Let’s All Go Out to Eat in the East Bay
Can you believe that Mother’s Day and graduation are already upon us? If you’re looking for a new place to take the gang to celebrate, here are some newer family-friendly options that’ll do the trick.
DANVILLE – Diners at Danville’s Cocina Hermanas may be wondering where they’ve seen that server before. The answer—across the street. The Tex-Mex spot is the inspiration of Darren Matte, who owns Danville’s Harvest.
If you think cheese should be its own food group, then the fried queso Oaxaca appetizer is a must. These bite-sized wedges of fried cheese are served on a smear of roasted tomato salsa alongside a small salad featuring arugula, radish and onion.
For those who prefer something light, the roasted fish tacos garnished with cabbage, pico de gallo and cilantro then finished with spicy chipotle crema are a great choice.
Heartier appetites may prefer the crab and shrimp flautas. They’re served with esquites, poblano rice, house beans and smothered with queso. You may need a box.
Tacos start at $9. Full bar. Open daily from 11:30am. 501 Hartz Ave., Danville. CocinaHermanas.com
WALNUT CREEK – Adventurous eaters will savor the options at Walnut Creek’s Tozai Izakaya. My table started with bowls of miso soup, perfect to warm us on a chilly evening. From there, we delved into what for me was the unknown.
We selected the mountain yam with spicy cod roe from the starters. Not like our “Thanksgiving” yams, these were white and crunchy like jicama.
From there, we headed to the skewers, deciding on chicken breast, beef, pork sausage, corn and a lamb chop. Spicy wasabi sauce topped the tender and juicy chicken breast. The beef was flavorful in its teriyaki sauce. The pork sausage and corn were great choices, but my favorite of the night was the lamb chop, grilled medium rare and tender.
Chicken liver, heart, skin and beef tongue are more venturesome options.
Skewers start at $4. Beer and wine. Tues.-Sun. from 4pm. 1523 Giammona Dr., Walnut Creek. 925.954.8197.
DUBLIN – Don’t get confused if you set your GPS to Dublin’s Market Tavern and think you walked into a wine country eatery. The new restaurant that took over the former Mimi’s Cafe location in the Hacienda Shopping Center is reminiscent of a Napa restaurant. It includes a small grocery where you can buy a bottle of wine, gourmet cheese, snacks as well as select grab-and-go items from their menu. I’m keeping this spot on my radar for our upcoming summer concerts in the park series for those evenings when I don’t have time to pack a picnic dinner.
My table started with flavorful honey chipotle grilled prawns, which were quite flavorful. We loved the crunch of the accompanying chayote slaw.
Several menu items are available in two sizes. The small wedge salad was just enough for the two of us. It featured savory chunks of over-roasted tomato, bleu cheese crumbles, bacon and olives. It was one of the most “gourmet” wedge salads I’ve enjoyed – and I’ve eaten lots of them!
The large rigatoni and sausage pasta provided a great warm up to our selected entrée. They prepare the al dente noodles with mushrooms, broccoli rabe (pronounced “rob”, in case you’ve been wondering) and toss it in a silky tomato cream sauce. Crumbled sausage provides just a hint of spice to brighten up this dish.
Our hands-down favorite of the evening was the red wine braised short ribs entrée. The melt-in-your-mouth tender ribs were exploding with flavor. Instead of the usual potatoes, the ribs were served alongside a hearty serving of spätzle, with red cabbage completing the dish perfectly.
Entrées start at $16. Full bar. Open Mon.-Fri. from 11am and Sat.-Sun. from 10am. 4775 Hacienda Dr., Dublin. MarketTavernDub.com
Fratello’s Ristorante Italian Bistro
LIVERMORE – When you’ve got pasta on your mind, but you don’t want to cook it yourself, check out Fratello’s on Kittyhawk Road for Italian served up in a cozy family-friendly environment.
My table started with an order of deep-fried calamari. If you don’t like yours too spicy, you’ll enjoy Fratello’s version.
Veal saltimbocca is a solid choice. The thinly pounded meat was tender and the potato accompaniment, not quite scalloped, but close, deserves its own special shout-out.
If you’re a fan, order the basil chicken gnocchi. Cooked perfectly, this was our favorite dish of the evening.
Pasta starts at $14.95. Beer and wine. Open Mon.-Fri. from 11am and Sat.-Sun. from 12pm. 2852 Kitty Hawk Rd., Livermore. 925.294.9771.
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 the May 2019 East Bay editions.
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