Blake Anderson’s California Hangouts
An hour’s drive from San Francisco and the Napa Valley wine country, the town of Concord has the Bay Area’s cosmopolitan perks—international dining, a vibrant open-air plaza, and a flourishing craft beer scene—combined with tranquil preserves offering easy nature escapes and miles of biking and walking trails.
You could actually spend weeks sampling your way through Concord’s global culinary scene. At Brasas Do Brazil Churrascaria, waiters bustle around the dining room slicing rotisserie-grilled meats off huge skewers and onto diners’ plates. Try bites of sirloin (picanha), beef ribs, lamb chops, and chicken hearts, all cooked Brazilian-style over an open flame. Dip into the flavors of Myanmar at Aung MayLiKa, which serves up traditional Burmese dishes like colorful tea leaf salad, rich coconut noodle soup, and fish baked in honey. When your taste buds crave Indian spices, head to Swagat for vindaloo, masala, tandoori, and biriyani. Or dine South American–style with a meal at Lima. Start with a pisco sour—a traditional Peruvian cocktail made with lime and egg whites—then move on to stir-fried lomo saltado pollo or seafood ceviche.
As with most Bay Area cities, Concord has an energetic craft beer scene. Epidemic Ales’ warehouse-style brewery turns out red ales, IPAs, and a bourbon barrel–aged vanilla stout. A movable feast of food trucks supplies the meals. E.J. Phair Brewing Company focuses on hearty pub fare—burgers, fried pork schnitzel, fish & chips, beer-cheese nachos—plus a revolving beer selection that includes Shorty’s Revenge, a hoppy amber ale. The Hop Grenade Taproom is the place for hard-to-find beers like Pliny the Elder, citrusy sours, and fruity ciders. Behind the bar, a live radio studio produces The Brewing Network beer podcast.
Concord embraces its natural side, too. For huge views, head to the 20,000-acre Mount Diablo State Park, whose peak stands at 3,849 feet; the park has hiking and biking trails (including a loop hike to a waterfall), picnic sites, and Rock City, a group of unique sandstone formations. Next, explore the rose and camelia gardens at Markham Nature Park and Arboretum, or walk among dozens of species of native and planted trees on more than two miles of paths. Hop on a bike and pedal the Iron Horse Regional Trail, a 32-mile paved path that follows the Southern Pacific Railroad right-of-way. Or follow the Contra Costa Canal Trail, which shadows the route of a 1930s canal and connects to the grassy hills of Lime Ridge Open Space.
On Tuesday mornings and Thursday evenings, browse your way through the Concord Farmers Market to find fresh-picked fruits and vegetables, just-laid eggs, and sweet-scented flowers. The market is held at Todos Santos Plaza, a Mexican-style public square built by the city’s pioneers in 1869. It’s Concord’s fair-weather gathering place for live music, people-watching, and meeting up with friends and neighbors. Culture and architecture fans, meanwhile, should also check out shows at Concord Pavilion, an amphitheater designed by Frank Gehry.
Know before you go: Concord prides itself on being a city accessible to all. Mt. Diablo State Park features accessible viewing areas, picnic sites, trails and programs, and all of Concord’s lodging options offer many ADA amenities, including visual and audio alerts, service animal access, and accessible exercise rooms and swimming pools.
Get ready to Dream Big!