Rediscovered an old favorite tonight, now back in the original owner's hands! Sandoval's down on 1st street, across from the old State Capitol.
Growing up in Benicia, I remember it's humbling beginnings in a small storefront restaurant about... 15 years ago? I nice homey family place that had delicious fresh and homemade mexican food, like out of your grandmother's kitchen (if your grandmother was Mexican, that is!)
The business was sold a number of years ago and was very apparent in the decline of quality and service. It was no longer a good place for food... and I stopped going there.
Well, good news! The original family owners are back, and from my visit tonight, so has everything!
Crisp, thin homemade tortilla chips (still nice and warm) and a wonderful not-too-spicy salsa came to our table, along with the menus. Large bits of fresh red onion were mixed along with fire-roasted tomatoes, chiles, cilantro and garlic. At this point I remembered why I used to detest Chevy's for chips and salsa... they're that good!
My dinner consisted of a fresh Caesar Salad with chicken (lunch or dinner portion available). Freshly grilled pieces of white meat chicken added to the typically decent caesar salad, but what really made the dish was the large slices of fresh Roma tomatoes supplied by a local grower in Martinez! Last time I've had tomatoes that delicious was up in Sonoma...
(Safeway produce be damned!)
My mother enjoyed a chile rellano with pinto beans and a light, flavorful tomatoe based sauce, with hints of chicken stock and chile. The rellano was stuffed full of high quality cheese, with the fresh chile coated and fried just right.
One bite of my mother's Chile Rellano was enough to make me forget all about the other local Mexican places for dinner.
To top off the evening of dining outside, the old Benicia Capitol Theatre plays a movie the 1st Friday of every month. Nice to know that an eveing of fresh dining and watching a movie in an old theatre is still available!
Sandoval's Mexican Restaurant
640 First Street
Benicia, CA 94510
M-Th 11-3pm and 5-9pm
There also seems to be a new resteraunt open across from the Main Street Park... Spot. Wine glasses, tablecloths, and redwood tables were spotted as I drove by. Seemed to be a fairly large crowd there... I'll have to try that next.