Back to Earth’s retreats couple outdoor adventure with relaxation, letting nature lovers and city slickers alike flee urban landscapes in favor of mind-body rebuilding. Escape the ironic graffiti of urban-transit systems and explore California's undeveloped stretch of coastline, beginning in Shelter Cove, on the self-centering qigong retreat. Participants spend four days and three nights hiking, camping on the beach, and practicing qigong, honing forms and meditations to boost inner wellness. In between activities, the staff prepares organic meals to elevate body and mind and refuel energy stores depleted from asking the mountains hypothetical questions.
Big Jim’s BBQ entrances diners with a menu of tempting contemporary and barbecue cuisine arranged by chef Jim Modesitt. Like the annual westward migration of wood-smoking grills, the sauce-slathered bill of fare unites gourmet California treats with rustic southern cooking traditions, pairing juicy pulled pork, chicken, ribs, and brisket with hearty risottos, traditional cornbreads and beans, assorted cheeses, and crostinis. As clients sup on the tasty bounty or enroll in courses to learn the dark arts of cookcraft from the kitchen’s professional chefs and caterers, rich flavors and aromas lavish the nose and palate with a sensory celebration of fine food.
This 100% Latino-owned business uses 100% organic flour and 100% natural ingredients to assemble sweet and savory empanadas with a multilingual blend of Caribbean, Latin American, and Californian points of view. Herbivores and herbivoyeurs can delight their senses in the flavors of mushrooms with brie, onions, and spices ($45 per dozen), while their meat-minded brethren can tear into a savory, roasted chicken poblano with onion, poblano chile, red bell pepper, tomato, cilantro, and spices ($45 per dozen). To keep the taste buds on the other side of your tongue from rebelling and making everything taste like burnt hair, keep them happy with the apple-cinnamon-with-chocolate empanada infused with Turbinado sugar ($30 per dozen). These fresh and healthy treats come in both meal and cocktail size. As with square dancing, mixing and matching fillings is encouraged, as are odd-numbered orders.
The chefs at Falafel Hut man steaming pans to forge a wide range of pita-swaddled sandwiches and hearty entrees, which lead to contented sighs across the dining room and open patio. In lieu of water wings, diners strap beef and lamb shawarma ($8.95) to each arm and dabble in a pool of cucumber sauce. The restaurant's namesake falafel parades onto pita or lavash bread before donning hummus, hot sauce, and fistfuls of crisp veggies ($6.95), and diners drive up napkin demand with two chicken kebabs and rice ($14.95). Pistachio baklava ($2.50) washed down with dark Turkish coffee ($3.50) serves as a mealtime encore more pleasant than a dinner-bell rendition of "Freebird."
Souley Vegan's proprietor Tamearra Dyson uses techniques she learned from her family in Louisiana to subvert that idea that healthy, vegan eating lacks flavor. She dredges tofu in a southern-style batter that mimics fried catfish and fashions a menu that appeals to meat-eaters and vegans alike. Tofu also gets dressed in BBQ sauce in burgers and tossed in sweet and sour and green peppers. Tamearra and her kitchen staff put a vegan spin on a roster of Southern classics, such as potato salad with black olives following a family recipe three generations old, as well as mashed potatoes drenched in vegan gravy made like her mom did. The eatery's mac and cheese made with yeast-based, non-dairy cheese earned it accolades from the East Bay Express, which said that it "is so perfect a substitute to its dairy-based kin that it leaves the eater convinced it’s the real thing," while also bestowing Souley Vegan with "Best of East Bay" awards for the past five years. USA Today has also recognized the eatery as among ten great places for soul food in the country.
Brightly painted walls and block-style prints of blues musicians lend a cozy Southern atmosphere to the restaurant, where diners gather around color-splashed tables or cluster on picnic style benches as they share family-style meals or play License Plate Bingo for the last piece of fried okra.
In the past, Brendan Eliason's oenophilia has landed him gigs at David Coffaro Winery in Dry Creek and Va de Vi Bistro & Wine Bar in Walnut Creek. These days, he mans Periscope Cellars, which stocks an impressive selection of Californian wines. Available by the bottle or from up to 10 taps, the tasting room showcases everything from pinot noirs and zinfandels to mulled wine in winter.
Pours pair perfectly with gourmet bites from the surrounding Swan’s Market; Rosamunde Sausage Grill, for instance, is just steps away. Of course, Periscope's libations are also available to go in refillable 500ml bottles or unlimited handfuls.