Mammoth portions of sandwiches, comfort fare and classic breakfasts test table strength within the log-cabin interior of Lumberjacks Restaurant. After perusing the lengthy menu, patrons can gaze up at the towering façade of roasted turkey clubs ($8.99), whose three layers of toast house bacon, american cheese, lettuce and tomato. A chili burger ($8.99), topped with cheddar and onions, doffs its uppermost bun to chivalrously greet suiting mouths. A slow-braised post roast with vegetables and gravy ($12.99) assumes its honored position among dinner entrees, arriving at tables with a choice of a side as well as soup or a custom-made lettuce amalgamation from the salad bar.
Originally branded as the Top Hat Drive-In, Sonic Drive-In didn’t acquire its nationally recognized name until 1959—six years after its inception in 1953. Today, the franchise operates out of 3,500 locations across the country, making it the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants. Sonic Drive-In specializes in made-to-order American classics, including burgers, hot dogs, milk shakes, and Ford Thunderbolts—which customers order and receive without ever having to leave their cars. Unique menu items include toaster sandwiches stacked on thick slices of texas toast as well as the brand’s signature tots and fresh limeades. Sonic Drive-In’s numerous awards include a 2011 Zagat survey ranking it among the top five fast-food restaurants in three categories: best value menu, best milk shake, and best drive-thru. The benevolent eatery has also donated more than $2 million to public schools throughout the country through Limeades for Learning, which helps to fund educational projects and retirement plans for classroom guinea pigs.
Utensils have it easy at AJ’s Sandwiches. From time to time, forks may get called upon to dig through one of the shop’s fresh salads. Other than that, though, it’s all hands. Visitors wrap their paws around slices of freshly baked artisan breads that bookend popular creations, such as The Godfather, whose family of ingredients includes oven-roasted turkey, zesty peso, and melted provolone. Aside from sandwiches, all-natural ground beef burgers keep hands full, too. The Marysville Rodeo, for instance, combines breakfast and lunch into one savory stack, with a sunny side-up egg and bacon heaped upon a half-pound of beef. For do-it-yourself diners, AJ’s also offers a “Build Your Own” menu, though the shop does not supply the bolt of lightning needed to make sandwiches think.
The chefs at Ninja Sushi wield culinary skill like a sword, cutting a menu of sophisticated sushi and Japanese entrees preceded by starters such as edamame ($3.95), calamari ($6.95), and fire balls of spicy red tuna and crab ($9.95) for a more adventurous nibble. Rolled sushi offerings include the irresistible Bad Boy roll and its renegade posse of spicy tuna, cucumber, and chili sauce ($10.95). Paying homage to famous local cylinders, the Sacramento roll blends salmon, masago, and the restaurant's trademark sauce ($9.95), and the philly roll packs east coast flair with salmon, avocado, and cream cheese ($7.95). Evening guests fill up on traditional entrees such as chicken teriyaki ($13.95) and vegetable tempura ($10.95).
Grapes hang heavy from the vines on trellises scattered across 20 acres of the rolling Lincoln Hills. The fruit, tended by Wise Villa Winery's oenophiles, yield awards, including a prestigious honor from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Owner and winemaker Dr. Grover Lee draws on viticulture training while producing single-variety and blended wines or doing the crossword in the Grapes Aficionado Quarterly. Within the winery, the tasting room fills with the sound of clinking glasses as patrons sample various award winners, such as the Pinot Noir Rose. The winery also arranges frequent events, including live music on Fridays, grape-stomping parties, and reservation-only pairing dinners at its bistro.
By the time Marco Ramos opened Casa Ramos in 1997, he had been working in the restaurant business for 15 years. While working at his cousin's restaurant in Seattle, Marco soaked up invaluable, hands-on lessons about how to run a business. He draws upon that experience at Casa Ramos, where he and his staff serve time-tested family recipes that date back to his years in Mexico City.
In the kitchen, cooks prepare specialties such as Molcajete—chicken and beef strips sautéed in a mildly spicy sauce—and Carnitas Uruapan—slow-roasted Uruapan-style pork in a Mexican sauce. The fajita salad—a Ramos family favorite that's carved into their family tree—combines fresh greens, mushrooms, sliced eggs, avocado, and steak or chicken.