Cheap Eats: Green Garden Chinese Cuisine
This Walnut Creek hole-in-the-wall offers solid food at low prices.
The sparse-but-clean interior of Green Garden, located on the outskirts of Walnut Creek in the Palos Verdes Mall on Pleasant Hill Road, is about as glamorous as the restaurant’s strip mall exterior. But then again, people aren’t going there for the ambiance. What they are going there for is the rock-solid Chinese food, which fulfills the three “cheap eats” fundamentals: good, plentiful, and inexpensive.
For the real deals, check out the special lunch menu ($4.99–$6.25), which includes sweet and sour soup, heaping scoops of steamed or fried rice (or Chow Mein), plus a main course. And don’t worry picky eaters, there’s plenty to choose from as the menu offers 45, count ‘em, 45 different lunch special items, ranging from Walnut Prawns to Mongolian Chicken and everything in between.
Featuring traditional Cantonese-style dishes, the food is characteristically saucy, but not overly greasy, as can be the case at some Chinese restaurants. The Broccoli Chicken ($4.99) is a simple but satisfying dish, a daily special of eggplant, chicken, and prawns was delicious and a steal at just $6.25, and the lesser-known Ma Po Tofu ($4.99) is executed well. Meanwhile, old standby appetizers such as the Spring Rolls ($4.50) and Crab Rangoon ($4.95) totally hit the spot and are easily shared by two people.
The $20 Challenge: On a recent trip with a friend, we shared an appetizer, each got a lunch special, and left stuffed with leftovers: all for $20. Not bad.
Vice City? You can get your caffeine and/or nicotine fix at the smoke shop and Starbucks right next door.
Not so Fortunate: Beware the fortune cookies, which contain not-necessarily cheery messages within. A recent example: The best way to destroy your enemy is to make him your friend. Indeed.
Green Garden, part deux: The Walnut Creek eatery has a sister restauran—also named Green Garden—in Pleasant Hill on Contra Costa Boulevard with a different menu but similar lunch specials.
Eat in or Take out? It seems to do more takeout business, but there's almost always room at one of the four tables during lunch, and the waitress is super-friendly.Green Garden Chinese Cuisine, open 11 a.m.–9 p.m. daily, 1562 Palos Verdes Mall, Walnut Creek, (925) 930-7698.