Our Favorite Neighborhood Restaurants in the East Bay
Spring is just around the corner. If you’ve been battling a case of cabin fever, get out and walk to your favorite neighborhood restaurant. If you don’t have one yet, here are a few suggestions.
Neighborhood Sportsbar Kitchen
PLEASANTON – The owners of Pleasanton’s Mangia Mi recently gave the restaurant a face lift and reinvented the space as Neighborhood Sportsbar Kitchen, featuring pre-game bites like cheesesteak egg rolls, Neighborhood Nachos and fritto misto (calamari and rock shrimp). Game time options include burgers, sandwiches and salads.
I ordered their signature dish, the Neighborhood Burger, which was outstanding. It features a mix of house ground short rib and ground chuck grilled to order and served on a brioche bun with fries. Ad some of their thinly sliced pickles, tomato and a little spicy mustard and ketchup and you quickly have a three-napkin burger.
Don’t despair, some of Mangia Mi’s favorites round out the menu. Entrées start at $14. Full bar. Open Tuesday – Sunday, 11:30am – 9pm. 234-B Main Street, Pleasanton. NeighborhoodKitchenandBar.com.
WALNUT CREEK – Chargrilled Neiman Ranch angus chuck has never been better than it is at Walnut Creek’s Mona’s Burgers. Whether you prefer a simple, classic style burger, or are ready to throw your new year’s resolutions out the window with the Screw Diet burger featuring a fried egg, bacon, cheese and crispy onions, there is a burger with your name on it.
Keeping with the “when in Rome” philosophy, I ordered the Mona Burger with bacon, sautéed onions, melted Swiss cheese and BBQ sauce. Sounding messier than it was, this two-napkin burger rocked. Beware: even the small basket of fries is big enough to share. I had the skinny cut. Curly and sweet potato fries are also available, as are onion rings.
Although the espresso shake was tempting, I didn’t date imbibe. Burgers start at $8.95. Beer and wine only. Open daily from 11am. 1574 Palos Verdes Mall, Walnut Creek. Second location at 785 Oak Grove Road, Concord. MonasBurgers.com.
SAN RAMON – Pista House isn’t afraid to venture outside the box—or in this case the warming tray. The lunch buffet is served more or less dim sum style, with servers bringing dishes to you. Pace yourself, or you won’t make it through the selections.
Dinner is served traditionally. If you’re not well versed in Indian dishes (there were a lot of options unfamiliar to me), ask for help. Our table ended up enjoying a gourmet dining experience thanks to the manager who quizzed us on what types of dishes we normally order, asked about meat preferences and guided us on spice level. The Gobi Manchurian (cauliflower) was a standout. Chicken Biryani is also a great option. Spicy lamb, chicken curry and garlic naan rounded out our meal.
Dishes start at $7. Beer, wine and limited spirits. Open Tuesday – Sunday, lunch 11:30am – 2:30pm and dinner 5:30 – 10pm. 500 Bollinger Canyon Way, San Ramon. PistaHouseSanRamon.com.
LIVERMORE – Cajun meets Asian at Livermore’s Backyard Bayou, where shellfish is the main feature on the menu.
Oysters arrive fresh daily. Have them raw or opt for cooked. I opted for Louisiana style, a plate of three large grilled oysters with garlic butter, parsley and Parmesan cheese. You could easily pair any of the oyster options with an order of crab cakes, soup or a salad to create a complete meal.
Whenever there is a boil option, that’s what I’m going to order. Backyard Bayou has several, including shrimp, crab legs and lobster. I chose shrimp (no head, please) ordered neat – on the plate rather than in the bag. Ask about the different sauce options and spice levels. I had garlic butter, hot.
Entrées start at $11.95. Full bar. Open Tuesday – Thursday from 3pm and Friday – Sunday from 11am. 2491 First Street, Livermore. BackyardBayouLivermore.com.
Janet Fazio writes ‘Tastes of Your Town’, a monthly feature in the print edition of Your Town Monthly. A version of this article was originally published in the March 2017 editions.