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A night out with your honey or friends is a great mood lifter just when you need it. Lucky for us, the Diablo Valley region has several terrific spots, both new on the scene and longtime favorites, for a bite and a beer. Here are five top-rated spots to try.

The Hop Grenade Taproom & Bottle Shop
2151 Salvio St., Suite J
Concord, CA 94520
(925) 332-7352
www.thehopgrenade.com

Hop Grenade is a brand new locale that’s already getting high fives for just about everything it offers. Fantastic beer, gourmet bar bites and a friendly staff have proven that Hop Grenade is off to a great start. Located on the park in Todos Santos Plaza, The Hop Grenade is a premier craft beer taproom and bottle shop and the proud world headquarters of The Brewing Network live radio studio, so you know you are drinking with the best. The Hop Grenade story is not just a history, but comes with a philosophy and a community commitment as well. With 20 or more special beers on tap and an exceptional selection of bottled beers, along with tasty bar bites – the hand-made Bavarian pretzel served with specialty beer mustard ($4.50) gets thumbs up reviews – the buzz confirms this comfy gastro pub is definitely a winner. Visit the website for complete information.

ØL Beercafe & Bottle Shop
1541 Giammona Drive
Walnut Creek, CA 94596
(925) 210-1147
www.beer-shop.org

Written ØL, the Danish word for beer, and pronounced “UL,” this is one of the best beer and bottle shops beer lovers will ever find. With “18 quality taps and hundreds of meticulously chosen and well-cared-for bottles” to enjoy on-site or take home, ØL Beercafe is a rare breed indeed, and not your typical beer room. ØL has no TVs and prefers “you talk to the person next to you than to stare at a TV like a Zombie or shout and jump up and down like a baboon when your team scores.” In other words, do not expect to watch the game at this hipster bar gem. Enough said. With little in the way of food served here, patrons are highly encouraged to grab a pizza or other tasty bites from neighboring restaurant Skipolini’s to enjoy with a beer at ØL. Visit the website to learn more about ØL, its beers and ongoing special events.

E.J. Phair Brewing Company
2151 Salvio St., Suite L
Concord, CA 94520
(925) 691-4253
www.ejphair.com

Premium beers and ales together with requisite pub food define E.J. Phair as a top Concord venue for a bite and a beer. Located just across from Todos Santos Plaza, E.J. Phair is a convenient destination for a long list of well-liked beers, ales and lagers. E.J. Phair is a brewery first, and presents a rotating roster of brews for its regulars and new visitors. Pair a brew with an appetizer from the alehouse menu, or go for something more filling from the sandwiches, wraps, burgers and entrées offered. Check the website for additional information and hours.

Jack’s Restaurant & Bar
60 Crescent Drive, Suite A
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
(925) 849-6195
www.jacksrestaurants.com

Local Diablo Valley brothers John, Dave and Chris learned the restaurant business by working during their teens at their parents’ restaurant, Eleni, in Clayton, California. The brothers now own and operate Jack’s Restaurant & Bar, a busy spot offering American and Greek favorites for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Whether it’s a planned night out with a burger and beer before a movie, or a get-out-of-the-house spur of the moment thing, Jack’s could be the perfect fit. There are two happy hours making it even more enjoyable to grab a beer, wine or cocktail along with an appetizer or two ($5 each). Happy hour is Monday through Friday from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and late night happy hour is Tuesday through Saturday from 9 p.m. to close. Check the website for more information, including hours.

Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar
1961 Diamond Blvd.
Concord, CA 94520
(925) 849-1221
www.lazydogrestaurants.com

Lazy Dog Concord, in the Willows Shopping Center, places special attention on its food, from menu appetizers through Sunday brunch as chef Gabe puts particular emphasis on healthy food choices. This includes “Clean Cocktails,” a selection of low-calorie libations under 150 calories made with real ingredients and no added sugar. The bar menu is larger than most other bars offer, and with two happy hours, grabbing a bite and a beer is another reason to stop by. Visit the website for additional information and hours.

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Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in San Francisco. She writes on adult education, art and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. She is also a member of an independent filmmaking group. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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