When it comes to dining, Concord, California, features a global food scene that you’d typically only find in bigger cities. Less than 30 miles from San Francisco, you’ll discover a world of exciting and eclectic dining that reflects Concord’s vibrant cultural diversity. From no-frills taco joints and sushi hot spots to innovative farm-to-fork tables and trendy brewpubs, it has around-the-world options for every taste.
Check out some of these favorites on your next trip to this scenic Bay Area destination.
Central and South American
Concord arguably has some of Northern California’s best food from south of the border. With a line-up of cheap, casual, and authentic taquerias along (and close to) Monument Boulevard—including Mercado Del Sol, Rancheros Taqueria, and Tortilleria El Molino—it’s hard to know where to go for the “best burrito in town.” But a glance at Yelp makes it clear that all three are contenders, each with a loyal cadre of fans.
Adding a little Tex to the Mex is Dos Coyotes Border Cafe. Known as the “People’s Restaurant,” Dos Coyotes combines excellent food, an engaging atmosphere, and exceptional value with Mexican staples along with seasonal specials.
For an elevated dining experience, try Canasta Kitchen, located in a quiet neighborhood not far off Todos Santos Plaza. It presents a modern twist on traditional Mexican cuisine—even the chips and salsa make a statement, served with a tangy salsa verde and drizzled with a savory black bean puree.
Grabbing the culinary spotlight in recent years, Peruvian cuisine is all the rage. With its wholesome and colorful ingredients, what’s not to love? Lima, in Todos Santos Plaza, brings the authentic taste of Peru right to Concord. While you’re enjoying one of Lima’s freshly prepared dishes, indulge in the country’s signature drink, a refreshing pisco sour.
For a change of pace, grab a table at Restaurante El Salvador. Its must-have plate is the warm and savory pupusa, a thick cornmeal patty stuffed with beans, cheese, and meat (or all three!), accompanied by curtido, a spicy cabbage slaw.
Brewpubs and Burgers
When hunger comes a-knockin’, it’s hard to turn down hearty pub fare, especially when it’s paired with the innovative craft brews now coming out of Concord. As the longest continuously operating brewery in Contra Costa County, E.J. Phair Brewing Company & Alehouse has been on the scene longer than most. Favorites include the medal-winning Shorty’s Revenge and the Ditzy Blonde Ale, but seasonal specialties keep the menu fresh. If pub crawling is your thing, you won’t need to venture far for more unique pours. Next door is The Hop Grenade, a bottle shop and taproom that is best experienced by grabbing an outdoor table to soak in the vibrancy of Todos Santos Plaza. The local and regional beers are top notch, and artisanal flatbreads, sausage bites, and other small eats are the perfect accompaniments.
Away from the European charm of Todos Santos Plaza, but with its own lively atmosphere inside the Sunvalley Shopping Center, is BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse. A national chain that originated in California, BJs is a reliable go-to for all-American fare, featuring Chicago-style deep dish pizza and an array of hand-crafted beers.
Vegetarians and vegans rejoice! While it’s not exactly a pub, Next Level Burger serves burgers, fries, and shakes that are 100 percent plant-based—good for the environment and good for you.
American Regional Cuisine
American fare need not be devoid of pizzazz. Add spice to your dining repertoire at NOLA Po’Boy & Gumbo Kitchen, which brings authentic Cajun-style cooking to Concord. Choose from rich and flavorful Louisiana staples like red beans and rice, jambalaya, or gumbo.
Barbecue lovers should plan a stop at Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ, which hand rubs and marinades its meats for over 12 hours and cooks them in the smoker for up to 24 hours to make sure you get smokin’ hot barbeque every visit.
Farm-to-table, locally sourced, sustainably produced… call it what you will, but there’s no denying that the trend toward cooking with wholesome ingredients that haven’t traveled far seems destined to stay. Many Concord restaurants are leaders in this trend, which is a win for food enthusiasts.
Plate & Vine, inside the Hilton on Diamond Boulevard, focuses on fresh ingredients from nearby organic farms and features an expansive selection of local wines. Another hotel eatery located in the Crowne Plaza is Vineyards Restaurant & Bar. This is a great spot to meet up with friends for happy hour, followed by a meal prepared with the season’s best.
Want a fast and healthy option? Pure Juice & Smoothie Lounge features fresh juice, smoothies, acai bowls, and other natural food choices in a comfortable setting.
European cuisine may not top the list for hottest food trends, but its commitment to rich and traditional flavors never goes out of style. Fiore is one of the area’s top Italian restaurants, and in addition to traditional pasta favorites, you’ll also find a wide range of seafood, steak, and lamb dishes. Chef Habib El Jacifi, who grew up in Casablanca, brings French and Mediterranean influences to classic Italian specialties. For an old-world experience, reserve a spot at DJ’s Bistro. Located in an obscure strip-mall on Willow Pass Road, DJ’s delivers hearty Central European dishes like bratwurst, wiener schnitzel, and Hungarian goulash, as well as a small selection of imported beers, mostly from Germany and the Czech Republic.
If there’s one culinary segment that rivals Mexican in terms of the sheer number of options, it’s Asian. And no matter what national variety you’re after, Concord has it. Craving the complex flavors of Indian? Less than a block from Todos Santos Plaza is Naan n Curry offering curries, tandoori-style meats, tikka masala, and more. Serving contemporary Afghan halal, Chopan Kabob transports diners thousands of miles away with its exotic flavors and warm ambiance.
For dependable Chinese, head to Lulu’s Kitchen. Whether dining in or taking out, Lulu’s menu is chock-full of crowd-pleasing Chinese-American dishes, as well as delicious house specialties. Another Chinese stand-by is Steamboat on Willow Pass Road, which is known for its hot pot.
Japanese food has always been a draw in Concord—from the venerable Benihana, with its mouth-watering meats and seafood theatrically prepared at a communal hibachi table, to Happy Roll, a trendy, Japanese-fusion eatery serving up inventive sushi rolls.
If Thai is more your style, there’s Bangkok Kitchen for tasty pad thai, pumpkin curry, or green curry fried rice, while those partial to Korean will enjoy the galbi (marinated beef) and bibimbap (mixed rice dish) at Gangnam Cafe. Another option is Korea House, which prepares its dishes using authentic, home-style Korean techniques and offers a unique drink selection of rice wine, saki, and Korean beers.
Rounding out Concord’s Asian culinary scene, are a number of popular Vietnamese spots. Whether it’s boba to go or a sit-down meal you’re after, head to Saigon Bistro, which is known for its excellent bahn mi sandwiches. Perfect for a quick lunch or dinner, Hello Pho boasts a menu rich with well-known staples like spring rolls, pot stickers, vermicelli bowls, and, of course, its namesake pho.
Are you hungry yet? As you can see, when it comes to the restaurant scene in Concord, the toughest problem is choosing from the abundance of options. Come ready to eat—and know that you’ll always have a good reason to plan another visit.
Written by Karen Bakar for RootsRated in partnership with Visit Concord.