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Oct 24, 2013 10:16 AM

SAN JOSE up to LODI...what's good to eat?

I'm not from the area, but am going to be driving with family, including my two grandchildren (age 7 & 9), from San Jose up to Lodi to visit a museum. We need a good and tasty spot to stop both directions, as well as something really good in Lodi for dinner.

These kids have very sophisticated tastes, and are learning to be pretty good cooks, so we don't need any of the kind of "entertain the kids at Chucky Cheese" sorts of places.

Just really good food to enhance our family's enjoyment of the trip.

Thanks in advance!

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    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Wow! Thanks.

      Haven't had time (obviously) to look over all those threads, so am hopeful there will be something about the road trip up there, as well as Lodi itself.

      Thanks for taking the time to point me in that direction. There's certainly plenty of info to peruse!

    2. Okay, so the fact that this got moved away from the "San Francisco Bay Area" board to "California" makes me think I think I didn't make myself clear.

      I'm going to try again.

      While I obviously appreciate the info about Lodi itself, and am very grateful anytime anyone takes the time to post an answer here on CH, we are only going to be in Lodi for one night and that's it.

      What I was really hoping to receive from some of you CH'ers is not so much lots of advice about Lodi itself, as advice about which routes to drive from San Jose up there and back.

      We'd like to know which routes through the East San Francisco Bay Area offer the best food stops, and where said best food stops are.

      Hoping somebody out there can help us with our road trip.


      17 Replies
      1. re: Jaymes

        You'll get a better response by prompting with a list of possible towns on your alternative routes in the title of a post on the SF Bay Area board.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          I'd love to do that, Melanie, but, honestly know nothing about driving through that area, so can't even come up with a list of possible towns.

          In fact, a list of possible towns is pretty-much exactly what I'm after.

          And I did try posting in the San Francisco Bay Area, because that's the region I'm going to be driving through.

          But I think the mods just saw "Lodi" and moved my question.

          Frankly, I'm feeling pretty discouraged.

          1. re: Jaymes

            How do you plan to drive there without looking at a map? Here are 3 alternatives.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              *I* thought your advice was relevant!

              1. re: ricepad

                Thank you, no good deed goes unpunished, I guess!

                Responding to the heart tug of the plaint of a discouraged poster, I pulled together that map of alternate routes when I only had 4% battery power (as can be seen in the captured screen shot when you expand/click on the photo) but wanted to help out quickly by uploading something from my dying phone on the fly. This was in direct response to the OP's request for a list of possible towns, and it had the desired effect of prompting a response once specific cities along the way were visualized. In my experience, the more clues and specific requests one can provide from some basic initial research will pay off in a bigger volume and more detailed replies. Personally, I would take the less direct but more scenic route through historic and culturally interesting areas on the way to Lodi, but that's a topic for the SF Bay Area board.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Melanie, thanks for "trying again." I did initially post my request in the SF Area board, but the mods just saw "Lodi" and moved it here.

                  I now see you did give me a sketch of the "scenic route" on the post below.


                  1. re: Jaymes

                    Right. You're allowed to post in two different places when your route covers two regions. I'm suggesting that you also post a request with more specifics as you've now evolved them on the SF Bay Area board too.

            2. re: Jaymes

              On the direct route, you'll pass through Milpitas and Fremont, which are hotbeds of Chinese, Indian, Filipino, and Afghan food, but you won't have been on the road for more than a half hour or so. Not long after that you'll pass through Livermore. After that you're in California board territory.







              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Robert, thank you so much for this helpful response.

                Now, armed with your information regarding possible towns to plan to pass through, I can begin to plan a route.

                I know it took you some time to think about it and post and I really appreciate it.

                Should you ever decide to take a barbecue trip through Central Texas, around the Austin and San Antonio area, I'll be happy to reciprocate by letting you know where to pick up some awesome breakfast tacos to get your roadtrip off to a proper Texas start, and then exactly which towns to hit, which highways to take, which bbq joints are best, when to go and what to order when you get there, and some excellent TexMex restaurants if you tire of BBQ, and a terrific bakery in a picturesque little village about ten miles off of the main road which is totally worth the extra time because you can and should buy some wonderful homemade pies to take back to your hotel room - exactly as I've done many, many times before in an effort to be of assistance to out-of-state visitors in search of knowledgeable locals' help to plan a tasty roadtrip.

                Oh, and Melanie, if you should ever decide to do the same thing, my advice to you will be to get a map.

                Bless your heart.

              2. re: Jaymes

                Why, I don't know, but let me try again.

                The more scenic drive is meandering along route 3 on the map winding through the delta on the levee roads of the SF Bay Area region and taking even less of a straight line east from Antioch, whereas the most direct route is mostly in the territory covered on the California board. For road trips that cover more than one regional board, it's perfectly acceptable to post your request on more than one board and state your boundaries. The mods have posted before that's how to handle these kinds of itineraries. If you want more recs for the SF Bay Area, you'll need to post on that board where the locals will see your request. If you don't want that perspective, then this thread suffices.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  "Why, [you] don't know"?

                  I do. Because you're a really nice person!

                  And thanks for this. I think we will definitely do a little meandering along route 3 winding through the delta. That sounds utterly sublime.

                  1. re: Jaymes

                    Not the best food, but good enough and a glimpse at old California. I go that route when I have the time. It is beautiful.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      I really want to thank you again for giving another go at helping me. This is just exactly what I was hoping for when I came here. I have no knowledge whatsoever of "scenic route 3," or Lodi (except that back in the late '60s Creedence Clearwater got stuck there), and wanted to know what route to take, avoiding the freeways.

                      I appreciate everyone that has come here and tried to help me. It's wonderful when people do that, you know.

                  2. re: Melanie Wong

                    Melanie, I have done a little research, and can't find route 3 in the Delta. Route 3 seems to be farther north, up through the mountains toward Oregon.

                    It looks like State Rd 160 winds around through the Delta.

                    As I've said, I'm really unfamiliar with the area, so am a bit confused. Does that road perhaps have two (or more) designations, as many highways do?

                    1. re: Jaymes

                      Sorry, lower case route 3 is in reference to the map I uploaded. There are three alternative routings highlighted in blue on the map. If you click on the photo, it will expand. Robert Lauriston provided some options along route 1, the most direct itinerary. I'll let ricepad direct you more specifically in Sacramento County since this is far away from home for me.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Ah HA! Mystery solved. Yes, that does look pretty wonderful.

                        Thanks (belatedly) for taking the time to do it.

                        1. re: Jaymes

                          The route through Antioch and Rio Vista on 4, 160, and 12 is a lot more scenic than 580. You could stop in Locke, which is of historical significance.


            3. It's really only about a 90 minute drive from San Jose to Lodi (by the most direct route), so there's not really a big need to stop anywhere along the way. If your grandkids are big on chocolate and ice cream, there's the Ghirardelli outlet store just of I-5 north of Lathrop Road in Lathrop.

              In Lodi, I continue to recommend Alebrijes for upscale Mexican, and it's within walking distance of the WoW museum (I assume that's your destination).

              Manteca and Lathrop are relative wastelands (other than the chocolate), and Stockton has a few options, depending on what 'sophisticated' means.

              10 Replies
              1. re: ricepad

                Ricepad & Robert - thanks so much for your suggestions. The Ghirardelli outlet store sounds perfect.

                I do realize that the drive up to Lodi from San Jose is relatively short, and that we wouldn't "need" to stop anywhere. I think anyone capable of coming online to Chowhound and stringing together a literate sentence undoubtedly knows that there are maps that can be used to plot the most direct route from anywhere to anywhere anywhere on the globe. Surely it's obvious that I am certainly capable of doing that. Or going to MapQuest. Or, most likely these days, imputing into my gps the address of my destination and hitting the appropriate freeways.

                Perhaps my problem with getting the sort of information I am seeking is cultural. Perhaps taking five or six or more hours to cover a distance of about 90 miles is something so unappealing to Bay Area residents that the concept is difficult to grasp. Perhaps meandering around from snack stop to snack stop is "not done" there. Perhaps taking a roadtrip wherein one just kinda heads in the general direction of one's final destination on a sort of culinary investigation exploration is unheard of there. Maybe y'all are just so busy that wasting time like that is unthinkable. I don't know.

                But we don't want the most direct route. We don't want to "get a map" and plot the best route and zip up there in 90 minutes. We want to wander around, discover something new and different and interesting to see, do, eat, snack upon, put into the car to take with, etc. Find interesting culinary destinations for future expeditions.

                Although it's taken considerably longer than I anticipated, between a few answers here, and on another food site, I think I've got enough info to throw those kids into the car and head in a generally northeastern direction with some interesting and tasty stops along the way.

                So, thank you so much for helping me. I know it always takes time and thought to come here and help a stranger, especially when there's absolutely nothing in it for you, and I very much appreciate it.

                Oh, and ps, Ricepad, don't know what the WoW is. My little grandson loves snakes:

                1. re: Jaymes

                  If you like to meander about as I do, you could consider stopping in Gustine. There's a great sausage place there called Wolfsen's and they have prepared sandwiches and tri-tip as well. Also, just east of Lodi in a small town called Lockford, there's Lockford meats with delicious sausages that are often served at the local fairs. Try the Dakota bratwurst. Do you like fried chicken? I'm told the cafe across from Lockford meats does a great fried chicken although haven't eaten there myself.

                  Are you still in San Jose or Milpitas? I've got places to recommend there as well.

                  1. re: dimsumgirl

                    I'm still in Texas right now, but am coming out for a visit. Kids/grandkids live in San Jose. Going to take the grandkids up to the snake museum. That sausage place sounds terrific. My kids/grandkids come to Texas to visit often, and they sure do like sausage. That also sounds like a great place to fill up one's cooler with sausage to take home.

                    I've emailed Doobs to get your email address. But is it on CH somewhere? Went to your profile but couldn't find it.

                  2. re: Jaymes

                    I hope the "Great Valley Serpentarium" has improved over the years. When we took our kids there about 10 years ago, they billed themselves as a museum, but they were really just a retail pet store.

                    If you want local color, check out Al's Place (known better as "Al the Wop's") in Locke, CA. Locke is a tiny town northwest of Lodi in the Delta region of California (not to be confused with Lockeford, home of the sausage place, but named for a different man named Locke). Locke is a 'suburb' of Walnut Grove, and was once home to hundreds of Chinese laborers who largely built the levees and reclaimed the islands in the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta. Al's Place, however, serves no Chinese food (and in fact the one Chinese restaurant in Locke is pretty bad). Al's Place serves steak. There are jars of peanut butter and apricot jam on the tables, and dollar bills pinned to the ceiling, and probably a dozen or so bikers planted on barstools in the bar, but it's a friendly little dive and full of local color. Your grandkids will love it (and they'll be welcome, too).

                    The Banta Inn (outside Tracy) is purportedly haunted. No idea how good the food is.

                    If I think of more, I'll post. It helps to know that a meandering path is fine with you.

                    1. re: ricepad

                      Locke sounds utterly fascinating. I did a little "googling" and, wow, what a story. So interesting how the Chinese established that town. I'll bet it was something to see in its heyday. At first, it seems kind of sad that it no longer has many Chinese residents but, if you think about it, the Chinese only lived there because they were forced to, due to discrimination and a lack of education. As soon as those heinous situations eased, they wanted good jobs, money, nice homes, like everybody else. And that's not easy to find in such a rural setting. So of course they moved into the city.

                      I'm very eager to visit Locke. And, Al's Place.


                      1. re: Jaymes

                        There's a Chinese restaurant named Locke Garden in adjacent Walnut Grove, which is also of historical interest.

                        Reports on Al the Wop's:


                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Locke Garden is actually in Locke. Since there's no post office in Locke, addresses show Walnut Grove as the town.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            Is Locke Garden the "one Chinese restaurant" that ricepad said is "pretty bad," or is there another one?

                            1. re: Jaymes

                              That's the one. To be fair, I haven't eaten there in over 25 years, but it was terrible back then, and I've heard it's still pretty bad.

                      2. re: ricepad

                        Dug thru my photo archives to find some shots of Al the Wop's from a visit in 2008. I had a steak sandwich and a bloody mary for brunch. I recall that I couldn't make myself use the rest room there and waited till we got to Walnut Grove.

                        You might want to visit Mel's Mocha & Ice Cream in Walnut Grove too.

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