101 Best Bites
The 101 best things to eat and drink in the East Bay.
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This is it. The list. The 101 best things to eat and drink in the East Bay. From the amuse-bouche at Commis to the baklava at Esin, these are our not-to-be missed flavor sensations. We asked food experts, top chefs, and you, our food-loving readers, for suggestions.
Then, we went tasting. And tasting. So, in no particular order—but organized into geographic areas—we present The List. Which have you tried? Do you agree? Click here to see our readers' favorites and to offer your own. In the meantime, grab a fork.
Writers: Nicholas Boer, Peter Crooks, April Dembosky, Ethan Fletcher, Sara Hare, Michaela Jarvis, LeeAnne Jones, Serena Renner, and Susan Safipour. Edited by Ethan Fletcher.
Eat your way through Walnut Creek and points north
1 | Linguine al Tutto Mare
Prima We could inhale this whole plate with just a drizzle of olive oil (at least some of us could…), but that’s not good enough for Chef Peter Chastain. His house-made linguine—soft, buttery egg noodles—sits in a briny stew of shrimp, clams, mussels, calamari, and black bass, all swimming around in a garlicky tomato-based sofritto (an Italian aromatic sauce base) spiked with a hint of chili pepper flakes. Breathe deeply. This is as close to being in Italy as you can get in this time zone. Walnut Creek, primaristorante.com.
2 | Ball Tip Steak Sandwich
Kinder’s BBQ & Deli Anyone who has eaten this legendary sandwich will keep coming back for more of its salty, smoky goodness. Multiple East Bay locations, kindersbbq.com.
3 | Garlic Naan
Sargam Indian Cuisine This subtly spiced naan is so pillowy and tender, we could have curled up in it to nap. Walnut Creek, (925) 937-2700.
4 | Cedar-Planked Bourbon and Orange Salmon
Scott’s Salmon gets deliciously boozy here, with the moist fillet topped with a smoky bourbon glaze and candied orange zest. Walnut Creek, scottseastbay.com.
5 | Lamb Tagine
El Morocco The sweet-and-spicy punch of lamb tagine with veggies, garbanzo beans, raisins, olives, and lemons will take you to Morocco. Pleasant Hill, elmorocco.net.
6 | Pop-Tart
Tender Greens Tender Greens’ Pop-Tarts—with seasonal fruit fillings—turn a kiddie favorite into a gourmet treat. Walnut Creek, tendergreensfood.com.
7 | Shaking Filet Mignon Salad
Vanessa’s Bistro 2 Shake your head in wonder at tender cubes of beef with fresh greens and a mouth-puckering lime dipping sauce. Walnut Creek, vanessasbistro2.com.
8 | Bohemian Sauerbraten
DJ’s Bistro Served with dumplings and cream sauce, this sweet-sour beef roast brings us back for more Eastern European classics. Concord, djsbistro.net.
9 | Dark Honeycomb Chocolate
Rachel Dunn Chocolates This boutique candy-maker’s dark chocolate–enrobed hunks of sweet, natural honeycomb are addictively good. Concord, racheldunnchocolates.com.
10 | Tamale Pancake
Lark Creek Walnut Creek On a seasonal menu, it’s a good thing the shredded barbecue chicken, avocado, cilantro crème fraîche, and tortilla strips served on a corn and bell pepper pancake is available year-round. Walnut Creek, larkcreek.com.
11 | John Jawad’s Pepper Steak
Moresi’s Chophouse A superior cut of New York steak seasoned and grilled to perfection, topped with applewood bacon. Clayton, moresischophouse.com.
12 | Tagliatelle
Ottavio “I think the tagliatelle with Speck, porcini, and arugula might be the perfect pasta dish.” Walnut Creek, ottavio-osteria.com.
—Michele Nguyen, Élevé restaurant
13 | Orange Kush
Ale Industries Spiced with coriander, chamomile, and orange peel,this wheat beer is smooth as a summer’s breeze. Concord, aleindustries.com.
14 | Mussels
Walnut Creek Yacht Club Not just a dish but a happening: The savory garlic-parsley-butter–white wine sauce will have you dipping bread until the last drop. Walnut Creek, wcyc.net.
15 | Chicken Shawarma
Babalou’s Mediterranean A hunk of burning love from the vertical grill, this Lebanese version of a Greek gyro is slathered in garlicky yogurt sauce and wrapped in warm flatbread. Walnut Creek, babalous.com.
16 | Napa Salad
Lettuce Summer on a plate: fresh lettuce and field berries tossed with rosemary chicken, candied walnuts, and honey balsamic dressing. Walnut Creek, lettuce1.net.
17 | Honey Toast
Sasa Honey poured onto squishy toast with yuzu-macerated strawberries, whipped mascarpone cream, balsamic reduction, and vanilla bean gelato—your sweet tooth will scream and shout. Walnut Creek, sasawc.com.
18 | Burger
Fleming’s “Especially during happy hour while the burger is still $6. Your hands will literally be covered in juice, and I’ve gone with groups of people who fall silent until the burgers (and gigantic onion rings) disappear.” Walnut Creek, flemingssteakhouse.com.
—Kristen Haney, Walnut Creek
19 | Chicken Salad Sandwich
A Sweet Affair A wonderfully huge helping of chicken salad made with house-roasted chicken, cream cheese, avocado, and sprouts, on fresh-baked multigrain bread. Walnut Creek, sweetaffairbakery.com.
20 | The Brooklyn
Élevé This cocktail is a beautiful mix of complex flavors—rye, vermouth, amaro, bitters—to be savored before enjoying Vietnamese specialties. Walnut Creek, eleverestaurant.com.
21 | Hot Pork Bowl
Koreana Kitchen Sweetly marinated pork atop rice and slippery noodles—this is comfort in a bowl. Walnut Creek, (925) 938-5959.
22 | Sungta Chi Kodi
Monsoon Masala Shrimp simmered in coconut milk with herbs and spices will have you singing Bollywood style. Pleasant Hill, monsoonmasala.com.
23 | Ahi Tartare
Va de Vi The wasabi-spiked tobiko’s lingering heat contrasts with the cool, tender sashimi-grade tuna. Walnut Creek, va-de-vi-bistro.com.
24 | Spinach Bolani
East west gourmet afghan A farmers market favorite: spinach-stuffed flaky flatbread made zesty with a side of tangy cilantro pesto. Made in Concord. bolaniandsauce.com.
25 | Hot Dog
Stadium Pub Served Chicago style with mustard, relish, onions, fresh tomato, and a dill pickle spear, these dogs always hit the spot. Walnut Creek, thestadiumpub.com.