With its location in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area, it should come as no surprise that Concord boasts a lively arts, music, and culinary scene.
What Concord brings to the table is an intimate, authentically local scene that puts Bay Area musicians, artists, and foodies front and center.
Consider this your insider’s guide to uncovering Concord’s unique cultural landscape, with tips for how to enjoy the arts, where to catch live music, and the best places to sample the local flavor.
How to Enjoy the Arts in Concord
From painting to photography to sculpture, the visual arts community in Concord centers around the aRt Cottage downtown. This quaint gallery showcases local Bay Area artists, with new exhibits coming in each month. The cottage is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday afternoons, offering free admission in a relaxed, pet-friendly atmosphere. The owner of aRt Cottage also teaches personalized classes for individuals or groups to hone skills in ceramics, drawing, painting, sewing, and mixed media. In downtown Concord, stop in at the Rachel Amaral Art Gallery to see works from local artists, or take a pottery class at the Red Ox Clay Studio. You can also see the amazing creations they have on display.
Each year in May, art lovers take to the streets in downtown Concord’s Art & Wine (And Beer!) Walk, where attendees enjoy local art and music delightfully paired with California wines and local craft beer. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time or at the event (where much of the art can is for sale as well), with all event proceeds benefiting the American Association of University Women Concord branch.
Where to Catch Live Music and Theater in Concord
The live music scene in Concord is thriving, to say the least. May through September centers around the Music & Market Concert Series, which brings an eclectic list of performers to Todos Santos Plaza during the Thursday evening farmers market. These free, outdoor concerts give a sample of the impressive variety of musical styles from around the Bay Area: think 17-piece jazz orchestra, Spanish guitar virtuosos, mariachi bands, and classic rock tribute acts. The Concord Pavilion is the city’s outdoor amphitheater with seating for 12,500, and it draws touring acts from across the country with a diverse lineup of concerts throughout the year.
The B8 Theater Company is known for producing unique stagings of new material as well as modern interpretations of classics. Its season includes original works by local playwrights, world premier dramas, and well-known offerings like Shakepeare’s A Midsumer Night’s Dream. For opera lovers, the Solo Opera features several performances a year, with a goal of making the art form affordable and accessible to the public. It has offered professional productions of such standards as Hansel and Gretel and the Gift of the Magi.
Exploring the Local Culinary Scene
The first stop on a foodie tour of Concord should be the downtown farmers market, held in Todos Santos Plaza. The market boasts an impressive array of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables as well as several local food vendors whetting shoppers’ appetites with crepes, BBQ, falafel, burgers, and other goodies. The market takes place on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. all year long, as well as Thursday evenings from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. from mid-April to mid-October.
The craft beer craze is going strong in the East Bay, and Concord’s microbreweries are concocting unique, high-quality brews to stand out in the pack. E.J. Phair Brewing Company keeps the taps flowing with their award-winning ales and lagers at their Concord brewpub, where you can pair your pint with the pub favorites you crave, like burgers, fish ‘n’ chips, and Jäegerschnitzel.
The oh-so-quirky Epidemic Ales brewery stands out for it zombie apocalypse theme and intriguing creations like the Nightshade bourbon barrel-aged vanilla stout and the Bad Blood dark English ale. A friendly, casual atmosphere makes this taproom a must-visit, especially to enjoy their outdoor seating and food truck visits on some weekends. The Hop Grenade is another taproom worth a visit, with nearly two dozen beers to choose from. You can also enjoy a food menu of small plates, including things like flatbread pizza, sandwiches, sausages, and pretzels. The Concord Taphouse in the midtown neighborhood is another casual and comfortable place to enjoy locally made beer and wine in addition to an impressive food menu. It features 24 craft beers on tap mostly from throughout the San Francisco area.
Thanks to a wealth of diversity in its population, Concord boasts to the full range of global cuisine, meaning you’ll never have to search far to satisfy your international cravings, from Afghan to Mexican and everything in between. For authentic Peruvian food, snag a seat at the outdoor patio at Lima, a lively restaurant right across from Todos Santos Plaza and be sure to try a glass of chicha morada, a signature Peruvian juice made from purple corn.
European food lovers will get their fill at La Sen Bistro, Concord’s casual yet elegant French restaurant, or Luna Ristorante, a romantic spot for homemade Italian dishes. Asian restaurants in Concord serve up your favorite dishes and drinks, including Thai, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese.
Between the art, music, cultural, and dining options in Concord, it’s easy to fill a weekend with entertainment. See for yourself why this community is quickly becoming a destination for music lovers and foodies in Northern California.
Written by Jenna Herzog for RootsRated Media in partnership with Visit Concord.