Some days are meant to be spent leisurely, strolling about in a town you would like to experience for the first time, or re-experience to savor nostalgia or notice the changes. Monday I revisited a town where I lived when my first daughter was born: Lafayette, CA. It was a beautiful walk around a lovely town.
What I first noticed was that the stores had changed dramatically. 30 years ago most of the small boutiques were local individuals and the “big” department store was McCaulou’s, a local store with a few nearby locations. They still sold fabric when I lived there, but now they’re focused on the trendy items that their upscale clientele prefer. It’s transformed from a village in the suburbs to a town that caters to its well-heeled residents and visitors.
There are some relatively new restaurants in town replacing those that didn’t keep up with the changing demographics. The Cooperage has replaced one of my father’s favorite haunts in La Fiesta Square. It boasts barrel chairs while you wait and outdoor dining just off the main street, Mt. Diablo Blvd.
There are the requisite fast food places interspersed with some of the old haunts: The Round Up still graces the same corner it’s graced for years. There’s live music on the weekend, too. It’s an experience, rather than a night out.
Two blocks up there’s a pizza place that growing: Patxi’s. I was photographing the exterior when a model appeared, well, he offered! So I ended up eating at Patxi’s and I was delighted. Their deep dish, Chicago Style pizza is a treat I never would have thought to order if it hadn’t been the lunch special. For $10.00 you can enjoy a salad, a slice of pizza and a soft drink. My slice featured spinach and mushrooms, but they do offer more traditional choices for those of you who need to have pepperoni included. My iced tea was filled frequently, the food was served hot and I was given time to savor the salad before the slice of pizza appeared.
The staff was quite friendly and, although I was eating solo, I never felt like I was imposing on their time or taking up space. I learned that they offer honey for their crusts because the crust is made with cornmeal; so, you can end the slice with a cornbread experience by adding a touch of honey. I had to try that! Yes, it was a perfect pairing.
If you get to visit Lafayette, you should definitely give Patxi’s a try. If you’re not inclined to go to Lafayette, their other locations offer the same menu, although they may not have the same great staff. In a hurry? You can always check them out online at www.patxispizza.com .
Lafayette is still a beautiful little town just beyond Oakland on Highway 24. If you’re traveling in Northern California, be sure to take some time to see the East Bay. It’s not far from the city, just hop on BART and come on out to the warmth of the inland valley.
Hope to see you there!