Favorite dishes: Oh, man — that’s a hard one. I usually opt for Lodi’s fresh gems. Here are a few of my regulars: The edamame hummus with a plate of olives, feta and warm Naan bread from Crush Kitchen, 115 S. School St., No. 13 (holy cow — it’s painful when you have a craving on days when the restaurant is closed); the JJ Fiori Caprese (mozzarella, tomato, basil pesto, romaine and red onions on fresh-baked herb focaccia with balsamic and olive oil) from Fiori’s Butcher Shoppe, 400 W. Lodi Ave., is like summer in my mouth; any salad from Bon Appetit, 1012 W. Lodi Ave., though my favorite is the Baja chicken salad; if I’m going out for dinner and want something more unique, I’ll step in to Alebrijes, 10 W. Oak St., to see what’s new.
Favorite place to browse or shop: Recently, I started realizing that Lodi’s dozens of tasting rooms have some of the greatest treasures. One of my favorites is at Van Ruiten, 340 California 12. When I’m in the mood for a hunt, I always hit up the thrift stores, like Goodwill, 808 W. Kettleman Lane, or Classy Rags, 1520 S. Fairmont Ave.
Most peaceful place in Lodi: That spot in middle of the Mokelumne River, when I’m sitting in my kayak and the only living things around are a good friend, grazing cows and loud birds.
One thing not to miss: The shadow signs around Downtown Lodi. They are those faded signs from early Lodi that are barely visible on brick walls. My favorite is the Dandy sliced white bread sign that can be seen above Main Hotel on Main Street. If you look around you can see more, like the “Bull” Durham Tobacco vintage advertisement.