Behind Woodbridge Crossing's aged red-brick exterior, a fleet of wooden tables waits. Tucked beside walls lined with antiques and photographs, they stand ready to support hearty meals of American cuisine or provide a resting place for diners' elbows as they listen to live music on weekends. After filling stomachs with well-seasoned steaks or fresh seafood and filling wine stomachs with wine, guests can take a turn on a dance floor dappled with colored light from stained-glass windows.
Upon request, portable beer towers can stand as table centerpieces, allowing patrons to refill their own domestic or imported brew from a tap and spigot. All the while, major sporting events play on surrounding televisions as staffers behind the bar shake up specialty cocktails, such as the Joe Cool, whose raspberry and cream vodkas, cranberry juice, and sodas are poured through the sleeve of one of James Dean’s leather jackets. In the kitchen, cooks prepare a lineup of hearty eats that include shoestring fries topped with carne asada, burgers crowned with locally grown tomatoes, and sopes with housemade green salsa.
The bar also hosts special events, such as karaoke nights and the Vintage Challenge, in which diners face off against 6-pound burritos.
Fields Family Wines takes a minimalistic approach to winemaking. The company produces all of its wines in small, handcrafted lots, showcasing the vineyards from which every bottle is born through flavor rather than flair. Those flavors shine through in a variety of different products, such as the 2009 Estate syrah, which received a score of 90 points from Wine Enthusiast for its fruity aromas and smooth, graceful flight when getting thrown into a pool. Before committing to a purchase, customers can test-drive different bottles at two casual tasting rooms, including one in downtown Lodi.
The inspiration behind Alebrijes Mexican Bistro is the stuff of nightmares—Pedro Linares’ nightmares, to be specific. At the age of 30, the Mexican artist fell deathly ill. As he lay in bed, unconscious, he dreamt of a strange world filled with brightly colored monsters—a donkey with butterfly wings and a rooster with the head of an eagle among others—all shouting “alebrijes, alebrijes, alebrijes!” When he awoke, he wanted to show his family and friends all that he had seen, so he replicated his first alebrije from brightly painted papier-mâché. To this day, his family still crafts these strange creatures to serve as unusual home accents.
Pedro Linares' monsters inspired Alebrijes Mexican Bistro's name, as well as its decor, which showcases brightly colored paintings of his nightmarish beasts. In 2012, the bistro also won the Lodi News Reader’s Choice award for Best Mexican Restaurant, thanks to its gourmet burritos and regionally inspired dishes such as oaxaca mole, guanajuato bacon-wrapped prawns, and guacamole prepared in the style of Mexico City. The restaurant also infuses their own tequilas.
Garlic Brothers plates distinctive wood-fired feasts for lunch, dinner, and carryout on the eye-catching California Delta. The menu showcases more than 15 palate-prepping appetizers, such as steamed clams ($9.95), fried ravioli ($7.95), and a ceviche cocktail ($6.75), as well as grilled entrees that are fire-licked to maximum mouth-wateriness over almond wood. Aid a grilled ahi tuna in escaping its tyrannical-yet-tasty herb crust ($15.25) or embrace carnivorous cravings with a marinated tri-tip ($17.25 for dinner, $10.75 for lunch). Illustrate 2010 Census statistics with sliced sectors of the traditional margherita pizza ($13.95) or the Mona Lisa, in which mild italian sausage, kalamata olives, and sundried tomatoes puzzle art historians with an ambiguous smirk ($14.25).