Chef Iradh Herrera is very particular about the ingredients that enter his kitchen. He bans canned vegetables or dried herbs from passing through the door, working only with organic local produce and fresh herbs. When discussing his reasoning with reporters from Lodi News-Sentinel, Herrera explained, "fresh herbs brings out more essence in the dish. Dried [herbs] you have to use more, and [they don't] have the same taste. You can tell." The skilled chef peppers free-range beef and natural meats with fresh basil, thyme, and mint to whip up a variety of seasonal American dishes, such as a decadent bacon-wrapped meatloaf and a succulent roasted lamb rack. He favors eco-friendly seafood as well, preferring to cook with fish that were sustainably caught on fishing lines rather than deceitfully coaxed onto boats with "free algae" signs.
While Herrera bustles about the kitchen, bartenders squeeze fresh juices into specialty cocktails and uncork bottles of fine wine. Diners chatter animatedly at white-clothed tables, while others bask in the sun on the outdoor patio. On weekends, the elegant eatery often plays host to live music performances.
A classically trained artisan of confectionary creations, Janice of Jan's Sweet Treasures paints palates with homemade delicacies prepared with real butter, milk, and cane sugar. Treat tongues to moist chocolate-chip and Dutch-butter cookies ($6 per dozen) or baked bars of rectangular richness in varieties such as peanut-butter–chocolate brownies and strawberry macs, which combine rich shortbread, fresh strawberry preserves, and macaroons ($3 each). Additionally, Jan's pastries, candies, and customizable cakes can feed mouths and fill hungry hands exhausted from days filled with stock-market signaling and sock puppetry.
Moo Moo's Burger Barn sates sandwich hounds with a menu of diner classics and more than 15 specialty burgers that earned the title of San Joaquin Magazine's best burgers in 2010. The full-service counter fuels meat-powered engines with a BMS Moo smothered in bacon, mushrooms, and swiss cheese ($5.95) and spark culinary combustion with an Ole'Moo covered with pepper-jack cheese, green chili, and homemade Moo sauce ($5.95). No Moo burgers ($5.75) find space in vegetarian diets by delivering hearty garden patties topped with avocado and dijon mustard on a wheat bun. Bulk up meals with a basket of sweet-potato fries ($5.45) and old-fashioned milkshake ($4.75) or mix up bovine eating patterns with a salad and specialty sandwich.
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.
Outside the diner, it’s almost like nothing has changed since the establishment opened in 1944. An oversize steel-and-neon sign advertises Hollywood Cafe to passing motorists, though the hot rods often parked in the lot might also make it hard not to stop in. Inside, a '50s vibe permeates everything with fun nostalgia, from the red-vinyl swirl stools to the Coca-Cola sign from a long-gone era. But the food is its own animal, a mix between 20th-century diner staples and brand-new creations. The meat lover’s omelet stuffs an eggy exterior with ham, bacon, sausage, and beef tongue, and the grilled-cheese teriyaki-pineapple burger comes with a choice of beef, turkey, or vegan patty. A gluten-free menu offers even more options, and housemade pies and cakes encourage you to leave a little extra room each time you dine.