Lodi loves its wine. But it also loves its sandwiches, burritos, steaks, pad Thai, bruschetta and waffles. People like to eat out, and take out and they've shared their top picks.
Do you crave big burgers? Try Andre's, Golden Ox or Feed and Fuel. Do you stay away from Thai food because you don't like curry? Get a taste of pad Thai noodles at Taste of Thai. Tired of not knowing what you'll get once you order? Go with your neighbor's choice and head to Chilis.
Lodi residents mailed in their handwritten votes on yellow, ruled paper. They called and chatted about rare steaks and the history of their family's dining experience. They e-mailed long, intricate explanations describing their favorite meals to have at Lodi restaurants.
The votes were tallied, and the favorite choices were diverse, from nachos at Taco Bell to "oysters on a half shell with a Belvedere martini served up with a twist" at Rosewood.
The long list of dishes shows just how Lodi's taste buds differ, with the most popular restaurant items being:
• Volcano rolls from Matsuyama Sushi restaurant
• The bacon cheeseburger from Andre's Cafe
• Pad Thai from Taste of Thai
• Chili verde from Pancho Villa's
Feta & spinach omelet, eggs benedict, Greek potato salad; Denis' Country Kitchen
Chili Colorado quesadilla dinner, chili relleno; Mazatlan Cafe
Chicken sourdough sandwich, bacon cheeseburger; Velvet Grill
Steak sandwich, shrimp calamari pasta, fried calamari, bruschetta; Pietro's Italian Restaurant
Feta spinach quiche, tapioca pudding; The Soup Ladle
Sushi, Shi Ra Soni 2
Prime rib, lobster, hamburger on ciabatta with avocado and cheese; Feed & Fuel
Ceviche, burritos; La Parrilla
Pesto combo, gourmet veggie; Rick's Pizza
Fuji apple salad, Rosewood
Quail, artisanal cheese selection; Wine & Roses
Chicken fried steak and eggs, California Street Cafe
Bacon wrapped meatloaf, School Street Bistro
Chili rellenos, cheese enchiladas, Lodi Memorial Hospital's Cafe
Chicken fajitas, Casa Mexicana
Chocolate molten lava cake, Chilis
Chicken noodle soup, Lyons
Ledbetter steak, Woodbridge Inn
Kung Pao mock chicken, Mongolian beef; King Tsin
Garlic chicken, Chop-Chop
Burgers, Golden Ox
Tuna sandwich on tomato basil bread, Panera
Mushroom, bacon and garlic omelet with avocado and salsa, Avenue Grill
Lodi roll, Shangri La
Burrito enchilado, Mar Y Tierra
Kobe Beef Short Ribs, Old Arch Brewing Co.
Country fried steak, Hollywood Cafe
Nachos, Taco Bell
• Waffles and French toast from the Velvet Grill and Creamer.
The list is long and menu items are tempting.
Several types of sushi were chosen from Matsuyama, 235 Lakewood Mall, where bright colors meld on square plates before being devoured with chop-stick-using diners who chew slowly and appear as if they are enjoying divinity. The volcano rolls are topped with a mixture of spicy mayonnaise and crab meat. Nearly as popular as the volcano roll is the Matsuyama roll - deep fried shrimp, cucumber, a touch of avocado and drizzled with special seafood mayonnaise and sesame seeds.
Next to the famous 2-pound Mad Dog burger that is eaten only by fiercely hungry, slightly competitive eaters, is the bacon cheeseburger at Andre's Cafe, 722 W. Lodi Ave. Michael Niktaris says, "If you have not tried an Andre's burger, you have not been to Heaven on earth and tasted pure bliss." And of course, many voters added, this burger should not be enjoyed without an order of garlic fries.
Thai cuisine is that kind of food that most people love or hate. The strong flavors of curry deter many people, but in Lodi, people chose several Taste of Thai, 116 W. Turner Road, dishes as their favorites. Among oriental chicken salad, Thai basil tofu, spicy noodles and cashew chicken, the favorite is pad Thai - freshly made in a flaming wok and stir fried with authentic seasoning and vegetables.
Karmen Kortie who lives in Yuba City drives to Lodi just to fix her craving for Thai food.
"I'll be in Fresno and I'll be like, I can't wait to drive back home so I can stop (at Taste of Thai)," she said.
With a full bar, entertainment and food, Pancho Villa's, 307 S. Lower Sacramento Road, is the restaurant wowing customers who voted the restaurant's chili verde the best in town. Other favorites selected by customers include the shredded beef burrito, fajitas, tacos and chili relleno.
Everyone gets tired of cereal and eggs and craves a little dessert for breakfast. In Lodi, hungry risers choose the French toast and waffles at Velvet Grill and Creamery, 1431 S. Ham Lane.
"The French toast is to die for, and the coffee is wonderful," Carol Zeiter said. "I've taken my relatives there from (out of state) to eat there and they all agree they've never had better."
From ethnic food to breakfast, Lodi just likes to eat. These plates received the most votes, but the list continues with favorites from around town, in hole-in-the-walls, chain restaurants, elegant restaurants and drive-up windows.