Livermore is California’s oldest wine-growing region, and most of the wineries have been family-owned for generations. Livermore became a popular rest stop for people heading to Sacramento and the Sierra during the Gold Rush.
However, more than just a wine destination, Livermore appeals to a broad audience with a rich cultural scene. This scene includes public art, theater, fine dining, a Caffeine Trail, a Beer Trail, an Ice Cream Trail, boutique and outlet shopping, and countless outdoor adventures. And of course, Livermore restaurants have plenty to be excited about as well!
One hour east of San Francisco in the Tri-Valley, Livermore is home to friendly, vibrant residents with a zest for the eclectic and a great sense of history. Take Interstate 580 from Oakland, which will drop you off on Livermore Avenue.
A convenient place to make your home base when you are in the Tri-Valley is Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham, close to the freeway, downtown, and wine country. It’s quiet and has lovely amenities. The staff is friendly, efficient, and very accommodating.
Some of the businesses in this article hosted me, but all opinions are my own. These restaurants are listed in no order and are not ranked in order.
Visiting other destinations in California? Check out our other delicious guides:
- 11 Must-Try Tustin Restaurants
- 8 Best Fort Bragg, CA Restaurants
- The 7 Best Oceanside, CA Restaurants
- The 21 Best Restaurants in Costa Mesa
- 11 Must-Try Vallejo Restaurants
- 15 Must-Try Sanibel Island Restaurants
- 9 Must-Try Pier 39 Restaurant
- 7 Must-Try Ventura Restaurants
- 8 Must-Try Paso Robles Restaurants
- 10 Best Berkeley Restaurants
- 10 Best Examples of California Cuisine
- 6 Best Downtown Disney Restaurants
- The 10 Best Mexican Restaurants In San Diego
- 8 Best Livermore Restaurants
8 Best Livermore Restaurants
2205 First Street // 925-456-2200
Strizzi’s Restaurant is widely known throughout the San Francisco Bay Area for its fresh fish entrees and fine Italian sauces and pasta. Strizzi’s is a fine, traditional Italian restaurant, and they won Diners’ Choice awards for all three of their locations–Livermore, Pleasanton, and Fremont.
A long food and foodservice history make up the Strizzi family’s restaurants. Old Italy came to America with Luciano Strizzi and his wife, Assunta, who opened a modest Italian deli and shoe shop in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, in 1929. Italian immigrants from the Abruzzo province in Italy communicated their food philosophy this way, “Let the freshness speak for itself.”
Ray Bartolomucci, Jr., is the proprietor of Strizzi’s. I had the pleasure of speaking with him on my visit. Ray proudly received his culinary education from his grandparents and a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. He gained practical experience and enjoyed successful careers in several major hospitality corporations. In addition to his career success, Ray makes hiring decisions that earn loyal employees. Some staff members have been part of the Strizzi Restaurants for decades.
I couldn’t resist the Bleu Cheese Wedge and bread to start the meal, paired with a glass of local wine, of course. Ray’s son, Raymond, recommended a local Pinot Noir to pair with the meal.
Even though Strizzi’s is known for their fresh fish, I chose the Braised Beef Tips with mushrooms braised in port wine peppercorn sauce. I added soft, fluffy little pillows of gnocchi goodness to my order.
The dinner portions are more than generous. I wanted a small taste of a couple of dishes. True to their reputation for hospitality, they gave me full-sized portions, so I had full to-go boxes at the end of the meal.
In case you fall in love with Strizzi’s pasta sauce, you can purchase jars of the Marinara Family Recipe sauce. They also offer their house specialties for take-out and catering.
988 Murrieta Boulevard // 925-606-1004
Contemporary Southwest cuisine is the specialty of Posada Restaurant. Chef Eduardo and Blanca Posada are the owners of the sophisticated and refined restaurant in the heart of Livermore Valley Wine Country.
With a food trailer at the beginning, the Posada’s fanned the flames of a dream to share their delicious food. They started their tiny brick-and-mortar business with nine tables in an unassuming strip mall eight years ago. They now have 28 tables, a chef’s table, a full bar, an impressive wine list, and a sommelier. Wine Spectator’s 2021 Restaurant Awards recognize Posada.
My meal can only be described as a visually appealing feast. The bold flavors speak of New Mexico, the classy ambiance, and the hospitality unmatched. Chef Eduardo meets and welcomes his patrons personally.
The Sommelier, Jorge Tinoco, paired my meal with three white and rosé wines to sample with the first courses. They complimented the flavors and ingredients in each course. He paired a red wine to accent the red meat that followed the Starter and Salad courses.
My meal began with Charred Little Gems with warm Caesar dressing, shaved parm cheese, blistered pearl tomatoes, and crostini. Each ingredient had a distinct flavor that melded perfectly in my mouth.
The Chef served guacamole + Blackened Shrimp with flair. This is how they eat guacamole in the Southwest, he explained.
An original menu item established in 2013 is fish in a chipotle rub, served on a corn tortilla and covered in chipotle aioli, pickled slaw, red pepper sauce, and salsa fresca. A Mahi-Mahi Taco was next on the table. This fish taco was the most sophisticated taco I’ve ever eaten.
Shrimp Cakes + Basil-Tomato Broth, one of the Seafood Starters, is Chef Eduardo’s version of his mother’s recipe. It was crisp and flavorful.
Adobo Rack of Lamb was the Chef’s Feature Entrée. The lamb was tender and savory because it was marinated in coffee-chile rojo with vinegar saffron rice and served with roasted corn.
The meal closed with a lovely, creamy flan and Mexican Liqueur. The decorative heaters created a romantic setting and made me want to return on a special occasion.
2417 1st Street // 925-443-4100
A relative newcomer to the Livermore food scene, PB08 Bistro & Bar was established in 2020 and is in a brick building in Downtown Livermore. Famous for their Indian street food in the Jalandhar District style of Punjabi, the menu includes many favorites. Some of these dishes I discovered in Livermore.
The extensive menu at PB08 Bistro & Bar includes many vegetarian options, soups and salads, and seafood dishes. Rice specials are featured, along with chicken and fish. Other meats include lamb and goat.
Beverages include draft and bottled beer, cocktails, canned alcohol, bottled red and white wine, and other drinks like lassi and Punjabi Cha.
Butter Chicken, Lassi (a homemade yogurt drink), and garlic naan are my newfound preferences on an Indian menu. Gulab Jamun, cheese balls fried and soaked in flavored syrup, make the perfect ending to a spicy and flavorful meal.
2074 Second Street // 925-292-5568
That long line of happy people on a Sunday waiting for a seat at Monica’s in Livermore is a testament to her popularity and loyal following. Monica is a farm-to-table devotee who celebrates neighbors, purveyors, and friends.
Monica’s is set in an original winery building and serves American “comfort” food for breakfast and lunch. Seasonal availability of ingredients for their menu and baked goods are natural, organic, local, and sustainably produced.
It’s noticeable in the flavor and presentation. All menu items, condiments, and buns are house-made daily using upscale ingredients. Scratch-made cinnamon rolls and biscuits are available daily.
Breakfast at Monica’s features all the classics like Eggs Benedict, New York Steak, and Chicken Fried Steak. Healthy options like granola, oatmeal, avocado toast, and seasonal fruit share space with Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy (yes, it’s a thing!)
The lunch menu features Burgers and Blue Plate (traditional) Specials.
A long list of house cocktails and an even longer list of specialty cocktails includes Mimosas made with cranberry, mango, pineapple, guava, grapefruit, blood orange, and my favorite, pomegranate. Also on the list are wines, most from California and Livermore.
Small plates and shareables make for an exciting prelude to the dinner meal and the live show later in the evening. Bruschetta, Avocado Bites, and Coconut Prawns satisfy my hunger with various tastes and textures. What’s not to like about Angel Hair Pasta or Nonni’s Polenta? Shrimp or Fish & Chips, a couple of salads, and sandwiches fulfill the comfort food must-haves.
I missed one of their live music events because I was in the downtown area during the day. These popular events feature local bands. There is no cover charge, no minimum purchase, and no time limit. Monica’s does, however, charge a 20% gratuity added to service on performance evenings.
Reservations are taken for dinner only, served Thursday through Saturday from 5 to 9 pm.
186 Maple St // 925-371-8297
This colorful eatery has a rodeo theme that lures locals and out-of-towners with its enchiladas, full bar, and roomy patio. Starting in 2001, El Charro chose this name because it captures the heritage of Mexico and the cowboy history of Livermore.
El Charro is the traditional horseman from Mexico who participates in the Mexican rodeo. Charros are experts in horsemanship, bull riding, and rope tricks. The tightly tailored suit and vest that the charro wears are adorned with silver buttons and embroidery. Worn with a soft tie and wide-brimmed sombrero, this suit is one of the most recognized symbols of Mexico and represents the nation’s passion for tradition, ritual, and custom.
The authentic Mexican cuisine at El Charro made them winners of “Best Taste of Downtown” for five consecutive years.
House-made soups made from scratch include chicken, shrimp, and fish. The specialty soup, Menudo, is served only on Saturdays and Sundays.
El Charro features a full bar offering a wide selection of favorite tequilas, cervezas, and of course, Livermore wines.
My favorite and just about everybody else’s favorite was the El Charro’s Taco Salad. With a choice of grilled chicken, carnitas or steak, romaine lettuce, whole beans, their house-made guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, and crispy flour tortilla strips, how can you go wrong? This dish is easy to adapt for lower calories or gluten sensitivities.
El Charro serves seafood, mariscos, or fish in their secret spicy sauce or garlic butter along with beans, rice, and tortillas.
2300 First Street, Suite 110 // 925-443-6638
There’s just something to be said for cooking your meat on the end of a little fork in boiling oil. Or dipping bread in gooey, delectable, creamy cheese. Oh, and chocolate flaming at the table.
Fondue is a unique dining experience. It’s leisurely and casual, and delightful if paired with wine or one of 120 hand-crafted martinis and specialty drinks at Simply Fondue.
Starting with a salad is the thing to do. Simply Fondue’s new Gorgonzola Field Greens includes spring mix, crumbled gorgonzola, cucumbers, tomatoes, walnuts, then tossed in raspberry vinaigrette, with croutons on top. Their fresh produce is locally sourced, and the dressings are house-made.
While I would like to start the meal with chocolate fondue, the cheese fondues are irresistible. The cheese is melted tableside and served with fresh vegetables, seasonal dipping fruits, and freshly baked artisan breads. The fondues are cheese, spices, beer, wine, or whiskey blends.
For example, the Loaded Whiskey Cheddar, one of my favorites, includes sharp cheddar, beer, fresh horseradish, bacon, chives, and a splash of whiskey. It has a nice kick on the palate, as does a new cheese combination Smoked Gouda.
A new cheese fondue for the vegan diner is Sun-Dried Tomato Rosemary. The ingredients include vegan mozzarella cheese, unsweetened almond milk, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh rosemary, salt, and pepper. I’ll try this one next time I’m in Livermore.
Create your entrée combination by selecting a long list of meats, poultry, seafood, fish, or pasta, tofu, and vegan meatballs. You choose one style of cooking the entrée from roasted garlic, Cajun bouillon, fondue grill (cast-iron), or the traditional in trans-fat-free oil. There are so many choices to get what you want.
Now for the Chocolates Menu. There are three to five choices in the white chocolate, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate categories. Plus, you can create your own combination. All are served with pound cake, jumbo marshmallows, triple chunk brownies, banana chunks, fresh pineapple, fresh seasonal berries, chocolate chip cookie dough, and Rice Krispy squares.
If you can’t make up your mind, order the Chocolate Confusion, where the white and milk chocolates are swirled together just for you.
Everything But the Kitchen Sink is all the chocolate choices swirled with marshmallow cream, caramel, peanut butter, pecans, and topped with whipped cream.
For Gluten Free choices, eliminate the pound cake, cookie dough, and Rice Krispy.
Espresso Rosetta – On the Caffeine Trail
206 S. J Street // 925-315-5212
If you need a little break during your walking tour of the city, a stop at Espresso Rosetta is just what you need. A nice cup of specialty coffee or tea and a small bite will give you the energy to explore and search out the murals found all around town.
Don’t miss this cafe on the Tri-Valley Caffeine Trail. Visit five of the participating coffee shops on the Trail and take a picture of your beverage, snack, or yourself. Five stops later, upload your photos, and you’ll receive a Tri-Valley Mug to use at home! Download a passport from visittrivalley.com.
Espresso Rosetta, located in a historically protected building, offers locally roasted artisan espresso beverages. They also have their liquor license so they can spike your coffee or make a delicious Irish coffee. They say, “It’s 5 am somewhere!”
I had the House made Tomato Quiche with a small espresso with creative latte art gracing my cup. It was the perfect pick-me-up.
Homegrown Hops Brewing Company – On the Beer Trail
3000 Mines Rd. // 925-321-8778
Good food goes with good beer in Livermore. Brewpub dining at Home Grown Hops Brewing Company is a casual event but is good food, nonetheless. Food trucks provide specialty meals to patrons.
Q2 was on deck when I was there, and I enjoyed great, juicy pork ribs, coleslaw, and potato salad. Christina, a local, agreed. She said, “The food was AMAZING! Hands down the BEST BBQ I have ever had.”
Have you ever seen how hops are grown? It’s a fascinating view from the road and a unique sight in wine country. Homegrown Hops Brewing Company is a Livermore family-owned brewery serving beer brewed with hops grown in their hop field.
You can also bring your food and enjoy the firepits, heaters, cold beer, seltzers, bocci ball courts, cornhole, great music, and good company.
Which of these restaurants in Livermore CA do you most want to try? Let us know in the comments section below!
Julie Diebolt Price is a professional photographer, educator, travel writer, and journalist. She helps corporations and solo entrepreneurs establish their brands with imagery and business training. She educates and mentors aspiring photographers. As a journalist who loves to travel, she creates memorable experiences and shares them with words and pictures. Learn more at linktr.ee/PhotoTravelWrite.