lita entree

Restaurant of the Week: LITA Walnut Creek

Walnut Creek’s new LITA restaurant (a k a “Bay Area’s Little Miami”), sitting on the corner of Bonanza and Locust Streets, brings Latin Caribbean cuisine and a lively dining experience to the East Bay. Arguably, and what many foodies are claiming it to be, LITA is one of the hottest new restaurants in the Bay, not just in the East Bay. You can hear the happy customers as you approach the restaurant via the joyous sounds of laughter mixed with reggaetón beats on the patio.

The seats of LITA Walnut Creek are filled from open to close with families enjoying time together, girl nights, business meetings, first dates, anniversary celebrations and any event under the sun. It’s a place to enjoy, to be seen and to relax – Miami style.

Opening at the perfect time at the spring and summer catalyst, LITA is a fresh breath for Downtown Walnut Creek.

LITA Walnut Creek

Now that we’ve established its inviting atmosphere, let’s talk menu. Each dish and drink is as beautifully presented as the restaurant itself.

The bar, an experience in its own. The mixologists at LITA Walnut Creek concoct and present flaming drinks, brightly colored cocktails and refreshing twists on classic choices.

The modernized Caribbean menu is broken up into sections for those wanting a light appetizer experience, a full sit-down dinner or a family-style meal. The restaurant is friendly for those craving a variety of high-quality meat and seafood dishes or vegetarian options.

There are without a doubt two main stars – one more niche and one more classic – in the Signature Starters category at LITA Walnut Creek. The lobster corn dog (yes, you read that correctly), a poached and battered Maine lobster tail served with spicy Caribbean ketchup, is a crowd favorite and a prime example of the fun modern twist the restaurant’s chef puts on coastal cuisine.

LITA lobster corn dog

For those wanting something lighter, the LITA house-made chips and dip with a choice of charred pineapple guacamole, jerk garden salsa or tropical tomatillo salsa is another starter standout. Do yourself a favor and try to charred pineapple.

Before offering dinner plates or family-style options, it’s important to note that LITA has an entire list of handmade empanadas, ceviches, tacos and a “shareables” portion of the menu with unique food options like salt cod fritters, Caribbean street corn, platanos maduros with fries and a roasted heirloom beet tartare with roasted pineapple, cucumber, beet greens, cumin vinaigrette and yucca crisps.

As for dinner entrees, there doesn’t seem to be a dish that you can go wrong with ordering. Each plate is seasoned with bold flavor profiles and is supremely fresh, as the chef prepares each one with an open flame in front of you. And most dishes below are paired with the restaurant’s creamy coconut rice, plantains and red beans. The ancho chile-coffee short ribs are paired with bacon-Brussels mash. The double mojo skirt steak is another hearty option for meat eaters. For seafood lovers, the jerk grilled salmon features Caribbean slaw and herb salsa, while the black pepper shrimp, our personal favorite, has sauteed jumbo prawns, sweet heat black pepper sauce and charred pineapple-mango salsa. And the jerk Maitake mushroom bowl is complete with coconut rice, red beans, charred pineapple guacamole, Caribbean slaw, Scotch-Bonnet tomatoes and plantains.

Get your cameras ready for the dessert course. The most important to highlight is the experience of the coconut doughnut holes. Presented on a long plate, the five coconut doughnut holes are tossed with toasted coconut dust and topped with small tubes for injecting each sweet treat with coquito filling.

A plus for many restaurant-goers is that LITA Walnut Creek closes at 10 p.m. most days. Though it hosts lively and energetic music and crowds throughout the night, LITA does not turn into a nightclub nor does it have raging music interrupting the restaurant environment and experience.

LITA Walnut Creek is open Monday and Tuesday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Wednesday to Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Happy hour is Monday through Thursday, from 3 to 5 p.m. on the patio and at the bar.

To learn more, visit www.litawalnutcreek.com.

Photo credit: Hardy Wilson Photography

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