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'halfway' between Berkeley and Sacramento??

  • c

I have a friend who's visiting CA on a business trip and is 'stuck' in Sacramento. I live in Berkeley. We're trying to see if we can arrange to meet up for dinner somewhere roughly in between, on Sunday. I'm not at all familiar with ANY place to eat North of Albany, really! If my friend drives most of the way down here, I'd at least like to shorten his driving time a little. Can anyone recommend a decent place to eat, near either side of the Carquinez bridge, say? Or just as far from Berkeley going North as you can go and still get decent food :)

I'm hoping for somewhere definitely NOT a chain restaurant, and preferably not in a mall (stop laughing!). A more-elegant-than-storefront setting would be nice. Cuisines : "Cal-med", Italian, good seafood, Thai maybe... would be good choices for us. Steakhouses or Mexican - no not our thing.

I know it's a bit of a tall order, but, any advice?

Thanks so much!

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  1. Though this is a long-ago report, The Old Post Office in Vacaville might fit the bill.
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/23335

    I do keep hearing good things about them.

    Yeah, yeah, yeah ... it is a sort of local chain and not amazing, but you might consider Dead Fish in Rodeo with a GREAT view and at the foot of the bridge. Skip the dead fish, stick to the mussels and I hear the prime rib is decent.

    If you want, I'll dredge up a restaurant in Vallejo that is on the water that serves 'continental cuisine'. I wasn't amazed on my one visit, but they just opened at the time ... though I would doubt it got any better.

    Sort of more in the Berkeley area ... so it is a push for your friend ... but Pear Street Bistro in Pinole is as good as most Berkeley restaurants and better than many.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rworange

      I had an excellent lunch at The Old Post Office; however last I saw the are closed on Sunday. I can recommend Merchant & Main, they do Sunday brunch, very good.Address is 349 Merchant Street (surprise-- at the corner of Main)

    2. Have you tried looking for places in Benicia? I'm not all that famliar with the town, but at least it's not a mall and you're less likely to find chains. If your friend coming down from Sac. cuts over to the Benicia road--I think it's around Fairfield--the drive is faster and prettier than staying on 5.

      1. Crockett is about 1/2 way (leaning towards the Berkeley) which has Nantucket and Dead Fish. I went to Nantucket a long time ago and it was good...never been to Dead Fish.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ML8000

          Eh ... I'd say that for fish itself, Nantucket has the edge. It is a divy sort of place and decent, sort of, if not amazing. Do NOT order the cioppino. Different view closer to the water.

          Benicia .... yeah ... do a search ... or post a fresh query. It is nice enough though I haven't found greatness there food-wise yet ... goodness, but not greatness.The fact that I would have to check my notes to see what I ate there might say something.

        2. Vacaville's the halfway point.

          There are some old reports on the California board, even though Vacaville's in Solano County and thus belongs on this board.

          While you're there you might check out Pure Grain German Bakery. http://www.puregrainbakery.com

          5 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Yeah, but Murillo's is Mexican which the OP wasn't interested in. Haven't eaten there ... just finally stepped inside ... ok-ish, but didn't feel compelled to eat there. However an actual review beats my non-eating impression .. still ... Mexican.

            1. re: rworange

              Oops, I was skimming and missed the "no not our thing."

              1. re: rworange

                Just as well...Murillo's is only just okay. Now don't have a heart attack, but I read that a lot of people rave about the meatballs at Mary's Pizza Shack - there is one of those along 80 somewhere around Dixon/Vacaville - closer to the Sacto side of the locations.

                1. re: dinnerout

                  There are branches of Mary's Pizza Shack in Dixon, Fairfield, and Vacaville, but they're in malls and not more elegant than a storefront.

                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/318281

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Understood - I've been to the one in Sonoma many times as it is a favorite of my very picky goddaughter. My post wasn't really intended as an endorsement, merely tossing out a name as I am clueless on where else one could go between Berkeley & Sacto. I'm happy so many others had good suggestions.

            2. depending on where he is in Greater Sacramento, Napa's not really half-way, but close enough, about 55 miles from Sacto and 40 miles from berkeley. It's closer than driving to Vallejo or Benicia from Sacto. That's where I meet my friend who lives in Davis. You have many, many options in Downtown Napa and he'll get a chance to see one of our prime tourist destinations.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Great suggestion. You can eat about as well in Napa as in Berkeley or SF.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  I'd second what Melanie says - "A more-elegant-than-storefront setting" and "no chains" throws a lot of Solano County restaurants out in general, sad to say.

                  1. re: josquared

                    Thanks, you guys are great! :) Vacaville I already had pegged as a likely 'um.. no'... But, Benecia I'd not even thought of. And Napa! An excellent idea, surprised I didn't think of that. Sounds like our best bet; I don't think he's ever been there.