AVE stands for avenue, of course, which in local Stockton vernacular refers to the Miracle Mile section of Pacific Avenue, where most of the city's most sophisticated restaurants are located. Just 2 years old at the time of this writing, AVE has received awards, great praise, and a popular following, second only to Cocoro, which is just a block away. But while Cocoro is a brightly lit Japanese restaurant, Ave is a dimly lit lounge serving creative high-end bar cocktails, wines, and beers, alongside a sophisticated menu of small and "not-so-small" plates. Wednesday nights feature wine tastings, while Fridays are a happy hour plus of live jazz music and fine dining. Prices are actually less high end than the food quality and service, which, of course, is commonplace in Stockton. Like other Miracle Mile restaurants, Kevin, the owner, Jason, the bar manager, Nathan, the chef, and all of the waiting staff are very energetic and determined to make AVE an island of sophisticated culinary and beverage appreciation within this otherwise struggling working class city.
Open 7 days a week, but see website for hours.
Favorite Dish: My wife had crab cakes and salad, while I had a special that included a New York steak, twice baked potato, spinach, and dinner salad. Her crab cakes were flakey and moist inside, if a bit overly fried on the outside. My steak was outstanding. Chef Nathan has perfected the art of a slightly blackened exterior with a even and easy to slice rare meat interior. The salad greens and other side dishes are outstanding if for no other reason that true quality leaf green ingredients are used. Bar manager Jason chose a red cabernet sauvignon that was a smooth restaurant style medium bodied reminiscent of Jordan Vineyards during their hey day.
This authentic family owned Caribbean restaurant serves up outstanding Jamaican plates at the Paradise Point Marina. It's one of Stockton's most unique restaurants, in my opinion. On weekends, music, such as the steel drum or guitar liven up the delta. Occasionally, they sponsor a Reggae band. Breadfruit used to only accept cash or checks, and the first time we dined there and the owner politely allowed us to send a check in the mail afterward. But, they now accept credit cards too. The interior of the restaurant is a painted mural to remind visitors of the Caribbean islands. Perhaps the most unique innovation is using a white board and easel to show the menu. The waiter will prop up the easel near the table, allowing guests to opening discuss the menu options, which often change. The waiting staff is excellent, and the chef often walks out into the dining room to chat with guests.
Tues - Thurs: 5:30pm - 9:00PM
Fri - Sat: 5:00PM - 10:00PM
Sun - Mon: CLOSED
Boating parties of 10 or more can persuade them to open for lunch....
Favorite Dish: Puerto Rican Shrimp with a Red Stripe beer--need more be said? Actually, there are many drink choices here--including a rum punch and sangria, both of which are excellent. The menu is also varied, with the Rice Pilau is routine favorite--coming in chicken or seafood options. There are several curry dishes that are very skillfully prepared, so that the curry doesn't simply mask over the flavors of meat and vegetables. The desserts include bread pudding, off-course, a chocolate and run-scotch variation. After dinner, walk along the docks. The photo shows a curried goat dish with my rum-punch drink.
A laid back small restaurant serving thai cuisine. Some of those foods you can choose to have cooked mild, medium, spicy or extra spicy. Decors are reminiscent of their culture but not overbearing so it doesnt scream in your face that you are in a Thai restaurant. The carved wood high back chair and soft lighting makes the place intimate and nice to hang around.
We eat fairly regularly at the Saigon because nearby Cocoro's is more expensive and always too busy. I don't like standing in line outside waiting for a table in a noisey environment. Saigon has plenty of room and the family serves quality Vietnamese food. The owner is a former South Vietnamese pilot who spent time in a concentration camp, but his past is behind him. He likes to talk about computers and rock music now. His wife is the main host, and she's a gregarious person who treats everyone like family. Both have excellent command of English, although the sound of a Vietnamese accent in my ears enhances the ambience for an international restaurant. Recently, the Saigon has offered free wireless internet access for its customers. Saigon distinguishes itself or being the only Vietnamese restaurant I know of celebrating formally Vietnamese New Year, or Tet. Coming sometimes between January and February, advanced reservations are required because, as you see in the photos, this is a locally popular event. The Tet menu includes many courses with some excellent specialties, but on any given day the normal menu also has some excellent beef, chicken, pork, fish, and vegetarian specialties that set it appart from other Vietnames restaurants.
Favorite Dish: I like the iced Vietnamese coffee and beer selection. The green mussels in basil sauce is an appetizer we always order right away upon entering the door. When asparagus is in season, Saigon prepares it stir-fried with beef or pork over rice. Also, there's a clay pot of Bassa, a Vietnamese river fish, in a special spicey brown sauce. The soups and rice dishes are cooked just right, not overcooked, but kept fresh and spiced right. Jack fruit shake makes a great dessert, but there's also crisp fried banana with whipped cream.
A chain restaurant that serves excellent food and has a great happy hour. Flame grilling is the secret to their famous taste.
Favorite Dish: Try the Roma's Triple Play Sampler (Roma's Red Hot Buffalo Wings, Potato Skins and Lotza Mozza Sticks...matched with three dipping sauces). For dinner, go for the ribs!!! More importantly, the Bountiful Beef Ribs for rib lovers with a big appetite (thick, juicy beef ribs basted and slow smoked in their original sauce).
This is a good microbrewery with a nice range of beers that it makes, most quite good, plus some good food. It tries to straddle the role of being both a serious microbrewery as well as basic sports bar. The latter point is potentially harming its role in the former but not much. We like the service, beer (and I'm a serious beer drinker who has visited many such places), and the few food items we have had.
We were driving by and saw that this restaurant had opened and stopped in. They have yet to open their full dinner menu but the bar was fantastic. They make their own tonic water! The appetizers we had we very good too. The staff was friendly and seemed interested in being there. We had an across the board tasting of four different rums. We had a very nice evening and expect to return soon.
Favorite Dish: They had deep fried risotto balls in a light marinara sauce that was probably my favorite.
Just off the Miracle Mile, the Valley Brew features some great micro brew beers and ales. The bar is a lively sports bar scene, while outside features an upscale patio garden atmosphere. It's a good place to take the family or business colleagues. After dinner, Baskin-Robbins ice cream is next door. A walk along the Miracle Mile after lunch or dinner is also a worthwhile side adventure. The Miracle Mile Stretch has antique stores, florists, an art gallery, and several upscale interior design stores.
Favorite Dish: I Iike all the beers, ranging from light to stout full bodied beers, depending on the weather and my mood. I like the fresh salmon on sour dough sandwich, but there's a full menu of pastas and sandwiches.
I put this into the Local category because this is in fact a local restaurant the serves virtually everything imaginable in an all you can eat buffet format--Fresh Sushi, Instant Stir Fry, a buffet line of every Chinese dish imaginable, plus things like prime rib, fried chicken, salads, vegies, and a long line of desserts. The business card claims over 150 items on the buffet menu. This place is not one of great atmosphere as this is a cattle call to the feeding trough. Seating is quick, and beverages, at $1- are also a reasonable deal, but there's no beer or wine served. It blows all other buffets and all-you-can-eat place away in terms of quality and service. The sushi isn't as finely crafted as some other places in town, and the seafood line is still a buffet, but for the price it can't be beat. The food moves quickly and nothing lingers long at the buffet line, so there's no fear of mediocre food. It's an ideal family restaurant. This is also a good place to go if planning to see a ballgame or hockey game downtown as the self-service format makes for quick dining. $11.95 p/p for dinner, $6.95 p/p for lunch. Lunch is basically the same except there's no seafood.
Favorite Dish: I'm not usually an all-you-can-eat kind of guy. I prefer good service and great food crafted by a chef, but I'll have to be honest that frequently on a Friday night, my wife and I come here to keep our monthly restaurant tab relatively low. Rather than try to stuff myself with all the great dishes, I choose a different type each time I come. Because fried food doesn't settle in my stomach too well, I always avoid these types of dishes. I typically gravitate to the sushi line, which is overall a pretty good deal. I also like the fresh crab and shellfish buffets. The sauted broccoli and sauted mushrooms are a regular favorite.
Located in Stockton's downtown, this is a popular lunch stop for bankers and lawyers. But, usually, we go on Friday night when the crowds are gone and the service individualized. The buffet is quite good, serving a variety of Indian dishes, and the waiter brings fresh and hot nan (a special bread) to the table along with the drinks. Sometimes, service is overly relaxed and doesn't snap too on Friday nights, but the attitude and food are predictably good. It's a good choice of restaurant before walking one block to the Bob Hope Theatre, and it's not far from the baseball or arena either.
Favorite Dish: I have a number of favorite chicken, fish, and lamb specialties that they do well here. I am however particular to the stewed lintel and carbanzo bean dishes, as well as the spinach korma.
From the outside one wouldn't know it, especially as the building is under reconstruction right now, but inside the restaurant atmosphere is one of the most lively in Stockton. Papapavlo's is a Greek restaurant featuring flaming cheeze and dolma appetizers, but the main courses are simple genuinely well prepared fish, red meat, and pasta entres. Papapavlo's wine list is clearly the best in town. There's a pastry shop around the corner, and the bar is a well stocked place to wait for a table if you arrive without a reservation. Prices are not out of this world either. Similar food and service in the Bay Area would be substantially greater in cost. The only draw back for me is the location at the far end of Pacific Avenue. But, it's well placed for those upper scale locals who live off BenHolt Ave.
Favorite Dish: I usually get a fish filet entre from the specials menu, but the lamb shank and other main entres are all excellent. The wine list is organized by the owner, who has a respectable palate.
There are several restaurants in this complex. Mongolian barbeque, Chinese/Japanese buffet, Filipino, Vietnamese, and a Wine Tasting Bar, and a Coffee house.
Favorite Dish: Only occasionally do I frequent this complex because virtually all the types of food served here are better done elsewhere in town, but for a quick bite away from the Radisson, I'd certainly head here rather than walk toward the freeway towards Applebees, Outback, and the numerous other corporate style restaurants. The wine bar is particularly a good haunt for those who like wine, as the owner will provide tasting and on friday's host a reservations only dinner. The Chinese/Japanese buffet is a good all-you-can-eat deal. A short walk around the fountains and bridges is no big deal as it is more concrete than landscaping but it's clean enough.
This is a California style Mexican restaurant that is in my opinion one of the world's best fast food restaurants. The inside is decorated with pottery for an authentic Mexican feel, but the style is more upscale. Glasses of fine wine and Mexican beers are available. The restaurant serves breatfast, lunch, and dinner with separate menus for each. American steak sandwiches and hot dogs are also available for those who can't stomach Mexican food. So, this place is sure to meet everyone's needs.
Favorite Dish: We always begin with the fresh tomatoe and lime salsa and chips. Sometimes, I buy a Modelo Negra, sometimes a glass of red or white wine. When my name is called, I pick up the tray of tacos. I love the fresh fish tacos, but I also usually get a deep fried oyster taco. But, there are so many other dishes on the menu, everyone is guaranteed to be happy. It is a fast food restaurant so drive through and phone orders are available, and don't expect service beyond the front counter. We usually grab copy of the daily San Francisco Chronicle which is left piled in one corner. Can't beat the food for the price, but if all else fails, MacDonald's is next door.
Along Pacific Avenue's "Miracle Mile" bottleneck, this restaurant is the a fairly recent addition to a walkable part of town that includes good Vietnamese, Mexican, and Brew Pub cuisine. The lively atmosphere is constant, especially on Friday night's when patron line outside the door waiting for a table. A faster way in is to eat at the sushi bar where all menu items can also be ordered. Reservations not accepted.
Favorite Dish: There are numerous dishes. It's not all Sushi and Sashimi. Anyone can enjoy this menu. The tea and sake selection is excellent. Naturally everything is fresh and the service is excellent.
When I was an undergraduate in the late 1950s, there were only two sushi restaurants in all of Los Angeles, both near 1st and San Pedro in what had been "Japantown" before the internment of Japanese-Americans in 1942.
Today there are at least eight sushi places in little Stockton ("little" = less than a tenth the size of L A).
By far the best of them is Sho Mi. It's open for lunch from noon to 2:00 and reopens for dinner at 5:00. Diners begin lining up at 4:30, or a bit earlier, and by 5:00 every table and every seat at the bar is occupied and the line extends well down the sidewalk. (One can avoid much or most of the wait if s/he is willing to order take-out.)
The fish is as fresh and as well tended as you'll find anywhere; the slices are generous; and the rice is perfectly prepared and formed.
Catering, I suppose, to the tastes of little blond girls and boys, none of the sushi restaurants in Stockton now puts wasabi between the fish and the rice. Sho Mi, like the others, does however give dollops of wasabi as a side -- along with the usual slices of ginger and, of course, Kikkoman soy sauce.
The selection at Sho Mi, though good, is not Stockton's best. Sho Mi has never offered the exquisitely "fishy" kohada, for example, which is a staple -- in season -- at Cocoro, reviewed here by another VTer.
Neither reservations nor credit cards are accepted.
Favorite Dish: Sushi, of course, though a handful of other dishes are offered. Beer and wine (sake) are served.
Prices of nigirizushi (two pieces of sushi) are higher than in other Stockton sushi houses -- or (1) about one-fifth what they are in upscale Tokyo sushi bars or at the Waldorf Astoria in New York and (2) about twice what they are at sushi bars in Rio de Janeiro.