Often the best meals are at home-where you and friends can cut loose, enjoy the view (if you have one) and either divide up the bill for the COSTCO Lobster and Filet, or have the crowd over to the other friends homes and even if you spend a little money, think of the fun you will have.
I think that you made references to CAPS, which has been a favorite of ours forever. Guests love the atmosphere and the prices are extremely reasonable. Now, if you drink 2 or 3 bottles of Silver Oak, I can hear you complaining since Caps will bring you a sky high bill.
IF you moved to 94531 (no idea) for fabulous Bobby Flay restaurants at school teacher pay, you are not going to be successful. The only place I have heard totally criticized is Vic Stewarts. I would go to the Walnut Creek or San Francisco, but I would bet they cut a few corners out here.
I live in 94505, the end of civilization, and I love it. And I have live here all of my life. Yet we eat and Shop in Walnut Creek, because we like CAPS, the steak house and the gold restaurant but we prefer to stay home.