The 10 Must Try Restaurants In Walnut Creek, California

Photo of Imogen Beecroft
9 February 2017

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.

Walnut Creek view from Acalanes Open Space, Painted by Jon Griffin (c) Jeffrey Nash/WikiCommons

Va de Vi

Bistro, Restaurant, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free, $$$
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Seafood and Sancerre at the Walnut Creek Yacht Club
Seafood and Sancerre at the Walnut Creek Yacht Club | Courtesy Walnut Creek Yacht Club
Va de Vi means ‘It’s all about wine’ in Catalan, and it’s a perfect name for this excellent bistro, with its expansive and international wine list, which also comes with tasting notes for would-be-sommeliers. But head chef Andy Phillips has made sure it’s not only about the wine at Va de Vi, with his exciting menu featuring dishes such as potato and beer soup, tempura fried squash blossoms, and rock shrimp avocado lumpia. The outside seating area is the ideal location for an early evening glass of wine, or a sunny lunchtime break tasting some of the restaurant’s variety of small plates.

Walnut Creek Yacht Club

Bar, Restaurant, Seafood, $$$
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The Yacht Club was designed to bring the fresh and nautical atmosphere of a beachside restaurant to Walnut Creek. The oyster bar, with its six different varieties of oyster to try, is a must visit, especially as the Yacht Club serves only the finest fresh seafood, supplied exclusively by Osprey Seafood of San Francisco. The Yacht Club is also committed to serving local and organic food where possible. Add to this the fact that it has won Wine Spectator Awards every year since 2004, and there’s really no excuse for missing it.

Kacha Thai Bistro

Bistro, Restaurant, Thai, $$$
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One of the most inventive Thai restaurants we’ve ever seen, the Kacha Thai Bistro’s MSG-free food is beautiful, colourful and, most importantly, delicious. With a menu that can only be described as huge, there’s sure to be something to suit everyone’s tastes, and it’s not hard to see why it was named Best of the East Bay by Diablo magazine. As well as more traditional Thai soups, noodle dishes, and salads, the menu includes dishes with mysterious names like The Typhoon and The Lover. While you’re there, be sure to try one of their signature cocktails.

Sunrise Bistro

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.


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.

Il Fornaio

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

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.

San Francisco Creamery Co.

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.

San Francisco Creamery Co., 1370 Locust St, Walnut Creek, CA, USA, +1 925 926 0228


Restaurant, Market, $$$
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Kinder’s, Ygnacio Valley Road
Kinder’s, Ygnacio Valley Road | Courtesy Kinder's
The Kinder’s family have turned a 1946 meat market in San Pablo into a 15-strong franchise of restaurants across northern California and Nevada. The family run company serves simple, high quality steaks and sandwiches, as well as excellent ribs and a number of different daily specials. Their catering services are growing more and more popular, and they are now selling their own range of sauces and marinades, so you can even take a taste of Kinder’s home with you.

Salvatore Ristorante

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.

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