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First Bite: The Walnut Creek Yacht Club is Turning 20

A venerable restaurant has never tasted so fresh.


Nicholas Boer

As a restaurant reviewer, I’ll typically dine twice at a new restaurant and not be back for years, if ever. So, when I’m asked for a restaurant recommendation, my brain typically defaults to the best meals I’ve had in recent months, disregarding the some 1,000 reviews I’ve written over 19 years.

But my recent visit to the Walnut Creek Yacht Club—a restaurant that turns 20 in May—was so good that it will be etched in my mind for a long time to come. The Yacht Club’s well-worn, nautically themed dining room feels enormously comforting; it’s always busy, yet it’s much more relaxed than some of the hip, slick, and cool spots I’ve recently reviewed. It’s still run by the original owners, Ellen McCarty and chef Kevin Weinberg, and their caring, unpretentious touch shines through.   

We indulged in what Weinberg is famous for: seafood. Our distinctively sweet and briny oysters on the half shell were followed by diced-to-order Peruvian-style ceviche, rich with avocado and spiked with chilies and tangy tomatillo. Portuguese-style clams with smoky chorizo arrived in a robust red-wine tomato sauce alongside thick slices of grilled rustic bread. Finally, our Florida prawns and Massachusetts swordfish were simply grilled—and simply amazing.

Our server was also delightful—full of fun, unafraid to make recommendations, and professionally attuned. Even the Meyer lemon cheesecake, McCarty’s seasonal recipe, was uncommonly good.

I have been to and written fondly about this restaurant many times over the years, but I think it’s finally sunk in: The Walnut Creek Yacht Club is one of my favorite restaurants. Period.

1555 Bonanza St., Walnut Creek, (925) 944-3474, wcyc.net. Lunch and dinner Mon.–Sat.

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