14 Best Foodie Spots In Modesto, California

Home to some of the most famed dining cities in the world, California certainly has no shortage of foodie wonders. But beyond the obvious dining destinations like San Francisco and Los Angeles, a mid-sized city in the central valley is making big moves on the culinary front. Modesto may ring a few bells as the birthplace of George Lucas and the home of E&J Gallo Winery, the largest winery in the country based on sales volume, but it's emerging on the foodie front as well, beckoning a culinary renaissance fueled by farmers, chefs, and restaurateurs fostering a symbiotic relationship with one of the most fertile regions in the state.

This is a region so fruitful that it produces 80% of the world's almonds — and 100% of the almonds in the U.S, according to the Almond Board of California. The seeds (almonds aren't technically nuts) are resplendent on menus and in markets throughout the Modesto region, and the annual almond blossoms are so vibrant that folks come from near and far for scenic drives, on par with fall foliage in New England, through the floral orchards. When almond-lovers aren't gawking at blossoming almond trees, they're savoring them in restaurants and bakeries, along with other locally produced vittles like olive oil, beer, cheese, barbecue, and much more. If you're planning a trip to Modesto, consider these top dining and drinking spots.  

Camp 4

A love letter to family, nature, California, and food and wine shared around convivial tables, Camp 4 is a cozy, rustic-chic wine bar and restaurant that earns its name from a climbers camp in nearby-ish Yosemite National Park. (Infamously austere, the camp was a haven for Royal Robbins, who previously operated an outdoorsy clothing store in the building that now houses the restaurant run by his son Damon Robbins.) The palpable history and heritage of the place is on full display with Yosemite-inspired decor, while the kitchen churns out a wholesome and hearty spread of panini sandwiches, poké bowls, and epic charcuterie boards.

Seasonally driven, the menu offers locally sourced starters like house-marinated olives, seasoned almonds, whipped feta, burrata bruschetta, and "Baller Boards" of charcuterie and cheese large enough for a horde of hungry climbers. Panini sandwiches come stuffed with the likes of roasted flank steak and prosciutto with melted Brie, while poké bowls utilize fresh Pacific seafood like ahi tuna and shrimp slathered in ponzu sauce, Sriracha mayo, and garlic chili crunch. For dessert, chocolate panini bites come with cinnamon sugar and whipped cream, or look for seasonal specials like Almond Joy cheesecake. Pair it all with a glass or bottle of wine off an expertly curated list that emphasizes Californian varietals.

Galletto Ristorante

A slice of northern Italy in the heart of downtown Modesto, Galletto Ristorante is a family-run institution where the food is as beautiful as its locale, in an Art Deco bank building. Now operated by the original owners' children, the family keeps the spirit alive at a restaurant at once decadent, romantic, and celebratory, with a fine dining façade contrasted by friendly service and leisurely luxury.

The indoor portion of the restaurant boasts soaring ceilings, columns, and plants, clad with cozy couches, banquettes, and booths, while the enclosed patio is lined with ornate fountains and a roaring fireplace. No matter your perch, Galletto's menu is worth raising a glass of Italian wine to. Soulful dishes include steamed mussels swimming in spicy tomato fra diavolo, bruschetta layered with prosciutto and goat cheese mousse, and tender braised short ribs over black pepper parmesan polenta. Don't sleep on the pastas, either, especially the fettuccine tossed with bacon and lobster or the buttery carbonara made with tomato-infused spaghetti.

Lo-Fi Laboratories

Hip, metropolitan, and artsy, Lo-Fidelity Laboratories is a downtown cocktail bar that marches to the beat of its own drum. Outfitted with funky and eclectic art, along with snug banquettes and a bar lined with vintage records along the floor, the cocktail spot is the perfect place to cozy up for a unique nightcap in a space that feels distinctly retro and fun.

The drinks here exhibit serious skill in the mixology department, with intricate concoctions and extravagant creations aplenty, including tiki cocktails and hot drinks. One of the coolest aspects at Lo-Fi is how guests can leave their cocktail orders up to chance via cocktail roulette dice or a Magic 8 Ball whose results are all different classic drinks, like a daiquiri or a Vieux Carré. The bar also recently rolled out a food menu which echoes the drink list in its unique assortment of rotating snacks like hummus, sweet chili prawns, and bacon-wrapped prunes.

Oakdale Cheese & Specialties

A worthwhile detour off the Almond Blossom Cruise route, Oakdale Cheese & Specialties is a pastoral farmland property known for its Gouda and grilled cheese sandwiches along with other delicious sweet and savory bites. Nestled on a peaceful patch of property just a short drive north of downtown Oakdale, the cute cottage-like cafe boasts a miscellany of artisan wares and eats, including a dizzying array of cheeses, jams, almonds, candles, breads, and decadent desserts, like Mandarin orange cheesecake and dark chocolate truffles infused with Gouda.

Whether you're craving sweet or savory, snag your snacks and park it outside on one of the shop's numerous picnic tables by the pond for a buttery grilled cheese with a sunny, scenic backdrop (pro tip: add a cup of herbal tomato soup, flecked with more bits of cheese, for optimal dunking). Nearby, guests can go mingle with goats, and complimentary tours of the cheese-making facilities are offered on a daily basis.

Roberts Ferry Gourmet

Nestled in the lush almond orchards of Waterford, it's easy to go nuts at Roberts Ferry Gourmet, a quaint market and cafe that maximizes the local harvest with almond-infused sweets and treats aplenty. The star attraction here are the shop's almond butter milkshakes, so thick and delicious that they practically demand a spoon. Beyond the shakes, the country store offers everything from candy-coated almonds and fudge to coffee drinks and take-and-bake lasagnas. Between spoonfuls of almond butter, be sure and mosey out into the orchards, one of two designated areas along Modesto's Almond Blossom Cruise route where visitors are able to walk into the orchards on foot (along designated trails).

Roberts Ferry also operates a charming little offshoot cafe in the nearby town of Oakdale, with a quick-service menu of sandwiches, snacks, requisite milkshakes, and unique to this location, local craft beer and wine. It's all best enjoyed on the grotto-like patio behind the cafe.

Sciabica's Family California Olive Oil

Almonds aren't the only cash crop in the Modesto region. Olive oil is an equally booming business in California, and the central valley reigns as an oasis for the elixir. That's largely thanks to the pioneering Sciabica family, which has been cold-pressing the fruits since 1936, making Sciabica's Family California Olive Oil the oldest producer in the U.S. Those family traditions continue apace today, passed down four generations and carried on through a facility where connoisseurs can visit to shop and sample.

A key difference between Sciabica's olive oil is the process in which flavors are infused. By cold-pressing their olive oils, the family eschews typical heat infusion for a process that marries ingredients like lemon and rosemary with freshly harvested California olives. The tasting room and gift shop is the mothership for olive oils, open for samplings and purchasing. The shop also stocks olive oil-soaked almonds, cookbooks, pasta sauce, and other accouterments. The latest venture for the ever-innovative Sciabica family is beer — the company recently launched its own micro-brewery, introducing an IPA that guests can purchase on-site.

Mocha Magic Cafe & Bakeshop

In terms of adorable Americana bakeries, it doesn't get any cuter than Mocha Magic Cafe & Bakeshop, a pint-sized stop for all things sweet and nostalgic. Bedecked with vintage bakery signs and ephemera, the cafe has the look and feel of an old-timey bake sale, where every nook and cranny is laden with frosted goodies and almond-infused pastries, along with locally sourced sundries like fruit preserves and sauces.

Swing by in the morning for a mocha (naturally) or a coffee splashed with almond milk (when in Rome), then peruse the rotating assortment of pastries. The cases runneth over with all manner of sugary sensations, like muffins, cinnamon rolls, apple dumplings, bread pudding, tiramisu, and cookies, along with almond-studded options like almond cupcakes and almond scones. It's not all sweet, though. The cafe also works its magic with wholesome breakfast sandwiches, frittatas, smoothies, chili, and assorted soups and salads.

Fuzio Universal Bistro

While cuisine inspiration comes from across the globe at this bustling downtown eatery, ingredients and flavors are decidedly rooted in its Modesto backyard. Fuzio Universal Bistro, as its name suggests, takes a something-for-everyone approach to its globe-trotting menu, where comfort food knows no boundaries during both lunch and dinner.

Served up in a casual, comfy dining room, appetizers include pan-seared Brussels sprouts flecked with smoked bacon and almonds, buttermilk-battered calamari, and bacon-wrapped dates with macadamia nuts and sticky balsamic reduction from Modesto's own Sciabica's Family California Olive Oil. Larger portions, meanwhile, include fried avocado tacos with habanero sour cream, fire-grilled pizzas laced with basil pesto and roasted portobellos, and a fluffy red quinoa pilaf tossed with fresh spinach, marinated mushrooms, local almonds, and crumbled feta. The dinner menu sees the addition of a few meatier entrees, like bacon bourbon pork chops, Tuscan garlic chicken, and grilled rib-eye steaks.

Persuasion Brewing Co.

Although Modesto is renowned for Disneyland-sized winery E. & J. Gallo, the local craft beer scene is booming all its own. Among the prime examples is Persuasion Brewing Co., a spunky brewery housed in a vast warehouse-sized building on the edge of downtown, where the lofty space contains a sea of beer coolers, pool tables, and a bar pouring suds made just down the hall.

At any given time, Persuasion's dynamic sudsy offerings exhibit a penchant for dexterity and skill, with an ever-changing draft list that runs the gamut from hazy IPAs and rich stouts that could double as drinkable desserts to tart sours infused with flavors of cherry pie. Friendly bartenders and brewers are adept at making recommendations and happy to offer samples, while an on-site kitchen slings sandwiches and tacos. Relaxed, fun, and cool, the brewery is stocked with games and routinely hosts recurring events, like comedy nights, cornhole tournaments, and karaoke.

Rodin Ranch Farmers Market

Like a year-round indoor farmers' market teeming with all manner of local provisions and snacks, Rodin Ranch Farmers' Market is a culinary cornerstone in downtown Modesto. The shop is owned by sisters Marie and Angie Rodin, who leverage their years' worth of experience selling at area farmers' markets to evolve into a full-steam market loaded with fresh fruits, honeys, fudge,  quenching lemonades infused with flavors like lavender and dragon fruit, and, of course, a wide variety of almond-based products (the almond butter selection, in particular, is staggering).

An apt stopover for farm-fresh groceries and ingredients, or a quick snack, the market has everything from BBQ corn nuts and beet chips to chocolate-covered blueberries, pistachios, and elderberry syrup. Meanwhile, their older sister Antoinette runs a roadside fruit stand and market on the edge of an almond orchard, which is one of two stops on the Almond Blossom Cruise where visitors can mosey amidst the trees on foot.

The Fruit Yard

While driving along the Almond Blossom Cruise, one essential pitstop is The Fruit Yard, an expansive meaty mecca perched on the edge of 90 acres' worth of fruit orchards, with an amphitheater for live entertainment, plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, and its own lineup of harvested crops, like cherries, apricots, plums, and nectarines.

As fruity as its wares may be in the market, the restaurant portion of the business skews decidedly more savory. Barbecue and steaks are the bread and butter at this longstanding roadside institution, served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the morning, rise and shine with burly platters of ham steak and eggs or corned beef hash, while menus later in the day expand to include chicken wings, bacon-studded potato wedges, steak sandwiches, roast beef, pulled pork, burgers, and chicken-fried steak. The Fruit Yard also has an on-site deli for all your at-home barbecue needs and a pie-centric bakery slinging everything from boysenberry sour cream to Dutch apple.


Perched in the midst of downtown Modesto, Churchkey is a modern gastropub designed to platform local beer and wine, along with food menu that goes above and beyond the call of bar food duty. Housed in a huge space with an industrial-glam motif lined with sleek white subway tile, the outpost features a lengthy central bar, a smattering of high-top tables, and a lofted second-floor seating area overlooking the action.

To drink, Churchkey features an impressive draft list of ever-changing beers, most of which hail from local and other California breweries, along with wine on tap and cocktails. As crafty and thoughtful as the beverage program is, the food is what exceeds the wildest expectations. Starters include nugget-like cauliflower bites, nachos, and lemon-pepper tater tots, grain bowls come topped with Korean BBQ sauce and a fried egg, and burgers include the Gangnam Style with Korean BBQ glaze, bacon, egg, kimchi, and sesame aïoli. Don't miss the pizzas either. Featuring housemade dough drizzled with local Sciabica's Family California Olive Oil, toppings range from kale pesto and burrata to marinated artichokes and pickled sweet peppers.

Tresetti's World Caffe

A key staple in Modesto's impressive roster of enduring, family-owned restaurants (a major benefit of doing business in a city where the cost of living is substantially lower than the state average, according to RentCafe), Tresetti's World Caffe has been holding it down since 1994. That's when the Maisetti family planted roots downtown and quickly cemented their dining room in the local culinary pantheon with their penchant for Southern and New Orleans-style cuisines — styles that are a relative rarity in this part of the state.

Charming, comfy, and befitting any date night, the eclectic eatery is an homage to the owners' love of New Orleans, as well as an expanded emphasis on international flavors that give the restaurant a melting pot vibe. Open for lunch and dinner, the spirited restaurant offers everything from Cajun-style crab cakes and requisite gumbo to fried redfish, braised pork tacos, coconut prawns, squash fritters, and seafood pasta. To drink, the restaurant rounds it all out with a full bar emphasizing wines, with plenty of Californian bottles to choose from.

Dewz Restaurant

For fine dining that employs a deft hand with seasonal and local vittles, it doesn't get much more comfortable than Dewz Restaurant, a longstanding cornerstone in Modesto's culinary community. Open since 1997, there's just something timeless about an elegant — yet cozy — dining room that's been family-operated for nearly 30 years, with a reliably alluring roster of food and wine that speaks to California's locale as a cultural melting pot. 

With adept chef Connor Carlin at the helm, the Dewz menu is as eclectic and internationally inspired as it is rooted in Californian terroir, using local wares for global flavors. The menu varies throughout the growing seasons, but at any given point could include everything from baked Brie with strawberry preserves and blackberry-balsamic gel to Japanese-style karaage fried chicken with unagi sauce and gochujang aïoli. Befitting its location in the central California valley, the restaurant has a rustic wine room stocked with a miscellany of wines from near and far.