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Best Places to Shop and Eat in the East Bay

Explore the culinary, commercial, and cultural offerings of four cities.

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  • Broadway Plaza at night, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Rachel Capil
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    An evening view of Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek.
  • Diners inside Telefèric Barcelona, picture
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    Photo: Courtesy of Telefèric Barcelona
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    Diners enjoy authentic Spanish fare in the bright interior of Telefèric Barcelona in downtown Walnut Creek.
  • Locanda Ravello's patio, picture
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    Photo: Courtesy of Locanda Ravello
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    Yellow umbrellas on the patio of Locanda Ravello in downtown Danville.
  • Neapolitan pizza at Locanda Ravello, picture
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    Photo: Courtesy of Locanda Ravello
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    Locanda Ravello's Neapolitan-style pizza is the star of the menu.
  • Orinda Theatre Square entrance, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Jack Hutcheson
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    The shop-filled lane of Orinda Theatre Square wraps around the iconic art deco movie theater.
  • Display case at Republic of Cake, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Jack Hutcheson
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    Republic of Cake's sweet and savory cupcakes attract kids—and kids at heart.
  • The loaded burger at The Cooperage, picture
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    Photo: Courtesy of The Cooperage
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    Dig into a loaded burger at The Cooperage in Lafayette.
  • The exterior of Bel & Bunna's Books
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    Photo: Courtesy of Bel and Bunna's Books
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    There are books and gifts for every age at Bel & Bunna's in Lafayette.

Contra Costa County’s balmy weather, open spaces, and easy BART access make it one of the most desirable places to live in the Bay Area. Visitors, too, discover its appeal while shopping and dining in one of these four neighboring communities.

Places to Shop and Eat in Danville
Once a modest Gold Rush settlement, tony Danville retains a small-town atmosphere thanks to a meandering, oak-shaded downtown brimming with stores and al fresco dining. Fashion-forward shoppers will enjoy the jaunty styles at Duchess Boutique, while nearby Locanda Ravello’s patio dotted with yellow umbrellas transports diners to Southern Italy—as does its voluptuous pizza topped with Burrata and eggplant, an option dubbed the Sofia Loren. Crafts Creamery makes on-the-spot, flash-frozen ice cream with flavors ranging from refined (black sesame) to madcap (Lucky Charms).

Places to Shop and Eat in Walnut Creek
The recently overhauled Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek brings urban glam to the county’s main shopping hub. Among its upscale offerings, travelers will find shiny blue polycarbonate carry-ons at Edwards Everything Travel and nautical-style bags at Kate Spade New York; the sweets-obsessed should check out the newest destination of South Bay favorite Cocola for a flavored mousse confection such as the Banana Crunchy. Across the street, Telefèric Barcelona’s first U.S. outpost brings authentic Catalan spirit (and spirits) to grateful guests. Flavor-infused gin and tonics complement a tapas menu featuring rich jamón croquetas and grilled octopus, all served in an airy, industrial-chic space.

Places to Shop and Eat in Lafayette
Despite the lack of waves, sun-drenched Lafayette has the mellow feel of a beach town. Just off La Fiesta Square, casual eateries such as Chow and American Kitchen offer shaded patios for diners and their doggies. Popular newcomer The Cooperage Lafayette presents classic American fare—think loaded burgers and mac-n-cheese—in a modern, tavernlike space. A post-meal wander down Mt. Diablo Boulevard leads to Bel & Bunna’s Books, a literary smorgasbord for the young (and young at heart) tucked away at the end of a nearly hidden alley.

Places to Shop and Eat in Orinda
A compact community with outsize charms, Orinda boasts a striking vintage art deco theater in its town center. Orinda Theatre Square, the winding complex of shops and restaurants built around it, offers a number of treasures. Contemporary California artists take the spotlight at aMFa Gallery, and newly opened brewpub The Fourth Bore brings weekly trivia nights and live music to the square, along with 28 craft beers on tap. For a treat, Republic of Cake whips up a rotating menu of perfectly proportioned cupcakes such as the sweet and salty butterscotch blondie. A first-run or classic film at the Orinda Theatre is always a cool way to end the day.

This article was first published in November 2016. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.