Imagine walking down Benicia’s friendly First Street and finding yourself hankering for a bit of lunch. You are in for a tasty surprise at Crossroads Smokehouse & Deli, located at 333 First Street in downtown Benicia. You can have your choice of barbequed or smoked hand cut meats, or a variety of sandwiches like hamburgers, cheeseburgers, grilled chicken, chicken club, hot or mild link sandwiches, or something you seldom see on the west coast, a decidedly delicious cheesesteak, replete with wonderfully melty provolone cheese, and green and red peppers. This is pure heaven on a toasted bun.
Crossroads Smokehouse & Deli, true to its name, also has a fully stocked deli with imported and local cheeses from Sonoma and Petaluma, including goat and sheep cheeses. You can purchase meats that have been smoked on the premises including pulled pork, barbequed beef, brisket, full racks of pork and beef ribs, and chicken leg quarters. Sides that are all freshly made on the premises include a classic potato salad, a redskin potato salad, house salads, barbequed beans, seasonal pasta salad, macaroni salad, and seasonal fruit salad.
Chef and owner, Dominick La Licata, focuses on barbeque featuring made from scratch entrees, smoked on-site meats, and salads that include local produce.
He recently described the establishment as “a wine country barbeque/charcuterie. For summertime we have created what we call a picnic basket. You choose a couple of meats, a couple of cheeses, some cured meats like prosciutto, different imported salami, olives, maybe some fig jam and some fresh bread. You can order this and create your own picnic elsewhere or hang out here at the patio and enjoy the music and good weather and perhaps a glass of wine or a beer.”
Chef La Licata personally smokes all the meats to perfection, and it took him about a month to achieve the smoking of the brisket; too little smoking and the brisket risks toughness, and over-smoking makes the meat fall apart too much. Chef also grinds the hamburger in house, and slices the meat used for cheesesteaks as well, which explains why they are so delicious. No prepackaged or frozen food will be found here. In keeping with the focus on locally grown produce and cheeses, he uses locally prepared barbeque sauce made in Benicia as well as other locally produced sauces, hot sauces, pickles, mustard and olives. Crossroads Smokehouse & Deli offers catering for all occasions including weddings, parties, and meetings.
The welcoming outside patio draws all sorts of people, families, couples, date night duos, and dog lovers. The delicious food, attentive and cheerful staff and attractive patio area combine to deliver an enjoyable meal.
Live music adds to the fun twice a week. The music on Thursday differs from Saturday because Thursday’s crowd consists of many Benicia Farmers Market devotees who may enjoy relaxing with a drink or early dinner after their shopping is completed. Thursday’s music will be comprised of groups and solo artists, regulars who have been playing at Crossroads Smokehouse & Deli for a while. Saturday’s music is more low-key with live music during mid-afternoon, featuring solo artists and small groups that range from blues and jazz to classic rock, and Celtic music.
All in all, Crossroads Smokehouse & Deli is a local favorite that is not to be missed. Drop in sometime soon to enjoy the sunshine, local color and outstanding food. You will not be disappointed.