The East Bay's 100 Best Bites and Drinks
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, cocktails: Our foodie staff rounded up the 100 things you have to eat and drink in the East Bay.
What’s your usual? Your drink order? Your favorite entrée? We asked these questions of our team of food writers, as well as four rising media stars devoted to the food scene, and we’ve compiled our list of the 100 best bites in the East Bay. Tear out these pages: It’s your to-eat list. Bon appétit!
Written by: Nick Boer, Rachelle Cihonski, Peter Crooks, Ethan Fletcher, Kristen Haney, Sara Hare, Katie Henry, LeeAnne Jones, Susan Safipour, Alejandra Saragoza, and Samantha Schneider
Breakfast + Brunch
1. Soufflé pancake // Bette’s Oceanview Diner
The made-to-order, light-as-air soufflé pancakes—featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives—come in boozy apple brandy or banana rum variations. Berkeley, bettesdiner.com.
2. Fried chicken and cheddar waffle // Bull Valley Roadhouse
A Sunday brunch must, this is a one-two punch of cornmeal-crusted chicken and a perfectly cheese-proportioned waffle topped with honey butter. Port Costa, bullvalleyroadhouse.com.
3. Chocolate croissant Casse-Croûte Bakery and Café
These warm, flaky, just-the-right-amount-of-sweet chocolate croissants rival the Paris originals, and they sell out quickly—so don’t hit snooze! Livermore, c-cbakery.com.
4. Coconut orange iced latte // Coffee Shop
Sweet and citrusy, the coconut orange iced latte blends house-made orange simple syrup, espresso, coconut cream, and whole milk topped with toasted coconut. Walnut Creek, coffeeshop411.com.
5. Berry waffle // Denica’s Real Food Kitchen
Bella’s berry waffle is as delicious as it is gorgeous, with strawberries radiating from a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Various locations, denicascafe.com.
6. Chile relleno bake // Home/Made Kitchen Café and Bakery
This Mexican twist on Grandma’s egg bake has roasted Anaheim and pasilla peppers, relleno sauce, avocado, and queso fresco. Available for brunch Sat.–Sun., Moraga, homemadekitchen.com.
7. Bananas Foster French toast // Jack’s Restaurant and Bar
Texas toast layered with rich caramelized bananas and cinnamon cream make the bananas Foster French toast dessert for breakfast. Pleasant Hill, ilovejacks.com.
8. Basque omelet // Katy’s Kreek
The Basque omelet kicks off the day with flavor thanks to spicy Spanish chorizo, onions, bell peppers, and fresh salsa. Walnut Creek, katyskreek.com.
9. Coffee cake // Millie’s Kitchen
A generous rectangle of soft, spongy cake with sweet, crumbly topping makes an ideal finish for any breakfast at this classic diner. Lafayette, (925) 283-2397.
10. Toastini // The Press Artisan Café
Two slices of toasted Acme levain bread are loaded with toppings both savory (avocado, sliced boiled egg) and sweet (ricotta, seasonal fresh fruit, honey). Pleasanton, thepressartisancafe.com.
11. Hash // Saul’s Restaurant and Delicatessen
Saul’s Deli hash—a finely chopped combo of corned beef, pastrami, salami, and hash browns topped with two poached eggs—is deli heaven in a bowl. Berkeley, saulsdeli.com.
12. Breakfast salad // Sideboard
Poached eggs and thick bacon hide in a hillock of baby kale, shaved fennel, breadcrumbs, and parmesan flecked with sublime green goddess dressing. Danville and Lafayette, itsonthesideboard.com.
13. Cinnamon sugar toast // Trouble Coffee Co.
There’s a small menu, but insiders know to order toast doused in white sugar and cinnamon, and toasted until gooey. Oakland, troublecoffeeco.com.
14. Tropical bowl // Vitality Bowls
This spoonable smoothie has an açai and tropical fruit base topped with granola, banana, strawberries, coconut shavings, and a drizzle of honey. Various locations, vitalitybowls.com.
15. Shrimp scampi // American Kitchen
Creamy polenta sets a delicious backdrop for garlicky shrimp simmered in white wine and tomatoes. Just like Nonna used to make. Lafayette, american-kitchen1.com.
16. Pork ribs // Back Forty Texas BBQ
These juicy, melt-off-the-bone ribs are so addictive, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you ask, “Where did the slab go?” Pleasant Hill, backforty.us.
17. Meat loaf // Blackhawk Grille
Created from lean short ribs, this beefy classic—buttery mashers and mushroom gravy included—best captures the menu’s comfort theme. Danville, blackhawkgrille.com.
18. Asian prawn salad // Bridges Restaurant and Bar
Lightly grilled jumbo prawns transform this simple and refreshing toss of slippery sesame noodles, crunchy cabbage, and toasted cashews. Danville, bridgesdanville.com.
19. Chicken cutlet // Casa Orinda
The Casa is famous for its fried chicken, but the menu’s MVP is the juicy cutlet, lightly breaded and bathed in country gravy. Orinda, casaorinda.net.
20. Salmon skewer // Citra Grill
Plump, citrus-brushed salmon—skewered with tomatoes—is cooked to order and served on flat Citra bread. Walnut Creek, citragrill.com.
21. Cobb salad // Chow
Tangy blue cheese, creamy avocado, shredded organic chicken breast, and of course, crispy bacon bits: It’s the salad for people who don’t like salad. Danville and Lafayette, chowfoodbar.com.
22. Crab enchiladas // The Dead Fish
Fresh crab and peppers are packed into crepe-like tortillas, then bathed in a spicy red sauce and served piping hot in a heavy skillet. Crockett, thedeadfish.com.
23. Chapli kabobs // De Afghanan Kabob House
Spiked with aromatic peppercorns and fresh scallions, these crispy sirloin patties make even the dressiest of hamburgers seem ordinary. Livermore, deafghanancuisine.com.
24. Pork in adobo tacos // El Aguila Mexican Cuisine
Slow-roasted pork leg marinated in adobo sauce topped with fresh cilantro and chopped onions makes for truly authentic street tacos. Pleasant Hill, elaguilamexicancuisine.com.
25. Beef cheeks // Gan
Chef Peter Jee-Oh Chung’s bold, modern Korean cuisine is best exemplified by his recipe for tender beef cheeks. If the cheeks aren’t on the ever-changing menu, look for the crispy pork belly. Pleasanton, ganrestaurant.com.
26. Pork pappardelle // Gianni’s Italian Bistro
Thick house-made noodles slick with broth from a forever-simmered ragout can be improved only one way: “Extra Parmigiano-Reggiano, please.” San Ramon, giannissanramon.com.
27. Hamachi kama // Izakaya Jun
Crispy-charred with moist sweet meat, this underutilized cut from the yellowtail’s collar needs no adornments when prepared by these sushi chefs. Walnut Creek, izakayajun.com.
28. Pineapple curry // Kacha Thai Bistro
Duck is bathed in coconut milk and red curry, and served with fresh-cut pineapple hollowed out from the half pineapple it’s presented in. Walnut Creek, kachathai.com.
29.Lamb sliders // Kanishka’s Neo-Indian Gastropub
Grilled lamb is wrapped with arugula, chutney, aioli, and onion straws inside a crispy, warm flatbread—the chef’s signature item. Walnut Creek, kanishkasgastropub.com.
30. Mushroom dim sum // Koi Palace
Wild mushrooms in a brittle phyllo “crust” is the most luxurious bite to be found in this palatial dining room. Dublin, koipalace.com.
31. Duck confit // La Sen Bistro
Duck legs are used for the confit de canard—slow cooked in its own fat and served with Madeira wine sauce and vegetable ratatouille. Concord, lasenbistro.com.
32. Fried calamari // Library on Main
Dredged in rice flour and fried to sublime crispness, tender calamari, green beans, and red pepper are drizzled with a spiced yogurt sauce. Walnut Creek, libraryonmain.com.
33. Chicken salad sandwich // The Little Pear
The picnic classic is elevated and crave-worthy, with smoky roasted chicken, pears, pecans, dried cherries, and shallots. Danville, rodneyworth.com.
34. Chicken talas // Lokanta Mediterranean Grill and Bar
A Turkish twist on potpie, this pastry-wrapped ragout combines the rich comfort of coconut curry with the tart surprise of apple. Pleasanton, eatlokanta.com.
35. Scaloppine al Marsala // Luna Ristorante
Oh, so mouthwateringly tender, milk-fed veal is richly complemented by wild mushrooms in Marsala wine sauce. Concord, lunaristorante.us.
36. Dolsat // Mixed Grain
Served in a lava-hot crock, this Korean cross of salad and hearty rice bowl is just right—no matter your choice of protein. Walnut Creek, mixedgrain.com.
37. BBQ pork buns // Modern China Cafe
Sweet, saucy barbecued pork is the tasty prize inside fluffy Chinese pancakes—a steal at just $4 on the all-day dim sum menu. Walnut Creek, modernchinacafe.com.
38. Pollo alla piccata // Montecatini Ristorante and Bar
In this Italian classic, juicy chicken breast rests in a lemon-drizzled white wine sauce, and is served with pasta and steamed vegetables. Walnut Creek, montecatinirestaurant.com.
39. Prime rib // Moresi’s Chophouse
An easy chew and deep flavor make the hefty, slow-roasted, crisp-edged “Diablo Cut” the choicest choice. Clayton, moresischophouse.com.
40. Heritage pork // Oliveto Restaurant and Cafe
Get a taste of the impeccably sourced heritage pork via the new rotisserie-style dinner menu downstairs, including pork shoulder with Calabrian chili salsa. Oakland, oliveto.com.
41. Poke trio // Pacific Catch
Pristine cubes of sesame-flecked ahi, delicate cured salmon with avocado, and spicy bites of seared albacore are the most impressive trio since The Musketeers. Dublin, pacificcatch.com.
42. Langostino crocantes // Parada
Quinoa-encrusted wild-caught Mexican white shrimp are served tapas style with roasted mashed sweet potatoes and a sweet-and-sour salsa. Walnut Creek, paradakitchen.com.
43. Sweet corn pizza // Pizza Antica
Available in summer, this sauce-free pizza is topped with sweet Brentwood corn and savory bites of bacon, with a side of arugula to garnish accordingly. Danville and Lafayette, pizzaantica.com.
44. Mahimahi tacos // Posada
Two spicy chipotle-rubbed mahimahi tacos are paired with a slightly cooler side of watermelon salad with mango-habanero vinaigrette. Livermore, posadarestaurant.com.
45. Gnocchi // Prima Ristorante
Soft pillows of plump gnocchi mingle with basil, pine nuts, Parmigiano, and Pecorino Sardo in this seasonally driven dish. Walnut Creek, primawine.com.
46. Pork chop // The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards
Showcased for decades but reinvented a few times a season, this daringly huge chop exemplifies the full-throttle tenderness of the brine-and-smoke technique. Livermore, wentevineyards.com.
47. Tonkotsu ramen // Ramen Hiroshi
Golden eggs, pickled red ginger, and succulent pork belly served in an 18-hour pork broth make for a strikingly beautiful noodle bowl. Walnut Creek, (925) 942-0664.
48. Black cod // Rooftop Restaurant and Bar
Buttery banana leaf–wrapped whitefish swims in a tangy, Asian-inspired pool of kaffir lime and cilantro alongside delicate pea shoots. Walnut Creek, rooftopwc.com.
49. Short ribs // Rustic Tavern
Beef always rocks here, but on Saturday nights, the smoke-perfumed, lush Niman Ranch boneless short ribs will blow your mind. Lafayette, rustictavernlafayette.com.
50. Pork banh mi // Saigon Bistro
An explosive array of vibrant herbs, pickled veggies, and strips of jalapeño make this roast pork Vietnamese sandwich rock. Concord, (925) 827-1231.
51. Lettuce wraps // Sasa
Pair a shaded patio table with fresh tempura shrimp and walnuts wrapped in cool lettuce and drizzled with sweet honey miso aioli. Walnut Creek, sasawc.com.
52. Prego pizza // Skipolini’s Pizza
Famous for sending women into labor, this pizza boasts nearly every topping imaginable, from extra onions and garlic to six types of meat. Various locations, skipolinispizza.com.
53. Brisket // Slow Hand BBQ
Smoked for 12 to 15 hours, the beef brisket melts in your mouth whether ordered lean or juicy, and pairs well with a local brew. Pleasant Hill, slowhandbbq.com.
54. Chinese chicken salad // Tender Greens
Asian greens—tatsoi, mizuna, golden pea sprouts—lend this salad a healthy burst of color, with crunchy roasted peanuts and tender chicken breast. Walnut Creek, tendergreens.com.
55. Ceviche // Va de Vi
Soft cubes of yellowtail marinated in tomatillo, cilantro, and lime, and topped with avocado, make up one of the many seasonal ceviches. Walnut Creek, vadevi.com.
56. Fish and chips // Yankee Pier
A perfect take on the classic: Three large beer-battered pieces of tender whitefish served atop a basket of fries, with a cool side of coleslaw. Lafayette, yankeepier.com.
57. Fried baby pork chops // Yan’s China Bistro
These fried gems are moist, luscious, and garnished with rounds of jalapeño pepper designed to cut through the fat. Walnut Creek, yanschinabistro.com.
58. Girly man sushi roll // Yo’s on Hartz
This flashy yet seriously yummy wrap of tempura shrimp, avocado, and spicy tuna is both bold and brilliantly balanced. Danville, yosonhartz.com.
59. Grilled edamame // Amakara
Faced with an upgraded ($1 more) appetizer bowl of blistered salt-and-EVOO–tossed edamame, it’s hard to not spoil your dinner. Dublin, amakaraco.com.
60. Cheese grits // Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen
There’s no better start to a New Orleans–inspired feast than fried cheese grits topped with crawfish étouffée in a creamy, spicy roux. Berkeley, angelineskitchen.com.
61. French fries // Artisan Bistro
John Marquez’s menu is all about refined sophistication. But we can’t stop talking about his crispy fries with roasted garlic aioli. Lafayette, artisanlafayette.com.
62. Salsa // Blue Agave Club
Three different premeal salsas mean everyone is happy: ranchera (jalapeño and serrano), vinagre (chile de árbol and chipotle), and morita (morita chile and tomatillo). Pleasanton, blueagaveclub.com.
63. Eggplant cake // China Lounge Restaurant and Bar
With its custardy flesh, airy pork filling, and crackling crust, this quick-fried starter shines with a spicy Sichuan garlic sauce. Pleasanton, chinaloungeus.com.
64. Brussels sprouts // Corners Tavern
Start with the tangy, crunchy, flash-fried Cabernet vinegar brussels sprouts topped with thinly shaved parmesan cheese. Walnut Creek, cornerstavern.com.
65. Tortillas // Cosecha Cafe
All you need is a little butter and salt to bring out the clean, full flavor of these made-to-order corn tortillas. Oakland, cosechacafe.com.
66. Lollipop corn dogs // Eureka!
Sweet house-made corn batter and salty Polish sausage strike a perfect balance served with spicy mustard. Berkeley and Concord, eurekarestaurantgroup.com.
67. Fried cheese curds // The Fourth Bore Tap Room and Grill
In food jargon, addictive and dangerously delicious are overused. But take heed: These crispy cheddar treats are truly perilous. Orinda, thefourthbore.com.
68. Gyoza // Itani Ramen
Just as important as the ground pork in these plump, juicy pot stickers are the sautéed greens, which add a refreshing lightness. Oakland, itaniramen.com.
69. Roasted potatoes // Jupiter
Pair a house brew with roasted Yukon golds tossed in a black chili puree and accompanied by citrus aioli and cilantro-jalapeño dip. Berkeley, jupiterbeer.com.
70. Tomato soup // Main Street Kitchen
A bowl of this soup—sweet tomatoes slowly simmered with soft bread and topped with fresh parm—is guaranteed comfort. Soups change daily. Walnut Creek, mainstkitchen.com.
71. Burrata // Postino
This plate of spreadable cheese, salumi, Castelvetrano olives, tomato jam, and toast is the perfect starter to share. Lafayette, postinorestaurant.com.
72. Beer mussels // Rancho Cantina
Mussels steamed in Negra Modelo beer over a wood fire and infused with garlic and cilantro are best sopped up with grilled bread. Lafayette, ranchocantino.com.
73. Gougères // Rêve
Take one bite of these golden brown, cheesy puffs of classic French perfection and hot steam rises. Two bites and, zut—it’s gone! Lafayette, revebistro.com.
74. Nettle pesto flatbread // Revival Bar and Kitchen
A crunchy, hand-formed crust is smothered with pesto and bubbling with sautéed mushrooms, crispy potatoes, and dollops of rich ricotta. Berkeley, revivalbarandkitchen.com.
75. Fry sampler // Roam Artisan Burgers
Why choose one side when you can get The Fry-Fecta: russet and sweet potato fries, plus a tangle of fried zucchini and onion strings? Lafayette, roamburgers.com.
76. Carmelized cauliflower // Sabio on Main
Flash-fried cauliflower tossed in a spicy Asian marinade and flecked with ground peanuts is an international treat from this brassica. Pleasanton, sabiopleasanton.com.
77. Chips and guacamole // Tacubaya
Thick house-made chips and generously portioned, zesty guacamole will replenish your energy after the long order queue. Berkeley, tacubaya.net.
78. Craft beer // Calicraft Brewing Co.
A collaboration with the legendary Berkeley restaurant, Chez Panisse Farmhouse Ale is infused with anise hyssop, lemon verbena blossom, and Meyer lemon leaf. Walnut Creek, calicraft.com.
79. Custom cinnamon roll // Cinnaholic
A challenge for the sweet-toothed: Top your (vegan) cinnamon roll with maple frosting and chocolate chip cookie dough. Berkeley, cinnaholic.com.
80. Gin and tonic // The Cooperage American Grille
Edible lavender and hibiscus petals transform this summertime drink, and artisanal Fever-Tree tonic adds botanicals to your buzz. Lafayette, thecooperagelafayette.com.
81. Ice-cream taco // Cream
Forget the cookie sandwich: Splurge on a waffle-cone taco shell stuffed with three scoops, two toppings, whipped cream, and a cherry. Various locations, creamnation.com.
82. Deep-fried Oreos // Creek Monkey Tap House
These sinfully delicious treats have a slightly crunchy exterior and a gooey Oreo cream center, and come with house-made cinnamon whipped cream. Martinez, creekmonkey.com.
83. Macarons // Crème Si Bon
How do you choose between mocha, hazelnut, or real orange–infused orange French macarons? Don’t: Get a box of six. San Ramon, cremesibon.com.
84. Raspberry bark // Danville Chocolates
Don’t pass up this treat when it’s in season: Fresh raspberries folded into smooth white chocolate burst with flavor with each bite. Danville, danvillechocolates.com.
85. Martini // Esin Restaurantand Bar
The lemon-basil martini isn’t on the menu, but the bar will make the refreshing vodka, basil, lemon juice, and elderflower concoction anyway. Danville, esinrestaurant.com.
86. Cocktail // Flora
The signature Carter Beats the Devil cocktail balances smoky (mescal), sour (lime), sweet (agave nectar), and spicy (Thai chili tincture) in perfect harmony. Oakland, floraoakland.com.
87. Butterscotch pudding // Lark Creek Walnut Creek
This creamy treat with a hint of vanilla is topped with light chantilly cream and accompanied by house-made biscotti. Walnut Creek, larkcreekwalnutcreek.com.
88. Doughnuts // Locanda Ravello
The bite-sized zeppole are hand rolled with Caputo flour from Napoli, sprinkled with sugar, and drizzled generously with Nutella. Danville, ravello-danville.com.
89. Vanilla ice cream // Lottie’s Creamery
On the daily-rotating menu, vanilla salted almond toffee is almost always available, with vanilla bean ice cream and house-made toffee bits. Walnut Creek, lottiescreamery.com.
90. Raspberry sorbet, Piatti
After a plate of spicy prawn chitarra, this cools the palate—and tastes as if 100 überfresh raspberries were used to create it. Danville, piatti.com.
91. Marshmallow cupcake // Republic of Cake
Flambéed to order, the house-made marshmallow-topped cupcakes are the best of the monthly flavors, which range from classic s’mores to chocolate-banana fluff. Orinda, republicofcake.com.
92. Gator Bait // Sauced BBQ and Spirits
Non drinkers: Skip soda for this sweet blend of pineapple juice, mango and guava puree, Sprite, and lemon garnished with a rainbow of citrus slices. Livermore, saucedbbqandspirits.com.
93. Chocolate fondue // Simply Fondue
Adding authenticity to the “campfire chocolate”—milk chocolate, marshmallow cream, and crumbled graham cracker—your server will light the pot on fire upon arrival. Livermore, simplyfonduelivermore.com.
94. Mint chip ice cream // Smitten Ice Cream
This ice cream is made to order using liquid nitrogen, infused with fresh spearmint, and loaded with Tcho chocolate chips. Lafayette and Rockridge, smittenicecream.com.
95. Mai tai // Walnut Creek Yacht Club
This strong cocktail has a unique presentation: A rum floater rests on top in a small hollowed lime bowl. Pour, mix, and enjoy. Walnut Creek, wcyc.net.
96. Greek frozen yogurt // Yalla Mediterranean
Greek frozen yogurt is smothered in chopped pieces of honey-soaked baklava for a perfect interplay of tangy and sweet. Various locations, yallamedi.com.
Host of “Andrew’s Appetite” on ABC-7
97. Grilled octopus // Telefèric Barcelona
“The pulpo trufado, aka grilled octopus, at Telefèric Barcelona in Walnut Creek is my go-to dish. But I had to try the whole menu twice before I could finally decide on the pulpo, because it’s all amazing. I think the truffle potato puree glazed over the top of the octopus is what makes it so delicious. The contrasting flavors explode on your taste buds, making you never want to try grilled octopus anywhere else. Oh, and I have to give the sangria an honorable mention because, well, it’s sangria from a proper Spanish restaurant. Just do it.” Walnut Creek, telefericbarcelona.com.
Epicurean Diva on KRON-4
98. Scallops // Blue Gingko
“My favorite East Bay bite is hands-down the ‘bites of joy’ at Blue Gingko. These beautiful, generously sized scallops are slightly torched to achieve a warm, brown, scrumptious exterior. They are also subtly covered with a fabulous tangy miso garlic aioli before being topped with black tobiko. The dish is visually stunning with a taste that is out of this world. The scallops are one of the best bites I’ve tasted, from Tokyo to the San Francisco East Bay.” Danville and Lafayette, bluegingko.com.
Food blogger @eastbaydish
99. Cheeseburger // TrueBurger
“The bacon cheesy TrueBurger with grilled onions is like a movie with an ensemble cast: It doesn’t have one star, so all the parts get to shine equally. The bun is soft and spongy but doesn’t fall apart; the garlic mayo adds a foundation of flavor; the meat has an amazing char on the outside; and the lettuce and tomato add a nice crunch and freshness. I never order it to go because it’s best straight off the griddle, with lots of ketchup and enough time to savor every bite.” Oakland, trueburgeroakland.com.
East Bay Yelp Community Director
100. Breakfast sandwich // Kefa Coffee
“Let’s get this straight: I consider myself a sandwich connoisseur. Have you seen the breakfast sandwiches at Kefa Coffee in Oakland? After a ton of food-porn stalking on Yelp, I finally made it there, and it was love at first sight. It’s a special treat for me, usually after a night of drinking: These bad boys can pretty much cure anything. The breakfast sandos from this Ethiopian café consist of a large buttery egg, spinach, bacon, avocado, and Swiss cheese on a buttery English muffin. Don’t you dare put ketchup on it. Don’t even think about Sriracha. It will straight up make or break you.” Oakland, (510) 261-3400.