Dublin, California lies in the vibrant area known as the Tri-Valley, inland from the San Francisco coast. The Ohlone people were the first to populate the area, and today you’ll find a wide variety of American ethnicities represented in the community and in the terrific range of restaurants in Dublin CA featuring delectable flavors from around the world.
Steve Minniear with the Dublin Historical Preservation Association, and Inge Houston, President/CEO of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, concur that the city was spurred structurally by encouraging home building.
This created access to homes whereas in much of the rest of the SF Bay Area housing stocks have been scarce. Dublin is known for its good schools, its proximity to Silicon Valley, and lies at an excellent location at the crossroads of two major freeways. As the tech era dawned, the city became a desirable place to raise families.
As Steve put it, some of the small shopping malls are effectively little food neighborhoods, like the Ulferts Center, with its numerous Asian eateries. Dublin is still one of the fastest-growing municipalities in the United States.
We loved Dublin for its authentic and high-quality restaurants that showcase some of the best Tri-Valley dining options. As usual, we couldn’t make it to every deserving spot – if only time and budget were unlimited. Here are seven of our must-try Dublin restaurants. Enjoy!
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The 7 Must-Try Restaurants In Dublin CA
7012 Amador Plaza Road // +1-925-361-5375
In 1951 in Yafa, a seaside city on the Mediterranean, Afeef Awad learned the art of hummus-making. When he moved to Amman, Jordan, he opened his shop. Forward to 2017 in Dublin, California, when a handful of Mr. Awad’s grandsons opened their own hummus shop in his honor. Yafa Hummus is a wonderful family-run operation with a warm, friendly vibe, and is a great spot for a casual lunch or dinner, or for take-out.
True to its name, Yafa Hummus is fabulously creamy and comes in three flavors: traditional, spicy and pesto, each topped with olive oil and chickpeas. The Falafels, Baba Ganoush, Tabuleh and Dolmas are equally authentic, and almost all are vegetarian or vegan.
Yafa Hummus sources spices from the same spice store in Amman, Jordan that their grandfather bought from, giving their recipes special flair and bona fides that you won’t find anywhere else. Everything is made fresh every morning in their commissary kitchen.
The savory, slow-cooked Chicken Shawarma Wrap again evidenced Old World techniques – tender and wonderfully spiced. The traditional lavash was soft, a bit flaky, with a lovely garlic sauce that melded well with the shawarma and Mediterranean salad.
Leave room for the delightful Baklava ice cream! I hadn’t had soft serve in years, and it was the ideal vehicle for crumbles of walnut baklava and a drizzle of caramel. I should have eaten two.
To round out the friendliness that you’ll experience at Yafa Hummus, Mohammed told us that they take pride in their involvement in the community, participating in Boys & Girls Club and other fundraisers and doing outreach.
When you choose Yafa Hummus, you’re in for high-quality Middle Eastern and Greek food at an establishment that prioritizes caring for members of its community. A win-win proposition.
7294 San Ramon Road // +1-925-556-6188
San Francisco can’t claim exclusivity to high-quality Burmese eateries; Dublin’s Burma Burma ranks right up among them. The restaurant is set in a modern space with an industrial ceiling, attractive hanging lights and photos of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, on the walls. Live music is on the menu on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from Spring to Fall.
General Manager Bradley Martin explained that Burmese fare is a fusion between Indian, Thai, and Chinese, inspired by the influences of its bordering (and at time, conquering) nations as well as Burma’s own regional cultures from the hills, coasts, and lowlands.
Its curries are shallot or onion-based and milder, no creams or heavy spices, with tastes akin to a Hungarian-American meat stew. Burma Burma’s menu is delicious, reflecting the skills of the all Burmese kitchen team, as well as several of the partners’ history with the stellar Burma Superstar.
On a Tuesday night it was briskly busy and full of a diversity of customers. The prices are accessible, with vegetarian dishes around $13 and meats at $18-19.
The Rainbow Salad, a typical dish, has a bright medley of ingredients – crispy cabbage, soft vermicelli noodles, tofu, cilantro, peanuts, cucumber, and wonton strips. It was fresh, clean and lightly spiced.
I found the Chicken Curry to be a fantastic twist from other Asian curries. It had a slightly sweet onion base with flavors of lemongrass, masala, ginger, garlic and paprika melding with chicken thigh and potatoes. The sauce was medium thick and super tasty.
The Basil and Dried Chili Swai was a delicate and quite aromatic fish, spiced with a piquant combination of Thai chilis, dried red chili flakes, black pepper, tamarind powder and basil.
Burma Burma’s fare is lighter and more nuanced than the strong spices of neighboring Asian cuisines, with no one taste being overpowering. Perfect with a glass of Justin Cabernet or a crisp Myanmar Lager.
5252 Dublin Boulevard // +1-925-587-1503
KoJa Kitchen – ‘Korean-Japanese Reinvented’ – offers a unique take with a creative menu that combines the bold flavors of Korean and the subtle flavors of Japanese cuisines. It’s a small, hip spot that’s well-worth adding to your list.
Owner Martin Chou says that his passion, like many others, is driven by the appreciation of those who push the envelope creating dishes that continue to redefine the meaning of bold and unique.
I recommend the Classic KoJa Sandwich. Its round bun is made of two crispy, chewy rice cakes stuffed with rich, saucy beef and crunchy lettuce. Add kimchi for a kick. It’s messy and yummy and falls apart easily, so have a napkin at hand.
The Ahi Tuna Bowl was filled with goodness. Super fresh Ahi is covered in a horseradish sauce on rice and accompanied by a scoop of seaweed salad, real crab salad, and crispy wontons. It’s a whole, generous bowl of healthy.
If you’re a Spam lover, you’ll appreciate KoJa Kitchen’s Signature Musubi—a crispy rice cake holding a hearty slice of the canned meat, tamago (rolled egg), bacon, and avocado tied together with seaweed and topped with teriyaki sauce.
The Kamikaze Fries are a killer. A huge serving of criss-cross fries piled with rich, chewy Korean BBQ beef and smothered in hot and horseradish sauces. Perfect for Game Day.
7995 Amador Valley Boulevard // +1-925-828-5464
If your mood calls for Mexican, look no further than Casa Orozco for delicious, authentic fare from the various regions of our neighbor to the South. Founded by Familia Orozco – five siblings and their parents, Casa Orozco has been a Tri-Valley institution for 38 years.
Owners Jesus Orozco and Maricela Orozco-Barone explained that they make everything fresh from scratch with high quality ingredients from family recipes. The menu has evolved over time and features plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, for example, lard-free refried beans.
Kick your experience off with a Spicy Pepino Margarita or one made with chunks of watermelon. And their scrumptious Vera Cruz-style Seafood Cocktail. It’s served warm in a big, round glass and is made with pieces of avocado and fresh, plump prawns, cilantro and lime juice in a base that’s naturally sweet from local farm tomatoes.
Right on point are their street tacos with fire-roasted salsa. Served with onions, cilantro, and tomatillo salsa you can choose from 10 kinds of meat or sauteed veggies. (I’m always a sucker for a savory al pastor, and this one didn’t disappoint.)
I was a huge fan of the Puebla specialty of enchiladas de mole poblano. The deep brown sauce was made the old way – layered with flavors of chilis, nuts, dried fruits and spices, stuffed with tender shredded chicken and topped with salty queso fresco. The refried beans were excellent, with a clean pinto bean flavor.
Aside from being delicious, Casa Orozo is a beautiful place to hang out, with architectural touches brought straight from Mexico. When they renovated the restaurant Maricela went on the hunt for unique, quality pieces. She ultimately drove back with truckloads of fine items like thick, hand-carved tables, wooden doors replete with gorgeous wrought-iron details, and iron chandeliers.
Paintings of Mexican landscapes adorn the walls. Take a moment to appreciate.
Don’t miss their live music on Fridays and Saturdays. They also have a Livermore location.
With longevity in the community, Casa Orozco prides itself on being deeply involved in the Tri-Valley area and sourcing their ingredients from local farms and vendors. Members of the family call the area home, and their dedication and high standards shine through.
4112 Grafton Street // +1-925-829-1700
Founded by Gary Singh in 2009 to fill a niche for high-quality pure Indian vegetarian food, this family-owned enterprise now comprises three San Francisco Bay Area restaurants run by five brothers and their families.
Your meal begins with a glass of velvety Indian chai tea that you can sweeten to taste.
I dove into a plate of adorable chaat (snacks) called Dahi Batata Sev Poori. They’re crispy round mini poori filled with sprouted beans, potatoes, chickpeas and spices along with cold yoghurt, tamarind and green chutney.
The little poori burst with liquid as you bite into them – you pop the whole thing in your mouth. I fell in love! You can even order a takeout kit to put your own Sev Poori together at home.
Indo-Chinese cuisine has its place on Chaat Bhavan’s large menu. The Gobi Manchurian comes in a spicy sauce, crispy florets of cauliflower and chunks of green pepper, well-seasoned in a sauce spiced with cumin, coriander, garlic and ginger.
Chana Bhatura is a delightful puffy poori bread that you dip into a bowl of garbanzo beans in a spicy sauce accented with an excellent house-made Indian pickle.
One of their Signature dishes is a homemade cheese in a luscious creamy sauce seasoned with fenugreek leaves and mildly spiced. It’s called Malai Paneer and is mouth-watering.
Chaat Bhavan’s drinks menu features vegetarian specialties like their Mango Lassi, which is not too sweet. The cumin-spiced buttermilk, or Chass, was nicely cool and refreshing.
For dessert, the Falooda Kulfi is an experience unto itself. Your mouth fills with perfume as you bite in into rose-flavored vermicelli over a rich Indian-style ice cream. It’s an exotic burst of flavors and a lovely way to end your meal.
Chaat Bhavan’s dishes are prepared with care and skill, using the freshest ingredients. For high-quality Indian vegetarian food, come pay them a visit.
4100 Grafton Street // +1-925-248-2854
If you’re a fan of Southeast Asian cuisine, you’ll be thrilled to meet The Banana Garden. This eatery features an all-Malaysian cook staff, including their head chef. The menu is extensive and quality shines though in every bite. Clientele of Malay-Chinese heritage pack the place. It’s open for lunch and dinner.
Don’t miss out on the Roti Prata appetizer. A gorgeous, paper-thin roti bread is served with a ramekin of the most flavorsome rich red curry dipping sauce. Purely vegetarian, it’s a Chef’s recipe and I would have purchased a big jar of this sauce if I could have!
The Chicken Satay skewers are another Chef’s recipe. Nicely tender, the accompanying peanut sauce was more like a chutney than a Thai peanut sauce.
A metal dish lands sizzling at the table. It’s the popular Sibu Sizzling Lamb, packed with slices of savory meat and chunks of bell peppers and red onions in a thick black pepper sauce. Add a dollop of house-made sambal for a kick of fire. You’ll want a nice, ice-cold Chang Beer to go with this one.
The Malaysian Fried Rice is another one that is piquant with black pepper and a note of cumin. It’s made with eggs, tofu, and bits of red onion. This special plate has its own distinct flavor.
Flat noodles always draw me in, and the Char Kway Teow – yummy chow fun noodles in a savory brown sauce with shrimp, squid, eggs and bean sprouts hit the spot.
The Fried Bananas with Mango Ice Cream dessert was a huge winner. It’s an attractive plate of oranges, yellows, browns, and whites, finished as it is with a chocolate drizzle and whipped cream. The batter is nice and light with a gentle crunch.
Having lived and traveled in Asia over the years, Banana Garden is the place for a terrific taste of Malaysia and Southeast Asia.
4288 Dublin Boulevard, Suite 213 // +1-925-833-9090
Koi Palace is one of those places where you feel intrigued and excited the moment you walk in the door. Highly regarded in the Bay Area Chinese community, this restaurant is known for its Hong Kong-style fine dining and dim sum. It’s set in the unassuming Ulferts Center mall that’s home to a multitude of Asian eateries, also including fare from Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.
The restaurant is very stylish, with beautiful panels imported from China and traditional round tables. The large menu is straight out of Hong Kong, and if you’re a lover of that tremendous city you’ll feel right at home.
I had to try the Classic Shanghai Juicy Buns and they came out piping hot. These delectable bites are swaddled in soft, springy, made-from-scratch wrappers stuffed with mild pork filling, scallions, light sweet soy sauce and vinegar. Divine.
A plate of Macao-style crispy pork-belly was served with hot mustard sauce and garnished with a purple orchid. It was cut into precise little squares and the crust on these bites was insane, contrasting with the melt-in-your mouth fatty pork.
Wonderfully light and fresh, beautifully prepared Abalone was presented on the shell with mushrooms, snap peas, and scallions in a savory sauce oyster.
A specialty from China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, the Stir-fried Cumin Lamb was incredibly tasty. Generous slices of spicy meat, lots of diced garlic, and slivers of scallion mixed attractively. A well-chilled Tsing Tao beer was the right quencher with this substantial dish.
Our impeccable waiter, Vincent, brought two traditional desserts and a pot of jasmine tea to finish out the meal. One was a Lava Bun, a thick, spongy Chinese bao bun with sweet egg yolk filling, like a custard; the other was Red Bean with Coconut. Both were airy and provided a nice touch of sweet after a rich meal.
Everything at Koi Palace was artfully presented and authentic, made with expert technique. The owners came over from Hong Kong in the 1980s, bringing recipes from their restaurants there. It’s a hyper-efficient operation with excellent service.
Koi Palace is one of the best places in the Tri-Valley for a top-notch, true Hong Kong-style meal. They also have locations in Daly City and Milpitas.
Also, a note from the Tri-Valley Board of Tourism:
Most of these restaurants will be joining us on our second annual Taste Tri-Valley Restaurant Week which is happening February 18 – 27, 2022. It’s a great time to taste everything mentioned here, with additional specials exclusive to the 10-day celebration. Click here for more details: Tri-Valley Restaurant Week.
Tonya Hennessey is a freelance writer and non-profit professional who resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, and grew up in the Minneapolis, Minnesota metro area. Early travels awakened her astonishment at the world’s varied cultures, landscapes, and, of course, food. She’s now marrying a passion for travel with love of the written word. Food tops the list of Tonya’s writing interests, with cultural and sustainable travel right behind. Learn more about her work on Instagram and her website.