Around the World: A Wide Variety of Cuisines in the East Bay
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. BabushkaRestaurant.com
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. April8Cafe.com
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. CocoCabanaDublin.com
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
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.
>> Discover more of our favorite places to eat in the East Bay and beyond.