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Heats up local dining scene

The fire pits atop Wildfire Public House not only heat up the nights in Modesto, they are an indication of environment that awaits visitors to this eatery.

Owner John Ismail wanted to create something a little bit different for people with this restaurant that would be “a final destination” where people can “come in and feel comfortable.”

Located at 1533 Oakdale Rd. in Modesto, Wildfire Public House features a “Nuevo California fusion” type of cuisine, according to Ismail, with a creative menu that is filled with a variety of dishes.

“We wanted to create a very warm, inviting environment with more of a big city feel that I think we were lacking around here,” stated Ismail. “We kind of went out on a limb as far as our food and our menu goes. We worked almost eight to nine months on our menu with a lot of different chefs and celebrity chefs.”

Some guest favorites from the appetizer menu are the Asparagus Cigars, wonton wrapped stuffed asparagus with a tarragon cream cheese, and lemon pepper; the Ahi Tuna Tower that is sashimi grade tuna marinated with ginger soy vinaigrette, fresh tomatoes, avocado, wasabi cream and fried wonton skins; Drunken Mussels with chorizo, fresh garlic, shallots, stout broth and grilled baguettes; Edamame tossed in a roasted garlic onion sauce; and Lamb Lollipops that are grilled with chimichurri pesto.

The restaurant is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner and on Saturday and Sundays they offer an a la carte brunch with items like the Wildfire Pancakes, Chicken ‘n Waffles and Avocado Toast. They offer lunch specials like the two for $12 Monday through Friday menu that features soups, sandwiches, salads and pastas.

On the dinner menu some of the popular items are the Filet Mignon with a wild mushroom demi-glace, the Roasted Garlic New York Steak, the grilled Atlantic Salmon, and the Rack of Lamb served up with rosemary baby potatoes, chimichurri pesto, and asparagus.

The massive bar has over 20 beers on tap, wine options, and custom cocktails made with top shelf alcohol like the It’s Lit Margarita that is truly on fire and made with Casamigos Blanco tequila infused with jalapenos that will light your mouth on fire.

Ismail started off as a bus boy in a restaurant many years ago and the business became his passion. He has been in the industry for two decades and Wildfire is his 15th restaurant. The name was inspired by the fact that he wanted to create a warm environment, hence the fire elements on the interior and exterior of the restaurant. Although the interior fire elements are not real, the water vapor with red L.E.D. lighting gives a realistic warm glow.

“Our menu is always evolving based on popular trends in the food industry,” explained Ismail. 

There is a fire room that can hold about 40 guests for parties, meetings, or any private event. The patio can host 50-plus people and they also offer catering for events.

“We are here to make sure that every guest is taken care of like they are our own family,” said Assistant General Manager Michael Youkana. “We go the extra mile not only with the food but with our service as well. I think that we really go above and beyond to take care of our guests and make them feel like they are at home.”