Eats in Fairfield/Suisun/Benicia area?
Benicia has some good restaurants, the main problem is: (1) a lack of variety and (2) you quickly run out of new places to try. I've been meaning to post a rundown of Benicia restaurants here for a while, but haven't found the time. Until then, here's a quickie on some of the best:
Sala Thai -- Very good Thai restaurant on first street in Benicia. The owner also owns Petals restaurant, a more upscale Asian fusion place down the street. Very good, a lot of people really like it, but I sometimes find the entrees too busy for my taste.
Matsuri Sushi -- started in Benicia about 3-4 years ago and was absolutely one of the best sushi spots in the Bay Area. They opened a second outlet in Vallejo about a year ago and had some turnover, and recently their Benicia location has slipped a notch. Still very good, but not the stellar spot it once was.
First Street Cafe can be very good at times, mediocre at others. Nice atmosphere, and a bonus upstairs bar with regular music. Great desserts.
Benicia has about 4 or 5 Italian restaurants, all of which serve basically the same food because their owners and/or chefs are all either related to one another or have cooked at each others restaurants at different times. Same thing for 4 or 5 Mexican places in town. None are bad, but none are inspiring, and the lack of variety can really get you down. I prefer Palermo's for Italian and Sandoval's for Mexican but, like I said, the others will be fairly similar.
Kinders barbecue on First Street isn't bad. Neither is Slider's, another bbq place up the street. Not real slow cooked pulled pork kinda bbq, mind you, but good when you're craving a tri-tip sandwich.
The Union Hotel can be OK to good, but pricey. Stay away from Capt. Blythers unless you like fried seafood and oversauced fish.
Don't know much about Fairfield other than the chains, cuz I don't spend much time there. Lots of Vallejo reccs on the board, so I won't repeat those here other than to mention China Wok -- a fabulous restaurant that filled a need the area had been sorely lacking for a long time.
Not in any of the towns but Solano County itself, Vallejo's main ethnic grocers (on the Asian/Filipino side anyway) are Seafood City in the north and Island Pacific in the south of town along Springs Rd (which isn't actually too far from Benicia.)
There are a couple new ethnic grocery stores that have popped up along Springs Rd lately (one of them I'm pretty sure is Indian), but I haven't been to any of them.
Also in Vallejo ... La Tapatia Market, 601 Broadway. Great selection of hispanic foods, including a very good butcher counter. I always stop in here for skirt steak, chorizo, hard to find chiles, and banana leaves when I'm putting on a street taco feed.
Rumor has it they are building a Whole Foods type market in the open lot above Costco, too. Can't recall the chain (not WF), but not much has happened up there after a small flurry of activity 6 months ago or so.
Benicia has a farmers market on First Street in the warmer months on Thursdays.
Petals (also on First) has nice fusion food in a relaxed setting. They seem to be experimenting on ways to attract customers-offering prix fixe dinners, that sorta thing.
Pizza Pirate at 72 Solano Square has fresh pizza, pasta, salads and sandwiches. Nothing Earth shattering but it's good.
The burrito truck on Military near 5th Street has good tacos and Mexican eats.
I like First Street Cafe's scones, omelettes, and breakfast items. The crab sandwich is huge and filling for lunch, and the artichoke crab dip is creamy and delicious.
The closest Trader Joe's are in Fairfield or Concord, and Raley's in Benicia seems to be getting more organic, ethnic and interesting items. It is a huge store.
I lived in Suisin for several years -- not a culinary stronghold, but there are some exceptions. Downtown Fairfield has a handful of Indian grocery stores and an Indian restaurant that is not bad. Because of the military base, hole-in-wall ethnic joints are scattered around, but I found the Asian food particularly wanting and preferred to drive into the city for good ethnic. Yo Sushi on the corner of Texas and Travis has some pretty amazing Maki and Temaki rolls at practically half of what they cost in the city. Downtown Suisin (near the water) has a decent Greek restaurant as well as two southern-inspired joints which are (I think) better for breakfast. The Mexican is very good in this area, especially the taco trucks and taquerias. For haute cuisine, you are screwed...