For those of you who don't know the Bay Area very well, let me first tell you that for the past year I haven't actually lived in San Francisco. There are a bajillion small and big towns around SF that are all considered a part of the Bay Area even though the city itself is a smaller, more crowded concentration of awesomeness surrounded by water. I started out working in Pleasanton and my apartment (which is still mine until tomorrow..) is in Livermore. Dublin and P-town are pretty family-oriented (aka the 'burbs) but Livermore, my friends, has been severely underrated in my opinion. This place has over 53 wineries (see 'em all here), an adorable downtown area and all three of these towns have amazing food establishments to enjoy. I've spent most of my weekends exploring San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley, but since my parents have been in town I've had the perfect opportunity to really get to know my home for the past 15 months. Here are some awesome restaurants to check out in the Tri-Valley area in case you ever find yourself here.
Double Barrel Wine Bar - Livermore, CA
Double Barrel is a super cute little wine bar located in the heart of Livermore's downtown. It has a fabulous wine selection, seasonal tapas menu, a super friendly staff and lovely outdoor seating. Those sweet potato fries with brown sugar habanero aioli dipping sauce blew my mind until I tried those po boy street tacos from which I literally died because I just couldn't even. Literally. Fun fact: If you spill red wine all over your pants they will get you a new glass + give you all sorts of supplies to clean up + advice on how to get rid of the stain.
Main Street Brewery - Pleasanton, CA
Main Street Brewery is in downtown Pleasanton (appropriately on Main Street) and has lots of beer on tap including microbrews. I'm not a big beer fan, but this particular strawberry one I didn't hate. Give me all the girly beers! The seasoned fries are my favorite in all the land though, and their burger selection is impressive. There is often live music and events happening here and there's usually a number of regulars sitting at the full bar.
The Rock House Pub & Grill - Livermore, CACastle Rock, but don't confuse them. Rock House is kind of hard to get to as you have to drive into a shopping plaza to access the parking lot, it looks kind of rough from the outside and there's a random gift shop on the side--but don't let it deter you! These things kept me from trying this place up until a couple months ago when I read all sorts of good Yelp reviews about it and I was very pleased with it once I got my food. There are tons of unique menu items including that spam masubi up there and deviled eggs with beet sauce in addition to their elaborate and delicious burgers.
Posada - Livermore, CA
Posada is located in a shopping plaza off of Murrieta Boulevard, so I never would've known it existed if it weren't for Yelp (I'm obsessed with Yelp, by the way, if you like food and don't already use it, I highly suggest you get on it). It's a Tex-Mex tapas restaurant and everything was delicious. Seriously, I didn't even take a photo of my main entree-- The Bay Shrimp + Sweet and Hot Mushrooms-- because I was too busy inhaling it. The service was great, the tapas were filling and flavorful and those sangrita drinks were refreshing and pretty to look at.
Handles Gastropub - Pleasanton, CA
I've been to Handles a few times and they do brunch like nobody's business but we had dinner there for my parents' anniversary and this pear and spinach salad made my heart happy. They make a mean Bloody Mary, their menu is fun and eclectic and their outdoor patio seating is gorgeous. There is often live music here and there are plenty of happy hour specials for drinks and appetizers. Definitely check this place out if you're in Pleasanton.
CREAM - Livermore, CA
I've wanted to try an ice cream sandwich from CREAM ever since I heard they had vegan ice cream options, but the only one I knew about was in Berkeley until recently when they opened one in Livermore! I finally got to try one in celebration of my birthday week last night after waiting in a line that went way out the door and it was everything I could've hoped for--warm sugar cookies sandwiching soy blueberry ice cream. Had I been feeling extra saucy I could've added some gummy bears in there, but I passed this time.
Some other places I highly recommend are:
The Last Word - Livermore, CA - Amazing prohibition-era cocktails with local juices. Try the green gin drink even if you don't like gin, trust me. The chicken and waffle sliders are amaze-balls.
Sauced - Livermore, CA - This country bar has bacon-infused whiskey and tons of whiskey on tap, the ribs fall off the bone and if you're feeling adventurous try the Elvis burger with peanut butter on it.
First Street Ale House - Livermore, CA - 24 beers on tap, delicious classic ale house food and lollipops with every meal.
Oasis - Pleasanton, CA - Try the Pumpkin Borani. Oh. Em. Gee. The hummus sampler is also delish.
So who wants to come eat their way through the Bay and gain 20 pounds with me?!