Flight of the Concord: Explore Todos Santos Plaza
With thick traffic and hurried crowds, city exploring can seem cumbersome and sitting at home can seem appealing. But put your inner hermit on hold, because there are quiet alternatives to the usual Bay Area Main Streets: Downtown Concord serves up an easy stroll right off the Pittsburgh/Bay Point BART line that’s an outing without the stress.
Todos Santos Plaza (the town was originally named Todos Santos!) is one block of shops and eateries amassed around a serene park that serves as the community’s popular meeting point. Exit the Concord BART Station and follow the convenient blue pillar signs pointing toward the plaza, which is an 8-minute walk down Grant Street and makes for a cruisy day trip.
Once there, you’ll find a cement stage that hosts live music and events in the summer months overlooking a children’s playground. Looking for a place to chill? Bundle up beneath a calming mosaic of trees perched throughout the park. A tech bonus lies in the plaza-wide free Wi-Fi (the network is Astound-Free-Wifi).
On the corner of Grant and Salvio streets, E.J. Phair Brewing Company & Alehouse is a neighborhood staple dishing up outdoor seating, a wraparound bar, wood-laden décor, its local craft brews, and a full food menu. Pair the house Plank Walker Pale with the Fresh Catch Sandwich (served up with shoestring fries nudged against a scoop of coleslaw) for a complete feast.
Next door, The Hop Grenade boasts 21 taps pouring a rotating cast of craft beers. The dessert “Beer Float” caught our eye off the food menu and features North Coast Old Rasputin with local vanilla bean gelato, while the surprise scene stealer sits in the back of this locale: a recording studio behind a glass window that hosts live tapings of The Brewing Network radio podcast three Mondays a month at 6 pm.
When you see the ‘70s-reminiscent striped awning and big yellow lettering, you’ve come to Hot Dog Palace, where you can grab a quick bite to fuel your picnic in the park steps away. Concord Dog (it’s skinless), Polish Dog with kraut, Corn Dog. This Palace is no fancy affair but it’s a treat.
Need a last-minute read for your park lounging? At the opposite corner of the plaza, Half Price Books rolls out wooden crates onto the sidewalk with all sorts of genres for your perusal. Yes, at cheap prices. Inside, sell your old books, flip through old records, and take the kids to the children’s section, aptly dubbed “Half Pint Books.”
When lunch is over and you’re ready for dinner, the plaza dons a variety of other food genres for your palate. At Happy Roll Sushi, the name say it all. Happy Roll Sushi gets you — hook, line and sinker — with Japanese fusion seafood delights; you’ve got to go for the Concord Fire Roll (with shrimp tempura and house spicy sauce). The gourmet mobile food market Off the Grid is at the Plaza on Mondays from 5 to 8pm.
Todos Santos Plaza welcomes visitors all week with its town square atmosphere — quaint enough to lure you, alive enough to keep you coming back.