Walnut Creek: A surprising foodie mecca

It may not be the same as a few Michelin stars, a feature in Gourmet  magazine (oops! That magazine went away!)  or even a few crumbs of a mention  from the San Francisco  Chronicle’s Michael Bauer. But Walnut Creek’s food scene has just scored in the top 10 of another national measure. This is a ranking of 10 Undiscovered Restaurant Towns put out by the lifestyle website, Livability.com.

Livability.com, based in Nashville, says that Walnut Creek, while located next door to other San Francisco Bay Area foodie meccas, has “enough culinary heft to stand on its own.”
Take that Mr. Bauer! (Sorry, I was just mildly amused by the lack of imagination he and the Chronicle used with their latest Top 100 Bay Area restaurants list,  relying on their usual East–of-the-Caldecott standbys, Va De Vi and the Chows in Lafayette and Danville. Don’t get me wrong. I like those three restaurants but it’s ever more clear that the Chronicle–me-ow–is not interested in putting many resources into getting to know anything about life in our neck of the woods.)
Rant against Bauer done. Back to Livability.com’s  list of surprising restaurant towns.
Walnut Creek is No. 5 behind  Traverse City, MI, (Now, that’s surprising!), Asheville, NC, Boulder, CO, and Kansas City, Mo. The Creek is ahead of Pueblo, CO, Witchita, Alburquerque, and Eugene.
“Foodies worth their sea salt know metropolitan cities like Paris, New York City and San Francisco are considered food meccas. But diverse dining offerings and a deep-rooted food culture can be uncovered in smaller towns and cities, too,” Livablity.com says in its announcement of its new ranking. The website  is geared to the 35 million Americans who relocate each year, and its content is produced by a staff journalists.
Here’s what Livability.com says about the Creek.
“Its annual Art and Wine Festival, recognized by the Contra Costa Times as East Bay’s Best Outdoor Festival, draws 100,000 visitors to sample award-winning local and regional wines and microbrews and delicacies from dozens of local restaurants. Some eateries worth more than just a taste include the back-to-basics bakery Walnut Creek Baking Co., tapas favorite Va De Vi and the Zagat-rated Italian mainstay Prima, which features one of the most extensive and distinguished wine collections in the world. Walnut Creek dining also boasts a bit of star power – guitarist Carlos Santana is a partner at Maria Maria, the regional Mexican restaurant chain that began here and is named for the musician’s 1999 hit song.”

12 thoughts on “Walnut Creek: A surprising foodie mecca

  1. I, too, am bored with the usual suspects on Bauer's “Top 100” list. Maybe if he and staff actually came out this way to try some of the other great restaurants here he'd have more credibility.
    As for the rating, we Walnut Creekers know how special our town is and know how hard it is to pick a restaurant to go to each weekend because there are so many great ones.


  2. 3:47 PM

    Obviously not enough people are having the same problem as you regarding which restaurant to eat in each weekend as we continue to see a turnover of said establishments.

    Could be that not all of us have the spare cash right now to eat out each week.

    Good for you and keep it up so we can get those tax dollars!


  3. Yes. And when you look at the “Bargain Bites” in the Chron, it's inevitably some noodle dive or taco hole in the wall in Oakland. I mean come on. We don't need them to tell us that. Tell us something we don't know.


  4. I agree. Why would anyone want to go to Chez Panisse, Slanted Door, Dary Danko or Michael Mina (all on the Chron's top 100) when they can come to Walnut Creek and go to P.F. Changs or Pyramid Alehouse? I've lived in Walnut Creek for 17 years and have always thought the restaurants are overrated. Va de Vi is superb but after that I'm at a loss. Give me some suggestions. What are the great restaurants that I'm missing?


  5. we have a restaurant review group based on kqed 'check please' and we stay local from dublin to danville to walnut creek. what fun we dont tell them we are reviewing and we go to a host's home after for desert and review. we feel we are supporting our wonderful restaurants non- chains and chains. service counts,greetings count, but most of all the food. get a group together and try it. btw we go to all price points not judt special occasion places. cheers


  6. all i know, is that you have to go to Concord – prob La Pinata to get really great Mexican food –

    it's all “not great”…


  7. Yeah, I have been in the Creek for 4 years now and have tried every restaurant downtown and I try the new ones when they open. Lots of pretty good places but very few (if any) superb places that I would take a foodie friend… Please let me too know what restaurants I'm missing…


  8. We at HealthyOut are creating a mobile app that helps you find healthy dishes nearby your location that match your taste and nutrition preference, and after reading this blog we can't wait to find healthy and delicious dishes to feature in the new foodie mecca of Walnut Creek! We're currently in the process of testing out our new app, and as a fellow blogger, we would love for you to be a beta tester in Walnut Creek. You could share your thoughts and opinions (both good and bad), give us tips on what you'd want in the app, and even blog about your experience! Let us know what you think 🙂

    Stay healthy!


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