Best of San Joaquin 2014 Food & Drink

Russ & Kathryn Munson
Wine & Roses Hotel Restaurant Spa
By Melissa Hutsell


Russ Munson has served San Joaquin County for more than 30 years as a local businessman, community volunteer, Visit Lodi board member, and now, candidate for the San Joaquin County 4th District Supervisor. Among his many roles, it is clear that Munson is committed to supporting the region’s agritourism, and continual growth that brings jobs and value to the San Joaquin Valley. Munson and his wife of 45 years, Kathryn, are both Lodi natives, and San Jose State University Alum. They have committed themselves to the community by expanding Lodi’s growing wine industry, and by continuing the legacy of Lodi’s most notable landmark, Wine & Roses Hotel, Restaurant and Spa (also known as the Towne House). Although the Munsons have demonstrated their commitment to the local community and its expansion, they have gained recognition for creating one of Northern California’s most popular destinations for private events and weddings. Munson’s involvement in the Wine and Roses hotel development began in the mid 1980s. In 1999, the Munsons purchased the property from a general partner and began creating Lodi’s very own Garden of Eden. The Munsons, along with the help of investors and community leaders, devoted themselves to making their dreams a reality. “The only thing here was a house, a tent, and a bar,” said Russ. What was once a small bed and breakfast with 10 rooms and more than 100 years of history, is now a central valley attraction that offers 66 suites with amenities, an award winning spa, a restaurant with a regionally sourced and seasonal menu, and a wine list with more than 70 local varieties. Although the vision for the hotel is always changing and growing, it remains a center of exceptional service and settings. “Wine and Roses is a commitment to the community. This is something that we did not have, that showcases the local growers, and is something special for our [region]. We want to do more and more, and continue to grow.” The classy atmosphere and gorgeous botanical gardens have helped this local gem to win an excellence award from Trip Advisor, and features in Sunset, Martha Stewart Living and Gourmet Magazines.

Did You Know:

Together they have two kids, five grandchildren, two Macaws and an African Grey Bird. In his spare time, you can also catch Russ playing a round of golf at Woodbridge Country Club, skiing, or enjoying a glass of one of his favorite local zinfandels.

What is great about owning a business in Lodi?

Lodi is a very tight community and very traditional with multi generations and we all work together to achieve the same goals.

What is your favorite aspect of San Joaquin County?

I think the appellation in general and what is happening here with the grape growers and management, and the Lodi Wine Tourism!

Chuck’s Burgers
6034 Pacific Ave.
Stockton, (209) 473-9977

Chuck’s Burgers did not invent breakfast, but they might as well have. Their main attraction is their old-fashioned greasy spoon breakfasts, served all day, and perfected throughout the 54 years of the family owned and operated business. “People don’t just come because they are hungry, they come because they need their fix,” says owner Steven Grant. But be warned, these portions aren’t wimpy. As far as costumer favorites, it is a toss up between Tim’s Omelet, made with chicken, bacon and Swiss cheese, or fresh country sausage, with bacon, eggs and pancakes. You’re sure to leave with a full and happy belly.

Gian’s Delicatessen
2112 Pacific Avenue
(209) 469-0108

A combination of homemade and special family recipes have made Stockton’s Gian’s Deli a community and student favorite since 1972. The Italian-style deli, whose family recipes have been passed down for decades, offers much more than sandwiches. “We try to be unique,” says manager Ryan Hall, who adds that all sauces, or Italian gravies, Focaccia bread, pasta salads and Italian sausages are freshly made with hard work and dedication. In addition, nothing is pre-sliced until ordered. Besides sandwiches, costumer favorites include raviolis and Italian Tortas made with spinach, zucchini, eggs and breadcrumbs.

Papapavlo’s Site
Bistro and Bar
501 Lincoln Center
(209) 477-6133

Make sure to leave room for dessert because you are not going to want to miss this. The small selections of specialty sweets at Papapavlo’s are a big hit, and cater to both exceptional and classical tastes. Desserts include Baklava Cheesecake, Chocolate Silk Moose Cake, Coconut Cream Pie, and Rice Pudding – a recipe that has been in the family for more than 80 years. These mouthwatering cakes are freshly made each day and are all variations of family recipes.

Market Tavern
236 Lincoln Center
(209) 932-8001

Market Tavern goes above and beyond your average, or even above-average, expectations of dining out. The restaurant simply redefines what it means to be a local delicacy. All ingredients are organic, self-sustainable and straight from local farms. If you are looking for a light meal and a place to hang out for happy hour, the Tavern’s appetizer selection cannot be beat. Fresh bread baked daily, hand-ground pork and beef meatballs, deviled eggs topped with a chunk of bacon, and thin-crust wood-fired pizzas make for a whole new level of appetizers.

Siamese Street Thai
3236 Pacific Avenue
(209) 466-0130

If you like options, this is the place for you! The restaurant prides itself on its flexibility, offering gluten-free, vegan, and plenty of omnivore options. Every dish is prepared from scratch, making each meal different and fresh. Costumers can choose from a variety of meats, vegetables and noodles to build their perfect dish. The Pineapple Fried Rice, topped with chicken, cashews, carrots and peas is a must-have. Another highly recommended dish is the Kra Tim. “It’s a garlic perfection,” says employee Riassa Fernandez. The stir-fry comes with your choice of meat, tofu, vegetable or seafood and is topped with fried garlic.

Spice up Your Life
Habanero Hots
1024 E. Victor Rd.
(209) 369-3791

With over 33 years of spicy experience, Lodi’s Habanero Hots is not only a restaurant, but also a cantina and a hot sauce shop. Those at the restaurant cantina encourage you to ‘Eat the Heat’ and be a proud member of Habanero Hots ‘Hall of Flame’. The delicious menu is a based on family recipes handed down from generations to owner and restaurateur John DeNigris. Bring the spice home from their hot sauce shop featuring over 200 different brands with tastes like The Insanity Sauce, Crazy Jerry’s Brain Damaged, and others featuring extracts from chili peppers, used to add an extra kick.

Enjoy the Queen of Cookies
Macronage Macaroons
7610 Pacific Ave. Suite B6
(209) 955-0857

This isn’t your average cookie! In December 2013, Grace of Macronage Macaroons introduced San Joaquin to the world’s most sophisticated cookie. Hailing from Paris, this special cookie is almond-based and gluten-free. Some of Macronage’s famous cream fillings include jam, caramel and butter cream. Stop by to enjoy a variety of 12 flavors everyday. Keep an eye out for favorites and specialties like Red Velvet, Honey Lavender, Espresso and S’more. The sometimes 24-hour preparation time is evident in each bite of this delicacy!

Angelina’s Spaghetti House
1563 E. Fremont St., Stockton
(209) 948-6609

With daily specials, and pasta or salad buffets, it is no wonder Angelina’s is a local favorite. The Genovese-style recipes, handed down from generation to generation, give the restaurant (particularly the sauces) a truly authentic flavor found nowhere else. The food impresses and so does the historic and romantic ambiance. Although one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes, it is much more than a Spaghetti House. In addition to gluten-free pasta, meat and seafood dishes, costumers can also try the one-of-a-kind chocolate ravioli, drizzled with chocolate and caramel and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Garlic Brothers Restaurant and Bar
6629 Embarcadero Drive
(209) 474-6585

On a hot summer day, nothing beats the casual outdoor dining experience at Garlic Brother in Stockton. The view is impeccable, and the food is just as impressive. For an affordable way to relish a sunny day or warm evening, come in and enjoy the cool Delta breeze while watching fishing boats and yachts pass by. Order a drink from the happy hour menu, tri-tip quesadilla, or oysters with garlic butter and white wine sauce as you watch the glistening water or watch the sun set behind Mt. Diablo.

Dine with Ghosts
Banta Inn
22563 7th St, Banta
(209) 835-1311

Banta Inn opened their haunted doors in 1879 as a historic landmark, part of the Lincoln Railway. Today, the inn is a bar and restaurant with a patio and banquet for large groups. The restaurant is known for their ribeye and New York strip steaks. In 1937, a disastrous fire burned the second floor of the inn, which was rebuilt to a one-story building, made from some of the original timbers. Decades alter, Tony Gukan passed away due to a massive heart attack…on top of the Banta bar. Since then, his ghost is said to haunt the inn, attracting many ghost hunters.

Trade in the Beef
A Moveable Feast’s
Veggie Burger
940 W. Kettleman Ln., Lodi, (209) 331-3111

A Moveable Feast brings American, British, Cajun, vegetarian and seafood to you on the move! The big green trailer can be found posted up at 940 W. Kettlemen in the Vineyard Shopping Center, parked next to F&M Bank , or at our favorite festivals like Zinfest! Their black bean veggie burger is the perfect opportunity to trade in the beef for a healthy alternative. As Morgan Wivell explains, the burger comes on a toasted bun, sauced with the perfect mixture of Cajun and Cesar sauce, topped with all the essentials: cucumber, tomato, lettuce, sprouts and red or grilled onions… or both!

El Rancho Inn Steak and Lobster House
1457 E. Mariposa Rd.
Stockton, (209) 467-1529

If you are in a decadent mood, head to El Rancho Inn and Steakhouse to cure your carnivorous cravings. For many locals and visitors, there is no comparison to the restaurant’s delectable, yet simple, food and great service. A staple in the community for more than 70 years means you are sure to leave with a memorable experience. Whether it is surf and turf you crave, or a juicy, flavorful handpicked steak with a loaded baked potato, bread and salad, you are in for a traditional treat.

Fuse your Favorites
Rocky Mountain Chocolate
Factory Manteca
303 E. Yosemite Ave.
Manteca, (209) 823-6500

Calling all chocoholics! Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is any chocolate lover’s dream, bringing a fantastic variety of delicious treats to Manteca for the last five years. The Chocolate High Heel, in particular, is an awesome and fun treat. First, the mold is created from white, dark or milk chocolate, and can be dyed a variety of colors like hot pink, orange and yellow. This mold can be customized to fit your vision or party theme. After the shell is perfected, three truffles go into the shoe. Truffle choices include over 18 ranging from Champagne to Red Velvet to French Vanilla. Allow at least one week for customized orders, or stop in to pick up a pre-made shoe to curb your chocolate craving!

F6Craw Dad
Asian-Cajun Crawfish
95 W. 11th St #103
(209) 207-9940

Fusing two unique tastes, Asian and Cajun, this Tracy restaurant is bursting with flavor. Whether you call them crayfish, crawdads or mudbugs, Asian-Cajun will satisfy your freshwater lobster needs with unique dishes like their spin on the classic mac n’ cheese, infused with crayfish and jalapeno. Really indulge in one of their crawfish Louisiana Seafood Boils delivered fresh and live from Louisiana fishermen and other local sources. The crawfish are boiled in their famous Twangy Sauce, tossed in seasoned butter with a variety of seasoning options from Cajun to roasted chile and garlic.

Lobster Lovefest
Giustis Place
Lobster Wednesday
14743 Walnut Grove-Thornton Road
Walnut Grove
(916) 776-1808

Four generations of Giustis made this California Delta favorite what it is today. In 1912, one of the original owners, Egisto, settled at the historic Miller’s Ferry Saloon, which is still the current home of Giusti’s. Every Wednesday, residents are invited to enjoy two-for-one lobsters, accompanied by a delicious baked potato and soup and salad. The war water lobsters come from Brazil or Peru, averaging in size at about six ounces. With product variation you can expect to enjoy upwards of 14 ounces of lobster with the two-for-one special! As Chef Sammy explains, the lobsters are cut down the middle, flipped upside down, and dusted with light spices before being placed in the oven, broiled at high heat!

Adalberto’s Mexican Food
3243 W. Hammer Lane
(209) 957-7480

Whether you are in need of a late night snack, lunch or dinner, Adalberto’s will cure all your cravings. After a short closure due to remodeling, the restaurant is back and ready to claim the spot for the best burrito in San Joaquin County. Although probably a tough decision for the Central Valley folks, Adalberto’s authentic and fresh ingredients make for the best quality burritos that are both filling and satisfying. The usual Mexican flare is done right with special prep, fresh meat, and made-to-order food. In you are in the mood for fries, try the California burrito, or the carne asada fries.

Food & Drink Winners

Best Barbeque
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit
Waterloo Club
Royce Farms BBQ

Best Cupcakes
Frosted Flour
M &W Dutch American Bakery
Toots Sweets Bakery and Café

Best Breakfast
Chuck’s Hamburgers
Avenue Grill

Best Burgers
Flips Burgers
Manny’s California Fresh Café
Bob’s at the Marina

Best Appetizers
Market Tavern
Ave on the Mile
Finnegan’s Pub and Grill

Best Sweet Shoppe / Chocolate Shoppe
Toots Sweets Bakery and Café
Rocky Mountain Chocolate
Factory Manteca
M & W Dutch American Bakery

Best Desserts
Papapavlo’s Bistro & Bar
Market Tavern
Midtown Creperie

Best Italian Dining
Angelina’s Spaghetti House
De Vega Brothers Italian Cuisine

Best Thai Dining
Siamese Street Thai
Thai Spices
Royal Siam

Best Chinese Dining
Dave Wong’s
Yen Du
Peking Stockton
Best Mexican Dining
Casa Flores Marina
La Palma Mexican Cuisine

Best Family Restaurant
UJ’s Restaurant
Market Tavern
Papapavlo’s Bistro & Bar

Best Sushi
CoCoro Bistro
Mikasa Asian Bistro & Sushi

Best Lunch Spot
Finnegan’s Pub and Grub
Market Tavern

Best Pizza
Michael’s New York Style Pizza
David’s Pizza
Dante’s California Style Pizza

Best Yogurt Shoppe
Tigers Yogurt
Yogurt My Way
Oh My Yogurt

Best Deli
Gian’s Delicatessen
Podestos Market and Deli
Fiori’s Butcher Shoppe

Best Outdoor Dining Patio
Garlic Brothers
Papapavlo’s Bistro & Bar

Best Burrito
Gourmet Burritos
La Campana Taqueria (tie)
El Grullense (Tie)

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.