Walnut Creek might be known for its open spaces, lush greenery and Mediterranean summer climate, but it has also earned a place in many foodie hearts. While it’s within driving distance of some of the larger cities on the California coast, it’s not necessary to travel outside of Walnut Creek in search of an excellent restaurant. From Italian to Thai to ‘Asian confusion’, here are 10 of the city’s best.
The Sunrise Bistro is often hailed as the best breakfast in Walnut Creek, perfect for everything from a business meeting to a long brunch with friends or family. It serves up big portions of breakfast dishes from pancakes to huevos rancheros, and their catering services are also very well regarded. Owner and chef Cindy Gershen is a favourite with locals, and can often be found chatting to her regular customers. The only downside is the notoriously tricky parking, but seeing as that’s unlikely to be a problem for tourists, we can’t see what would stop you paying Cindy and her team a visit.
Sunrise Bistro, 1559 Botelho Dr, Walnut Creek, CA, USA, +1 925 930 0122
Ottavio is a place for real Italian food-lovers. Every dish, but particularly the pasta, is fresh, prepared with care, and beautifully presented. The pasta is homemade and unlike anything shop-bought, and is definitely worth a try whether or not you’ve had fresh pasta before. From the outside, this little restaurant isn’t overly imposing or impressive, but inside it is cosy and snug, and the warm decor makes it the perfect place for a romantic meal for two.
Ottavio, 1606 N Main St, Walnut Creek, CA, USA, +1 925 930 8008
The first Il Fornaio baking school was established in 1972 in Italy, and the chain now has 21 restaurants in different locations all over America. Their signature recipes are developed by Maurizio Mazzon, who regularly travels to Italy to gain inspiration for his dishes. Il Fornaio has won numerous awards, including the Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence at every branch of its restaurants. The Walnut Creek branch is large and accommodating, and consistently serves up the finest Italian food and wine.
Il Fornaio, 1430 Mt Diablo Blvd, Walnut Creek, CA, USA, +1 925 296 0100
Chef Jon Lee describes its food as ‘Asian Confusion’, but let us assure you that it’s only confusing in the very best sense of the word. Chef Jon is originally from Bali, but aims to bring together a wide variety of Asian foods in his cooking, hence the ‘Confusion’. The end result is a delicious and thoughtfully constructed selection of dishes. The sticky chicken is a firm favourite with locals, and the cheesy crabby wonton puffs are an interesting take on a traditional dish. While the restaurant is not huge, the staff are always friendly and the prices are very reasonable.
Chef Jon Lee, 1250 Newell Ave, Walnut Creek, CA, USA, +1 925 935 9335
The San Francisco Creamery Co. has a long heritage of producing quality homemade ice cream, and a taste of its sundaes will assure you that standards have not slipped since the 1950s. They make all of their own ice cream, hot fudge, syrups, and butterscotch in store with traditional methods, and the Victorian décor of the shop adds to the sense of stepping back in time when you eat at the San Francisco Creamery Co. Their huge sundaes are ideal if you’re looking to treat yourself, or take along some friends and try their Kitchen Sink, which serves up to six people. If you’re feeling brave, try and tackle it alone; the current record is 20 minutes and 37 seconds.
Salvatore Ristorante has a truly family run vibe, and recipes for many of the dishes on their menu have been passed down from generation to generation of Salvatore’s family. The restaurant has tables for large groups, as well as more intimate booths for special occasions or a romantic evening for two. It’s a great place to hold a party as staff are very accommodating for large groups, and locals often comment on the welcoming atmosphere cultivated by Salvatore and Angela. They also serve some of the best takeaway pizzas Walnut Creek has to offer.
Salvatore Ristorante, 1627 N Broadway, Walnut Creek, CA, USA, +1 925 932 2828