Best Places to Shop and Eat in the East Bay

Explore the culinary, commercial, and cultural offerings of four cities.

View of Broadway Plaza shopping area in Walnut Creek, California, after dark, photo
An evening view of Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek.
Rachel Capil

Contra Costa County’s balmy weather, open spaces, and easy BART access make it one of the most desirable places to live in the Bay Area. Visitors, too, discover its appeal while shopping and dining in one of these four neighboring communities.

Places to Shop and Eat in Walnut Creek

Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek brings urban glam to the county’s main shopping hub. Among its upscale offerings, the sweets-obsessed should check out the East Bay location of South Bay favorite Cocola for a flavored mousse confection such as the Banana Crunchy. Across the street, Telefèric Barcelona’s first U.S. outpost brings authentic Catalan spirit (and spirits) to grateful guests. Flavor-infused gin and tonics complement a tapas menu featuring rich jamón croquetas and grilled octopus, all served in an airy, industrial-chic space.

Places to Shop and Eat in Danville

Once a modest Gold Rush settlement, tony Danville retains a small-town atmosphere thanks to a meandering, oak-shaded downtown brimming with stores and al fresco dining. Locanda Ravello’s patio is dotted with yellow umbrellas transports diners to Southern Italy—as does its voluptuous pizza topped with Burrata and eggplant, an option dubbed the Sofia Loren.

Places to Shop and Eat in Lafayette

Despite the lack of waves, sun-drenched Lafayette has the mellow feel of a beach town. Just off La Fiesta Square, casual eateries such as Chow and American Kitchen offer shaded patios for diners and their doggies. Popular The Cooperage Lafayette presents classic American fare—think loaded burgers and mac-n-cheese—in a modern, tavern-like space. A post-meal wander down Mt. Diablo Boulevard leads to Bel & Bunna’s Books, a literary smorgasbord for the young (and young at heart) tucked away at the end of a nearly hidden alley.

Places to Shop and Eat in Orinda

A compact community with outsize charms, Orinda boasts a striking vintage art deco theater in its town center. Orinda Theatre Square, the winding complex of shops and restaurants built around it, offers a number of treasures. Contemporary California artists take the spotlight at aMFa Gallery, and the Fourth Bore brewpub brings weekly trivia nights and live music to the square, along with 28 craft beers on tap. For a treat, Republic of Cake whips up a rotating menu of perfectly proportioned cupcakes such as the sweet and salty butterscotch blondie. A first-run or classic film at the Orinda Theatre is always a cool way to end the day.


This article was first published in November 2016 and updated in February 2019.