Food

The Best Restaurants in San Ramon California, a Local’s Take

San Ramon used to be a fairly sleepy town, known mostly for its suburban feel and the presence of Bishop Ranch, a big office park.

Then in 2018, City Center Bishop Ranch came in and shook everything up. The fancy shopping center, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, ramped up slowly.

Today though—with a big boost from City Center—San Ramon has some of the best dining options in the East Bay.

I lived in San Ramon for three years, my company is based there, and I still visit the town at least every week. Here are my picks for the best restaurants in San Ramon, California, based on my local knowledge and several hundred visits.

Slanted Door

Slanted Door is a fancy place. If anything epitomizes the shift of fine dining from the city to the burbs, Slanted Door is it.

The classy and upscale Vietnamese fusion restaurant had its original location in San Francisco but expanded with a San Ramon location that opened alongside City Center Bishop Ranch.

Slanted Door’s food is complex and pricey. It’s popular with corporate diners from the nearby Bishop Ranch business park and also makes a nice fine dining date night.

Slanted Door has started to target a lower-priced market lately with to-go appetizers and small plates at a more reasonable price point. Still, the core of this restaurant is gourmet, pricey Vietnamese fusion dining in a fancy environment, but without the drive into the city.

C Casa

Duck taco at C Casa

C Casa is another of the OG City Center restaurants that launched alongside the shopping center. It’s gone through something of a transition, initially serving fancier tacos before pivoting to less pricey, more traditional Mexican fare during the pandemic.

I liked the first version, and I like the new one even better. C Casa’s duck taco is delicious and is enough food to be a lunch in and of itself. The restaurant also has tasty guacamole, quesadillas, and other Mexican cuisine staples.

Everything is done very well, and they even make their own tortillas. Their kids’ meals are quite good, too, with offerings like a cheese quesadilla with beans and a tiny slice of brownie.

C Casa has a lovely outdoor area with fire pits for the winter months and comfy couch seating. They have a few indoor tables as well, but really the best bet is to grab a taco and some sides and eat outdoors.

You can read my full take on C Casa here.

Ramen Hiroshi

Tonkatsu ramen at Ramen Hiroshi

Ramen Hiroshi’s original location is in Walnut Creek, but their San Ramon outpost is bigger and fancier. There are plenty of indoor tables, and they serve real-deal ramen soup, including creamy and delicious Tonkatsu ramen made with pork bones.

Ramen Hiroshi has excellent appetizers as well, including gyoza and one of the best chicken karrages that I’ve had. They’ve got some outdoor seating with warmers as well, but I tend to sit indoors.

Again, the tonkatsu is great, but you can also build your own ramen if you want to go fully custom.

Marugame Udon

The line and cooking area at Marugame Udon

Marugame Udon is a relative newcomer to San Ramon. I think of it like an upscale Chipotle or Urban Plates, but for udon noodles. 

When you enter the restaurant, the line to order snakes past a glasses area where chefs labor away, making udon noodles fresh in giant boiling cauldrons of water while you wait.

It’s visually dramatic and also demonstrates one of the best things about Marugame udon; being made to order, their noodles are very fresh.

I like Marugame’s Nikutama udon with sweet beef and a soft boiled egg on top. Their kitsune, with a slice of sweet tofu, is good too. They also have a tempura bar where you can get all kinds of tasty battered and fried veggies and an excellent chicken katsu.

The only downside to Marugame is that the lines can get very long, especially on weekends. If you go there on a busy Saturday, be prepared to wait at least 20 minutes to order. I went on the first day that Marugame opened and have been back many times since then.

Bamboo Sushi

Tasty sushi at Bamboo after their pivot

Bamboo Sushi is another San Ramon restaurant that was forced to change up its business mode during the pandemic. 

I got to visit Bamboo the day before it opened to the public, and at the time it was an Uber fancy, sustainability-obsessed fine dining place. They had things like foraged seaweed from Oregon and real wasabi, grated tableside.

The restaurant closed for a long time during the pandemic and ultimately came back with a simplified menu featuring more down-to-earth rolls, miso soups, and the like.

The quality of the fish at Bamboo Sushi is amazing, though, and the restaurant still has its fine dining interior. I actually like the more accessible food in the new pivot better.

My only gripe is that it sometimes feels like the service is still focused on the original fine-dining concept and hadn’t adjusted to the restaurant’s more casual pivot. Eating there with kids or for a casual lunch is more challenging than it should be.

Still, Bamboo has great fish and a beautiful interior, making it one of the best restaurants in San Ramon.

Mendocino Farms

Steak bowl at Mendocino Farms

Mendocino Farms is one of my go-to casual places in San Ramon. I still go there several times per week, and when I last checked my budgeting software, I saw that I’ve spent over $4000 at Mendo over the last several years.

I’ve tried nearly everything on their menu, but some standouts are their Not So Fried chicken sandwich, their Peruvian steak sandwich, and their signature curried couscous side. I also like their elote chicken bowl and curried couscous.

Mendocino Farms has massive salads that are just as filling as many of their entrees. I like their Thai chicken salad especially.

WB Steak

Who wouldn’t want a cocktail with a cow ice cube?

WB Steak is another relatively new addition to San Ramon’s food scene. Their expansive restaurant is decorated with a classy leather and cow theme, with lots of dark spaces you can lounge in while sipping an Old Fashioned.

Although WB definitely had some old-school steakhouse vibes (and the kinds of tasty steaks and sides you’d expect in that environment) the restaurant still feels contemporary and a little playful while maintaining its fancy feel.

WB has a great small party room towards the back, which is ideal for a smaller seated dinner or a work function. They’ve got a great selection of cocktails, too, including little ice cubes with a cow shape frozen into them.

Roam Artisan Burgers

Burger with bacon at Roam

Roam is another great casual option in San Ramon. It’s perfect when you’re craving an artisan burger or a milkshake, but you don’t want to wait forever to get it. 

You can order a burger on their app or in person and eat either at an outdoor table or at several metal tables indoors. I like their classic burgers but also some of their fancier options topped with things like fried eggs and crispy tortilla strips.

Roam has great options for kids, too, including simple cheeseburgers with fries and apple juice on the side. For a to-go option to eat in one of San Ramon’s parks, Roam is a great bet, too.

Delarosa Pizza

Proscuitto pizza at Delarosa

Many parts of the East Bay have fancy, hippy-dippy pizza joints. (Looking at you, Cheese Board Pizza). Delarosa isn’t that. This City Center restaurant brings pizza back to its roots, focusing on Roman style pies.

All of Delarosa’s pizzas use fresh and delicious ingredients. They’ve got the thin, bubbly crust and light topping that I associate with a Roman or Napolitan style of pizza.

Delarosa has a great atmosphere, too. It’s upscale, yet you can feel comfortable bringing your kids there (get them a tradition pizza with red sauce and shredded mozzarella if they’re not into fancy fare.)

The best way to visit Delarosa is to grab a pizza to go and picnic on the lawn at City Center. You can read my full review of Delarosa here.

San Ramon for Foodies

San Ramon used to be pretty quiet and spread out, but with the addition of City Center, it’s now a foodie destination. Check out one of these restaurants, or head to the weekly farmer’s market and grab some yummy ingredients to cook at home.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button
%d bloggers like this: