Anything at all in east Contra Costa County...
Well, I am relocating from Fremont to Antioch/Brentwood for work. I love the food options in Fremont (dozens of restaurants within blocks of me). But it's unavoidable. I've looked at other CoCo threads on here and there's not much, but I'm hopeful that someone's run across something decent in the meantime.
Here are places that I have tried and liked to one degree or another:
What the Fork (Filipino, Antioch)
Dad's (BBQ, Pittsburg)
Steeltown Coffee (outstanding coffee place, Pittsburg)
Sassy Sweets and Eats (very good cupcakes, tasty Cubano sandwich - Pittsburg)
Dulce's Antojitos (Pittsburg)
Las Panchitas (Mexican, killer green salsa - Pittsburg)
Mehran (Indian, Antioch -- not up to Fremont standards, but OK)
El Taco Factory (Mexican, good salsa - Antioch)
Kinder's (BBQ, Brentwood -- maybe better than the Fremont one)
Places I have tried and am iffy on so far:
Lumpy's Diner (Pittsburg)
New Mecca Cafe (Pittsburg -- I think, like China Chili and Massimo's in Fremont, this is a nostalgic favorite for locals but not unusually appealing for anyone else)
Okawa ("Japanese," Pittsburg)
Samurai X ("Japanese," Pittsburg)
Pacific Market (Filipino, Pittsburg -- unfortunately nowhere near as broad a selection as a Chinese grocery store)
Trader Joe's (Brentwood -- and thank goodness it's there)
I have spotted two teensy Indian grocery stores and one Caribbean store, but haven't tried either yet.
As far as I know, I will have to go to Concord for Korean and for 99 Ranch Market...and I'm not sure where the closest Japanese-Japanese (sushi, homestyle, ramen) or dim sum places are. And the closest Whole Foods is in Walnut Creek, I guess. Surely there's a decent Italian(-American) place or diner in the area, though...
I anticipate a post in which I ask for favorite BARTable spots (or perhaps there's one already). In some ways, I think it'll be good to have to get out and try a wider variety of things in Oakland and SF. Right now it's too easy to just never leave Fremont.
If you have anything to add to my list, please let me know! I'm dreading this move and would love something to look forward to. Thanks!
Is Pleasanton out of reach for you? Yesterday the San Jose Mercury News had an appealing photo spread on the Singaporean/Malaysian food at Taste of Sing Ma in downtown Pleasanton and I'm not finding any posts on it in Chowhound.
Taste of Sing Ma
824 Main St
Pleasanton, CA 94566
There is an organic food type cafe in downtown Antioch called Nature's Bounty that I tried yesterday. Salads, soups, hot and cold sandwiches. Had a hot pastrami sandwich made with Niman Ranch pastrami. Wasn't bad at all, though arguably a little expensive for what it was ($11). Vegan and gluten-free items also available. It's probably not a spot you need to go out of your way for, but by East County lunch spot standards, so far this place seems like a godsend. I will definitely return to try the other items; my suspicion is that this place will become part of my lunch rotation.
Didn't get to explore it much, but downtown Antioch seems like an area worth exploring.
I'd forgotten about it...I went there once a couple of years ago and thought it was so-so, but now that I live here, that might be different. And maybe I just had the wrong thing. :)
I have gone around downtown Antioch a bit though. Mostly dive bars and unimpressive-looking tattoo shops. I was disappointed, because my first visit was to Nature's Bounty and a bead shop. Turns out that's all there is of interest there. :/ Pittsburg's downtown is a little better (BBQ, bakeries, a bookstore, a bike shop... brewery...apparently many good things that start with B!)
Yeah, I mean, I don't want to sound like a snob, but the standards are a little different out there. Nature's Bounty's competition isn't other organic food cafes; it's fast food chains and very bad greasy spoons, of which there are more than a few in that area (yeoman's work, I tell you!). Comparatively speaking, it may as well be The French Laundry.
All the good dive bars in SF seem to be turning into posh lounges; it's nice to know they still exist somewhere in the Bay.
It's really too bad that What the Fork closed. I haven't tried Lutong Bahay #1 yet, but I've heard good things about it.
Republic of Cake is inventive and good. I'm glad it's not even closer to me, or I'd be in trouble.
CreAsian is OK and has a nice atmosphere. I think Lone Tree Thai, Pho Vietnam, or DaNang Tourane are better so far, but haven't widely explored the menus at either.
La Costa: We went to the one across from Republic of Cake. I ordered tacos al pastor, and they were so wet that eating them was pretty much a disaster. I'll give them another try though.
Blue Saigon Fusion Grill recently opened a bricks-and-mortar place in Pittsburg near the late, lamented Plan B (now Twins' Fatburger, which I haven't tried yet). If you liked the food truck, you'll like it. Their garlic rice is really nice and garlicky.
John's Ice Cream is far from gourmet (and they're getting Double Rainbow at Republic of Cake!) but it's hard to argue with $1 scoops and flavors from the Philippines like avocado and pandan.
Skipolini's Pizza is much better than I expected. It's not up to the level of my favorite two pizza places in the world, but it was tasty. Unlike many places, you can choose toppings that are roasted (e.g. roasted garlic).
Chaman Kabob is Afghan and pretty good. Limited menu compared to some Fremont places, but still good. Will definitely go back.
Stella's Soul Food Kitchen -- oxtails! Good.
India4U, very good dal makhani and chicken in a mango sauce (which I haven't had before). Will explore more.
We took an excursion to Martinez and that area. I strongly endorse Barrelista (good coffee, delicious maple bacon creme brulee!), Compass Star (tiny place, but fabulous in-house-made meats and tasty beignets), and, in Pleasant Hill, Jo's Sushi.
Of the stuff in East CoCo proper, I think the best so far are Republic of Cake, Da Nang Tourane, Stella's, and Chaman Kabob.
Mac's Old House (Antioch) has a prime rib lunch for $10.95, which gets you a decent-sized slab of prime rib, a bowl of soup, a serving of steamed vegetables, and a serving of pasta. They don't do much to it, but that's fine with me, and the meal is a great bargain. (The same meal is only a dollar more at dinner time, says their website; that would still be worth it.) It's not somewhere you want to bring a snooty foodie (both the food and the ambience remind me of Tommy's Joynt), but it's definitely worth visiting if you are hungry and in the area. I'd probably still go there if it were located in SF.
CreAsian (Brentwood), which is mentioned above, seems to have become the eatery of choice among my coworkers. I put it in the "okay for the area" category.
I have only ever tried the Kinder's in Brentwood, and I have to say I did not enjoy it. I would not bother with it.
Update to my own list:
Melo's pizza & pasta (good-enough American Italian food, Brentwood): Actually, the mushroom and gorgonzola risotto was delicious. I don't think the rice was quite right, but I don't know much about European rice dishes. The main point is that it had lots of mushrooms and was very tasty.
CreAsian (Vietnamese, Brentwood): Well, I miss My Tho and La Sen already, but it was fine. Large portions and reasonable prices, though not enough pork blood in the bun bo hue. Noticed cafe sua da on the menu after I ordered, along with some smoothies (avocado yes, durian no) and salted lemonade. It's convenient and I'm sure we'll return.
Kanpai Sushi (?Japanese?, Antioch): It's one of those places where you're shocked when your server is actually Japanese. I am fairly sure that the owners and cooks are not. The menu is mostly your standard teriyaki-udon-and-complicated-rolls thing. There were a couple of interesting items, like a smoked salmon/avocado/balsamic appetizer. (Not on the online menu.)
Let us have a moment of silence while I weep for having 5 good ramen places within a 15-minute drive and decent dim sum a block away, though...
What about going south to Livermore? There is a good coffee place called Red Panama. I have friends in Livermore so I would be happy to name a few places if you are interested.
For Oakland or Berkeley:
Ramen Shop Oakland (Rockridge Bart)
Ippuku (Downtown Berkeley Bart)
-There is plenty of information on Berkeley and Oakland but these are some of my favorites.
I like Birrieria El Puente on Railroad Ave in Pittsburg:
Just down the street from them is Taqueria Carnitas Tijuana, which makes excellent carnitas. And if you need dessert, the original Guanato's Paleteria is in Bay Point at 2474 Willow Pass Rd.