Budget-Friendly Dining in the Tri-Valley

Patra India Grill in Walnut Creek serves California-India style bowls starting at $8. Photo via Patra Inda Grill

If holiday bills have you tightening your wallet this month, you can still enjoy a night out a these new, budget-friendly spots in the Tri-Valley.

Patra India Grill

WALNUT CREEK – Keeping sustainability in mind, the masterminds behind Patra (which means vessel in Sanskrit) have created a California-India style casual eatery serving bowls filled with locally sourced produce and organic proteins. Diners can create their own bowl, or chose from a handful of seasonal bowls like Mary’s Patra, with Mary’s organic chicken, basmati rice, turmeric spiced cauliflower, salted sweet corn and tikka masala sauce. I had a variation of that, opting for romaine lettuce as my base rather than rice. All bowls include a base (basmati rice, brown rice, pumpkin seeded quinoa or lettuce), a protein (chicken, lamb skewers, wild caught cod, grilled tofu or paneer), two seasonal sides and a sauce.

Bowls start at $8. Open daily 11am-9pm (10pm Saturday and Sunday). Beer and wine only. 2317 Oak Grove Road, Walnut Creek. A second location is coming soon to San Ramon. PatraIndiaGrill.com

Photo via Pizza Bello / Yelp

Pizza Bello

PLEASANTON and SAN RAMON  – You don’t need a plane ticket to get East Coast style pizza — just head to Pizza Bello in San Ramon or Pleasanton. Their thin crust pizzas are made according to authentic recipes originating from Pittsburgh, PA. Customize you own, or go with one of the many specialties. Either way, you won’t be disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed the classico, with pepperoni, sausage and mushrooms. Think outside your normal pie and order the vongole pizza with whole shelled baby clams. 

If you prefer, salads are a bargain and they are quite large. The steak salad is a filling bowl featuring romaine lettuce, cucumbers, green bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, sunflower seeds and plenty of thinly sliced (think gyro-style) steak. Subs, calzones and gelato round out the menu.

Open daily 11am-9pm (10pm Friday and Saturday). Beer and wine only. 12191 Alcosta Blvd., San Ramon and 3037 Hopyard Road, Pleasanton. Pizza-Bello.com

Photo by Luke George via Yelp

Experience Burma

PLEASANTON – Don’t be fooled by its Main Street address. The entrance to Pleasanton’s Experience Burma is actually on Division Street. But if the crowds are any indication, you probably already know that. 

If you’re new to Burmese food, start with two specialties: hand wrapped samusas filled with curried potatoes and vegetables and tea leaf salad, featuring fermented tea leaves tossed with nuts, beans, sunflower seeds and garlic with tomatoes and shredded lettuce. Both are ideal for sharing.

Mixed vegetables curry soup is more of a veggie stew teeming with seasonal offerings, perfect to warm you on a winter night. While the crispy chicken was great, my favorite was the fiery beef with tofu, string beans, red bell peppers and basil.

Dishes start at $10. Open daily 11:30am-2:30pm and 4:30pm-9pm (9:30pm Friday and Saturday). Full bar. 600 Main Street, Pleasanton. TheExperienceBurma.com

Mark 2.0 Burger served at Hop DeVine in Livermore. Photo: Mari A. / Yelp

Hop DeVine

LIVERMORE – It’s technically not new, but Hop DeVine recently added a kitchen, allowing them to expand their menu and start table service. If you were a fan of their salads, don’t worry, they are still on the menu, along with the artisanal cheese and charcuterie board that resembles a work of art.

The new menu features an expanded selection of paninis, juicy burgers that rival the best in town, and my favorite (okay, outside of their scrumptious beer battered french fries that are perfectly crispy on the outside), the poke nachos with sashimi grade tuna served on crispy wontons. Pair with an order of calamari to be in appetizer heaven.

Hop DeVine is kid friendly. Entrées start at $9. Open Tuesday-Sunday 12pm-11pm (9pm on Sunday). Beer and wine only. 1708 N. Vasco Road, Livermore. 925-667-4170.

Janet Fazio writes ‘Tastes of Your Town’, a monthly feature on East Bay dining in the print editions of Your Town Monthly. A version of this article was originally published in January 2018 editions.

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