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First Bite: Breakfast with Some Bumps

Monica’s Livermore has a rough start but shows promise.


Monica's Livermore

Long waits, uneven food, and amateur service have been no hindrance to this homegrown café’s blockbuster success. Monica’s Livermore, just steps off First Street, is housed in a soulful brick building and features the city’s most compelling patio—spacious, shaded, and always hopping. The restaurant’s projected year-long renovation turned into 18 months, but the resulting warm and welcoming ambience has been worth the wait.

My four visits brought various missteps—from a lukewarm omelet; to a dull, chewy Reuben; to delicious huevos rancheros that took 50 minutes to arrive. Our 25-minute wait turned into an hour, which isn’t surprising considering nearly every table was enjoying bottomless mimosas.

Despite these snafus, it’s clear that Monica’s—a breakfast and lunch spot experimenting with small plates at dinner—will only improve as the kitchen catches up and the servers get settled. The menu is stacked with all-American favorites, and the pancakes—as well as many other dishes—could feed two or maybe four people (the chefs are happy to split).

The two salads we tried over four visits were dynamite, and the cold food and pastries came out quick. The Cobb was loaded with avocado and moist, smoky chicken, and the chicken-walnut salad was rich with Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. blue cheese and a sweet-and-tangy emulsified apple vinaigrette. Pickles, jam, and most everything else are made in house, lending the eatery a homey character.

And even though it may leave several patrons disgruntled as the kinks get worked out (Monica herself spotted my half-eaten sandwich and deleted it, as well as my killer banana-caramel coffee cake, from the bill), the owner’s heart is clearly in the right place, and Livermore wants nothing more than for the restaurant to thrive.

2074 Second St., Livermore, (925) 292-5568, monicaslivermore.com. Breakfast and lunch daily.

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Happy Hour Bar & Bites at
The Cooperage

Monday through Friday
3pm – 5:30pm


This isn’t your typical happy hour. This quintessential neighborhood spot offers high-quality craft cocktails on tap and tasty bites. Menu features: $10 cocktails on tap, $5 select beer & wine, $1 oysters, $7 bacon cheeseburger sliders, $7 crispy beer battered shrimp sliders, $9 sashimi-grade ahi tuna tartare. 

32 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette
​Reservations: www.thecooperagelafayette.com or 925.298.5915

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