Around the World: A Wide Variety of Cuisines in the East Bay

Wild boar with buckwheat, salad achu chuk and herb sauce served at Babushka. Photo: Babushka/Yelp

A recent visit to the Midwest reminded me how lucky we are to be able to savor cuisines from all over the world right in our backyard. Here are a handful that I hope you enjoy.


Showcasing Russian cuisine with a French flair, Walnut Creek’s Babushka belongs on every foodie’s must-try list. If you like smoked fish, you’ll be wowed at Babushka’s. It’s served in a tank complete with a cloud of smoke. 

Split a salad so you have room to enjoy a cup of borscht, a savory vegetable soup with finely chopped beets, cabbage, carrots, potatoes and bell peppers that is finished with a drizzle of sour cream. It’s the perfect remedy to a chilly evening. 

The traditional vareniki dumplings were good. Mine were stuffed with a mushroom filling and served in a rich garlic cream sauce. The chicken Kiev, however, was the star of the evening, simply melting in my mouth. 

If your appetite allows, try the layered honey cake. A selection of Eastern European wines will complete your dining experience. 

Entrées start at $17. Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday. Full bar. 1475 Newell Avenue, Walnut Creek.

April 8 Cafe

Bento boxes meet Asian fusion snacks at San Ramon’s April 8 Cafe, a casual spot named for the date the owners came up with the restaurant’s concept. 

The menu features a selection of popular street food items, including guozi, which are crepe-like wraps available with either savory or sweet filling, and bao, sandwich-like steamed buns filled with your choice of meat. The spicy pork bao was tender and had my eyes watering. These are great for smaller appetites or pair with a snack—like an order of potstickers—for a meal. 

Larger appetites may prefer a bento box, which includes a small salad, edamame, marinated boiled egg, rice and a protein. Ours was thinly sliced beef marinated in a sweet sauce. 

New items are added to the menu regularly. Bento boxes start at $7.95. Open daily 11:30am-9:30pm. No alcohol. 2491 San Ramon Valley Blvd, Suite 1 in San Ramon.

Coco Cabana   

With a menu comprised of Latin American specialties, Dublin’s Coco Cabana is the place to head if you want to spice up your dinner options.

Whether you’re starting with a tapas or ordering several for a meal, empanadas are a good way to go. These flaky pastry shells are filled with seasoned ground beef and come with a Peruvian aji verde sauce. If you prefer a more traditional first course, delight your taste buds with a bowl of tomato curry soup infused with coconut milk and spices.

Seafood is a large component of Latin American cuisine and many options are available on the menu, including the grilled limón salmon topped with lemon-garlic cream sauce, pomodoro tomatoes, onions, basil and chives. It’s served on a bed of buttery Yukon gold  mashed potatoes.

Entrées start at $16. Open daily, 11:30am-10pm. Full bar. 4500-C Tassajara Road in Dublin.

De Afghanan Kabob House

When comfort food is in order, check out Livermore’s De Afghanan Kabob House, a cozy spot that’s sure to satisfy.

Lamb lovers will enjoy the quabili pallow. The shank arrives hidden under a bed of rice, carrots and raisins. Ours was fall-off-the-bone tender with the raisins providing just the right amount of sweetness to complement the savory rice.

For those who like to try a little of this and a little of that, the triple kabob entrée, which includes a chicken and beef kabob alongside a spicy ground sirloin patty, is a great option. While the beef was good, the chicken infused with homemade marinade was off the charts
with flavor.

Entrées start at $11.99. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 11:30am-9pm. Beer and wine. 1550 Railroad Avenue, Livermore. 925.371.1113.

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 March 2018 editions.

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