Va de Vi: Outdoor seating. Fountains. Clinking wine glasses. People laughing. Why is someone always laughing? I like to think that the waitstaff takes shifts chuckling mirthfully within earshot of the outdoor diners. NOT TOO LOUD NOW. But holy crap is it expensive. It’s entirely possible to run up a $90 tab with just two people (no joke, I’ve done it), so take mom somewhere else to eat first….or fill her up on your crappy baking so all she’ll be able to stuff down is some cheese or something, because $90 aint no joke. Just be sure to snag a seat outside. Wait for it. Sitting inside means you’ll be conversing with Mom and the couples sitting to the left and right of you, which mom may not mind but leads to general awkwardness from being especially conscious of how much of your conversation your neighbors are privy to. Outside the tables are spaced better, and the mysterious laugher always serves as a nice distraction from your more personal conversations.
1511 Mt Diablo Blvd, Walnut Creek
Residual Sugar: Residual Sugar has all of the things moms love. Attentive and knowledgeable servers (no passive aggressive comments about ageism necessary), flattering lighting (even super foxy moms complain about the damage harsh florescent does to their self-esteem), and enough patrons in their 40s to keep your Mo from feeling out of place. If your Mom is strictly Napa she’s out of luck here, because Residual excels at focusing primarily on non-Californian wines. Every server seems to have a specialty (like Spanish wines), and will happily suggest a substitution, which is usually way better than what you would have picked out in the first place. They’re great if you’re indecisive, and quick to tell you which wines you don’t want if you show any sort of hesistancy or look to them for guidance. Also, if you don’t like talking to your mom, they usually have a local sports game or movie on the suuuuper high-def TV, so you can converse about how weird Ferris Bueller’s face looks when it’s that well-defined.
1684 Locust St, Walnut Creek
Eleve: Is your mom a hip sexy mom? Don’t deny it. Are you grossed out yet? Probably because it’s true, which means you should take your mom to Eleve. The many-windowed modern-looking restaurant on the corner of Main and Civic houses a talented bar staff and that same dim lighting we previously mentioned (hide those wrinkles!), plus seemed larger and has been less crowded than Residual and Va de Vi during my visits. Once again, try and fill Mom up on cocktails (I’m a big fan of the Lonsdale) and make sure she doesn’t come hungry, because like all small plate places things add up quickly, and no number of fancy cocktails can ease the shock of that final bill.
1677 N. Main, Walnut Creek
Scott’s Seafood: Ugh, I’m actually groaning as I mention Scott’s in this because I’m going to assume it’s going to be a clusterfuck of dutiful children shelling out the $40 for the Sunday buffet come Mother’s Day, and also because nothing scares me more than hungry old people, and there’s nothing that gets them riled up like an unlimited buffet. With that aside, Scott’s Sunday champagne brunch is my favorite in the area, mainly because they pour unlimited mimosas, and you if you ask nicely you may be able to get the server to skip the O.J. Also, check out the dessert section in the buffet, and don’t forget they serve made-to-order waffles and pancakes (included in the price), which you can find on the table menus and not in the buffet.
1333 N. California Blvd, Walnut Creek
Sideboard: A little under the radar, and full of cozy country charm, Sideboard is an ideal place to a Mom who wants to escape from a hectic workweek or busy urban (let’s be real, suburban) life. Snag one of the outdoor dining tables (preferably next to someone’s adorable dog), cheers with their itty bitty water cups, and enjoy simple but fresh brunch items like poached eggs on Levain toast or huge cinnamon muffins. They also serve Blue Bottle coffee for fancy schmancy moms, and servers find your table with the help of table markers printed with funny food words like "legume" and "kumquat."
411 Hartz Ave, Danville
(all photos from Yelp)