Fenton’s Creamery – not in Oakland, CA

If you’ve ever watched Disney/Pixar’s animated movie Up!, then you’ve undoubtedly noticed the scene where Mr. Fredrickson and Russell are enjoying some ice cream at Fenton’s. That ice cream parlor is actually located in Oakland, CA.

I bet you didn’t know that there are actually two Fenton’s Creamery’s in the Bay Area! If you live or ever venture near the Napa Valley, Vallejo, American Canyon, or Vacaville, then you’re in luck if you want to have some of the best ice cream around.

Located near the outlets at the Nut Tree in Vacaville, Fenton’s offers a fun, family friendly, dining experience in a lively atmosphere. The food is great and there are plenty of options from sandwiches, burgers, and salads. I’ve had their burgers, my kids love the grilled cheese sandwiches. The tuna sandwich is also a good choice as is the crab sandwich which my wife loves.

No matter what food you choose to eat, you have to close out your meal with some sort of an ice cream dessert. Our family has never been disappointed by the banana split with traditional flavors, strawberry and hot fudge toppings, almonds, and whipped cream. The servings are huge that our big family can be totally satisfied with a Jr. Banana Split. My wife and I split a kid sized banana split and it’s more than enough for the two of us.

Mankas Steakhouse in historic location in Fairfield California

In a secluded rural area in an unincorporated section of Fairfield, California is a spot called Mankas Corner. It used to be a pretty important junction in the late 19th century. Check out Wikipedia for the historic relevance of this unique location. I’ll leave it to you to check out its place in history but this post is about what sits there, Mankas Steakhouse.

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Mankas Steakhouse storefront – Fairfield, CA

The front of the restaurant has that wild west feel to it paying tribute to its roots of being a general store back in the day. Can you hear the horses neighing and the spurs clanging against the boardwalk?

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Mankas Corner

Though the boardwalk has been replace by concrete, it now has some functionality other than just a place to walk. The front of the restaurant has a little table for two. Probably a place to chill while you sip on some wine wait for your table. There’s also a metal-man sculpture out front which reminds me of Robots – the Robin Williams animated movie about, well, robots.

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Mankas Corner cafe table

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Mankas Corner metal man sculpture

Inside feels rustic. Lots of bronze, stone, metal, and dark wood.

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Mankas Steakhouse Wine Wall Rack

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Mankas Steakhouse Exposed Ductwork and Tin Lampshades

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Mankas Steakhouse Big Round Clock

The decor of Mankas Steakhouse gives it a cozy, soft, romantic feel. I don’t have any pictures but they do have outdoor seating with an outdoor stone fireplace as a centerpiece. Wine glasses and cloth napkins adorn the tables. White tablecloth and metal sculpture topped our table.

Mankas is a fine dining restaurant but the prices aren’t so out there like one might expect. And for the money you get pretty good food coupled with ambiance for you and a date (mine happens to be my wife!) to share a lovely dinner together. Or in our case a nice family dinner with our kids to celebrate Mother’s Day. I was surprised that Mankas wasn’t fully booked and that we were able to secure a reservation on Mother’s Day.

Side story. We were short on funds and so for Mother’s Day our kids pitched in so their mommy could have a nice dinner out.

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Mankas Steakhouse Menu

For appetizers we chose the Yelp recommended lobster bisque and it was pretty good. Used it as a dip with the fresh bread which has a crunchy crust and moist center and that made it even better. The bowl it came in was different. High at one end it looked like a nice artsy piece of tableware. About the bread…it’s really nice to get bread that’s really good. It sets the tone for an enjoyable dinner or one that’s just blah. Mankas’ bread is baked fresh and brought to you straight from the oven with butter that’s just so good with it.

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Mankas Steakhouse Fresh Bread and Butter

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Mankas Steakhouse Lobster Bisque

For the main dishes we had mac and cheese. Really! Not for us! For the younger kids! Seems that it’s what they look for no matter where we eat.

But for us older guests, Ribeye and Filet Mignon. I can’t say much about the Filet Mignon because our eldest ordered that about which he commented “It’s a filet mignon” when asked how it was, but I can tell you the Ribeye is prepared wonderfully. Tasty, juicy, and tender. We had creamy horse radish and that is a must for us when we order ribeye or prime rib. The creamy mashed potato was shaped like a flower and the petal edges were crispy. Nicely done. The creamed peas with cipollini onion had a nice flavor to it as well. Taken altogether made for an enjoyable palette experience.

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Mankas Steakhouse Filet Mignon

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Mankas Steakhouse Ribeye

We really enjoyed our dinner at Mankas Steakhouse in Fairfield, and it’s a great place for fine dining and even though it feels like you’re out in the middle of nowhere, you’re really only 10 minutes from i-80.

And for a nice romantic dinner or a nice dining experience with your entire family, it’s worth the little drive to come here.

Green Valley’s Sticky Rice Chinese Bistro

Nestled in a little town called Green Valley between American Canyon, Vallejo, and Fairfield is a Chinese bistro called Sticky Rice. It’s not typical Chinese restaurant, at least the typical ones I’ve been to. This establishment is quite nice and has a high end feel. The good news for me and my big family is that prices aren’t high end.

Its owners opted not to place their eatery in a strip mall but in an office building. But its location does not suffer from lack of traffic and once you’ve had the opportunity to eat there, you’ll most likely add it to your list of restaurants to come back to.

Sticky Rice Chinese Bistro

Glass waterfall in Green Valley (near American Canyon, Vallejo, and Fairfield)

As you enter the restaurant you’ll notice right off the bat that this is going to be a different dining experience. The decor is modern and classy. Nice contrasting colors and textures throughout. The dining area is open and surprisingly there are no dividing walls between tables. The only walls that are there exist between the dining area and the entry and bar.

And the dividing walls are very nicely made with wood, metal, and frosted glass. Their bar exudes quality and class. Something you might see at a nice hotel.

Sticky Rice Bar

Very classy looking bar

There’s also an outdoor patio if you decide to have the outdoor dining experience. It feels secluded and comfortable and they probably make it available for reservations I imagine.

Patio | John Gamboa

Patio

On to the food. For our appetizers we had hot and sour soup, wor wonton soup, and ahi tuna bites. The soups were good and expected. But the tuna bites were out of this world good! The presentation was top notch but the way they combined cucumber, tuna, seaweed, and how the Sriracha and aioli (I’m guessing) was to die for. Highly recommended if you ever decide to eat there.

Ahi Tuna Bites Appetizer

Ahi Tuna Bites Appetizer

The a la carte dishes we had were the pan-fried noodle chow mein, orange beef, fried rice, and honey walnut prawns. Everything was good. It was the first time I tried the orange beef and that was just OK. The honey walnut prawns, however, were perfect. Crunchy shrimp, great tasting honey mayonnaise sauce, and nicely candied walnuts. Honey walnut prawns are a family favorite and I’d say the way Sticky Rice prepares it is among the top 2 or 3 I’ve had. Not too much batter and just the right amount of sweetness to the sauce.

Honey Walnut Prawns | Sticky Rice | John Gamboa

Honey Walnut Prawns | Sticky Rice

Now my favorite part of all my meals: dessert. The two we decided to try were the cheesecake which had a raspberry drizzle. The other was the fried banana with ice cream. First, the cheesecake. It was really good. Can’t really mess up a cheesecake but then again, I don’t have very high standards when it comes to sweets.

Raspberry Cheesecake | Sticky Rice

Raspberry Cheesecake

The fried banana and ice cream was very, very good. Usually if it’s on the menu, I get the fried banana with ice cream. I’ll ask for ice cream if it’s not part of the dish normally. The surprising thing about Sticky Rice’s version is not the presentation or the taste, both of which were excellent, but it was the amount of dessert you get for the order. I don’t remember the price but I’m pretty sure it was less than 10 bucks! It was enough for 4 of us to share it and be satisfied with the quantity we were able to consume. That is value for your money!

Sticky Rice Fried Banana and Ice Cream

Sticky Rice Fried Banana and Ice Cream | Six Pieces and a large scoop of vanilla ice cream!

I would say that Sticky Rice should be on your list of places to east if you’re every passing by Solano County. It’s about 15 minutes away from Benicia and Vallejo, and the same drive from the other direction in Fairfield. I highly recommended you do it!