I've written about Papachino's on this board once before; it is a fairly regular lunch stop, but we haven't made it by in the evening for dinner for some reason. Last night we remedied that oversight.
The owner, Jack, was on hand to greet us and make sure all was to our liking. His warm personality contributes a lot to the experience there. Elise can't eat any dairy products, which makes dining out difficult. This is a place where that is no problem, and furthermore, Jack thinks thru the matter, so that a salad which ordinarily has feta sprinkled on it will come without the feta, bread will come without butter, all without having to go thru the litany on each item.
We started with the mixed appetizer pate--falafel, baba ganouj, hummus, pita, tahini sauce, yogurt sauce, kalmata olives, and red cabbage pickle (a huge ovation to Jack for reinstituting the tahini sauce, a special favorite of ours). This platter, called "holytizers" on the menu, is almost a meal in itself.
I had a pasta with marinated artichokes, garlic-steeped olive oil, kalmata olives, peppers, lemon, and fresh rosemary, that was extremely tasty.
Prices are moderate, most entrees are around $8 & include soup (bean) or salad and bread.
For more on this excellent Modesto spot on J Street, see the link below.