Best of 2016
BEST OF 2016
As cities go, Walnut Creek is ridiculously full of places to eat, shop, and get fit and beautiful. So we turned to you, our valued Walnut Creek Magazine readers, to select your top choices in a range of categories. It’s a worthy list of your local favorites comprising everything from food to fashion to fitness.
The next time you find yourself looking for the best brunch spot or place to picnic, refer to this issue. Its love lives on.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY RACHEL CAPIL, JESSICA FREELS, SARAH GRUNDER AND KYLE LUMAN
SHOP / SELF
In a town that takes beauty seriously, WOODHOUSE DAY SPA is making a mark for its anti-aging Hydrafacials that leave you glowing. The 80-minute treatment infuses antioxidants, peptides, and hyaluronic acid into the skin for immediate results. Open just over a year, the serene vibe and attentive staff leave you pampered and relaxed. 1626 Cypress Street, woodhousespas.com.
When it comes to wedding rings that make a statement, SPITZ JEWELERS has the last word. Whether you prefer a platinum, sterling or gold setting, there are dozens of styles and diamonds to choose from here. Family owned and operated for 65 years, Spitz is the trusted local resource. 1333 N. Main Street, spitzjewelers.com.
Whether it’s a prom, or a weekend in Vegas, nothing says party like a little black dress. And no one has a better selection than NORDSTROM. With its vast designer dress collections and brands for every budget, Walnut Creek’s destination department store is a perennial favorite. 1200 Broadway Plaza, nordstrom.com.
Eyeglasses can be a necessity or a fashion statement. Either way they should fit your face and your style. BROADWAY EYEWORKS carries it all—Chanel, Face à Face, Oliver Peoples and Tom Ford. A local institution for more than 25 years, the boutique-like store is packed with frames for seeing and sunbathing. 1389 N. Broadway, broadwayeyeworks.com
It’s time to face the facts: BOTOX is as commonplace as hair dye. For anyone approaching middle age, it’s a magic fix for drooping eyelids, sagging brows and forehead wrinkles. BOTOX specialists at ENCORE MEDSPA spend their days saving face with corrective injections. There’s no fake or frozen looks here, the best treatments are undetectable. 1501 Mt. Diablo Boulevard, encoremdspa.com.
A full service men’s salon, 18/8 has reinvented the traditional barbershop, and its popularity reveals that the salon experience is not just for women anymore. They offer semi-private stations facials, scalp treatments, manicures, and more. 1576 Botelho Drive, eighteeneight.com.
Say goodbye to boring lashes and hello to Betty Davis eyes. For envy-worthy lashes, I CANDY EYE SALON wins for extensions that give you a lush, natural look. Whether you’re seeking a mascara, glamour or couture look, this is the place to fulfill your lash dreams. 7000 Sunne Lane, icandysalon.com.
The inspired, garden-style floral arrangements at Darwin Harrison’s FLORALI can only be described as ethereal. His passion for plants and flowers is evident in every arrangement— blooms, tendrils, grasses, fruit and pods — all play a role in the designs. 2345 Boulevard Circle, florali.com.
Bonnie Waters has created a magical retreat in the heart of Walnut Creek. Her prized CHANGES SALON & DAY SPA is a winner year after year. This time Changes took the prize in four categories: BEST DAY SPA, BEST MASSAGE, BEST NAIL SALON AND BEST BODY WAXING. If you’ve never been there, it’s time to go. Treatments begin in the tranquil oasis of the Aqua Terra room where the floor to ceiling water wall calms and soothes. Spa services run the gamut from massage, facials, waxing, and body therapy to manicures, pedicures and a full service hair salon. They do makeup too. There’s no shortage of ways to indulge here. 1475 N. Broadway, changessalon.com.
PAIR OF JEANS
Whether you’re in the market for skinny, faded, torn or high-waisted, NORDSTROM has the perfect fit. An entire quadrant of the second floor is devoted to jeans—featuring dozens of brands in dozens of styles to fit every body type. Settle-in to a dressing room, and let Nordstrom stylists help you find your jean destiny. 1200 Broadway Plaza, nordstrom.com.
Not all panties are created equal. At VICTORIA’S SECRET silk and stretch lace can be sweet or saucy. Everything here comes in a myriad of colors –from panties to pajamas and bras. Next time you need to stock your lingerie drawers, turn to the place the locals go. 1281 Broadway Plaza, victoriassecret.com.
Comfort, fashion, and motivation. What more do you want in a pair of yoga pants? LULULEMON inspires its cult-like following with chic, great fitting athletic wear. 1210 Broadway Plaza, lululemon.com.
Make friends feel welcome in their new home with a gift from WISH, the whimsical boutique tucked away on Boulevard Circle. Browse candles, succulents, glassware, pillows, and throws from the bountiful inventory in vignette-themed rooms. 2333 Boulevard Circle, wishwalnutcreek.com.
So much more than a paint store, independently-owned Benjamin Moore PROFESSIONAL PAINT CENTER delivers great tips for your home projects. With paint pros and designers on staff, plus a wide range of stellar colors, this shop gets top marks. 2724 N. Main Street, professionalpaintcenter.com.
No matter how much TLC you bestow on your prized pair of kicks, even the best shoes pass their prime. Let A-1 SHOE REPAIR work their magic on your pumps, and for a lot less than a new pair of Valentinos. Scuffs cleaned up, zippers repaired and leather polished too. 1399 N Main Street, a1shoerepair.com.
Next to women and cars, nothing excites men more than watches. The tightly edited collection at OC WATCH COMPANY includes new and pre-owned Breitlings, Patek Phillips, Rolex, and Panerai. Owner Kyle O’Connor matches your personal style with the perfect watch. 1507 Cypress Street, ocwatchcompanywc.com.
EAT / DRINK
At LETTUCE, lunch comes big and delicious. Salads are made from scratch, hand-tossed and topped with house-made dressings. Customer favorites include the Big Cobb, Pink Lady, and Sonoma. A focus on good food at a great value makes this restaurant a winner. 632 Locust Street, lettucerestaurant.com.
With its eclectic menu and creative recipes, VEGGIE GRILL makes vegetables taste good. Hefty, but meatless cheeseburgers and Buffalo wings, along with kale, tofu and cauliflower star at this fast casual restaurant, where carry out is king. With calorie counts posted on the menu, watch your waistline and wallet. 1320 Locust Street, veggiegrill.com.
If you’re looking for a happy hour with tasty bites and cheap cocktails, head to VANESSA’S BISTRO where prices drop in the afternoon to $7 for most tapas and drinks. Favorites include salt and pepper fried calamari, Vietnamese green papaya salad with poached prawns and crispy Saigon chicken rolls with spicy lime dipping sauce. Everything here tastes good too. 1512 Locust Street, vanessasbistro2.com.
Chances are you’ve eaten at SUNRISE BISTRO, a reader favorite year after year. At this busy bistro, giant breakfast burritos are topped with house made salsa, and poached eggs cover sweet potato hash. But the real show stoppers are the signature yogurt pancakes topped with berry compote, served plump and piping hot. 1559 Botelho Drive, sunrisebistrocatering.com.
What more can be said about the Berkeley coffee sensation founded in 1966? Before there was Starbucks, there was PEET’S. And to its legions of fans, it still endures. Hand-roasted sustainable coffees from all over the world transform a simple cup into a revelation. 1343 Locust Street, peets.com.
Photos of daredevil rock climbers and radical snowboarders cover the walls at EXTREME PIZZA where adventurous diners dive into delicious pies. At this popular downtown hangout, great tasting pizzas run the gamut—Wham, Bam Thank you Mammoth covered in Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions and mozzarella, or Peace in the Middle East topped with hummus, tomatoes, black olives, and feta. 1630 Cypress Street, extremepizza.com.
With special attention to fresh and sustainability, SASA wins again and again. Walnut Creek’s fashionable fish lovers converge at this dynamic restaurant and sushi bar where killer rolls and succulent sushi are the star attraction. 1432 Main Street, sasawc.com.
Szechwan and Cantonese cuisines are a winning combination at OI-C BOWL where the menu offers everything from Peking duck buns to Singapore rice noodles. From the spacious dining room, it’s easy to see Chinese chefs preparing fresh dim sum and other house specialties. Lunchtime is especially popular for Bento Box specials and big bowls of hot and sour soup. 1616 N. Main Street, oicbowlchinese.com.
It’s the burger era. Fat, fresh and delicious. To satisfy their cravings, Walnut Creek Magazine readers head to THE COUNTER for plump patties exploding with flavor. Garnishes range from cheese to fresh grilled pineapple and shredded carrots to fried onions topped with an egg. Not a fan of beef? Order a poultry, fish or veggie burger. 1699 N. California Boulevard, thecounterburger.com.
SAN FRANCISCO CREAMERY is making mountains of sweet magic. This popular ice cream parlor dishes it up the old-fashioned way—big scoops made from scratch. Lines form out the door for cones, sundaes and sodas. But its real claim to fame is the “Kitchen Sink,” a gigantic sundae for six. 1370 Locust Street, sanfranciscocreameryco.com.
Around for decades, MORRUCI’S is aging well. Lines form out the door for Reuben’s that rival any New York deli, juicy, flavorful and just greasy enough to slide down easy. Other sandwich stand-outs include the 6 ¾ with turkey, fresh pesto and mozzarella. 1218 Boulevard Way, moruccisdeliwalnutcreek.com.
A time honored tradition of Mexico, grilled, stuffed, and tortilla wrapped tacos are a three bite delight. MARIA MARIA wins for balancing spice and sweetness in its pineapple carnitas tacos. Grilled shrimp tacos come smothered in a heavenly chipotle cream sauce. Wash them down with a margarita on the creekside patio. 1470 N. Broadway, mariamariarestaurants.com.
The name says it all. ROOFTOP delivers starry nights and sunset vistas atop a stunning building in the middle of Walnut Creek’s shopping district. Snag a seat at the bar to sip hand-crafted cocktails and curated wines. Come here for the energy and ambiance, there’s no place else like it in town. 1500 Mt. Diablo Boulevard, rooftopwc.com.
It’s all about the fresh baked goods at A SWEET AFFAIR BAKERY. A Walnut Creek mainstay for over 30 years, a huge variety of pastries, cookies, cakes and cinnamon rolls pack the display cases and leftovers are served to customers for samples. 1815 Ygnacio Valley Road, asweetaffairbakery.com.
The feather-weight strands of pasta in the house specialty, Fettucine Alla Viareggina, are tossed with seafood and topped with a rich tomato cream sauce at MONTECATINI RISTORANTE. For the past 27 years, Chef Ermes Paulin has been pleasing Walnut Creek patrons with his delicious, freshly prepared pastas and Italian dishes. 1528 Civic Drive, montecatinirestaurant.com.
BEST RESTAURANT AND BEST SEAFOOD
Another year, another win for WALNUT CREEK YACHT CLUB. This time they won for both best seafood and best restaurant. There’s something to be said for a seasonally shifting menu that features sustainable fresh fish and excellent cocktails. Opened in 1997 by Chef Kevin Weinberg and Ellen McCarty, this popular bistro is famous for its clam chowder, beer-battered fish and chips, seafood Louies, cioppino and garlic fries. 1555 Bonanza Street, wcyc.net