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

meerastvargo Oct 30, 2013 10:06 PM

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. m
    marja Nov 18, 2013 06:55 PM

    Yanni's Greek cafe for excellent gyros, dolmades etc (they do chicken too) Not much atmosphere but the food cannot be beat
    in Pleasant Hill off Alhambra rd.
    Mings Chinese on Alhambra in Pleasant Hill
    OIC Bowl in Walnut Creek for the freshest chinese food ever
    Babushka Russian (Deli and restaurant) sooooo good in Walnut Creek
    All these are well within a ten minute drive max (probably less) depending where in the Creek you are....
    Also want to second the person who noted MOrrucci's Deli in WC. Hate that it has become so popular because now I have to wait longer!

    1 Reply
    1. re: marja
      meerastvargo Nov 20, 2013 10:19 PM

      Thank you!

    2. r
      rotiprata Nov 9, 2013 09:12 PM

      A tad late but here are a couple:

      Lulu's Kitchen (Concord) - Excellent Sichuan
      Chopan - kabob
      Yi Ping (San Ramon) - Sichuan
      Moa (Pleasant Hill) - Korean
      Los Toros (Concord) - Salvadoran
      Nola Po'Boy And Gumbo Kitchen (Concord) - PoBoy and Chicken with superbly spiced waffle.
      For Indian, Spice Grill in Concord used to be ok but they've now become Mother India (have not tried it).
      Los Gallos (Concord) - Tacos

      2 Replies
      1. re: rotiprata
        meerastvargo Nov 20, 2013 10:19 PM

        Thanks! We will be back in Walnut Creek next Tuesday!

        1. re: meerastvargo
          Melanie Wong Jan 18, 2014 07:24 PM

          Happy new year! Updates?

      2. s
        slipson Nov 7, 2013 02:53 PM

        My favorite inexpensive places in WC
        Mixed Greens for bimbimbop bowl (same owners as Bowl'd)
        Sichuan House
        Morucchis or Ikes sandwiches
        Shanghai Gormet Chinese

        In Lafayette
        Bo's bbq
        Metro for a more upscale dinner

        1. m
          meerastvargo Nov 6, 2013 09:51 AM

          We also enjoyed ice cream at Lottie's - brownie ice cream sandwich with mint ice cream, hazelnut scoop, and vanilla salted almond toffee. Expensive but tasty.

          1. Robert Lauriston Nov 5, 2013 06:50 PM

            There are a bunch of Mexican places along Monument Blvd. that appear to cater to Mexicans.


            1. m
              meerastvargo Nov 5, 2013 08:34 AM

              Well, as we have eaten our way through Walnut Creek (not done yet, here 'til Friday) I have to say that in the affordable range there doesn't seem to be a lot that is great or excellent but there instead many good/decent options. We have gotten take out twice from Kacha Thai and I do want to try eating in there since I think that can make a big difference. Our one opportunity to have a meal in Berkeley (were going to go to Ajanta for lunch since Vik's Chat has a more limited weekday menu) didn't pan out unfortunately. Thanks for the ideas and any more ideas are welcome. We will be coming back to Walnut Creek from Portland at the end of November.

              2 Replies
              1. re: meerastvargo
                Melanie Wong Nov 5, 2013 08:42 AM

                You've done yeoman's duty! Since you mentioned your Chettinad heritage, I'd encourage you to find the time to explore some of the (South) Indian eats in Fremont your next visit.

                1. re: Melanie Wong
                  Robert Lauriston Nov 5, 2013 08:53 AM

                  Anjappar Chettinad is worth the drive.


              2. m
                meerastvargo Nov 4, 2013 09:10 AM

                We have also tried Jules' Thin Crust in Danville and thought it was pretty good. Not our favorite (kinda salty). Silk Road in Walnut Creek was good.

                5 Replies
                1. re: meerastvargo
                  Melanie Wong Nov 4, 2013 04:24 PM

                  We haven't heard anything about Silk Road for a while. What did you order?

                  1. re: Melanie Wong
                    meerastvargo Nov 5, 2013 08:24 AM

                    We enjoyed the grape leaves (vegetarian), served drizzled with some pomegranate molasses type sauce, the green salad with a pomegranate tomato dressing, the flat bread and tangy (vinegar and oil along with chopped veggies) dipping "sauce." The hummus wasn't super flavorful and the baba ganoush was actually like kashk e bademjan which was sort of a surprise. But since we like both it wasn't an issue.

                    Overall, what we ordered (no meat) was good, not great or excellent.

                    1. re: meerastvargo
                      Melanie Wong Nov 5, 2013 08:39 AM

                      Thank you for the updates on Walnut Creek. Since you mention kashk e bademjan, I'm remembering that there used to be a few Persian restaurants in the WC/Concord area. Never tried any, so can't be more helpful than that. If you have time to explore Concord, you'll find more in the way of lower cost eats.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong
                        meerastvargo Nov 5, 2013 10:34 PM

                        We tried Kebab House in Walnut Creek for dinner tonight. Everything we had was tasty. Chicken Barg with Rice with Barberries, kashk e bademjan, yogurt with shallots, flatbread, yogurt with cucumber, and the barley soup (of the day) that came with the chicken entree.

                        1. re: meerastvargo
                          Melanie Wong Nov 5, 2013 10:42 PM

                          Great, keep 'em coming!

                          One I was thinking of was Alborz.

                2. intomeat Oct 31, 2013 10:56 AM

                  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
                    Melanie Wong Nov 6, 2013 12:11 PM

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

                  2. g
                    goldangl95 Oct 31, 2013 10:34 AM

                    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
                      eatzalot Nov 4, 2013 10:37 AM

                      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
                        goldangl95 Nov 4, 2013 09:22 PM

                        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
                          Robert Lauriston Nov 5, 2013 08:39 AM

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


                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                            meerastvargo Nov 5, 2013 06:24 PM

                            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: meerastvargo
                              Robert Lauriston Nov 5, 2013 06:45 PM

                              See the topic I linked to.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                meerastvargo Nov 5, 2013 10:32 PM


                            2. re: Robert Lauriston
                              meerastvargo Nov 6, 2013 09:42 PM

                              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
                                Robert Lauriston Nov 7, 2013 08:56 AM

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

                            3. re: goldangl95
                              eatzalot Nov 5, 2013 09:11 AM

                              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
                                Robert Lauriston Nov 5, 2013 09:39 AM

                                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
                            ...tm... Nov 6, 2013 03:24 PM

                            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. http://www.beer-shop.org/

                          3. foodcoupleSF Oct 31, 2013 09:40 AM

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

                            1. Robert Lauriston Oct 31, 2013 09:08 AM

                              Sargam for Indian.


                              Chopin Cafe for Polish.


                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                meerastvargo Nov 1, 2013 11:01 PM

                                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
                                  goldangl95 Nov 4, 2013 09:16 PM

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

                                  1. re: goldangl95
                                    meerastvargo Nov 5, 2013 08:29 AM

                                    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
                                      Robert Lauriston Nov 5, 2013 08:38 AM

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

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                        goldangl95 Nov 5, 2013 09:17 AM

                                        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. Melanie Wong Oct 31, 2013 01:28 AM

                                    A couple recs for Tender Greens http://www.tendergreens.com/locations/125/walnut-creek/the-menu 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
                                      chocolatetartguy Oct 31, 2013 11:20 AM

                                      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
                                        Melanie Wong Oct 31, 2013 11:31 AM

                                        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
                                          foodcoupleSF Oct 31, 2013 11:35 AM

                                          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
                                            meerastvargo Nov 4, 2013 04:13 PM

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

                                        2. re: chocolatetartguy
                                          meerastvargo Nov 1, 2013 03:45 PM

                                          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.

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