Back in the Day: My wish for an old-school Fairfield feast


The following Back in the Day column appeared in the Fairfield Daily Republic on July 10, 2015

By Tony Wade

I stumbled across a vintage Red Top Dairy milk bottle at Rockville Park recently. I rubbed it on my shirt to read the label better and suddenly there was a POOF! sound accompanied by a puff of smoke.

A genie that kinda looked like The Waving Chief Solano Statue told me he would grant me one wish. I asked why not the customary three wishes and he shrugged and replied: “Budget cuts.”

I thought hard, then had it.

“I want an old-school Fairfield feast featuring food from restaurants that don’t exist anymore,” I said.

The genie did that “I Dream of Jeannie” blinking nod coupled with a Samantha Stevens nose twitch and suddenly I was seated before an enormous table. Several mini-me genies acted as silent but efficient servers.

The appetizers were Nut Tree pineapple chunks with the yummy marshmallow sauce. I didn’t quibble about it being from Vacaville, I just dug in.

The meal started in earnest with Voici’s house salad and fresh cheese bread. I then consumed two bowls of savory minestrone soup – one from Firehouse Deli and the other from The Old San Francisco Express.

Next I wolfed down a stack of fluffy Sambo’s pancakes smothered in buttah and warm maple syrup with a side of crispy bacon.

Then, it got serious.

The Chinese portion of the meal featured sweet and sour pork from Eastern Café and a sampling of yumminess from Chinese smorgasbord Birdcage Wok. The genie frowned at my use of a fork instead of chopsticks, but that’s how I roll.

An enormous platter of fried delicacies were next from David’s Fish and Chips, Skipper’s and then, Dick’s Seafood Grotto. Loren’s Fountain french fries were a special treat, as were the Howard Johnson’s fried clams.

My hearty belch signaled the genie to yell, “Bring on the burgers!”

The mini-me genies then brought in hamburgers ranging from Beamer’s 29 cent ones to Hi-Fi burgers to an A&W Papa Burger in a basket with a frosty mug of root beer. The Airline Café hamburger was very tasty, as was the Fosters Old-Fashion Freeze bacon cheeseburger.

But I especially loved the Sid’s burger from Sid’s Drive-In.

My friend Nanciann Gregg had been a carhop for them and told me they used to cover the cooking burger and buns on the grill with a domed lid and the grease and grill smell penetrated the buns to delicious effect. She was right.

Speaking of grease, the next course was exquisite enchiladas from The Hut and tasty tacos from Dan & Ruth’s. I declined to have a fried egg put on top of my enchiladas the way The Hut’s ginormous cook ironically nicknamed Tiny used to do, but they were still delectable.

Pizza was next. Wow! As if hot, fresh offerings from Sham’s, Rico’s, Pietro’s, Roscoe Capone’s and Vittorio’s wasn’t enough – they even served my favorite treat from Big John’s Submarine Shop: their delicious pizza sub.

The chicken course included Muffin Treat’s roasted chicken in a basket, samples from Chicken Delight and the legendary Smorga Bob’s fried chicken that back in the day many people “liberated” from the old eatery in hidden Ziploc bags.

As I saw it was steak time next, I loosened my belt. I pulled the little plastic “well done” sign out of my Mr. Steak T-bone while breathing in the heavenly scent of my Happy Steak London Broil.

I finished up with Tony Roma’s ribs and Lyon’s cheddar-topped chili.

Totally stuffed, I would’ve declined dessert if I hadn’t beheld it.

Flakey Cream and Winchell’s doughnuts. Sno-Man soft serve ice cream. Thrifty’s double scoop cones. And the pièce de résistance, glorious champagne cake from Johnson’s Bakery.

I found room for it all.

I felt like I would explode and suddenly heard a weird, loud, rumbling sound like an earthquake. The angry rumblings from my empty stomach were so loud they woke me from my feasting/genie dream.

I was ravenous.

Since I couldn’t actually eat at the places I’d dreamed about – some remembered and some that were before my time – I went to two old-school Fairfield restaurants I can still get my grub on at: Joe’s Buffet for lunch and later Dave’s Giant Hamburgers for dinner.

Bon appétit!