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Walnut Creek

Food&Drink / Shopping&Fashion / Nightlife&Culture / Recreation&Fun

Walnu Creek


Š2013 California Closet Company, Inc. All rights reserved. Franchises independently owned and operated.

Designs for every room.

Custom designs to fulfill your dreams and suit your lifestyle. Call us today for a complimentary in-home design consultation.

walnut creek 1614 Mt. Diablo Blvd. 800.274.6754

berkeley 1716 Fourth St.


outpatient surgery Same-day surgery is available for: • Audiology • Dentistry • Gastroenterology • General Surgery • Orthopaedics • Otolaryngology (ENT) • Ophthalmology • Plastic & Hand Surgery • Urology

Children’s Walnut Creek Campus rates 5 stars on Yelp!

clinics • 15 Exam Rooms, plus a Cast Room • Lab Draw • Pediatric Specialists on site: » Endocrinology » ENT » Nephrology/Urology » Neurology » Neurosurgery » Nutrition » Occupational Therapy » Orthopaedics » Plastic & Hand Surgery » Psychiatry » Pulmonary Medicine

My daughter had a procedure here under general anesthesia and the staff was wonderful! They really put us at ease, explained every step very clearly, and showed that they cared. We really appreciated the kindness they showed us. — Laura K., San Ramon, CA

diagnostic imaging Our pediatric imaging experts use radiation levels safe for even the youngest patients. We have the only Child Life Specialist in Contra Costa County who helps emotionally prepare children for surgical or diagnostic procedures.

I love this facility and the care my daughter received. She had a persistent problem that never seemed to be getting better. Other facilities passed it off but here, they didn’t dismiss what was going on and did everything possible to get to the bottom of it. — Jackie B., Danville, CA


2401 Shadelands Dr., Walnut Creek 925-979-4000

sports medicine center for young athletes

hearing and speech center

Ask your child’s pediatrician for a referral Tour our Walnut Creek campus:

motion analysis & sports performance lab


FALL 2013

the absolute opposite of Ordinary


intrOducing the new ghibli frOm $65,600*


The new MaseraTi Ghibli is powered by a choice of Two advanced v6 enGines wiTh up To 404 hp, equipped wiTh 8-speed Zf auToMaTic TransMission and available q4 inTelliGenT all-wheel drive.

NoW opeN iN WalNut Creek

Maserati of WalNut Creek

*Maserati Ghibli base MSRP $65,600, not including dealer prep and transportation. Dealer price may vary. Taxes, title and registration fees not included. Š 2013 Maserati North America, Inc. All rights reserved. Maserati and the Trident logo are registered trademarks of Maserati S.p.A. Maserati urges you to obey all posted speed limits.

The key To an exTraordinary life is quite literally a key.

Schedule a test drive: 925.Maserati | | 2033 North Broadway, Walnut Creek, CA 94596 EXPLORE THE NEW

Where people, homes and a bit of imagination intersect

Gaby brings enthusiasm, energy, attentive listening skills & outstanding negotiation skills to the process and is proud that most of her clients come from referrals and repeat clients. They often remark on the quality of her team of financial, marketing and other specialists. Experience the difference that she can make to your transaction. If you are buying, selling, or investing in real estate you will receive superior service at all times.

Aut Viam Inveniam Aut Faciam - I will find a way or make one. For years this has been part of my e-signature and my mantra. In real estate there is a constant conveyor belt of challenges. No day is ever routine. At Alain Pinel Realtors, it’s our mission to take on each hurdle, or sometimes fiery hoop, with logic and a positive attitude, strategizing the very best outcome for our clients.

Aeysha’s 10+ years of experience in the real estate industry allows her to assist her clients with all of the grace and professionalism they expect. Creating an exceptional experience with extraordinary results are the foundation of the real estate services she provides. Her experience with investment, multi unit, and residential properties ensures that she has the knowledge and skills to guide her clients through a myriad of real estate environments.

Gaby Bethge

Sharry Chimienti

Aeysha Corio




Miguel del Barco is dedicated to providing his clients top-quality real estate services. Miguel’s success is a result of a strong work ethic, integrity and ethical standards in order to deliver to his clients a positive experience. His clients are impressed with the level of genuine care he applies to their individual situation. A Contra Costa County resident for over 30 years, Miguel has represented sellers and buyers throughout the Bay Area.

Margaret Garber-Teeter’s passion is representing clients with dedicated service and extensive knowledge. “I am honored to represent many Diablo Valley families as a trusted confidant for all of their residential real estate needs,” she says. 30+ years in real estate and numerous top achievement awards speak to the committed service and attention she proudly provides her clients.

Hollie’s 11 years as a Contra Costa County Realtor have cemented three key skills: listening, negotiating, and delivering. She listens so she can fully understand a client’s wants and needs. Her win-win negotiating results are a success for all. And whether she is representing a buyer or a seller, she delivers exemplary client service by exceeding expectations. Where Hollie lives, at Alain Pinel Realtors, QUALITY is the universal language. Where would you like to live?

Miguel del Barco

Margaret Garber Teeter

Hollie Guillory




WA L N U T C R E E K | 1 6 4 6 N . C a l i f o r n i a , S u i t e 1 0 1

925.934.1111 EXPLORE THE NEW

Where people, homes and a bit of imagination intersect

Real estate is more than just the buying and selling of homes. It is about creating relationships and caring. I was a teacher for many years and listened to young people’s needs and dreams. For the past nine years, having clients come with questions and leave with answers has touched at the core of who I am. The high expectations of service at Alain Pinel Realtors encourages us all to creatively offer an exceptional experience. I love what I do. . . and so do my clients.

I have been a real estate broker since 1984, negotiating for buyers & sellers in Central Contra Costa County. With buyers, we are hunters. At any price level, you can be in any area, but in what kind of property and what quality of living. There are trade-offs. Selling is like fishing. Set the hook, be proactive, and when you get a strike get it in the boat. I love to negotiate for my clients and meet their goals. I work hard and enjoy every challenge.

Melanie has over 30 years experience in the real estate & corporate relocation industries. She loves how “high tech” has changed real estate during that time, giving more capabilities and conveniences to both the consumer and realtor. She also knows that this is no replacement for “high touch.” Her personal touch is what sets her apart from other agents, and her thorough follow-up and attention to detail is what most past clients say they loved about working with her.

Susan Kingsley

Paul Knauff

Melanie Kozak




Personal service with quality results are hallmarks of Linda's success. After 25 years as a Realtor, Linda still loves what she does. Her clients are loyal and refer their friends and family. She looks forward to working with you in finding the perfect home, or helping you sell your home and making the transition smooth and easy.

I am a lifelong resident of Contra Costa County with 20 years of business management experience and 10+ years in the real estate industry. For most people, buying or selling real estate may be one of the biggest financial transactions of their lifetime. Don’t leave it up to just anyone. I’ll take the time to sit down and go over all aspects of the real estate process and make sure you are comfortable fulfilling your goals. And I guarantee my work in writing!

Lisa’s savvy business sense, mixed with her knowledge of the market trends and her desire to help attain her client’s goals, is what makes Lisa “Your Realtor For Life!” Her dedication to her clients doesn’t stop at the close of a transaction; she continues to be of service even after they are happily settled. Lisa’s professionalism, successful negotiations, ability to educate or guide her clients, and vast experience are what make Lisa the perfect choice for selling or buying your home.

Linda Lewis

Scott Macintyre

Lisa Manifold




WA L N U T C R E E K | 1 6 4 6 N . C a l i f o r n i a , S u i t e 1 0 1

925.934.1111 EXPLORE THE NEW

Where people, homes and a bit of imagination intersect

Growing up in Danville, attending De La Salle High School and graduating from U.C. Berkeley, Todd is a true East Bay Native. Todd’s Experience, Energy and Enthusiasm are present during every transaction. His fierce negotiating skills give his clients the advantage. His success is based on serving every buyer and seller with the highest level of service so they in turn refer him to their family and friends when they need to buy or sell.

Testimonials from Ronni’s clients include: “consummate professional; strong negotiator; calm; focused; positive attitude; attentive to every detail; accessible; knowledgeable; and great sense of humor.” Ronni specializes in the purchase and sale of fine homes in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. She has been successfully closing transactions for repeat clients, referrals, relocations, and friends since 1988.

During my 26 years as your trusted real estate broker, I never imagined the satisfaction I would receive from helping clients list or purchase their homes. Whether you are putting your home on the market or finding your dream one, my extensive knowledge of the East Bay will benefit you. At Alain Pinel Realtors, we pride ourselves on our outstanding technology and collective experience to bring you the best there is to offer. From beginning to end, I will be there for you!

Todd Scheid

Ronni Schwartz

Karen Scott-Hultman




Heidi Slocomb is known for her integrity and excellent service to her many clients. A third generation Californian and University of California graduate, Heidi is intimately familiar with the East Bay’s communities. She is the leading resource in the East Bay for Eichler/Mid-Century Modern homes. With her real estate knowledge and her well-known sense of humor, Heidi has ably helped her clients weather the stresses and swings of the past three decades of real estate cycles.

As your real estate consultant, I am committed to providing a pleasant and positive experience. Whether you are buying or selling, it is important to have trust and confidence in your agent. Real estate is an important investment, and I will work with you closely to achieve your goals. I will see to it that you are educated on the process and ensure you have a clear understanding of the marketplace. My top priority is to establish an ongoing relationship that will continue beyond our transaction.

I’m far above your average Realtor. You’ll understand the second you meet me. I’m a sharp, young, and energetic professional who operates on very high standards both personally and professionally. I’m hard working, ethical, honest, creative, and kind. Let’s face it, I sound great on paper, but the only Real way you're going to find out why is to Experience the difference. Give me a call, and find out why I’m taking Real Estate to New Heights!

Heidi Slocomb

Sherry Tatum

Amanda Thompson




WA L N U T C R E E K | 1 6 4 6 N . C a l i f o r n i a , S u i t e 1 0 1


contents Publisher’s Letter

Food & Drink pg. 22

Shopping & Fashion pg. 34

Nightlife & Culture pg. 44

clockwise from left: maria del rio; kinsley james couture bridal; walnut creek yacht club

pg. 20

» 15

contents Recreation & Fun

Dining Listings pg. 64

Last Look pg. 80

clockwise from left: maria del rio; Brian Horii; brandon weight

pg. 54


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The Walnut Creek Book Ed i t o r

Susan Dowdney Safipour Roger Gurbani

Art Director

managing editor, walnut creek book

Peter Crooks

art director, walnut creek book M a n a g i n g Ed i t o r A s s o c i at e e d i t o r Assistant editor art/web assistant

Alisha Petro

LeeAnne Jones Stacey Kennelly

Caitlin McCulloch

Samantha Schneider

copy editor

Linda Lenhoff

contributing writers

Group Publisher

Barney Fonzi

Senior Account Executives

Marilyn Beck Rivera, Toni Tighe, Megan Tuggle Account Executive

Jocelyne Crossley Marketing Director

Dave Reik

M a r k e t i n g a n d c i r c u l at i o n M a n ag e r M a r k e t i n g a s s o c i at e

Melinda Solomon

Amanda Stratmeyer

sales and marketing interns

Ashley Shpak, Jacob Tarnow Senior Account Executive emeritus

Francine Lyall

Miranda Adler, Nicholas Boer, Carolyn Rovner editorial interns

Griffin Brumbaugh, Allison Croley, Mahsa Dinyari, Eliza Lamson, Alison Lanshe, Amanda Morris

d i r e c t o r o f o p e r at i o n s

Eileen Cunningham

AD production and production

Jennifer Brazil, Debra Donovan, Ron Henry, Michele Johnson P r o j e c t m a n ag e r / a d c o o r d i n at o r

Sarah Schultz

A d m i n i s t r at i o n C h i e f F i n a n c i a l Off i c e r

Brendan N. Casey

S t a ff A c c o u n t a n t

Sylvia Bajjaliya

A c c o u n t s P aya b l e

Ana Magaña

A c c o u n t s R e c e i va b l e / r e c e p t i o n i s t h e l p d e s k a dm i n i s t r a t o r

Cheryl Davis

Nick Rubalcaba

Assistant to the President and the Publisher

Jodie Aranda

D i a b l o P u b l i c at i o n s F o u n d e r a n d p r e s i d e n t

Steven J. Rivera

943-1111 M a i l i n g Add r e s s 2520 Camino Diablo, Walnut Creek, CA 94597-3939 943-1199, Ext. 4 B y F a x 943-1045 b y e - m a i l d i a b l o m a g a z i n e W e b s i t e f o r D i a b l o C u s t o m P u b l i s h i n g

h o w to r e a c h u s F o r a d v e r t i s i n g, s u b s c r i p t i o n, a n d g e n e r a l i n f o r m at i o n T o c o mm e n t o n e d i t o r i a l c o n t e n t On the Web

website for

The Walnut Creek Book is published by Diablo Country Magazine Inc. All rights to the contents of this magazine are owned in full by Diablo Country Magazine Inc. The Walnut Creek Book may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Views expressed herein are those of the authors and advertisers and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the ownership or the management of the magazine. Contents © 2013. All rights reserved.

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For over 23 years, Rita has worked within our ever-changing real estate market, achieving wonderful results and rewards for all her loyal clients and their many referrals. Known for representing Walnut Creek homes and fine estates, Rita’s achievements include being recognized as a top-selling agent in Walnut Creek and Contra Costa, as well as one of America’s Top 100 REALTORS by the Wall Street Journal and REAL Trends. She is also a longtime Walnut Creek resident and proud supporter of Walnut Creek’s local schools.

Office 925.791.2588 | Direct 925.570.1010 |



Ounces in the “49er Club” porterhouse at Vic Stewart’s.


Wines by the glass at Fleming’s Steakhouse.


Brunches served any given Mother’s Day at Scott’s Seafood.


Lobsters sold at Walnut Creek Yacht Club in January 2013.

Lottie’s Creamery


maria del rio



From the sweetest indulgences to the best bargain bites to upscale ethnic cuisine and specialty fine dining, Walnut Creek has got it all. The streets of this bustling foodie town are packed with the most sophisticated restaurants filled with chefs using the best ingredients to make the finest food. Turn the page for a taste. 23

sweet stuff


Worth the Calories

» We’ve sampled them all and lived to tell about it. Sure, Walnut Creek has its lettuce-themed lunch counters and healthy choices. But, sometimes, we have to indulge in some decadence, too. Here are some great spots to satisfy your sweet tooth. A Sweet Affair » Start the day with a “sticky sweet” blueberry Danish while it’s still warm. As an office treat, they’re more dangerous than donuts. 944-1910, sweetaffair

Crepes Ooh La La » This quaint French café offers the most decadent treat on the block, the King Lias crepe: It’s spread with Nutella, sprinkled with coconut, stuffed with banana, and buried in a drift of whipped cream. 944-5790. Cornology » For when you catch up on the DVR, grab a three gallon tin of Logemann’s Caramel, Cornology’s rich, buttery take on the classic treat. 482-6769,

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Gelataria Naia » Steal a kiss of gianduja or nocciola after a meal at nearby Il Fornaio, and before kicking it around the fountain and shops at Broadway Plaza. 943-1905,

Plumeria Flours » Passion fruit, mango, and guava cupcakes provide a most tropical experience. Get the wrath of Pelé, chocolate with Pop Rocks and cayenne pepper. 945-6000,

Guanatos » Artisanal ice-cream shops are all the rage, but we love the creamy goodness of these Latin licks. Give tequila a shot. Or lucuma a lick. 956-1125,

Leonida’s » These Belgian chocolates are fresh, fragile, and sublime. Try the Manon Café, with its mousse-like coffee filling and a whole hazelnut. 932-6666, —Nicholas Boer

clockwise from top left: Cream; joe budd; Leonidas

Cream » The ice-cream sandwich is humankind’s greatest invention. Cream offers you 20 ice creams and 14 kinds of cookies. (We vote for salted caramel in sugar cookies.) 891-4041, cream



Sandwich Smack Down

Morucci’s Si Mangia Bene

Genova’s Delicatessen

time   29 minutes

time   17 minutes

price   $5.99 

price   $8.29

Weight  5.1 ounces

Weight   5.3 ounces

Extras   None

Extras   Samples while you wait

The beef   Thick and rich

The beef   Soft, rosy, thin slice

we also love Hot pastrami

we also love Roast turkey


Ike’s Place

Mr. Pickle’s

time   9 minutes

time   5 minutes

price   $8.98

price   $7.99

Weight   3.5 ounces

Weight   5.25 ounces

Extras   Bag of chips and a lollipop

Extras   Free cookie The beef   Refrigerator taste

The beef   Salty we also love Was it the Al Bundy or the Captain Kirk?

we also love Reuben

280-5510, —Nicholas Boer


= winner 2 6

Alisha petro (Ike’s place, genova); samantha Schneider (morucci’s, mr. pickle’s)

» Roast beef hoagies go mano a mano at four sandwich hot spots.

FEEL PAMPERED. WHILE TAKING CARE OF YOUR HEALTH. Women’s Health Center in Lafayette 3595 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Suite 350 (925) 962-9129 We accept many insurance plans. Call to find out if we accept yours.

At our conveniently located women’s health center, you get the care you need to maintain your good health. Our services include digital mammography screening, pelvic health physical therapy, nutrition counseling, and lactation counseling. It’s the way we plus you.



Hanoi at Heart

» From pho to firepot, these authentic dishes are local favorites. Élevé

Le Cheval

Pork firepot  This simple traditional dish brings fork-tender pork chunks cooked in their own juices. As a main course, the firepot is every spoonful as satisfying as Mom’s chicken soup. Be sure to get a side of the slightly sticky, fragrant jasmine rice to soak up those everso-slightly fatty juices. Start with the refreshing mango prawn salad or plump shrimp spring rolls. 979-1677,

Pork skewers  I soak and soften a Frisbeesized rice paper sheet. Then, I load it with smoky grilled pork, fresh mint, shaved carrot, and cucumber. I douse this with sweetened fish sauce, and wrap it into a refreshing handheld roll. Then? I eat and repeat (and repeat, and repeat). 938-2288,

Kevin’s Noodle House

Le Cheval

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Pho  Rich and sweetly spiced clear beef broth is the foundation for this Vietnamese soup, and I’ve tasted none better than Kevin’s. The soup starts with paper-thin slices of raw beef and a tangle of vermicelli, and is served with an overflowing side of bright veggies and basil. Toss in the veggies, squeeze in the Sriracha, and have a blast. 933-4746, kevins

Vanessa’s Bistro 2 Spicy lemongrass calamari and prawns  The lemongrass shines through loud and clear against a complex background of sweet-and-spicy fish sauce. Add a spoonful of darkroasted and crumbled peanuts, and you’re in business. 891-4790, —Nicholas Boer

mitch tobias

Walnut Creek is awash in Vietnamese restaurants, most with an elegant French sensibility and a California cuisine ethic. We went in search of dishes that best represent Hanoi stateside.



» Deb Phillips /owner/chef, lottie’s creamery

An Ice-Cream Dream Comes True

» Inspired by Grandma, Lottie’s combines nostalgia with the best ingredients in town.

Bio _ Age: 35 First love: Mint chip Hometown: Culver City Mantra: “No wimpy ice cream”

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maria del rio


It might be because Mom was a high school culinary teacher. Or it could be because Dad brought home rock salt and ice for hand-cranked peach ice cream. But clearly, ice-cream maker Deb Phillips’ biggest inspiration came from Grandma Lottie, a professional baker, who had dared to improve upon her school district’s cinnamon roll recipe. “This is my way of paying homage,” says Phillips. Phillips relies on local organic cream, sugar, eggs, and “fold-ins”—a catch-all descriptor for the nuts, housemade cookies, toffee, fruits, and chocolate that go into the dense, flavorful ice creams that she sells at her Main Street shop, Lottie’s. “We are using the very best ingredients you can possibly get in the Bay Area,” says Phillips.

With fewer than 10 flavors offered each day (you can view the daily chalkboard on Facebook), Phillips wants each lick to linger on the tongue. The brown butter pecan is nothing like the cones from Thrifty drugstore, which Phillips prized as a kid. She mixes brown sugar into a cream base, sugars and toasts the nuts, and folds it all into a brown butter base made from scratch with Straus Family Creamery dairy. “It’s taking something I enjoyed as a kid and making it a real fun grown-up treat,” she says. Riffs on classics apply not only to the ice cream: The whole store is an ode to a bygone era, with cone paper cups for water, antique signs, and pendulum Edison lights. When Phillips was a kid, she planned to open an icecream parlor called Lickity Split, but when she thought of naming it “Lottie’s,” it warmed her heart. “I feel like my dream came true.” 1414 N. Main St., 472-0723, —Nicholas Boer






AT ORINDA ORINDA THEATRE THEATRE SQUARE SQUARE IT’S IT’S ALL ALL GOOD. GOOD. Casual, Casual, yet yet upscale upscale dining dining with with aa menu menu for for AT every taste. taste. An An eclectic eclectic blend blend of of boutiques boutiques and and health health & & beauty beauty services. services. And And all all the the latest latest every movie releases at an iconic Bay Area theater. With so many new and exciting restaurants and movie releases at an iconic Bay Area theater. With so many new and exciting restaurants and shops, there there are are so so many many reasons reasons to to think think inside inside The The Square! Square! shops,



Jewelry stores around downtown.


Artists whose work is for sale at home store Kitchen Table.


Year Broadway Plaza was founded.


Number of hours Broadway Plaza is open annually.


Square footage of Neiman Marcus.

Kinsley James Couture Bridal


kinsley james couture bridal



As the East Bay’s premier shopping destination, downtown Walnut Creek puts the style in suburbia. The ever-evolving city has a constantly cool fashion scene, with big-name stores and unique boutiques popping up all around town. Turn the page for all your shopping and style needs. 35

shopping spree


Look What We Found

» Check out the newest shops on the block for everyone on your list. For the art appreciator

For the fairy tale wedding dress

Valley Art Gallery

Kinsley James Couture Bridal » Badgley Mischka and Modern Trousseau are among the names of designers’ gowns tempting brides-to-be at this salon. 330-9228,

For the young (at heart) ladies

Brandy Melville » You’ll find ultra-soft cotton crop tops, flowing maxi dresses, and home accessories such as a wooden sign that says “babe cave.” 280-5481, bran For the new mom

Wish Boutique

» A mother-daughter team has put a cozy touch on its ranchstyle shop filled with home goods, tutus for toddlers, and jewelry for moms. 322-7109, walnutcreek.

For the savvy shopper

For the stylish foodie

Liberty Bell Pop-Up Plaza

We Olive

» Every month, a new group of carts and kiosks sprouts up across from Broadway Plaza, with merchandise ranging from leather laptop totes to imaginative puppets.

3 6

» Check out a great selection of locally sourced extra virgin olive oils, as well as an array of natural bath and body products. 280-4574, walnut

For the bibliophile

Swan’s Fine Books

» Bookworms take comfort in the smell of worn pages from a first-edition copy of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, among others. 956-7926, —Katie Cornell

clockwise from left: Kinsley James couture bridal; Valley Art gallery; shutterstock

» This nonprofit gallery showcases Bay Area artists, and you can find unique pieces from $150 to $3,500. Art rentals are available as well. 935-4311,


Refresh and Relax on Any Schedule » Tight on time? Not to worry. Here are some beauty treatments for the busy gal.

75 minutes

15 minutes

Eyebrow Wax phoenix salon and day spa Have an unruly pair of eyebrows that needs reshaping on the double? Waxing specialists at Phoenix Salon and Day Spa will help those furry brows rise from the ashes of unkemptness. 943-4944, phoenix

45 minutes

Pumpkin Peel skinspirit Maybe being called a pumpkin head isn’t so bad. SkinSpirit offers the Pumpkin/Pro-Retinol peel, a treatment that combines glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, and vitamin A to shrink your pores and leave your skin silky smooth. 9529200,

60 minutes

Changes Salon and Day Spa

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Lash Extension thirteen hair salon Want bombshell eyelashes that will make men swoon? Thirteen Hair Salon can make it happen. A stylist will apply eyelash extensions lash by lash with medical-grade adhesive. They’re so light, you won’t even know they are there— but everyone you bat your eyelashes at will. 932-2242,

Tipsy Pedicure beauty lounge and wine bar Go native with a specialty treatment, such as the Tropical Lime Spa pedicure at the Beauty Lounge and Wine Bar. Sip a complimentary mimosa while pedicure specialists rejuvenate your feet with a lime exfoliant and massage away all the tensions of the mainland. 954-8421, lounge925.

2 hours

Spa Day changes salon and day spa Feel the refreshing power of a rain forest waterfall without ever leaving the Creek. Indulge in Changes Salon and Day Spa’s Amazon Rain Experience, a combination of a 45-minute lymphatic massage, detoxifying mask, and hydrating tropical mist. Light pressure applied along the lymph nodes encourages toxin release while stimulated by the smells and sounds of the rain forest. 947-1814, —Eliza Lamson



top ten


Stylish Steals

» How to pinch your pennies and still look like a million bucks.






Scarves worn a variety of ways can exhibit elegance, and show off your fabulousness. $13–$20 at H&M, 935-2394,

Carry a monogrammed tote bag to get style points, from the farmers market to the beach and everywhere in between. $22 at Toss Designs, 939-8677,

Since the 1930s, the crocodile has been a status logo on the polo shirt; now, it adorns a leather wristlet. $48 at Lacoste, 942-9595,

Made of golden steel and cubic zirconia, Rebecca Minkoff studs show off striking faux diamonds. $68 at Neiman Marcus, 279-3000,

Direct from Martha’s Vineyard, All things preppy will have him looking like a Kennedy in polo shirts. $69 at Pelican Rock, 935-1833,






He doesn’t need to be an international playboy to sport a silk pocket square, showing off a flair for style. $50–$105 at Daskalos, 937-1808,

Beautifully tailored Italian shirts in luxurious fabrics for men and women evoke the spirit of the Riviera. $100 at Naracamicie, 988-0844,

There is no better way to enhance your outfit than with a great beltrom a shop that specializes in European clothing. $148 at Jeu de Jupe, 932-8122,

A men’s-style watch by Michael Kors is a timeless accessory that only looks extravagant for both men and women. $160 at Nordstrom, 930-7959,

A vegan leather jacket at a great price—and no animals were harmed in the making. $185 at The Red Box, 2801188, —Carolyn Rovner

Pocket Square

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Monogrammed Tote

Tailored Shirts

Leather Wristlet

Unique Belts

Stud Earrings

Men’s-Style Watch

All Things Preppy

Vegan Leather Jacket

pelican rock; carolyn rovner (2)

Designer-inspired Scarves


» Lynn nice /owner, labels luxury consignment

Secondhand, First Class »

For 15 years, this Walnut Creek fashionista has offered top-name brands at bargain prices.

4 2

Bio _ Hometown: Landenberg, PA Founded: 1998 Children: 3 Bucket list: Trip to Fiji Giving back: Donates unsold clothing to charities, shelters, and theater groups

lori fuller


How do you help a customer find a party dress for a special birthday? Well, if you are Lynn Nice, owner of Labels Luxury Consignment, and customer satisfaction is part of your core business, you might just treat your client to champagne and chocolate-covered almonds. Especially if it is that customer’s 100th birthday. “I never want that to disappear, that intimacy of interacting with people,” says Nice, fondly remembering a customer’s recent birthday celebration. “There’s something to be said about human interaction, female camaraderie, and a little pampering.” Nice takes pride in the customer experience, which may be the secret to her success. Her drive to create positive interactions started with Label’s humble beginnings, when Nice was entrusted to sell the late

Margaret Lesher’s extensive wardrobe. The pieces, ranging from fall and spring collections to Western wear and custom leather, were enough to fill the shop three times over, and establish a reputation of respect and quality at Labels. Fifteen years later, pieces from Chanel, Versace, and Alexander McQueen line the racks of the light, airy space, transporting the shopper to a chic international boutique. Labels added a second location in Berkeley a few years ago, and recently doubled the size of the original Walnut Creek shop. It now boasts a “shoe salon” and an array of couture jewelry and handbags by the likes of Louis Vuitton and Chloé. “Customers have a choice to shop anywhere,” Nice says, “so if they choose to walk in here, I want to make sure they have a great experience.” Once an item sells, consigners receive 50 percent of the profit—and that’s pretty darn nice. 952-4566, —Miranda Adler

Eric Rudney of Rudney Associates is Honored To Be Selected as One of The 2012 Threads of Hope Recipients

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Hours that Diamond Dave performs every Thursday at Dan’s Bar.


Cost, in dollars, of well drinks during 1515’s Thirsty Thursday specials.


Cost, in dollars, for a bottle of Grey Goose on the VIP menu at Redux Lounge.


The year Contra Costa’s oldest gay bar, Club 1220, opened.


Song choices in The Greenery’s karaoke machine.

Dancers at the On Broadway gala



ben krantz


When the Lesher Center for the Arts opened in 1991, it made Walnut Creek the place to go for the highest-quality performing arts in Contra Costa County. And with plenty of live music venues, dance clubs, pubs, and bars, Walnut Creek also is the East Bay’s nightlife epicenter. So, turn the page, and get the party started, Creek-style. 45

arts finds


Lesher Center 101

Dance Company C Contemporary Ballet » Former New York City Ballet dancer Charles Anderson directs Walnut Creek’s cutting-edge Company C Contemporary Ballet, which performs in January and May.

Diablo Ballet » Diablo Ballet, also based in Walnut Creek, has offered worldclass dance performances and inventive, educational programming for 20 years. Smuin Ballet » San Francisco’s Smuin Ballet, founded by Emmy and Tony Award–winner Michael Smuin, visits the center three times per year, including a spectacular holiday show.

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Fine Art Bedford Gallery » The center’s art gallery is a gold mine of creativity, exhibiting work by local, national, and international artists in every medium, plus special events such as artist talks and workshops. Admission is free with theater ticket.



California Symphony » Led by its exciting new conductor, Donato Cabrera, the California Symphony presents a range of classical concerts, from Mozart to movie scores, in the center’s Hofmann Theatre. cali

Lesher Speakers Series » Internationally famous guests—from Laura Bush to Maya Angelou to Colin Powell—come to talk at the Lesher Speakers Series, now in its 10th season. lesherspeak

Margaret Lesher Theatre Concerts » In the intimate Margaret Lesher Theatre, world-renowned musicians perform in the SF Chamber Music Series, as well as the Diablo Regional Arts Association–produced Jazz and Guitar Series.,, walnut

Theater Center Repertory Company » You don’t need to cross the bridge for great theater, thanks to Center Rep, which offers a wide range of comedy, drama, and musicals each season. Look for edgy Off Center productions, including the upcoming Real Housewives of Walnut Creek. Contra Costa Musical Theatre and Diablo Theatre Company » These two companies have found great success offering new productions of familyfriendly classics such as Legally Blonde, The Sound of Music, and Tarzan.,

On Broadway » Billed as a suburban black-and-white ball, On Broadway is a fun, formal Broadwaythemed evening of dinner and theater put on by Diablo Regional Arts Association to fund center programs. Stars to the Rescue » Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation kicks off each year with Stars to the Rescue, a benefit concert featuring an all-star lineup (previously, Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, and Keith Urban) of entertainment.

clockwise from left: ben krantz; center repertory company; bedford gallery

» Walnut Creek’s arts center offers a range of programs on its three stages and in its gallery.

bar crawl


Pick Your Poison

» Start your night out with a mixed-to-perfection artisanal cocktail. You can’t throw a perfectly sculpted ice cube in this city without hitting a talented bartender pouring delicious concoctions. Here’s where to hit, when you have a specific libation in mind.

Mai Tai/


» If you’re looking for a refined way to sip the Japanese rice wine, order a flight from Sasa. The Three Northern Beauties selection emphasizes crisp, fruity notes, whereas the Umami Series focuses on sake’s earthy characteristics. 210-0188,


» The Cuban specialty gets kicked up a notch at Havana, which uses fresh fruit purees in refreshing flavors, such as raspberry and mango. On Mondays, all 13 mojitos on the menu are half price. 939-4555,

Bloody Mary/

» Sure, you could order a Bloody Mary at most brunch joints, but how many let you build your own? From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends, the staff at Stanford’s supplies the vodka, and you get to add your choice of mixes, spices, and other add-ons. 944-0895,

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» Grab a seat on Maria Maria‘s outdoor patio, listen to live music, and kick back with the house margarita, made with 100-percent blue agave tequila. Or, lighten up with the Skinny Girl margarita, a lower-sugar option made from owner Carlos Santana’s Casa Noble blanco. 946-1010,


» At $1 a pop during a generous weekend jazz brunch, a few glasses of champagne and orange juice always go down easy at Cypress. If you prefer your bubbles sans fruit, a weekly Wednesday special features half-price glasses of champagne, in between the restaurant’s happy hours. 891-4197, —Kristen Haney

left to right: havana restaurant; maria maria

» Walnut Creek Yacht Club, with its 75 rums and seasonal cocktail menu, can fine-tune this tropical classic. The fruity cocktail features three kinds of rum, orgeat syrup, orange curaçao, and lime juice, served over crushed ice. 944-3474,

top ten


A Party Every Day

» Here’s your guide to fun every day of the week.






McCovey’s Head to the bar for the Willie McCovey signature “Stretch” burger and a cold draft beer for $10, all day Monday. 944-9444,

Pinky’s PIzza  The classic pizza joint offers half-off ponies and pitchers, and medium pizzas for $13, all day Tuesday. 939-5000,

Masses  At Masses, score $1 tacos, $2 Coronas, and $3 margaritas all day, and then at 9 p.m. brave karaoke with a live band, Tuesday. 2567665,

Pyramid Alehouse  Assemble your smart squad and compete against other teams at Pyramid Alehouse, Tuesdays, 6–9 p.m. 9461520,

Club 1220  Embrace your inner Adam Lambert, with hosted karaoke at the city’s oldest gay bar, Wednesdays, 10 p.m.–2 a.m. 938-4550,

Two for Tuesdays

1-2-3 Taco Tuesdays

Trivia Night

Kamikaze Karaoke






1515 Restaurant Lounge  This party place pairs food and drink specials with live music upstairs, every Thursday, 9 p.m. 939-1515,

Redux Lounge  It’s ladies night on Fridays, with a deejayed dance party, VIP tables, and bottle service, weekly, 10 p.m.–2 a.m. 934-9490,

Hamachi Sushi  Dig in to ahi tartare while pianists go head-to-head, covering hits of yesterday and today, Saturdays, 10 p.m. 2960630,

Scott’s Seafood  A longtime classic offers live jazz music and bottomless seafood and bubbly, Sundays, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. 934-1300,

Lift Lounge  Before the work week, recharge at Lift Lounge, which serves $10 mimosa carafes and 50-cent wings, all day Sunday. 9371600,

Thirsty Thursdays

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Pussycat Fridays

Dueling Piano Show

Champagne Jazz

Sunday Funday

left: shutterstock; right: shutterstock

McCovey’s Monday

Spend the day in Danville!

Stroll your way around our historic downtown. Parking is free! Shops, cafĂŠs, restaurants, spas, winebars, museums, galleries, parks, and trails and more.


» Jim Telford /owner/chef, residual sugar

A Pour-fect Fit

» How one wine bar turned a quiet street


A few years ago, Jim Telford was ready for a major career and lifestyle change. With a baby on the way, Telford decided it was time to leave his career as a foreign currency advisor in San Francisco, and chase a dream out in the suburbs. “I was inspired by some friends in San Francisco who own wine bars,” says Telford. “I can’t take all the credit for picking Walnut Creek: I had a lot of friends who told me the community would embrace this kind of small business.” In 2010, Telford found a cozy space on a quiet stretch of Locust Street, packed it with 12,000 bottles of wine from around the world, and Residual Sugar was born. The wine bar quickly became a nightlife game-changer for its block, which later added a high-end beer hall and a dueling piano nightclub.

5 2

Pop into Residual Sugar on any evening, and you’re sure to find the place packed with wine lovers. The early birds enjoy an after-work drink or pre-show toast, before taking in a performance at the Lesher Center for the Arts across the street. Later at night, the place is hopping with a singles’ scene. “It was very important to have a wine bar that did not alienate any demographic,” says Telford. “The places in San Francisco have a mixed ages crowd—baby boomers and Gen Xers sitting next to each other drinking wine, with something available for every price point. That’s what we were going for with Residual Sugar.” Telford says his younger customers have shown an especially eclectic interest in wine, so he has made sure to stock Residual Sugar with a wealth of international labels as well as a healthy stock of California wines. “You really can explore almost any region of the world through wine,” Telford says, adding, “even if it’s just for a couple of hours in a wine bar while a sitter is watching the kids.” —Peter Crooks

Bio _ Hometown: El Cerrito  Founded: 2010 Children: 2  Bucket list: Piedmont region, Northern Italy  Favorite job perk: Visiting Burgundy, France, on business

Joe budd

into the place to be.



Different glass and jewelry classes at Civic Arts.


Lanes in the Olympic size lap pool at Heather Farm.


Cost, in dollars, for 18 holes of golf at Boundary Oak (weekend rate).


Acres in open space parks.


People who watched the Aquanuts perform on America’s Got Talent in July.

Walnut Creek’s Aquanuts



brian horii


Walnut Creek offers some of the best recreation options in the Bay Area. The city’s vast open space parks invite bird-watchers, climbers, and hikers, while the Civic Arts and recreation departments offer myriad craft, dance, and athletic programs. There are a million ways to have fun in the Creek: Here are just a few of them. 55



Family Fun

» From toddler to teen, the whole brood will enjoy these activities.

Animal Rescue Foundation

» Beyond animal adoptions, ARF offers children camps, classes, and volunteer opportunities that teach compassion for animals. 256-1273,

Heather Farm Park

» There’s something for everyone here, including tennis courts, a skate park, bike paths, an equestrian center, a rock wall, and an Olympic-size pool. 943-5858,

ARTISTIC EXPRESSIONS Fantasy Forum Actors Ensemble

Walnut Creek Library

» This theater troupe performs delightful fairy tales, such as Cinderella and The Emperor’s New Clothes— perfect for young children. 943-7469,

» From flannel-board story time for toddlers to kids’ book clubs to visiting performers and authors, the library is far from quiet. 9773340,

Lindsay Wildlife Museum

» Peek inside a beehive, watch a hawk be fed, touch a snake, and look behind the scenes at the facility’s rehabilitation hospital. 935-1978,

EXPLORING NATURE Ruth Bancroft Garden

» Beyond exploring the unique cacti and succulents, don’t miss the activity cart and seasonal festivals offering kids’ games and crafts. 944-9352, ruthban

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Borges Ranch

Chevron Family Theatre Festival

» In July, thousands head to the Lesher Center for the Arts for one day of free theater, dance, music, and puppet shows. 295-1470,

Civic Arts Education

» Classes in fine and performing arts are available to kids of all ages, such as How to Draw Anime, Petite Pianist, and Bling Jewelry for the 21st Century. 943-5846,

EDUCATIONAL ENTERTAINMENT Walnut Creek Model Railroad Society

» Marvel at one of the largest model railroad displays in the United States, with 4,300 feet of track and 240 working switches. Open select weekends. 9371888,

» Tour the 1901 ranch of the city’s pioneering family, including a blacksmith shop, farm equipment displays, and livestock. 943-5899, Ext. 2162, —LeeAnne Jones

left to right: paul hara/lindsay wildlife museum; ruth bancroft garden; bedford gallery

Animal Encounters

top ten


Ways to Harness Your Superpowers » Indulge your inner superhero and get fit while you have fun.


Get your climb on at Boy Scout Rocks at Mt. Diablo State Park; spiderweb not included.

Find your inner Gumby as you twist through 26 postures at Bikram Yoga Walnut Creek. 944-6546, bikram

Scale Like Spiderman

Bend Like Elasti-Girl




Pump your way through exercises such as wall balls and squats at CrossFit Sweat Shop. 818-1908, crossfit

Go off leash on any of the Shell Ridge Open Space’s 31 miles of hiking trails, all with spectcular scenery.

Moms can’t do it all. Or can they? At Bloom Retreat, enjoy some tea after a yoga class while sitters watch your tots. 939-6262,

Get Strong Like Iron Man

Channel Your Senses Like Wolverine

Multitask like Wonder Woman






You can butterfly with the best at Clarke Memorial Swim Center’s Olympic-size pool, in Heather Farm Park. 943-5856,

Not everyone can pull off a leather onesie. Get closer at The Bar Method, where you’ll tuck into a toned body at the ballet barre. 933-1946,

High-intensity circuit training at Lynch Fitness will have you lifting heavy kettlebells like feathers, leaving others green with envy. 482-0696,

Aside from teaching a high kick, Kang’s Taekwondo Academy tells you how to be a take-charge person. 2555425,

Take flight on a trampoline and twirl on the uneven bars with an adult gymnastics class at Encore Gymnastics. 932-1033, —Miranda Adler

Splash Like Aquaman

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Strut Like Catwoman

Smash Like The Hulk

Karate Chop Like Elektra

Fly Like Superman

left to right: shutterstock (2); benjamin Chun/flickr


Walnut Creek 1919 mt. diablo blvd 925.938.1919

Union Square Pacific Heights Mill Valley





Palo Alto

415.388.0250 650.328.4545

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» Shawn Steen / owner, the jam brothers

The Jam Master

» Shawn Steen crafts handmade guitars in his music shop on Boulevard Way.

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Bio _ Age: 46 Hometown: Boston Founded: 2010 Favorite musician: Nick Cave First instrument: Drums

joe budd


When you meet Shawn Steen in his guitar store and studio, it’s obvious that the guy has spent his whole life in the music business. “When I was a kid, I would beg my mother to take me to the music store,” says Steen, the owner of Jam Brothers on Boulevard Way. “There was something about all the instruments that felt magical.” A Boston native, Steen started playing drums at age nine. “The first song I learned was ‘California Dreamin’ ‘,” he says. “Which was appropriate, because when I turned 17, I moved to California and never looked back.” Steen settled for a while in San Francisco and worked at a famous Haight-Ashbury music store, where he sold guitars to members of Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. After

that, he worked with Gibson guitars in L.A., where he partnered with many a rock luminary. “I worked with Paul Stanley from Kiss quite a bit. I asked him to sign my copy of the Destroyer album. I told him it was the first album I ever bought and the first concert I ever went to. He said, ‘It’s a very good place to start.’ ” Steen loved the Gibson gig, except for the L.A.–living requirement. So, he moved back to the Bay Area to open Jam Brothers. In addition to selling new and used Fenders and Gibsons, Steen recently launched his own line of handmade guitars, which sell for $1,200–$1,600. His Steen Guitars line features an ergonomically friendly shape that gives players a comfortable and steady feel. Steen has found a talented community of local musicians in Walnut Creek, which is why he wanted to move back to the Bay Area. “I named the store as a nod to the communal feeling that musicians in the Bay Area have,” he says. 1208 Boulevard Way, 9791600, —Peter Crooks

defining eyewear

famous faces


Who’s Who?

» Walnut Creek has been home to a number of famous folks. Here are a few of the most recognizable.



Kyle Gass, actor (Elf, Seinfeld, Friends) and musician, Tenacious D. Alice Greczyn, actress (The Dukes of Hazzard, The Lying Game). Jason Newsted, musician, Newsted, former bass player for Metallica. Markie Post, actress, Night Court. Jeff Richards, comedian, Saturday Night Live.

James McCoubrey, world’s oldest living man, before his death in July 2013.

Athletes Tom Candiotti, baseball pitcher for the Oakland A’s and five other Major League teams. Mariya Koroleva, Olympic synchronized swimmer who competed in the 2012 Summer Games. Mark Madsen, NBA player who won three championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. Terrence Wheatley, NFL cornerback for the New England Patriots and three other teams.

6 2

2 Falling in Love With Movies As a kid, I just loved going to the movies at the El Rey Theatre on Main Street. I have this wonderful book called A Pictorial History of Walnut Creek, which has a picture of the El Rey in it.

Spotlight: Katharine Ross

grew up in Walnut Creek—she was in the third graduating class of Las Lomas High—before starring in some of the most successful films of all time, including The Graduate and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Now residing in Malibu, Ross reminisced with us about her days in the Creek.

k at h a r i n e ro s s

3 On Making Movies With The Neighbors “You should note that the producer [of Ross’ cult classic Donnie Darko], Sean McKittrick, is from Alamo.”

clockwise from top: courtesy of jason newsted; Silverscreen collection/getty images;


Before Progress “When we moved to Walnut Creek, they were just starting construction of the 680 freeway, which totally changed the face of the town. I’m glad I knew what Walnut Creek was like before the freeway. Progress is a double-edged sword, you know.”


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dining listings


r e stau r a n t s Ajisai Japanese Grill & Sushi

Alborz Restaurant Kebabs are perfectly grilled, juicy, and tender. Rice is light and fluffy. The kashk bodemjan, with its rich roasted eggplant, hint of mint, and fried onions, is the best we’ve eaten. Alborz’s dining room reflects the homeland: brightly colored Persian rugs and a mural of Tabriz. 1829 Mt. Diablo Blvd., 944-9009, order Lunch and dinner daily. 2 3 4 5 $$

6 4


Jennifer Martiné

Sit at the sushi bar and Wayne Mo, Ajisai’s earnest manager and gracious chef will steer you to the freshest fish. If you’re doing tuna rolls, the Oakland A’s, with avocado, and green tobiko is a refreshing complement to the crispy spicy tuna roll. Skip the yakitori and go for tempura ice cream­: It’s better than apple pie à la mode. 2300 N. Main St., 932-8398, ajisaiwalnut Lunch Mon.–Sat., dinner daily. 134$$


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dining listings


Bombay Indian Restaurant If

Chef Jon Lee Playful chef

Breads of India and Gourmet Curries Berkeley foodies

Citra Grill Citra Grill may be

Breads of India is Walnut Creek’s source for thoughtful, sophisticated Indian cuisine, then Bombay Indian Restaurant is its shy teenager. Our visit found the curries are mildly flavored with modest seasoning, and other dishes are catered to American tastes. It’s a good place for kids and the spice-adverse. 1512 N. Main St., 932-5777, bombay Lunch and dinner daily. $$

Jonathan Lee calls his food “Asian confusion.” We loved the sweet yet spicy tamarind curry, and a coconut milk and lemongrass soup with its soothing, lightly spiced broth. Other dishes, however, were too sweet, too mild, or too confused. We rectified bland romaine lettuce wraps by spooning on the spicy chili and peanut sauces. 1250 Newell Ave., Ste. J, 935-9335, Lunch and dinner Mon.–Sat. 1$$

cemented Breads of India’s reputation. The expansive Walnut Creek extension boasts gold-washed crimson and outdoor seating. The cooks pride themselves on using seasonal, organic ingredients and fresh-ground spices. This location has another bonus: a decent wine list. 1358 N. Main St., 256-7684, Lunch and dinner Tues.–Sun. Also in Berkeley and Oakland. 2 3 $$

fast food, but it’s healthful and pristine as well. Grilled skewers of filet mignon, salmon, or veggies are served on pita bread fresh from the oven. And they came with a bonus: crunchy cabbage, marinated cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, and dill potato salad. Service is fast, friendly, and competent. 1550 Olympic Blvd., 932-4872, Lunch and dinner daily. 13$$

cBlue Wet Bar & Bistro Best known for its casual dining, cBlue hired a new chef and stepped up its game with more healthful offerings. Quinoa never tasted so good. The 485-calorie Trainer’s Table included chicken chimichurri and Pacific cod. But there were plenty of hearty dishes, too. 2805 Jones Rd., 938-8700, Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. 234$$

Corners Tavern The Tavern

is an urban, kitschy, and inviting mishmash of stylishness and warmth­—like a reconstructed British bar but with much better food. Try the Greene King pale ale and fresh fish, batter-fried to a golden crispness. Or a glass of earthy, backboned López de Heredia Rioja and the brined and smoked half chicken. Or just order a Coke and a seriously good burger—and soak in the atmosphere. 1342 Broadway Plaza, 948-8711, Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sun.

2 3 4 5 $$$

6 6

The Counter This 21st-century

diner serves red Angus beef on a bun or greens, wearing one of 12 cheeses and any of 30 garnishes, from pickles to avocado to hardboiled egg. Stick with the burgers and sides here: grilled veggies and delectable french fries or sweet potato fries. (Hint: ask for the onion strings on the burger.) 1699 N. California Blvd., 935-3795, Lunch and dinner daily. 2 3 $$

The Door The Door emphasizes

dark wood spiked with red, as in the photo of crimson-robed monks. But the patio is the place to dine, and happy hour is the time. Our green papaya salad was zingy, the calamari light and tender, and our chicken satay juicy, swathed in a peanut sauce. 1448 S. Main St., 930-8088, thedoorrestaurant. com. Lunch and dinner daily.


Dragon’s Pond From the professional service, to the modern interior, to the Hunan-style Mandarin cuisine, Dragon’s Pond is a cut above. Still, prices are more than reasonable. Prawns with fresh mixed vegetables and the crispy glazed chicken had a lingering heat that hit our comfort zone just right. The restaurant delivers, too. 1353 Locust St., 926-0278, dragonspond. com. Lunch and dinner daily. 1 $$

The restaurants that appear in this section are reviewed by Diablo magazine’s panel of restaurant critics, who dine anonymously and at our expense. We do not accept advertising or other consideration in exchange for a listing. If your experience of a restaurant differs greatly from ours, please call our reader hotline at (925) 943-1199, Ext. 4, or e-mail Not all restaurants reviewed appear; for the complete listing, go to diablomag. com. All area codes are 925 unless otherwise noted.

key to symbols

$ Cheap ($10 or less per dinner entrée) $$ Inexpensive ($11–$17)

$$$ Moderate ($18–$24) $$$$ Expensive (more than $25)

1 2 3 4 5

Wine and beer Full bar Outdoor dining Private room or parties of 50 or more Late-night dining (service after 10 p.m.)

Dragon 2000 Dragon 2000

boasts an extensive menu featuring all the enticing standards—from kung pao to chow fun—as well as the exotic. Sample the flaming pao pao platter and sweet-corn soup. Lunch is affordable and the dim sum and sushi add distintion. 1651 Botelho Dr., 287-1688, dragon Lunch and dinner daily.

2 45 $$

Élevé Owner Michele Nguyen

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar Fleming’s puts the

modern steak house on a diet, pricewise, while preserving much of the swank. We enjoyed a tender rib eye steak, as well as a juicy veal chop with piquant béarnaise. Just don’t overdo it with heavy starters. There are 100 wines available by the glass, and flights arrive in dramatic fashion. 1685 Mt. Diablo Blvd., 287-0297, Dinner daily. 2 4 5 $$$$

Hamachi Restaurant & Lounge If you’re in the mood for

a kitschy night out in a club-ish atmosphere, check out Hamachi’s dueling pianos and neon sushi roll presentations. The basic sushi is fresh, but other items are overworked. The cocktail list packs a lot of fun. We finished with a light and provocative green tea tiramisu. 1523 Giammona Dr., 296-0630, Lunch Tues.–Fri., dinner Tues.–Sun. 2 3 4 $$

Havana Start with a mojito­before

even looking at the Cuba-inspired menu. We enjoyed a refreshing halibut-mango ceviche and silky seared day boat scallops on a sweet potato puree. Go for the heartier entrées, from the seared lamb chops in a balsamic reduction to the classic Cuban dish ropa vieja. Skip dessert, and have another mojito. 1516 Bonanza St., 939-4555, Lunch Mon.– Fri., dinner daily. 2 45 $$

has taken the flavors of her family’s beloved Pho 84 in downtown Oakland and added class and sophistication. FrenchVietnamese must-try dishes include beef carpaccio, five-spice chicken, and any dessert that comes with mini madeleines. Sit at the sleek bar, with its artisanal liquors and hand-cut ice, for specialty cocktails. 1677 N. Main St., 979-1677, eleverestaurant. com. Lunch Tues.–Sat., dinner Tues.–Sun. 234$$$

1515 Restaurant Lounge Even after the bar fills with cocktailsippers, this downtown nightspot serves straightforward, feel-good food. We enjoyed a caprese salad with ripe heirloom tomatoes and tender buffalo mozzarella, and the smoky-sweet and tender baby back ribs. Doughy, pale pizzas need work. Young, energetic servers gush about almost every item, including a wildly indulgent, hyper-sweet dessert involving soft-baked chocolate chip cookies. 1515 N. Main St., 939-1515, 1515wc. com. Lunch and dinner daily. brandon weight

2 3 4 5 $$$

Corners Tavern 67

dining listings


Home of Chicken and Waffles

The classic fried chicken is savory, moist, and totally satisfying: We liked the wings the best. The waffles are even better—flavorful and light but substantial enough to hold up to the chicken. We loved the rich, brothy flavor of the collard greens. Night owl alert: It’s open until 4 a.m. on weekends. 1653 Mt. Diablo Blvd., 280-1653, homeofchicken Lunch and dinner daily. 2345$$

House of Sake A somewhat

raucous, easy environment, where couples and families pack in for top-notch sushi and a variety of sake served hot, room temp, or cold. The menu includes the usual suspects and a couple of twists, like the teriyaki mahi mahi or the vegetable garden, a dinner of flavorful sautéed vegetables. 313 N. Civic Dr., 930-8811, thehouseofsake. com. Lunch and dinner daily. 14 $$

Hubcaps Diner The automotive metaphor is carried to humorous extremes at this bright corner café dedicated to American diner classics. Beverages are listed under “Lubricants,” and sides are “Side Cars.” Whatever car-related name the menu may give your dish, the food is solid, plentiful, and quick. 1548 Bonanza St., 945-6960, Breakfast and lunch daily, dinner Tues.–Sun. 135$

Va de Vi

6 8

Joe Budd

Il Fornaio Il Fornaio was a pioneer behind the modern Italian movement. At our meal, a beet salad melded zippy arugula with a lemony dressing, and a roasted

chicken showed up piping hot and crispy alongside perfectly roasted Yukon gold potatoes. Finish a meal with any (or all) of the light, luscious Italian desserts. 1430 Mt. Diablo Blvd., 296-0100, Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sat.– Sun. 2 3 4 5 $$$

green curry redolent of lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves, all hallmark herbs of Thai cuisine, brought by waiters in long black aprons swishing by monumental elephant art. 1665 Mt. Diablo Blvd., 988-9877, Lunch and dinner daily. 2 4 $$

Il Pavone Il Pavone retains the look of a house in the country, which is probably what it was when the intersection of Olympic and Tice Valley boulevards was truly in the hinterland. The extensive northern Italian menu adds sandwiches and panini at lunch and extravagances such as rack of lamb with rosemary-infused balsamic vinegar sauce at dinner. Early-bird specials are available nightly. 2291 Olympic Blvd., 939-9060, Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner daily. 2345$$$

Kaiwa Sushi One of Walnut

Kabob House We loved an

appetizer of tahdig, crisp basmati rice topped with a hearty stew (ours was made with cubed beef and yellow lentils). Kebabs come with fluffy, heavenly rice and nicely grilled steak tomatoes, but both the lamb and koobideh (strips of ground beef) kebabs were on the tough side. Service in the low-lit, soothing dining room is cordial. 1250 Newell Ave., 935-9278, Lunch and dinner Tues.–Sun. 1 $$

Kacha Thai Bistro Kacha nails

the classics: chicken satay; crunchy, pungent green papaya salad; and savory pad Thai. The Bengal’s Favorite brings beef bathed in a

Creek’s more refined sushi destinations, Kaiwa offers a cool respite from the Locust Street bustle. The restaurant’s lunch menu is filled with generous permutations of teriyaki, tempura, and maki rolls, all served with miso soup, rice, salad, and pickles (no, not the deli kind). Check out happy hour for great sushi deals. 1534 Locust St., 274-9496, Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner Mon.–Sat.

2 3 4 5 $$

Katy’s Kreek The hollandaise on

the 12 varieties of eggs Benedict is perfectly rich and lemony, and the poached eggs wonderfully puffy. At lunch, we liked the flaky, white haddock fried crisp. Its sister restaurant, Katy’s Korner, is in San Ramon. 1680 Locust St., 946-0949, Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. 2 4 $$

Kevin’s Noodle House With

lightning-fast service, an upbeat vibe, and wallet-friendly prices, Kevin’s Noodle House is perfect for a quick lunch or leisurely dinner. Fresh spring rolls and tasty fried fish cakes are good bets from the appetizer list. We like most everything on the entrée menu, from traditional pho to combination rice plates. Check out the fun beverage list. 2034 N. Main St., 933-4746. Lunch and dinner daily. 3 $

Lark Creek Walnut Creek

This stalwart restaurant keeps on giving. We devoured polenta fries with chipotle mayonnaise. Our grilled New York steak and the wild king salmon couldn’t have been more succulent. Pick any dessert: Butterscotch pudding, chocolate cupcake sundae, and strawberry rhubarb crisp are all marvelous. 1360 Locust St., 256-1234, larkcreek. com. Lunch Mon.–Sat., dinner daily, brunch Sun. 2 3 4 $$$

Le Cheval The Oakland granddaddy of upscale Vietnamese made it to the burbs. Classic renditions, such as rice vermicelli salad with grilled pork, are vibrant. The Le Cheval combo—pork kebab, prawn kebab, fried chicken wings, and an imperial roll—is another standout. Cheval means horse, and Le Cheval’s bright and airy dining room renders them in art. 1375 N. Broadway, 938-2288, lecheval. com. Lunch and dinner Tues.–Sun.

2 4 $$

Lettuce At this lunchtime hot spot, watch your gourmet salad be assembled to order with organic, farm-fresh ingredients. The Napa salad is a standout, with field berries, toasted sugar walnuts, and grilled rosemary chicken. We also loved the deep, complex flavor of the roasted butternut squash soup, and the ultra-refreshing and complimentary fruit-and-mint infused water. 1632 Locust St., 933-5600, Lunch and dinner daily. 13$$

Maria Maria The food at this

Carlos Santana–backed restaurant can be a backdrop to the atmosphere, but we enjoyed the zippy guacamole, tender short ribs in a smooth blackberry mole, and succulent duck tacos. 1470 N. Broadway, 946-1010, mariamaria Lunch and dinner daily. 2 3 45 $$$

Massimo Ristorante Just

across from the Lesher Center for the Arts, Massimo offers good, if sometimes overdressed, salads, pasta, small pizzas, and standards like king salmon and roasted chicken. On warm nights, the patio makes for great alfresco dining, and the indoor piano bar reflects a bygone era. 1604 Locust St., 932-1474, Lunch Tues.–Fri., dinner Tues.–Sun.

2 3 45 $$$

McCovey’s This sports-themed eatery remains a haven for baseball fans and families. The food, a wide array of bar fare, has its ups and downs. An order of ribs was meltingly delicious and a wedge salad, made with herb-roasted tomatoes, was also good. But the fish tacos suffered from off flavors on our visits. Free lemonade refills restored our faith in the team. 1444 N. California Blvd., 944-9444, Lunch and dinner daily. 2 45 $$ Mi Casa This homey spot near the automotive businesses of North Broadway serves Mexican and Central American fare. We liked the flavorful and light chicken soup, full of tender carrot, celery, and 69

dining listings


potato, pupusas (cheese, bean, or meat cornmeal patties), and a fresh and satisfying taco salad. 2195 N. Broadway, 937-8800, micasa-wc. com. Lunch and dinner Tues.–Sun.


Miraku This Walnut Creek spot is

a beauty, with a babbling, rock-lined pond in the middle of the dining room. The food is beautiful, too. Udon soup arrives in a miniature iron cauldron. Tempura vegetables are like crunchy clouds. The sashimi glistens. An adjacent noodle bar serving deeply flavorful soups and noodles only adds to Miraku’s appeal. 2131 N. Broadway, 932-1112, Lunch and dinner daily. 14 $$

able and stylish restaurant in an elegant vintage building. Dim sum shows off bold, fresh flavors in traditional packages. The teriyakimirin steak was lifted by fresh, colorful veggies. Likewise, a wonton soup with vibrant deep dark greens absolutely rocked. Sassy cocktails and wines work with the food to add fun, and happy hour runs all day long. 1525 N. Main St., 988-8008, Lunch and dinner daily. 2 3 4 5 $$

Montecatini Ristorante If a

high noise level and an out-thedoor line of diners are signs of a good Italian restaurant, Montecatini is a sure hit. The menu is full of northern Italian standards, with barely a nod to the cucina rustica that’s so in vogue. Don’t neglect the ever-popular pollo alla schiacciata—crispy, juicy, and rosemary scented. 1528 Civic Dr., 943-6608, montecatinirestaurant. com. Dinner Tues.–Sun. 2 $$$

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Nama Sushi & Teriyaki Nama

Sushi is a party on wheels, with a line out the door on weekend nights. And it’s no wonder, considering the freshness of the sushi, the efficiency of the service, and the exuberant friendliness of the manager, Mr. Kim. Check out the snappy seaweed salad and the choice, buttery toro fatty tuna. Also in Pleasant Hill. 1502 Sunnyvale Ave., 932-9540. Lunch and dinner daily. 1 $$

OI-C Bowl We couldn’t find a single menu item that wasn’t delicious—no small feat for a restaurant offering everything from duck to dim sum. Spicy Szechuan cuisine— kung pao, mixed vegetable tofu, and sautéed string beans—is the mainstay here. At lunch, go for a bento box combo, fried rice, or the “super bowl,” a massive bowl of steaming noodle joy. 1616 N. Main St., 287-8118, Lunch and dinner daily. 2 3 4 $


With a splashy interior and folding glass doors for seating that spills out into the street, Opa makes for a scenic setting. It serves authentic specialties like souvlaki, gyros, and moussaka, and more innovative dishes like the Metaxa chop, a double-cut pork chop rubbed with spicy paprika and glazed with Greek honey, Dijon mustard, and brandy. 1532 N. Main St., 891-4700, opaauthenticgreek. com. Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sat.–Sun. 2 5 $$


Modern China Café A comfort-


1475 N. BROADWAY | WA LN UT C REEK | 925-947-1814 | W W W.C H A N G ESSA L O N .C O M

dining listings Ottavio Small-but-mighty Ottavio wows with details not often spotted outside of Italy: Crisply fried sage leaves, a Piave cheese that’s been aged to a heavenly nuttiness, and almost everything—the pasta, the cured meats, the smoked fish— made in-house. The goat’s milk panna cotta existed somewhere between custard and the Sistine Chapel. 1606 N. Main St., 930-8008, Dinner daily.


Pasta Primavera Walnut Creek There’s a reason this café

has been in business for more than two decades: The portions are large, the food is tasty, the prices are low, and the staff is hospitable. We loved the fettuccine carbonara—noodles bathed in egg yolks and cheese, and peppered with crisp bacon and chopped scallions. 2997 N. Main St., 930-7774, Lunch and dinner daily. 2 3 4 $$

Plearn Thai Palace If you

liked the two Plearns in Berkeley, you’ll like this one too. Barbecued meats—chicken, pork, and beef—are plump and smoky, with a distinctive blend of spices. The pad Thai is tender and sweet, with a bright freshness in the herbs and vegetables. 1510 N. Main St., 937-7999, Lunch Mon.– Sat., dinner daily. 1 $

Pomegranate Pomegranate’s

greatest asset is its calming, shaded outdoor patio. The addictive gyros linguine is one of the clever mixes of Mediterranean and Italian cuisines. And the restaurant’s namesake gets star billing in the pomegranateinfused chicken, roasted in a woodburning oven and served with garlic

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mashed potatoes. 1389 N. Main St., Ste. B, 944-9292, pomegranate Lunch and dinner daily. 1 3 4 5 $$

Prima Ristorante The Italian

standard-bearer in Contra Costa for more than 30 years. Chef and co-owner Peter Chastain’s pure, flavorful risottos aren’t boosted by cream, and his light gnocchi and crisp pizzas will have you making repeat reservations. Wine director and fellow owner John Rittmaster keeps the wine list stocked with such treasures as a fine Bastianich Friulano that’s a dream with seafood. 1522 N. Main St., 935-7780, Lunch Mon.– Sat., dinner daily. 2 3 4 $$$$

Pyramid Alehouse Pyramid’s

grub is traditional grill fare: starters, salads, burgers, and wood-fired pizzas, and the menu is extensive. Beer is incorporated into the kettle-brewed chowder, chili, and soup recipes. But the star attractions are the brewskis themselves. House favorites include Apricot Ale, Hefeweizen, and India Pale Ale. 1410 Locust St., 946-1520, Lunch and dinner daily. 1 3 4 5 $$

Rocco’s Ristorante & Pizzeria Rocco Biale, the grandson of immigrant restaurateurs from Savona, Italy, has established a family sanctum perennially jam-packed with soccer teams, working lunchers, and pizza aficionados. And, no surprise, the pizza is darn good. 2909 Ygnacio Valley Rd., 947-6105, Lunch and dinner daily. 2 3 4 5 $

Ruth’s Chris Steak House

Ruth’s Chris, with its secondfloor dining room, contemporary patterned carpeting, and wraparound windows, has nothing to do with Old West–style steak restaurants. Think Humphrey Bogart, not Ben Cartwright. And think steaks like “buttah.” The restaurant is known for cooking its red meat in 1,800-degree broilers, the intense heat sealing in the juices. 1553 Olympic Blvd., Bldg. E, 977-3477, Dinner daily. 2 45 $$$$

Salvatore Ristorante This sun-splashed trattoria is lively and bright, with its sponge-painted walls and big windows looking out across Broadway to the green of Civic Park. The place remains lively through the dinner hour, thanks to the attached bar. The menu leans toward Sicilian dishes, with a special emphasis on fish. 1627 N. Broadway, 932-2828, Lunch Tues.–Fri., dinner Tues.–Sun.

2 3 4 $$

Sargam Indian Cuisine Curries and tandooris from northern India dominate the à la carte menu, selections of which are featured on the generous lunchtime buffet. The latter usually features a lushly delicious sag paneer (spinach with house-made cheese) and a creamy chicken pasanda. 140 N. Civic Dr., 937-2700. Lunch and dinner daily. 1 3 4 $$

Sasa Don’t be intimidated

by the large, intricate menu. Knowledgeable servers will walk you through the thick sake list, sushi menu, and various small plates. We loved Manila clams steamed in butter-sake broth and the thick, meaty pork belly skewers. You can’t

beat the flavorful oil-rich yellowtail collar. Green tea crème brûlée is a nice finish. 1432 N. Main St., 210-0188, Lunch and dinner daily. 2 3 45 $$

Scott’s Seafood Grill & Bar

Scott’s is devoted to seafood: grilled, baked, fried, stewed, poached, or roasted. And it’s all sauced in seemingly infinite ways. Prime, aged, center-cut steaks (filet mignon, New York) are always on the menu. On Sundays, treat yourself to the champagne brunch accompanied by live jazz. 1333 N. California Blvd., 934-1300, scottswc. com. Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sun. 2 3 45 $$$$

Silk Road Owner Tony Sohi is repeating his success across the street at Pomegranate. Aromatic pita bread arrives hot with a dish of dipping oil. Go for juicy grilled kebabs on plates of heaping rice, Mediterranean pizzas, and pomegranate hen or osso buco. And the lemony and vegetable-rich tabbouleh can’t be beat. 1440 N. Main St., 932-9090, silkroadwalnut Lunch and dinner daily.


The Stadium Pub A person can get mighty hungry watching 50 television screens at once, and the pub fare here will take that edge off in a hurry. Burgers, hot dogs (don’t forget the sports peppers), and Philly cheesesteaks do the trick, or you can go the deli route and bite into a raft of pastrami. 1420 Lincoln Ave., 256-7302, Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sun. (during football season). 2 3 45 $

dining listings

» Stelle Bistro

Check out the überhearty pasta rustica: orecchiette with caramelized onions, potatoes, sage, and truffle oil. The Italian end of the menu is solid if unsurprising, but Stelle does offer South American specialties worth exploring. Try the lomo saltado, a Chineseinfluenced Peruvian stir-fry with steak, onions, and french fries over rice. 1403 Locust St., 988-0604, Lunch and dinner daily. 2 45 $$$

Sunrise Bistro and Catering

This is a highly eclectic menu, ranging from vegetarian burritos to big slabs of smoked meat. All-American sandwiches come on hearty, house-made bread. Celery, apples, and cashews give the chicken salad a healthful crunch, while the brisket sandwich is just plain good. 1559 Botelho Dr., 930-6323, sunrisebistrocatering. com. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. 2 3 4 $$

Taheri’s Mediterranean Restaurant The kitchen mainly

Tatsu Sushi Hardwood and chrome-styled Tatsu has been serving California-style sushi rolls for more than a decade. Let the waitstaff guide you through the menu. Favorites include Robin’s Walnut Creek Yacht Club

7 4

Mitch Tobias

hits the mark with this Italian, Greek, and Middle Eastern menu. Steamed shellfish comes in a basil broth, perfect for sopping up with fresh focaccia. We loved the succulent lamb loin, and the pasta selection is extensive. 2999 Oak Rd., 933-1000, Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner Mon.–Sat. 1 3 4 $$


concord walnut creek

dining listings

Tender Greens Part self-service restaurant, part hall of gastronomy, Tender Greens offers natural house-carved meats and gardenfresh vegetables sourced from small local farms. Choose them for a sandwich, on a hot plate, or in a simple salad. Platters of roasted and grilled vegetables brighten the chef’s counter, where you’ll see your meal assembled. 1352 Locust St., 937-5100, tendergreens Lunch and dinner daily. 13$$

Tomatina Walnut Creek’s Tomatina offers grown-up flavors in a warm, family-friendly room scented with garlic from the open kitchen. Sweet, intensely flavored roasted tomatoes spark the popular piadine caprese, a warmed flatbread topped with salad. Lunch and dinner daily. 1325 N. Main St., 930-9999, 13$$

Va de Vi The name means “it’s all about wine” in Catalan, but this hot spot is also about great food. Va de Vi makes pasta in-house and cures its own charcuterie. The sautéed broccoli de cicco combines citrus, garlic, heat, and crunch to beautiful results, and the roasted Alaskan black cod remains one of the East Bay’s most stunning dishes. Have fun exploring wine with multiple flight options. 1511 Mt. Diablo Blvd., 979-0100, Lunch and dinner daily. 23$$$

Walnut Creek Yacht Club

Yan’s China Bistro and Bar



WCYC has the freshest fish, bar none. The simplest preparations are usually the best, particularly the half-dozen or more grilled entrées listed each day. Each comes with a side (get the irresistable “regatta” fries.) The oyster bar rocks, as do the artisanal cocktails. 1555 Bonanza St., 944-3474, wcyc. net. Lunch and dinner Mon.–Sat.

Vanessa’s Bistro 2 Here are your

marching orders: Start with a signature cocktail or special wine by the glass. Order the refreshing green papaya salad and a hefty caramelized filet mignon. Leave a good tip for the talented staff, and be on your way with a smile and a song. This is modern Vietnamese at its best. 1512 Locust St., 891-4790, Lunch and dinner daily. 2$$$

Vic Stewart’s This railroad depot turned steak emporium, with several dining rooms and a cozy dining car, features marbled Angus beef that will tempt you in all its forms: filet mignon, prime rib, and New York steak. A wine list loaded with hearty reds almost guarantees you’ll find the right Cabernet or Merlot. 850 S. Broadway, 943-5666, vicstewarts. com. Dinner Tues.–Sun. 24$$$$

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse

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Stone-tiled floors, a shiny full bar, and sleek lighting provide a flashy setting, but the menu is straightahead Chinese. One example: a steaming bowl of wonton soup—clear beef broth, tender dumplings, and wedges of perfectly cooked bok choy. 2929 N. Main St., 944-5968, yanschinabistro. com. Lunch and dinner Tues.–Sun.

fleming’s prime steakhouse

special (hamachi, crab, and cucumber wrapped in shrimp and tuna) and Hawaii pearls (spicy tuna and avocado topped with maguro and tobiko). 1837 Ygnacio Valley Rd., 287-9273. Lunch and dinner daily. 14$$



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