Praiseworthy Libations in the East Bay

Photo: Yulia Grigoryeva/Shutterstock

This month we check out four East Bay restaurants where libations are the star of the menu. Don’t worry, the food is pretty awesome too. As always, please drink responsibly.

Photo: Bourbon Highway / Yelp

Bourbon Highway 

Set your GPS to Walnut Creek to enjoy some of my favorite libations, which can be found at Bourbon Highway Country Kitchen and Bar. 

If you don’t like bourbon, don’t despair. Beer and wine are also available on the menu.

I selected a flight consisting of three pours and house-made fried dill pickle chips to get the meal started. Fried pickle chips can be heavy, but these are coated with rice flour, keeping them on the lighter side.

The bourbon pours were quite generous (you should decide on a designated driver first), so I opted to go heavier on the entrée, selecting slow-roasted fork-tender, baby back ribs smothered in BBQ sauce with a side a fries and spicy slaw. I never once picked up a knife. The fries were notably good.

Entrées start at $14. Open Tuesday-Saturday from 4pm. Full bar. 1677 N Main St., Walnut Creek.

Photo: Canyon Lakes Golf Course & Brewery

Canyon Lakes 

Tee up for great brews at San Ramon’s Canyon Lakes Golf Course and Brewery, a recent addition to the local craft brewery scene. Brewed on site, their Three Putt Porter took home the gold medal at the 2018 Best of Craft Beer Awards.

Pair your brew with a burger – the mushroom swiss burger was laden with button mushrooms sautéed in garlic, avocado slices, and finished with 1000 Island dressing. Burgers are served on a house made focaccia bun and come with either a side salad or an order of fries. If you prefer yours crispy on the outside, get the fries.

Soft tacos are also a good choice. They feature tangy cabbage slaw, avocado, crème fraîche and Cotija cheese. I had mine with tender grilled chicken breast. 

Entrées start at $9. Open daily 9am-8pm (early open at 7:30am Friday-Sunday). Beer and wine only.  640 Bollinger Canyon Way in San Ramon.

Photo: Bottle Taps / Facebook

Bottle Taps 

Craft beer aficionados will be pouring into Pleasanton’s newest watering hole, Bottle Taps, to wet their whistles. The gastropub features 30 brews on tap and 140 in bottles, enough to represent each of the styles listed in the Beer Judge Certification Program.

The menu showcases a rotating selection of small plates. My table enjoyed an enormous pub pretzel, which comes with beer cheese, an IPA mustard (off-the-charts tangy) and bacon for dipping. We paired this with an artisan cheese plate comprised of three types of cheese, olives, artichoke hearts and nuts.

Heartier appetizers may prefer the tri-tip sandwich or roasted veggie salad. Don’t make the same mistake we did; check out the dessert options first and plan accordingly.

Entrées start at $12. Open daily from 11am. Beer and wine only. 3020 Bernal Ave, Ste 160, Pleasanton.

Photo: Giselle P. / Yelp

Swirl On The Square 

Located in the historic Blacksmith Square, Livermore’s Swirl on the Square is a great spot to enjoy casual fare. Wine is available by the glass and bottle, or enjoy a flight so you can taste a few favorites.

We matched our flights with the farmers’ plate. Perfect for sharing, the platter is filled with seasonal fruits, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, artisanal cheese and meat.

If you prefer, order individual house salads and share a sandwich. The pulled pork carnitas is served on a fresh ciabatta roll. The combo of guacamole, chipotle mayo and queso fresco makes it a little messy, but it’s totally worth it.

Entrées start at $10. Open Wed-Sun. Hours vary by day. Beer and wine only. 21 S Livermore Ave, Ste 105, Livermore.

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 April 2018 editions.

>> Discover more of our favorite places to eat in the East Bay and beyond.