar salad. Filling, but nothing to write home or here about. I would say the best thing about that TG was that it was close to Trader Joes, where I went afterwards to stock my hotel room.

      I believe there is a branch of Genova Delicatessan in WC.

      1. re: chocolatetartguy

        Good suggestion, Genova is right by Sichuan House. I remember seeing it and I mentioned it in the thread linked in my earlier post.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Genova is good for a standard sandwich and also their pastas are good as well to pick up and cook yourself. I think the best sandwiches in the area are however at Morucci's in WC on Boulevard Way.

          1. re: foodcoupleSF

            Tried Morucci's for lunch today. Very good. Recommended.

        2. re: chocolatetartguy

          We tried TG yesterday for lunch. We liked the tomato soup and enjoyed salads all around. Didn't try any of the "cooked" items but thought the quality of the salad greens was very good. Would go again if in a salad mood.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Thanks, these both sound good. Will give them a try. Have you tried any of the vegetarian options at Chopin Cafe?

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            I must say Sargam wouldn't survive anywhere outside of the greater East Bay - it is decidedly mediocre.

            1. re: goldangl95

              We tried the malai kofta, baingan bharta, kabuli naan, roti, dal soup, raita and rice for dinner last night. I noticed that they seem to use a lot less oil in their food compared with typical Indian restaurants. That was good as far as health goes but it does make the food seem less "finished" or refined. Since we have been eating out a lot we were glad. We ordered everything medium spicy. I really liked the kabuli nan. Overall, I thought the food was decent. My dad is from Chennai and I grew up eating a lot of Indian food and I thought this wasn't great by far but was worth eating if it is your local Indian restaurant option.

              1. re: goldangl95

                There's better Indian food in the greater East Bay, but those places are a long way from Walnut Creek.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Hee I guess by greater east bay I meant over the hill ridge. For over the hill ridge, Sargam is OK. If by greater East Bay you mean Hayward/Fremont - than of course there's some awesome Indian food there.

                  It's just disappointing overall when my family moved over the hill ridge a long time ago, the WC food scene was so bad - we keep waiting for it to really kick up and improve - and for whatever reason it just doesn't.

            2. Chow in Lafayette and Danville offers good affordable food.With lots of different options.

              1. Second recs for Sichuan Fortune House and its sister/daughter restaurant Sichuan house.

                There's some cool ice cream choices:
                Guanatos Ice Cream
                Lottie's Creamery
                Gelateria Naia

                Plus the nostalgia favorite:
                The Olde San Francisco Creamery

                The Red Door is a cool dive bar.

                For standard Chinese: Dragon 2000 is solid.

                Otherwise it's a kind of a dead zone. There's some decent mid-priced french bistro places in Lafayette:

                Artisan Bistro

                Chow is acceptable for brunch.

                11 Replies
                1. re: goldangl95

                  goldangl (or anyone else if they live or spend a lot of time in Walnut Creek), I'm curious what has become of the cluster of restaurants in Walnut Creek's downtown, near the traditional business district (on N Main or thereabouts). 20 years ago, those restaurants included a California Cafe location, a decent moderately priced central-European (Hungarian?) place with some evocative name, and I believe a Chinese restaurant, all near each other.

                  Around 8 or 10 years ago Walnut Creek seemingly awoke from its longtime low-key commute-suburb status, and abruptly began showing up on food-wine discussion boards, in parallel with some growth in local industry and new restaurants. I am curious about what restaurants may have survived from its earlier history.

                  1. re: eatzalot

                    In the mid-1990s, Walnut Creek embarked on a mission to become the place to SHOP in the East Bay to the point where anyone in the East Bay would go to Walnut Creek instead of San Francisco.

                    Why I emphasize the "shopping" aspect, is for whatever reason food hasn't been a very big emphasis. While some restaurants moved in to serve the higher end shopping crowd, they certainly didn't rival SF (starting with the chains Il Forniao and Ruth's Chris followed by restaurants like Va de Vi)

                    Lark Creek has been there as long as I've been familiar with Walnut Creek it's still solid and unremarkable. Sargam mentioned upthread has also been around forever. Mel's is still there. Pasta Primavera is still there, but I haven't been in ages.

                    1. re: goldangl95

                      Élevé is the one place I've been in Walnut Creek that could compete with Oakland restaurants.


                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        We almost went to Élevé for lunch today but had errands to do in Pleasant Hill. Ate at El Aguila Taqueria - the chicken torta was good, also enjoyed the red mole (chicken). The horchata was watery.

                        Anything in particular you enjoyed at Élevé.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Enjoyed lunch at Élevé today. Had the chicken curry with wood ear and vermicelli, eggplant and bok choy (vegetable sides), green papaya salad, and imperial rolls. Everything was very tasty. Recommended. Not really in the affordable range as portions were small and the above was a light lunch for 3 (and was about $65 including tip).

                          1. re: meerastvargo

                            Yeah, I didn't mention it at first because it's relatively expensive.

                        2. re: goldangl95

                          Didn't the Left Bank (Bay Area brasserie chain) open a Walnut-Creek location during the chain's expansion 10 years ago? Some of them -- such as San Mateo near the old racetrack -- later closed, despite excellent kitchens (a food-wine group I was with did a memorably successful buy-out in San Mateo with superb custom menu and reasonable price). Evidently Left Bank couldn't make their numbers in some of the newer markets. Ironically the same group did another dinner at the Santana Row Left Bank (in San Jose) which was exasperating -- amateurish service, dirty glassware -- but that location, amid shops and tourists, thrived.

                          I'm still curious about that restaurant cluster I mentioned just outside (north of?) the shopping district, which was already there before Walnut Creek's mercantile expansion.

                          1. re: eatzalot

                            Left Bank had a branch in Pleasant Hill. Before closing it in 2009 they had announced plans to move to some big new condo complex in Walnut Creek, never happened.

                      2. re: goldangl95

                        Agreed. For some reason Sichuan Fortune House (the one in Pleasant Hill) has been a bit better for me, which is unfortunate, as I sometimes work in a building near Sichuan House. I've also enjoyed 54 Mint, though I've only had the porchetta sandwich, I don't know that I'd be thrilled with the dinner prices. If anyone has further suggestions on the Monument Blvd. Mexican scene I'd love to hear it. I'm a bit addicted to Tortilleria el Molino's tacos dorados and bags of house-fried (from their tortillas) chips. Bringing home those chips from the other side of the hills is one of the few things that make the journey through the tunnel worthwhile for me--people love them at parties. I think Chopan Kabob was mentioned, but I'll second it.
                        And, if you're into beer ØL BEERCAFE has a great selection.

                      3. Lulu's Kitchen is tasty. Authentic Szechuan cuisine. Not everything on the menu is crazy hot, if that's not your thing. Clean interior, conducive to having conversations.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: intomeat

                          If you try the mapo doufu there this month, please report in to the dish of the month thread,