California is famous for a lot of things, and food is surely one of them. San Francisco, being the biggest city in Northern California’s Bay Area, is home to numerous famous restaurants, informed sommeliers, and various Top Chef contestants. But don’t forget about the surrounding suburbs. The entire peninsula is bursting with epicurean delights. Danville, for one, located just 31 miles west of San Francisco in the San Ramon Valley, is loaded with coffeehouses, brewpubs, days spas, wineries, and nearly 100 restaurants.
Back in 1971, the Bay Area became ground zero in the nascent California cuisine cooking movement when a restaurant called Chez Panisse opened in Berkeley. Since that time, California chefs have been taking local, in-season ingredients and preparing them with an eye toward a voracious global palate. A big deal 40 years ago, California cuisine remains a popular cooking philosophy and is reflected in many of the restaurants located in Danville.
One hundred years ago, the San Ramon Valley was home to the largest Bartlett pear orchard in the world. Taking its inspiration from the pages of history, The Peasant and the Pear (267 Hartz Avenue, 925-820-6611) offers a fresh, seasonal menu in a comfortable and modest setting. Try the Italian lamb shank slow-braised in Chianti, osso buco-style, topped with lamb demi-glace and gremolata, served over creamy provolone polenta.
Movie fans might remember Bridges Restaurant and Bar (44 Church Street, 925-820-7200) from a memorable scene in the 1993 film, Mrs. Doubtfire. But foodies in the area return to the restaurant again and again for its upscale urban dining experience. The menu bears the influence of California cuisine with European and Asian influences. Order the prix fixe dinner from Sunday through Wednesday. Or try the pan-seared Cape Cod dayboat sea scallops with Parmesan mashed potatoes, micro salad, and truffle cognac cream.
Critics agree, the award-winning fare at Esin Restaurant and Bar (750 Camino Ramon, 925-314-0974) represents a compelling fusion of California and Mediterranean influences. Customers also rave about the exemplary service and the expansive wine menu. There are so many things to recommend on the menu, but you can’t go wrong with the cider-brined homestead pork chop with crispy goat cheese polenta cake, Bloomsdale spinach and caper-currant compote.
Blackhawk Grille (3540 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, 925-736-4295) serves handcrafted comfort food throughout the day. Depending on your mood, the beef short rib meatloaf might be a good choice. Or how about a chicken pot pie? The kitchen prides itself on the Big Hawk Burger, eight ounces of certified Angus beef. But we can’t get past the macaroni and cheese with caramelized sweet onions and oakwood-grilled sirloin steak.
Incontro Ristorante (455 Hartz Ave. 925-820-2349) is doing its best to bring the diverse cuisines from all of the regions of Italy to the Bay Area. La cucina italiana is known worldwide for its enthusiasm and tradition and Incontro is no exception. Its menu is committed to local, sustainable, seasonal foods. If available, try the Mostaccioli All Bischero, tube pasta with sweet Italian sausages, peas, roasted bell pepper and tomato cream.
Amber Bistro (500 Hartz Ave. 925-552-5238) features a chic contemporary dining room with a sophisticated menu. Like a lot of Danville restaurants, the food is fresh, local, and seasonal. But the bistro also puts an emphasis on food and wine pairings. The result is an intimate neighborhood bistro perfect for first dates, wedding anniversaries, and larger private parties. Don’t leave without checking out the dessert menu featuring a generous selection of after-dinner dessert wines and cordials.
For your convenience here is a full list of restaurants in Danville.