Locke Garden Chinese Restaurant
Don and I learned about the historic town of Locke, during a recent visit to Sacramento.
The historic town is located in the California Delta, about 30 minutes south of Sacramento. We ended our memorable visit to the town, with a sweet little meal at Locke Garden.
Saturday in Locke
In July, Don and I visited our son and daughter-in-law in Sac, when they asked if we'd heard about the Chinese town of Locke. We hadn't, but we were intrigued.
We arrived on a warm Sunday morning. The little 10-acre town was very peaceful. We wandered and wondered about what this community was like, when it was established in 1915.
Locke is the only existing town in America, built and inhabited almost exclusively by Chinese. At one time the town was bustling with markets, canneries, shipping wharves, a post office and an opera house.
There were also slaughter houses, brothels, a speakeasy and gambling houses. It was amazing to see how little most of these building had changed, over time. Sadly there are only a few Chinese residents left, but luckily the community has been preserved.
We spent some time in the Museum Visitor Center, which was located in what had been a boarding house, for the seasonal labor workers.
We met photographer (and Locke resident) James Motlow, after we bought his book Bitter Melon, in the gift shop. This fascinating book includes photos he took of the Locke community, about 30 years ago. Now that I've read the book, I have so many more questions.
While we explored the town, we worked up an appetite. As far as I know, there are only 2 places to eat in Locke. Al the Wops, was on the Main Street. It looked like an intriguing old bar, (offering steaks and cocktails) but it had an awful name.
The place had some history for sure. Al Adami opened the first non-Chinese business in Locke, in 1934. Today, I think the place caters to bikers, which seems extra odd in this sweet community. But Al's was closed for a private affair.
This was our other option and this one made a lot more sense, in this historic Chinese town.
The sign on the side of the building was enough to lure me. I wonder when that sign was first hung?
First Building in Locke
This building was a little hidden. We found it between the Main Street and the River Road. Evidently it was the first building in Locke. It opened as a beer hall, in 1912.
The sign said the restaurant opened at 11, but the dear woman who seemed to be running things herself, asked us to come back later. I believe her husband had a toothache and she was a little behind.
We returned and entered the colorful restaurant/shop. There wasn't an option for inside dining, due to Covid. But we studied the menu and placed an order for carryouts.
I so wanted to peek around, to see what was for sale on the shelves, but the dining tables were moved to make a protective barrier. We paid up and headed outside to wait.
Dining Under the Metal Roof
The old building looked more like a storefront from the old west. We found a couple tables on the porch under the tin roof.
The old crooked tree in front added lots of character. I wonder if that tree was there, when the old beer hall was first built.
Lunch in a Box
The dear woman who took our order (and most likely cooked it) finally arrived on the porch carrying a cardboard box.
We pulled the Styrofoam containers, plates and plasticware out of the box. The food would have been tastier if it hadn't been served on Styrofoam, but we were happy to have our freshly cooked feast.
Our Moo Shu Pork was a treat. The Kung Pao Chicken was good as well. But, next time we need to remember to order rice.
As we enjoyed our little porch feast, we peered up the wooden walkway and wondered about the buildings beyond. It looked like we were peeking into the " backyards" of the 2-story buildings that faced Main Street. I wanted to wander up those steps and snoop.
But that seemed pretty intrusive, so I didn't.
Instead, I let my zoom lens peek up there for me. What a sweet old neon sign! What pretty purple flowers, growing over the red pipe.
Not Enough Time
We clearly didn't have enough time to absorb this wonderful community.
The pandemic also limited our ability to interact. We definitely need to return to Locke! Who knows, maybe the Moon Cafe will reopen someday and we can have another dining adventure!
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The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.