I also have a tip for Rio Vista restaurants where Foster's Big Horn is rated, but what is truely exceptional about a visit here is the collection of some 300 trophy animals, packed along all walls, floor to ceiling. This is clearly one of the largest in the world, and for the moment at least a well preserved one. See their website for further details about Foster's interesting personal history and more images than are offered here, but essentially Foster was a bootlegger and enthusiastic hunter from 1928 until 1953. The restaurant has a thirteen foot high adult elephant head, one of the few in existence, as well as, a giraffe, hippopotamus, most of the big and small cats, grizzly bear, dozens of horned mammals, fish, and so on. Foster's collection was created by his numerous trip to Africa and Alaska, for the most part. In short, it's an incredible collection that's worth stopping for a view, if not a drink or dinner.
I'm not a big fisherman, but I do know that in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region, Rio Vista deserves its reputation for regular fishing competitions. This is the inland fresh water estuary by which Humphrey the Humpback Whale swam twice. Downtown, boats are displayed, barbeques lit, and anglers exchange their secrets to catching the big one. Fishing here typically means landing a stripped bass, but salmon and sturgeon are also high prized. Catch the big one and win a boat, or at least some tackle.
There are several places where boats are sheltered by their owners, and it's definitely worthwhile taking the winding road trip around to find them. The roads in the Delta Islands often snake along the levee, where farmland lay on one side and water on the other. Once at the docks, check out the old woodies for sale, and then get a drink at the bar and listen to the fish tales.
640 State Highway 12, RIO VISTA, CA, 94571
Good for: Business
Foster's Big Horn is all described as a tip for "things to do" because of its collection of some 300 animal trophies. The Bar here has been restored with nice wood, and the back restaurant has been improved from it's rather drab look under previous owners. The menu has also improved, and the prices are OK. Chicken, red meat, and fish dinners are accompanied by a choice of baked potato and salad side, a typical American restaurant arrangement. See their website for an update as changes have occured to the menu. The service is good both at the bar and restaurant.
Favorite Dish: I usually eat from the specials, which will include a fish and red meat entre most of the time.
Just west of Lodi, or more than two drawbridges east of Rio Vista, and below the span of a new higher span is the Tower Park Resort, so named for it's old water tower. The "S" shape of the slough here is quite impressive, clearly showing that the land is below the water level behind the levees. Anyway, there's a nice dock for boats, and a boat sales business, in addition to the restaurant that faces west. The food is good, the service adequate, and the bar typical for the area. You'll see boating and fishing enthusiasts come and go across the wide plank hardwood floor that's built over pilings. It's a great stop over between the Vacaville-Fairfield and Lodi-Stockton areas of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River delta region. This restaurant offers food typical for the area--shrimp cocktails, deep fried calamari appetizers, pasta plates, rib eye and salmon steak. It's not a bargain restaurant, but the menu is varied and quite reasonable in price overall. Boat loads of club members or other clubs are frequently entertained, but reservations are not generally necessary.
Favorite Dish: Last time there, I ordered the ravioli which were large and locally made if not made at the restaurant. The food is average, but quite worthwhile given the great atmosphere.
19 Reviews and Opinions
One interesting way to get to or from Rio Vista, or just to travel in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, is by crossing a river by ferry boat.
There are two ferries that go to and from Ryer Island, one of many islands in the delta, something that harkens back to the area's past.
The one I have taken is the larger one just north of Rio Vista. From Hwy 12 at Rio vista, go north on River Rd right along the west bank of the Sacramento River. This road hits Hwy 12 just on the Rio Vista side of the bridge. The road takes you straight to the ferry, which carries a few cars at a time. It takes a few minutes. Once across, one can follow the road along the levee and go to Sacramento or elsewhere.
Rio Vista and the Delta Region in general is a very windy area. You'll see the wind generators in large numbers in this area. Bring a windbreaker jacket and expect normally cool weather. During mid-summer, the wind may stop and start, so that at one time you'll be sweating in the near triple digit temperatures, and then by late afternoon be chilled by the wind and water.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Don't forget the fishing gear if you want to catch a big bass.