My last 3 jobs have all been in the Shadelands office park, in Walnut Creek. I've eaten a lot of lunches around here, so I thought I would write a guide to help you out, if you're in the neighborhood looking for lunch (or dinner).
Mary's Pizza Shack - Mary's is a chain, but a small one. There are 15 locations, all in Northern California, most in Sonoma County. The service is usually pretty good, the bread they bring out is warm and crusty, and they serve a pretty good salad (good dressings, too). My choices for best lunches: Soup and Salad lunch special - Especially if the soup is Minestrone. Mmmmm. Pizza and Salad lunch special - A big slice of pizza, either mushroom, cheese, or pepperoni, and a small salad. I like the raspberry vinegarette dressing. Linguine al Pesto - Tons of garlic. Mmmmm. Penne and Sausage - Very tasty. They also serve pizza, but I like the crust better at Rocco's, so if I'm in a pizza mood, I'll usually go there, unless I'm craving the pizza and salad special I mentioned.
Rocco's Pizzeria - Rocco's is locally owned and operated...and Rocco is a stand up guy. He donates a lot of money to local school and sport fundraisers, so if that sort of thing warms your heart, go support his business. Also, pretty good pizza. For me, it's all about the crust, and they do a good job there. They also have some tasty sandwiches on their menu. The most popular with my (current) coworkers are the Chicken Pesto Sandwich and the Meatball Sandwich. Sadly, I've never been that impressed with their salads. If you want a big salad for the family to eat with your pizza, it's fine, but I wouldn't go there looking for a salad for lunch. I haven't tried the pastas at Rocco's, though I've heard the ravioli and lasagna are both pretty tasty.
China Village - This is the place over by Albertsons, near Heather Farms. They have really good Black Bean Shrimp. They also do the big round community table, so if you want to meet people, this is a pretty good place to do it. However, I mostly prefer:
Jade Garden - Near the Ygnacio/Oak Grove Safeway. For one thing, you get your own table. But in addition to that, the food is better, or at least more to my taste. I especially like the Spicy Eggplant on the regular menu. Mmmm. Very good. On the lunch menu (which means a single serving of your entree', served with your choice of steamed or fried rice, a bowl of soup, some crispy won tons, and an egg roll), my favorites are the Sweet and Sour Shrimp and the Szechwan Chicken. I think the sauce on the chicken is the same as the sauce on the eggplant, which is why I like this dish. It also has a lot of celery in it, which I hate, but will sometimes eat just to get to the sauce. :) They usually have the same specials on their special board, which you have to read behind the cash register, because it's not on your menu anywhere. But you can get Asparagus Chicken or Beef, String Bean Chicken or Beef, Sweet and Sour Chicken, and other yummy things as well. On their regular menu, they have a dish called General's Chicken that I will try the next time we get take out...in case I don't like it. When we lived in Philly, there was a dish called General Tso's Chicken that I loved, which was chicken (fried, of course) with broccoli and GARLIC (and maybe peanuts?). I haven't found the same dish out here yet...I think I've tried it at Jade Garden, but to be honest, it was so long ago, I can't remember if it was the same. Probably not, or else I would order it more often.
New Chinatown Restaurant - This is the place over by Butterfly Life (formerly Linda Evans) in Countrywood. Don't go here. They have really yummy sweet and sour, but
1. They lied to me about MSG, which gives my mother in law a really bad reaction, so it's important that they NOT put it in, or be honest and say it goes in EVERYTHING.
2. The next time I went there after the MSG incident, I got food poisoning. Probably bad karma for going to a place that tried to kill my MIL.
Spring Garden - Near Trader Joes, on Oak Grove near Treat. This is a good place to go if you like all you can eat Chinese buffet, but since I don't like Chinese buffet, I don't like Spring Garden. Sorry.
Evie's - Near Safeway, Rocco's, and Jade Garden, on Ygnacio Valley Rd. They have really yummy burgers and onion rings. I've heard their breakfasts are pretty good, too. It's a small, locally owned place, so if you care about that, this is a good place. They also have turkey burgers, for the more health-conscious burger lover. I got a BLT here once...it sucked. The bacon was really old and chewy. Blech.
Applebees - Pretty darned tasty burgers in a sit down restaurant, and a full bar to boot. Almost everything on their menu seems to be fried, though, so really, stick with the burger and count your calories elsewhere. :)
Carl's Jr. - It's fast food, and yes, they ARE trying to kill you with their $6 burger, but if you like Deep Fried Zucchini (I do), this is a good place. When I'm feeling like eating/reading trash, I love to go to Carl's with a People Magazine, get a (regular, not huge) burger and some Zucc, and just enjoy. Definately a guilty pleasure.
Jalisco Gourmet Burritos - On Oak Grove, near Carl's Jr. and Mary's. The burritos here are tasty and quick, and the owner is local, which is nice. They have a good Curry Chicken Burrito, but they won't bother to tell you if they're out of raisins, so if you LIKE raisins in your burrito, and DON'T think they're devil food, you had better ask.
High Tech Burrito - Near China Village and Albertsons on Ygnacio Valley Rd. I prefer the burritos here to the ones at Jalisco, though in theory they're pretty much the same thing. I especially like a regular Chicken Burrito or a Black Bean Quesadilla with guacamole for dipping. Mmmm.
Quiznos - Over by Jalisco Burritos. They're basically sub sandwiches, but they toast them under a broiler, which makes them yummy.
ToGos - Near Jade Garden. Sub sandwiches. Lots of veggies, good bread. Pretty basic stuff.
So that's the wrap up. Of course, I've left some places out. There's a place next to Evie's that has sandwiches and soups and salads, but I can't remember the name and I've never liked it. There's a Japanese restaurant over by China Village, but I don't like it much either.
So, if you're spending the day near Shadelands, I hope this list is helpful. Enjoy!