Mom’s Picks for Dining in the East Bay

In honor of Mother’s Day, I asked a few of my favorite moms their picks for a special occasion. Here are their selections.

Rustic Tavern
LAFAYETTE – Gary and Tressa are the “Rust” of Lafayette’s Rustic Tavern, which features seasonal selections prepared with locally sourced organic produce, grass-fed meats and sustainable seafood.

Angie loves the restaurant’s small, family feel and their super fresh food. Although she doesn’t like cheesecake, she will eat theirs. “It’s not cheesecake, it’s heaven in a mason jar.” I would have to agree. Grilled salmon served on a delicate bed of watercress and surrounded by a savory heirloom bean ragu was my entrée of choice during a recent visit. The cheesecake paired perfectly with a pot of French press coffee.

Entrées start at $18. Full bar. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 11:30am-9pm (10pm Friday and Saturday), Sunday 10am-9pm. or 925.385.0559.

photo via Yelp

Forbes Mill
DANVILLE – They don’t go too often, but for special occasions, Vali says nothing beats the amazing meals and stellar service that her family has enjoyed at Forbes Mill in Danville. The prix fixe menu, which includes a choice of appetizer, chef ’s selection trio and dessert is a great option.

For those who prefer something lighter, go tapas-style and share a few appetizers. The crispy pork wings are a fabulous choice if you are craving something on the spicy side. Sriracha gives the braised pork shanks their heat. Poblano dipping sauce will help cool. I paired mine with seared ahi tuna and let mignon tips.

Entrées start at $28. Full bar. Open Monday-Friday, 11:30am-4:30pm for lunch and daily from 5pm for dinner. or 925.552.0505.

Eddie Papa’s
PLEASANTON – If brunch is your preference, Jami recommends Eddie Papa’s American Hangout in Pleasanton. She like that they have all the classic brunch foods one would expect, plus a few signature items. The service and ambience is great—low key and enjoyable. Personally, I think their menu is really fun.


photo via Yelp

Choose from the rotating American regional specials, an entire page of selections from a geographic area, the everyday brunch menu or regional classics. I opted for Maine and the lobster roll, which was heavy on the lobster with just enough dijon alioi to complement but not overwhelm. I enjoyed mine with a basket of fries.

Entrées start at $11. Full bar. Open Monday-Friday from 11am, Saturday and Sunday from 10am. Closing times vary by day. or 925.469.6266.

LIVERMORE – If she got her pick, Jen would go with Strizzi’s in Livermore for the variety of pasta, sh and salads. She loves the thick sourdough bread they serve with oil and vinegar and asks for chopped garlic to spice it up. Steeped in generations of Italian tradition, the menu contains the usual suspects, plus a few outliers, like cajun chicken risotto filled with mushrooms and roasted peppers. I paired the half-size version with a house salad for a healthy, spicy meal. Oven baked Lasagna remains a fan favorite. Or go light and try the wood grilled salmon salad instead.


photo via Yelp

Entrées start at $13.99. Beer and wine only. Open daily for lunch and dinner with brunch on the weekends. Hours vary by day. or 925.456.2200.

The Restaurant at Wente
LIVERMORE – Tara loves the brunch at The Restaurant at Wente in Livermore for Mother’s Day. The ambiance is so nice and the food is always very good. It’s one of her favorite spots always.

The dinner menu changes seasonally, but the hanger steak is a favorite staple of mine. It’s prepared to order and served with charred spring onion, vegetable and potatoes, with a red wine reduction.

Entrées start at $28. Full bar. Open for lunch Monday-Saturday, 11:30am-2:30pm. Dinner is served Sunday-Monday:5-8pm and Tuesday-Saturday, 5- 9pm. Sunday brunch hours are 10:30am-2:30pm.

Don’t overlook The Grill at Wente. If you want a more casual dining experience, but still want the golf course ambiance, The Grill has a great selection of gourmet salads, burgers, sandwiches and hearty breakfasts. Open Monday–Friday, 7am-7pm, and Saturday-Sunday 6am-7pm. or 925.456.2450.

Esin Restaurant and Bar
DANVILLE – Danville’s Esin Restaurant and Bar gets a thumbs up from Angie for always being consistent. She’s never had a bad meal there and says the service is personable whether they know you are not. I am a big fan of the pot roast, which, like Angie says, is always a good choice.

Entrees start at $19. Full bar. Monday-Thursday, 11:30am-9pm, Friday and Saturday, 11:30am-10pm, Sunday, 11:30am-9pm. or 925.314.0974.

The Cooperage in Lafayette
LAFAYETTE – Finally, for insanely good food, Veronica goes to The Cooperage in Lafayette. She loves it for it’s great cozy ambiance, nice location, and good parking.

I love it for their gourmet gin and tonics that come with  fresh fruit and herbs. Apparently, I need to find out where Veronica parks. Check the website for info on weekly specials, including taco Tuesday, family-style dinners and free corkage nights.

Entrees start at $16. Full bar. Open Monday-Friday, 11:30am-9pm (10pm Friday), Saturday-Sunday. 10am-2:30pm and 5-9pm (10pm Saturday). or 925.298.5915.

Janet Fazio writes ‘Tastes of Your Town’, a monthly feature in the print edition of Your Town Monthly. Parts of this article were originally published in the May 2016 issues.