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!
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.
Tamale Lovers is OUTSTANDING. I went to a similar-sounding place on my last I-40 road trip, and Tamale Lovers blows it out of the water. Even their sweet ones are good! I think my favorites so far are the chicken mole and the sweet corn, but their beans are also very good. (Bits of ham and plenty of flavor, more like my mom's bean soup than typical taqueria beans.)
Thanks for the rec; I'll be back here many times in the future despite the distance from my home!
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.
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.
La Costa (Oakley) is a decent taqueria.
Republic of Cake (Oakley) is right next door, and isn't bad, if you are in the mood for a sweet. Lots of cupcakes with tons of frosting, a la Magnolia Bakery. Much better than Magnolia, though.
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.
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.
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 a branch of L&L Hawaiian BBQ in Antioch at the corner of Lone Tree and Hillcrest. Yes, it's a chain in an area with tons of chains, but the overall quality of L&L is much better than other chain restaurants.
There is also a place in Antioch called Jerry's Hot Dogs and Gyros, off Delta Fair. I can't tell you about the hot dogs, but the gyros are like the fast food Greek kind that people from the Northeast are probably familiar with: many slivers of mystery meat with lettuce and tomato in a doughy pita, with a generous drenching of tzatziki. Truth be told, it's not a particularly stellar example of it, but it's good enough, and it's not that easy to find that sort of gyro around here, even in SF. Frankly, overall I prefer Jerry's gyro to the one at Souvla. Consider me a fan.
Update: There's some excellent produce to be had at Smith Family Farms. (Haven't investigated any farm stands with pie yet.) I think I'll be doing a lot of cooking with vegetables and fruits this summer! Also, while unpacking, I found an ice cream maker...
New and VERY welcome: Doré, a French bakery in Brentwood. I've had clafoutis and a few other items, and they were all excellent. (But after living in Fremont, $3.25 for a small coconut tart *hurts.*) Anyway, it's not like I've ever been to France, but these are really good pastries. If you're in the area, drop by and give them a try!
Oh, and P. S. on La Costa: We have discovered the seafood side of the menu and like them much more than before (although my mother-in-law raved about the veggie quesadilla, which is the sort of dish that rarely inspires raves). My husband is hooked on the aguachile.
I wish I had a good rec for you. I just gotta say that I so admire how you're uncovering spots in your new neighborhood, the real essence of chowhounding. Please keep the posts coming.
The French bakery looks very nice.
My only experience in Antioch was two years ago. Besides Lumpy's, I had breakfast at the very old school Matchmaker,
and grabbed an Almond Roca milkshake at Hazel's Drive In on my way out of town,
How is House of Catfish and Ribs? Its Yelp reviews suggest that it has great food but atrocious service. I can probably live with atrocious service from a lunch spot if the food is good (and so long as I get the food sooner or later). It certainly smells good from the outside, but they open a bit too late for me to visit for lunch...
Hey guys, I'm popping back in to recommend Smith Family Farms produce stand. I picked up some Torpedo onions there today and I'm looking forward to trying them out. (Also some tomatoes that I think are Roman Candles, but not sure. Lots of heirloom varieties there, anyway.)
I hear it's very crowded at the height of U-Pick season, but so far we've gone on weekdays or before 11 AM on weekends and it's been fine. They're having a Tomato Festival next weekend; I'm debating whether I'm going to be put off by the inevitable heat and sun or not.