The Bay Area is ripe with incredible restaurants serving fresh and seasonal food inspired from around the world, yet we still find ourselves searching for new and special places. Nestled on the Carquinez Strait between San Francisco and Sacramento, Benicia has some surprising spots that might just become your new go-to for dinner.

If you love wine, check out The Loft Wine Bar & Restaurant. Known for serving rare and upscale wines by the glass, this barroom and eatery is sending quite the buzz down the vine. Owner Jason Diavatis opened The Loft, as he calls it, with a vision of a wine tasting experience that would expand the palate and broaden the horizons of those who visit. In doing so, he seeks out small family wineries and 100% varietals that are not as easily found in your local wine shop. The tasting menu boasts five interesting wines daily that sometimes change on a whim when a special bottle is opened in the restaurant. Cuisine includes a variety of comfort food and salads.

Designed for casual dining, everything about The Loft, from the menu to the wine list, is meant to be approachable and interesting. “We treat our customers as we would our own friends, because wine and food are meant to be shared with loved ones.” says Diavatis.

For something a bit more exclusive, there is the Office SpeakEasy and Piano Lounge, located within The Loft. This extension of the low-key wine bar is an experience all its own, with a dress code. Built as a reconstruction of an underground saloon and brothel from the prohibition years, the Office SpeakEasy and Piano Lounge only seats a small number of people. Lucky guests who make a reservation can sip on premium spirits reminiscent of another time, and enjoy a delicious upscale dinner. The Loft Wine Bar & Restaurant and Office SpeakEasy and Piano Lounge are located at 290 First Street in Benicia. Reservations can be made by calling (707) 745-4200 or visiting speakeasybenicia.com.

Great for groups, Kimono Restaurant offers Teppanyaki cuisine and live entertainment. Enjoy watching the skilled maneuvers of Kimono chefs as they chop, flip, and create a delicious array of modern and traditional dishes on a hibachi grill located at each table.

Kimono’s chef tables seat eight, so you can experience dining in a group even if you don’t come with seven other people, and there is seating for smaller groups that doesn’t include the table-side show. Kimono Manager Omar Sidik shares, “Kimono is a fun restaurant to engage the senses. Come taste, and see the experience for yourself!” Kimono is located at 1654 East Second Street in Benicia. Check them out at kimonorestaurants.com.

Heritage Pantry & Spice has added a specialty deli that’s getting rave reviews for its artisanal meats and cheeses, olives, and other tasty foods. Located at 364 First Street, Heritage Pantry & Spice also offers regional and international spices that honor all of the flavors of the world. Stop in for a light lunch or afternoon snack. Owner Dominic Lalicata says, “After working in Italian specialty foods for over 13 years, I wanted to make all of the amazing seasonings and spices available in my own hometown. Benicia is rich in history and culture, so what better place to offer regional cooking ingredients. It wasn’t long before our customers wanted more from us, so we opened the deli to expand the Heritage Pantry & Spice experience.” Heritage Pantry & Spice also offers party trays and catering. For more information visit them online at heritagepantryandspice.com.

Start the year off right with an organic juice from Juice House CO, newly located at 611 First Street. Owned by three sisters, all of the products are sourced locally and beyond for the highest quality and utmost freshness. Stop in and try a unique blend for cleansing or detoxifying.

Restaurant Week

January is Restaurant Month in California. With Benicia Main Street celebrating Restaurant Week January 20-27, this is the perfect time to try a new place. Whether you fancy a cozy dinner for two or a festive dinner for eight or more, Benicia has plenty of options.

This winter Benicia will welcome Bella Siena, a bar and restaurant inspired by classic Italian and innovative Californian cuisine. In the spring, One House Bakery will be making its debut offering breads, pastries, soups and salads. Hannah, the family baker, comes with a five-star resume baking in celebrated Napa Valley eateries, such as Bouchon Bakery and the French Laundry. And in February, we are looking forward to Sprankle’s Village Deli re-opening at their new location at 155 West Military East Street in Solano Square, where guests will be able to dine in for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For a full list of Benicia restaurants and shops, please go to visitbenicia.org/businesses. Bon Appétit!