Livermore’s live music scene, Walnut Creek’s rockin’ block, and where to get a steak at 5 a.m.
Reader & Editor picks | Late-Night Dining
Diablo readers picked comfort food classic Chow, with locations in Danville and Lafayette, as the East Bay’s best spot for late-night dining. Which is great, as long as you’re OK with late night meaning before 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. chowfoodbar.com.
For those who need to eat much later, don’t worry: Here are five more late-night noshes.
12 a.m. / Sushi
Craving sushi at the witching hour? Livermore’s new Roppongi Sushi serves until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. roppongilivermore.com.
2:30 a.m. / Diner
Looking for an American Graffiti–style diner to hit after the bars close? Hubcaps keeps hopping until 2:30 a.m. on weekends. hubcapsdiner.com.
3 a.m. / Chinese
Have a fussy newborn whose sleep schedule seems to be on Beijing time? New Gold Medal Restaurant is a beloved staple of Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood, and stays open until
3 a.m. on weekdays, and 4 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. newgoldmedal.com.
4 a.m. / Waffles
Just getting off a graveyard shift? Home of Chicken and Waffles in Oakland and Walnut Creek serves until 4 a.m. on week-ends. homeofchickenandwaffles.com.
5 a.m. / Steak
Here’s a gem for anyone craving a nice steak or a hand of poker—at 5 a.m. The new Livermore Casino 580’s acclaimed Bar Tatami serves all night long. bartatami.com. —Peter Crooks
Reader Pick | Local Band
We love it when our readers turn us on to new things, especially when those things are smart, talented post–punk rock bands like Mister Loveless. The Contra Costa–raised, Oakland-based quartet recently released a killer album called Grow Up. The LP’s fourth single, “Curfew,” will be released as a music video this month. We asked lead singer Rob I. Miller to walk us through his creative process, from concept to album to video.
1. Writing the song.
“Curfew” was written to capture the feeling of freedom when, for the very first time, you and your friends were in a car without adult supervision, at night. Then, realizing that you have this window of time between now and curfew, in which you have to seize the moment. I wanted to channel that feeling.
2. Sequencing the album.
The title “Curfew” works because it’s the last song in the album. But the theme of the song serves as an overview for the theme of the album—this romance of youth and this nostalgic view of growing up in the suburbs.
3. Shooting the video.
The video will follow a kid who sneaks out of his suburban house and goes to the city, and is seeing it at night for the very first time. Then, the kid is snatched by the “curfew police.”
Mister Loveless will perform at the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco on July 19. misterloveless.com. —Peter Crooks
I’m Walkin’ Here
Reader pick | Dog Park
When I heard that Diablo readers picked Hap Magee Ranch Park as their favorite dog park, I had to go sniff it out. I live in the Richmond hills, so I usually play at Point Isabel and Point Pinole, which have miles of off-leash trails. I love to visit new parks, so my walker and I headed to Danville.
I was a nervous little hound when I entered Hap Magee’s Canine Corral. You know that feeling of going to a party where you don’t know anyone, and as soon as you get there, a big German shepherd barks in your face? That happened. So I said, ‘Talk to the tail,’ and went off to explore the 1.5-acre fenced-in park, which has a large lawn and a water fountain for pups.
Before long, I made friends with a greyhound and a Great Dane. We were too big to go into the fenced-off area for little dogs. You know how they say dogs look like their walkers? Totally true in the small park.
Overall, Hap Magee is a fun hang, with warmer weather than my West County go-tos, and a friendly bunch of waggers and walkers. What’s not to like? ci.danville.ca.us. —Maizy, Catahoula leopard hound
Reader Pick | Happy Hour
Bridges Restaurant retains its title as the East Bay’s best happy hour. Why does this Danville favorite take the crown?
One reason is Bridges’ generous definition of hour. The restaurant keeps its bar prices friendly from 5 p.m. until closing every weeknight. A range of classic cocktails is just $5. Food-wise, the menu is limited, but the $7 offerings are fresh and well made. Make sure to ask about the blue plate special: Our recent visit featured a house-made sausage of duck and Gruyère.
On summer evenings, enjoy the happy hour specials to the sounds of live music. bridgesdanville.com. —Peter Crooks
Rock Around the Block
Looking for something to do after dark? One happening block in Walnut Creek— Locust Street to Giammona Drive to Main Street to Civic Drive—has become the go-to place for sipping wine, dancing to live music, and checking out great local theater.
Editor Pick | Top-Shelf Patio
Tip: This restaurant and bar just added an outdoor patio, giving partiers a chance to sip artisanal cocktails while enjoying the cool evening breeze. eleverestaurant.com.
Reader Pick | Date-Night Spot, Hippest Bar/Lounge, Singles Scene, Wine Bar
Tip: Its win in four categories makes Residual Sugar the hottest spot in Diablo’s nightlife scene this year. Go early for date nights and later for a singles scene: The place is packed after 10 p.m. residualsugarwine.com.
Hamachi Restaurant and Lounge
Editor Pick | DJ Antidote
Tip: If you like your lounge life to be techno free, check out this upscale sushi club’s dueling piano shows on Fridays and Saturdays after 10 p.m. sushihamachi.com.
Editor Pick | Hidden Outdoor Dining
Tip: You’d never know this pizzeria has an outdoor patio, until you find it, hidden in the center of the building. skipolinispizza.com.
Dan's Irish Sports Bar
Reader Pick | Bar for Live Music
Tip: Great bands perform every Thursday through Saturday, with lounge legend Diamond Dave Hosley recently taking over the Thursday spot. dansbar.com.
ØL Beercafe and Bottle Shop
Editor Pick | One-Stop Pub Crawl
Tip: Looking for a killer beer bar, without a million TVs blasting SportsCenter? This gem offers German-style atmosphere and an astonishing selection of brews. beer-shop.org.
Center Repertory Company
Reader Pick | Theater Troupe
Tip: Outstanding comedy, drama, and musicals. Look for an Ella Fitzgerald tribute to kick off the new season in September. centerrep.org. —Peter Crooks
The man behind Walnut Creek’s hottest wine bar.
Reader Pick | Wine Bar
When Jim Telford opened Residual Sugar wine bar in Walnut Creek three years ago, he thought he should start small. So he picked a cozy space on a quiet stretch of Locust Street and packed it with 1,400 bottles from around the world. The plan worked (just try to get a table on Friday or Saturday nights), and Diablo readers chose Residual Sugar as the East Bay’s best wine bar.
Q: How did you develop your taste for wine?
A: I was a counselor at a summer camp in Napa in the 1980s, back when Stag’s Leap and Caymus still offered free tastings. I cut my teeth on the good stuff.
Q: If I were coming in for the singles scene, what wine should I order to impress the ladies?
A: Try something Spanish, like the 2008 Barahonda Monastrell. It has lots of black fruit and bright red fruit, and it’s full bodied and balanced, so it’s not going to be too far off from a good Napa selection. But you’ll get points for the international flavor.
Q: What would you recommend to a couple coming in for date night on their 25th anniversary?
A: First, I might try to find something from that year, 1988. Or, I’d ask them what was the greatest place they ever went on vacation together. Maybe they went to Croatia; I have a couple of wines from there. You can explore almost any region of the world through wine—even if it’s just for a couple of hours in a wine bar while a sitter is watching the kids. residualsugarwine.com. —Peter Crooks
Reader Pick | Comedy Club
During the comedy boom of the late 1980s, the East Bay was chockablock with comedy nightclubs. (RIP to Pleasant Hill’s Fubar’s and the Punchline Walnut Creek.) But Tommy T’s Comedy Steakhouse is still getting guffaws with its national headliners. We caught up with comic Bobby Slayton for some tips on telling a joke and why he loves to play Pleasanton.
Tell us how to tell a joke.
People either know how to tell a joke, or they don’t. I can’t tell you how many times people have come up to me saying they have a great joke, and then they butcher it. Here’s my advice: Start by telling your dog, and if you keep his attention, move up to a small child. Then, move on to grown-ups.
OK, we’ll give that a go. How long have you known Tommy T’s owner, Tommy Thomas?
Way back to the 1980s, when he had his first club in San Leandro. I opened up for Jay Leno there, and we sold out two shows on a weeknight, which was unheard of.
What’s funny about Pleasanton?
You know, the more I travel across America, I realize that I could live in a beautiful place like Pleasanton. I love walking down Main Street. It has great restaurants and Costco nearby, which is all I need. There are a lot of places in America that make me mad. Pleasanton ain’t one of them. tommyts.com. —Peter Crooks
Editor Pick | New Music Scene
The concerts at Wente Vineyards have long been a reason for music fans to head to Livermore in the summer months. But downtown is quickly building a terrific year-round live music scene. Here are seven great spots.
If you’re looking to chill, head to Swirl on the Square (swirlonthesq.com), and cozy onto a couch in this tapas restaurant and wine bar, which books musicians—folk duos, jazz trios—on Friday and Saturday nights.
The Swirl is located in Blacksmith Square, a small mall of hot spots such as Tap 25 beer hall. The square hosts live music every Saturday afternoon on its patio.
Another romantic spot is Double Barrel Wine Bar (doublebarrelwinebar.com), which books live jazz and piano tunes Tuesdays through Sundays.
The Winemaker’s Pour House (winemakerspourhouse.com) has jazz, rock, and acoustic folk several days a week to complement its amazing list of local wines and its small-plates cuisine.
Big Night Out
Looking for something a little rowdier? The popular new Sauced BBQ (saucedbbqandspirits.com) books terrific country and rock bands, as well as dueling pianos, in its bar Thursday–Sunday evenings.
For a full-on sit-down concert, check the schedule at the beautiful Bankhead Theater (mylvpac.com). This top Tri-Valley destination offers a range of shows, from classical symphonies to New Orleans jazz to Pink Floyd tributes.
Finally, for all you clubbers: Sanctuary Ultra Lounge (sanctuaryultralounge.com) alternates between live bands and DJs until the wee small hours. You can even get in on the action by taking the mike at one of Sanctuary’s popular karaoke nights. —Peter Crooks
400 Main St., Pleasanton, (925) 846-4322, studiosevenarts.com
Bar Game/Trivia Night
901 Gilman St., Berkeley, (510) 528-9880; 1410 Locust St., Walnut Creek, (925) 946-1520, pyramidbrew.com
Walnut Creek Yacht Club
1555 Bonanza St., Walnut Creek, (925) 944-3474, wcyc.net
Walnut Creek Yacht Club, 1555 Bonanza St., Walnut Creek, (925) 944-3474, wcyc.net
901 Gilman St., Berkeley, (510) 528-9880; 1410 Locust St., Walnut Creek, (925) 946-1520, pyramidbrew.com
Company C Contemporary Ballet
(925) 708-0752, companycballet.org
Boundary Oak Golf Course
3800 Valley Vista Rd., Walnut Creek, (925) 934-4775, playboundaryoak.com
Lafayette Park Hotel and Spa
3287 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 283-3700, lafayetteparkhotel.com
Oakland Museum of California
1000 Oak St., Oakland, (510) 318-8400, museumca.org
(530) 562-1010, northstarcalifornia.com
1420 Lincoln Ave., Walnut Creek, (925) 256-7302, thestadiumpub.com
Lafayette Art and Wine Festival
5050 Arroyo Rd., Livermore, (925) 456-2400, wentevineyards.com