It's been eight long months since the devastating global pandemic hit and turned our world upside-down. The devastation hit so many restaurants in a bad way, however, some are finally able to reopen with creative outdoor dining and others with to-go orders only.
In any case, East Contra Costa County residents are feeling their fair share of relief, while enjoying some of their favorite restaurants in town.
Before asking local residents which restaurants or eateries they feel comfortable going to, I first noticed one new restaurant that just opened its "patio" doors to the public this month, called Oakley Tavern.
Located at 3685 Main Street, with ample parking across the street, their patio service is nestled between the newly built Tavern itself and the business next door. They are open 7 days a week from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and until 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
They offer chicken and beef Tikka kabob wraps, burgers, pizza, beer and wine – who could ask for anything more during COVID-19 for outdoor dining?
A Local Perspective
Now onto everyone else and where they’ve been eating, and some of the challenges that comes with eating outside.
"We've eaten at all [open restaurants] and feel safe in all of them, but we're not worried. Vic Stewart's in Brentwood seems the most airy," said Roxanne of Brentwood. "I just hate flies and heat, don't enjoy that very much."
Jennifer of Oakley says she hates cooking and doesn't mind eating out or getting take-out, if it means she doesn't have to make it or clean it!
"We've eaten at Caps, Sweeney's, MJ's in Brentwood and Cocina Medina in Antioch, all outside. We've done to-go orders from Zephyr's in Brentwood, but they have outdoor dining now too," said Jennifer. "Melo's in Antioch off Lone Tree Way is to-go only."
Corrine of Antioch says her family has traveled to the Concord/Clayton areas for some great grub during COVID-19.
"We've eaten at the Pavilion Bar & Grill in Clayton. They have lots of outdoor seating, the food is great and the staff all wear their masks," she said. "The Parkside Grill in Concord at Todo Santos Park is also excellent. They have new management and the new items on the menu are delicious!"
Suanne of Oakley feels especially safe to eat at Sabrina's Pizzeria in Oakley.
"We really feel comfortable ordering from Sabrina's Pizzeria in Oakley," she said. "First, they have a super clean restaurant. Secondly, they have a clearly outlined area for picking up delicious pizza, with an indoor and an outdoor to reduce contact with others."
Charla of Antioch said Rice Bowl and TEASE are her two latest craves.
"Rice Bowl on Deer Valley Road – we eat from there weekly! They have good food and good service. They are always ahead of their delivery time stated," said Charla. "Their food is good, it's priced fine and you get two or more meals generally out of what we order and good folks own it."
"We recently discovered a good Southern cooking option called TEASE Southern Kitchen that has some good folks and food," added Charla. "Some items are a bit pricey maybe, but it takes a lot of work to make it and you have enough food for two or three servings with some of the pricier items. The lobster mac is the bomb! Not at all healthy I'm sure, but oh-my-goodness, yum."
Located on G St. between 2nd and 3rd Street, TEASE, which is relatively new, is located in downtown Antioch near the water and does not have outside dining, only to-go orders, but typically, they have a line out the door. They offer Southern comfort food to include Slow-Baked and Chargrilled Lemon Pepper Wings, which many customers say, "Is a force to be reckoned with."
Cloudy With A Chance of Bacon
Farther East, out past Oakley and Brentwood, you'll find Vin Alegro in Discovery Bay, which offers patio dining, take-out and even a take and bake line of menu options for the small community of Discovery Bay.
Chef Roberto Rose of Concord is the owner of Vin Alegro and also a World Food Championship competitor, who offers breakfast service on Saturdays and Sundays and of course dinners throughout the week.
One of his specialty breakfast dishes (also photographed here by the Chef himself) is called "Cloudy with a chance of Bacon."
"I have been an owner for two years, and the only owner since COVID's inception. I'm a one-man show and the menu changes daily, just like in Italy," said Chef Rose. "Set your DVR for Oct. 3 on the Cooking Channel and watch the show World Food Championships, Final table."
Great Dining Options Throughout East County
Caution and safety are on Antioch resident Curtis's mind, who does not feel comfortable eating inside any restaurant that offers inside dining, but he's happy to get take-out from some of his fave dining hot spots.
"We get take-out at Cocina Medina in Antioch [across from Wal-Mart]. I love those folks," he said. “And we've done Okawa Japanese Restaurant [Antioch] for sushi. They do take-out and it’s really good. But I don't even feel really comfortable going inside to pick-up."
Shannon of Antioch feels the same way as Corlew when it comes to safety and says she frequents – for take-out orders only, entrées from Hazel’s, Silvia's Kitchen, 3 Maria’s, Empress Garden, Domino's Pizza on Buchanan – all in Antioch.
Celia's Mexican Restaurant in Antioch off W 10th St. recently built a beautiful outdoor dining area – one of the fanciest patios I've seen, taking up some of their precious parking lot "real estate" – however, they've partnered with neighbors and are using the parking lot across the street from them.
Regular diners at Celia's were kind enough to offer their review of the Antioch Golf Course and spoke highly of their exceptionally clean outdoor dining.
Lastly, Fred Gayer of Bay Point said he's happy to get take-out orders from his favorite places, Lumpy's in Pittsburg or Antioch and Diggers in Brentwood.
So wherever you decide to order take-out, continue to help local businesses stay in business during these extremely difficult times and do it in a safe way by wearing masks, physical distancing and washing your hands frequently. Oh, and if you can, don't forget to tip big!
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