Turlock, the second biggest town in Stanislaus County, California, is a place that blends relaxed rural living with a liberal learning environment, thanks mainly to the California State University Stanislaus. There’s plenty to do here, including many opportunities to shop and dine, though it’s the Carnegie Arts Center that is the main draw.

The dining scene here is fresh and vibrant, with many Mexican and Italian restaurants in Turlock serving up specialty fare, as well as good old American diners serving comfort food.

And if you’re looking to find the best restaurants in Turlock, CA, you’re in the right place.

Below we introduce you to our favorite restaurants in Turlock, and show exactly why they’re worth visiting. Expect live music, inventive dishes, al fresco dining and more. Let’s dig in!

margarita glass on table

Eight Restaurants in Turlock, CA, That Locals Love!

1. First & Main

Classy experimental eatery with an eclectic menu that’s bound to impress.

The interiors of First & Main are clean, simple and classy – this is a place where the food (as we’ll explain soon) really does the talking. Tables and booths are available for dining with both wooden and upholstered seating available, but there’s also a patio outside with seating available too.

But one specialty of this place is their separate communal table where guests are invited to dine with others and share small plates. That’s pretty unique amongst the restaurants in Turlock.

Chef Leroy Walker’s 35 years of experience is behind the curated menu here. With input from his wife, spice expert Mohini Singh, he has put together a menu that is constantly changing but features Asian flare with fusion food and restaurant classics. Simply put, expect some great tastes here.

The crispy spring rolls at First & Main is one dish that has people coming back for more. Wonton wrappers filled with mushroom, napa cabbage, carrots and scallion, fried to crisp golden brown. Delicious.

The Angus skirt steak is another hit, with the oft-ignored cut of meat being given great treatment with an ancho chili rub before being grilled to perfection. Offered with a side of truffle fries, it is absolute decadence.

For those wishing to experiment a bit more, there is the Bombay chicken clay pot which features a spice forward butter chicken cooked with rice in a clay pot. The poke bowls and ramen bowls are not to be missed either.

Honestly, their menu is extremely interesting and you’ll have a hard time (in a good way) deciding what to order. A nice chilled Vietnamese coffee or a specialty cocktail from the full bar is a great way to cap your meal.

The restaurant has separate lunch and dinner timings and separate menus for each. Service here is attentive and there is only a short wait for food to arrive. If you’re looking for great drinks and exceptional food, First & Main is one of the best Turlock restaurants for you.

First & Main is open from Tuesday to Thursday for Lunch between noon to 3:00 p.m. and dinner from 3:30 to 8:00 p.m. On Friday and Saturday, Lunch is from noon to 3:00 p.m. and dinner from 3:30 to 9:30 p.m. They are closed on Sunday and Monday.

Address: 100 W Main St, Turlock, CA 95380

2. La Mo Café

Family-owned bistro that serves up Latin American dishes and often holds events.

La Mo Café is built around a courtyard that offers several seating options. Bright and with an open floor plan you will never feel too congested in this lovely place. The interiors are spotless and modern and you’ll feel like you’re dining in an upscale café.

Out front, it’s much more casual with throw cushions and benches. The courtyard itself has plenty of foliage to make the experience of dining outside more authentic. Bright umbrellas and paper decorations that are strung about give the place create a festive feel. It’s fun, it’s fresh and it’s a great place to grab a meal.

La Mo is a Latin inspired bistro that features seasonally driven menus provided for by local vendors. Everything is made fresh from the highest quality ingredients.

They serve breakfast and lunch with daily specials that they post on their social media feeds. The Machaca is a favorite here and comes with two eggs scrambled with onion, tomato and their famous pork carnitas served with black beans. It comes with a side of fresh fruit or roasted potatoes and a choice of flour, wheat or corn tortillas.

You also have to try the shrimp quesadilla which features peppers, onions, and Oaxaca cheese in a flour tortilla. Served with guacamole, crema and their special in-house spicy cream sauce. Finish your meal with a coffee off their menu that features many Latin American twists.

This place is really lively and there’s always something going on here. Like their musica and tapas events that feature fabulous craft cocktails, a five-course full-service menu and live music! Just follow their socials for details.

Service is efficient and while there may be a bit of wait time as everything is made from scratch, the freshness of the ingredients they use really stands out.

La Mo has everchanging hours, depending on the season with the restaurant and café operating at varying times. Call ahead to confirm!

Address: 310 E Main St # B, Turlock, CA 95380

3. Bistro 234

Bistro that specializes in delicious French inspired classics and American food.

You’ll love the chic interiors of this classy bistro. The brick walls add a rustic charm to the dining experience, where you’ll be enjoying delicious upscale fare served here. The few paintings that dot the walls provide a splash of color and add contrast, while curtains divide up the dining areas and make the table settings seem more intimate.

If you’re looking for a romantic lunch or dinner date venue, this is likely one of the best restaurants in Turlock for you.

There’s a mix of seating available with trendy wooden chairs and high stools. But you can also dine on the patio outside to take in the fresh air and enjoy a true al fresco experience. And as that area has heaters, not even cold weather can stop you from enjoying fantastic French-inspired cuisine while watching the world go by.

Bistro 234 was opened in 2001 to bring approachable French fine dining to the Turlock restaurant scene. They use only the freshest of ingredients and subsequently all their dishes are flavor-packed.

There are separate lunch and dinner menus with the lunch menu featuring sandwiches and the dinner menu, hors d’oeuvres. Fresh yet classic, the restaurant urges you to drop by for anything from a quick nibble to a full five course meal.

We’ve heard nothing but good things about the bacon wrapped scallops here, which features pan seared scallops with lemon, white wine, garlic butter, shallots and tomatoes.

The New York strip is another must order and comes with a mushroom demi-glace, garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed seasonal vegetables. And if you have room, then definitely cap your meal off with a tiramisu.

The bistro also has a cellar with a wine room (of course!) that can be booked for special occasions such as luncheons or receptions.

The place does fill up, especially over the weekend, so you’re encouraged to make reservations. The bistro is open from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and from 11:00 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday. It is closed on Sunday.

Address: 234 E Main St, Turlock, CA 95380

4. Angelini’s Italian Restaurant

Specialty restaurant that serves traditional Italian fare.

Angelini’s is an unpretentious little Italian restaurant with a cozy feel that has been delighting the citizens of Turlock for decades.

While they have seating inside, there are also a few tables out on the porch to dine al fresco. The décor is minimalistic, with a few paintings hung from the walls and fairy-esque lights strung from the ceiling. It’s a cosy place, and the classic red and white checkered table cloths they use will transport you overseas to an Italian bistro. Overall, it’s warm, welcoming and great for a group to dine in.

All the dishes on the menu use the freshest ingredients, are cooked to order, and draw from family recipes. So expect an authentic taste of Italy here at one is easily one of the best restaurants in Turlock.

The batter fried asparagus is quite a treat and a simple way to start off your meal. For mains, the chicken parmigiana is a hit with the people of Turlock and comes with chicken that is breaded and baked with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce, then served with spaghetti. An eggplant parm version is also available.

The house special cod is also delightful – lightly pan seared cod over spinach and risotto in a light lemon caper cream sauce. They even run a special on steak of the day, just call ahead and enquire.

On top of that the portion sizes are huge and very filling. Apart from appetizers, entrées and pasta, they also do pizzas, calzones and grinders. It’s the perfect place for a quick bite or a full meal.

The restaurant also does pasta by the pan with 24 hours advance notice and for a minimum of 8 portions – great for that next potluck!

Service here is warm and friendly, which isn’t a surprise, especially considering the restaurant has been serving generations of families.

Hours of operation are from 11:30 a.m. all days except Monday (when it’s closed) to 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday and 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is also closed between 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Address: 2251 Geer Rd, Turlock

close up photo of person holding pizza

5. Memo’s Cocina

Classy restaurant that offers modern interpretations of Mexican food and live jazz on Wednesdays.

Memo’s boasts a very stylish ambiance, one that wouldn’t be out of place in big city San Francisco with a line of hipsters trying to get in!

There’s a decided industrial aspect to the interiors with metal being a prominent feature and a stripped ceiling that displays vents and piping. The spot lighting is muted with only the bar having ambient mood light making it the focus. Casks stick out of one section of the wall and modern paintings are also found around the restaurant.

Seating is comfortable with wide armed chairs and wooden tables. The patio outside that wraps around the restaurant is lovely to dine in as well. For us, Memo’s has to be one of the best Turlock restaurants for after-dinner drinks and food with friends.

Owner Karina Ramirez has curated a menu which is traditional in its roots but modern in its execution. There are separate menus for brunch, lunch and dinner, so what’s on offer may change depending on when you visit.

For a bit of a spectacle, order the guacamole, which is prepared tableside, from fresh avocado, cilantro, tomatoes, jalapenos, onions and lime. You also have to try the Tacos Revolcados, which comes with three corn tortillas filled with pico de gallo and melted jack cheese with your choice of protein.

We heartily recommend the carnitas as that’s been a hit with the locals of Turlock. Their special which they advertise is the Chile Relleno En Nogada which is a relleno stuffed with beef picadillo, almonds, apples and peaches smothered in a walnut cream sauce and pomegranate. A must try!

There is generally a bit of a wait time here, so calling ahead is advised. Outside of that service is relatively quick and refills do come on time.

Visit them Wednesday evening where they have live jazz music! And why not enjoy that jazz with one of the other 100 mezcal selections they serve here. It’s stuff like that drink selection and jazz that really makes this place stand out as one of the best restaurants in Turlock, CA.

Memo’s is open from Monday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Brunch is served over the weekend from 10 to 3.

Address: 139 W Main St, Turlock, CA 95380

6. Cindy’s Restaurant

American & Mexican breakfast and lunch in a diner atmosphere.

Cindy’s has a slightly muted old school diner vibe mixed in with modern elements. There’s booths available for seating as any diner should have, along with plenty of tables, with some in a semi-outdoor section where fairy lights hang from the ceiling.

There’s also al fresco dining out front with umbrellas. You can even pull up a chair at the pantry. The décor is minimalist and while classic diners would probably have more vibrant colors and neon signs, Cindy’s has opted to go with more simple tones. It’s a familiar, warm ambience perfect to tuck into that hearty breakfast. And it’s their breakfast which has earned Cindy’s a spot on out list of the best restaurants in Turlock.

Cindy’s specializes in hearty breakfast staples and serves everything from the classic two egg, to pancakes to omelets and even – as a special treat – they serve up Mexican breakfast.

You have to try the Chile Verde Omelet which is a three-egg omelet with tender chunks of pork, house made Verde sauce and topped with melted Jack cheese. The pancakes here are also really great for a slightly sweeter breakfast option.

Don’t ignore the lunch menu though, its quite massive and features soups, salads, grill items, sandwiches, American and Mexican entrées. One thing that also sets them apart is the kids and seniors menus that feature smaller portions.

The grilled pork chops are quite popular as a lunch option too, and feature two juicy grilled chops, expertly seasoned and served with grilled onions. The spicy roast beef melt is another great option with roast beef, melted Swiss, onions, jalapenos and tomatoes between tow slices of sourdough.

The service here is friendly and attentive and the servers and owner make you feel right at home. Small wonder then, that locals have been regulars here for ages. Food comes out quick and you never have to ask for a refill.

Do try to get there early over Friday and Saturday as the place fills up fast. Hours of operation are from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday with the restaurant remaining shut on Sunday.

Address: 526 N Golden State Blvd, Turlock, CA 95380

7. Table 26

Upscale, classy restaurant serving American food with flair.

This swanky joint’s play with light achieves a lot to pull you in. During the day, large floor to ceiling windows allow for a lot of natural brightness, while in the evening the muted lighting offers a more intimate dining experience.

The natural, raw ambience of Table 26 works well with the minimalist décor and their high vaulted ceiling offers a sense of space. Furniture is in the form of upholstered chairs with linen covered tables. But there’s seating options available on the outside patio as well so you can fine al fresco.

Expect fantastic American fare and steaks here, but often done with an international twist. Start your meal off with the calamari fritti which offers up some great Asian flavors. Lightly fried calamari with an Asian cucumber salad, house made soy glaze sauce, sriracha aioli and wasabi. It’s perfectly light, crisp and very flavorful.

For mains, you have to try the grilled ribeye. It features a 12 oz certified Angus beef ribeye grilled to your liking, with roasted garlic butter, served with a choice of baked or mashed potatoes and a side of green beans. The classic burger is another hit with locals and has a twist that comes in the form of thousand island dressing.

The service here is top-notch which isn’t surprising considering its an establishment that oozes class. It’s a great place to host events or parties.

You won’t have to wait for refills and food comes out quite quickly. Even if it doesn’t, you can always peruse their cocktail menu which has quite a few fan-favorite concoctions.

Table 26 is open 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, with hours extending up to 9:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. They operate from noon to 9:00 p.m. on Sunday and are closed on Monday.

Address: 2600 Geer Rd, Turlock, CA 95382

8. Villa Napoli Restaurant

Mom n Pop joint serving hearty Italian fare.

You’ll probably notice the wine rack behind the bar when you first enter Villa Napoli, which proudly displays all the vintages on offer – that’s when you’ll know you’re in a proper Italian restaurant!

There are limited tables here, but that really adds to the coziness and even romantic feeling of the place. Seating is comfortable with simple upholstered chairs and tables, but there’s also seats by the bar if you fancy an aperitif.

The menu at Villa Napoli does Italian but with hearty portions. There’s salads and anti-pasta, along with pasta, and entrees which can all be customized with your choice of protein.

To begin with we think you should go for the meatball trio which has three homemade meatballs, each one topped with pesto, alfredo and marinara sauce, so you can get a sampling of the sauces here. After all, Italian food is often about the sauce.

The linguine pescatore is also really popular and comes with clams, scallops and shrimp in a choice of marinara or white wine sauce. For something a little more filling, we recommend the lamb shank that comes braised in root vegetables and white wine with gremolata sauce and served with pasta and vegetables.

And don’t forget their tiramisu! Even if you’ve filled up on mains, this is a classic dessert worth going for!

The service here is exceptional with the owner himself often around to greet people with a smile and make sure everyone is comfortable. It really helps develop the environment of a family restaurant.

Hours of operation are from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday and Wednesday with a gap in the middle on Tuesday when its closed.

Thursday and Sunday they operate from 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. with closing hours extending to 9:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Drop by for one of the best Italian restaurants in Turlock!

Address: 1102 Geer Rd, Turlock, CA 95380