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Sep 5, 2006 09:34 PM

Temecula Area Eats...a Few Quick Notes

I was down in Temecula area over Labor Day weekend to visit family. Temecula has been a pretty frustrating area to try and find good chow, but here are a few notes about what we like:

The Swing Inn Café:
We have been here twice for breakfast and really like it. It is a little diner style café located in Old Town Temecula and has been in operation since sometime in the 1800s. It is a no-frills place, but has a lot of character. And it is cheap! They have breakfast specials served all day. My two hotcakes and two egg breakfast was $4.99. Hubby had their chicken fried steak with potatoes, eggs, hash browns, and toast for $7.99!! Service is efficient and this place is popular with bikers, so there can be a bit of a wait during peak times. We were there on Labor Day, and even though they were busy we were sat in 15 minutes.
Swing Inn Cafe
28676 Old Town Front Street
Temecula, CA 92590
(951) 676-2321

Temecula Olive Oil Company:
We stopped in here to sample some of their olive oils and we really like them. I think that the climate in the Temecula area must be similar to that of the Mediterrean area and the olives just love it there. We like the basil olive oil and the citrus olive oil especially. I have been using the basil olive oil all summer long over tomatoes, on toast, on salads, in salad dressing, and on caprese salads and it is a winner! It has a ton of basil flavor that really comes out when it is slightly warmed, like over fresh cooked pasta. So yummy! They also have local honeys there, but we haven’t really tried any of those yet.
Temecula Olive Oil Company
42030 Main St
Temecula, CA 92590
(951) 693-0607

Rosa’s Café and Tortilla Factory:
We have been here a few times and while it is the very definition of gringo Mexican food, it is not bad. I wouldn’t really recommend it as a “must-go”, but it isn’t bad for what it is. They only have beef or chicken options, but the chicken is actually good. It tastes like it has been grilled and spiced with some smoky herbs. They have a decent salsa bar and the sopapillas are good.

28134 Jefferson Ave
Temecula, CA 92590
(951) 506-5800

Wouldn’t mind a few suggestions from area hounds about what they like!

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  1. I like Seoul Galbi for korean food. They make a mean Bibimbap.

    Fish House Veracruz is also excellent -- although a little pricey (get the fish soup). Bread is really good and I love the mesquite flavor imparted into the fish.

    Only go to Claim Jumper's for the Zucchini.

    Peoney's --Chinese --Only get the Moo Shu or Hot and sour Soup, do both of those dishes incredibly.

    El Taco Nazo (Now called Senor Baja) has mind-altering fish taco's. THe best period. Mon and wed only 99 cents. 1.29 regularly.

    Tacos Tijuana in Murrieta is the only place in the area that makes their tortilla's fresh and has an Al Pastor spit.

    Right around the corner from where you were...on a side street of Old Town is the most authentic Mexican you will find. Taqueria Temecula. Best pollo asado and sopes i have ever had and incredible Tortas (try lengua).

    Finally, I work at a Japanese restaurant in Murrieta called Himawari (Sunflower in Japanese). It is the only Japanese-owned japanese restaurant in the area (if that makes sense) and probably the only one whose main focus is not sushi (few rolls). We specialize in Ramen, the soup bases and noodles are actually shipped to us from japan, and we have bento, tempura, hiyashi chuka, udon, yakisoba, and donburi style dishes. What we do - we do well. The owners are my heros -- truly the most devoted hard working people I have ever met.

    7 Replies
    1. re: kare_raisu

      Thanks so much for your reply, I look forward to trying the places you mention. I would love to stop by the ramen shop sometime, good ramen is hard to find!

      1. re: glazebrookgirl

        No problem, but as far as food goes, temecula is pretty dim, few gems - but few and far in between. The customer base out here unfortunately is attracted by the consistency chain places offer them.

        1. re: kare_raisu

          I wanted to let you know that I did visit Himawari and loved my yakisoba dish, the noodles were quite good! It was a little too hot for ramen and we were informed upon leaving that they had sold the business (this was a couple of months ago). I am wondering if the new owners will keep things the same or not?

          1. re: glazebrookgirl

            Awesome - I am glad you enjoyed it and reported back here! Working at Himawari was a great experience for me.
            And they do have the best yakisoba which is a hard dish to perfect- you have to be a saute master!

            I did not know that they sold it - wow...
            The restaurant is a true husband and wife labor of love.

            I no longer live in the area but if you could do a follow up I would appreciate it!

            1. re: kare_raisu

              I will follow up next time I am in the area to see what happened to the place. Hopefully the new owners will keep it the same.

              1. re: glazebrookgirl

                I dont think so - when I worked there - there was almost constant solicitation by local koreans to buy it. They we eager to get a liqour liscence - hence my doubts.

      2. re: kare_raisu

        El Taco Nazo (Senor Baja, whatever) is a small chain with outposts in the San Gabriel Valley and Gateway Cities -- they are worthy competitors to Tacos Baja Ensenada.

      3. If you like Indian food, A Taste of India (off Jefferson- same shopping center as Sizzler) is pretty good. They have a lunch buffet during the week so you can have a bit of everything. Otherwise, their tandoori chicken is very tasty, as is the rice pudding for dessert.

        I have to agree about Temecula seriously lacking in the food department. It's the land of the chains, unfortunately. But, at least they have restaurants. I live in Lake Elsinore and we were pretty excited when they finally opened a Chiles.

        1. Has anyone tried the Arriba Grill -- a new place on Main Street opened by a former chef at the Biltmore Hotel in LA? Food is a mix of cultures with a strong Caribbean influence. A definite change of pace for Old Town Temecula!

          2 Replies
          1. re: rickiek

            Haven't tried that place yet, will keep in mind for future visits! Thanks for the update.

            1. re: glazebrookgirl

              Here are two of my favorite Temecula spots:

              Milano's Delicatessen
              32240 Hwy 79 South
              (in the Home Depot/Staples Shopping Center)
              This is a family owned and operated restaurant - recently under new ownership. They serve excellent pizzas - the bbq chicken is my fave. They also have pasta, wraps, sandwiches, salads, desserts, a deli counter with Boars Head Brand meats and cheeses, and they cater. Friday nights they have live classic rock outside on the patio. They have a large import beer selection - you can even get beer to go! Really a great place to hang out with your family and friends.

              Akamoo's Island Sushi
              29760 Rancho California Rd.
              (corner of Rancho and Lyndie)
              The best sushi you will find in Temecula - and honestly any other city I have been to. Chef Akamoo blends Hawaiian and Japanese flavors for a very unique taste. They serve omakase style sushi - which means chefs choice - so no menus here. You just tell the chef what types of fish you like or dislike, and he will make you something special. If you don't like it, you don't pay for it. The poke was my favorite dish - blue fin tuna on top of a bed of rice, with onions and a special sauce. They also make really great saketini cocktails!

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. Wrong Rosa's! The Rosa's directly across the street from the olive oil co (NO RELATION to the chain Rosa's you were at on jefferson) is wonderful. It's called Rosa's Cantina.

              Also in Old Town - the Baily family (of Baily winery) has Baily's Old Town Front Street with casual streetfront dining downstairs and a fancier place above. Great food, great wine, very good atmosphere.

              I like this new(er) place for pizza -- Spuntino's - in the shopping center on the corner of Rancho California Road and Meadows Parkway (with Baron's.) it is owned by a restaurant family in town who also own two other restaurants - Gourmet Italia and in Murrieta Gourmet Italia North. This place is teeny tiny but there are tables & chairs outdoors (shares a patio with a Starbucks that has outdoor seating) and their pizza is great. They also have a small deli/market and a counter with to-go Italian deli food.

              Also -- new(ish) Italian -- Francesca's Italian Kitchen - on Hwy 79S (recently renamed Temecula Parkway) a mile or two east of Hwy 15. Very good food! Great wines. My neighbor is from Italy and he reps coffee & espresso so he knows all the inside dish on what Italian places are good and he ran over to tell me to try this place. I'd already discovered it and we both are like, "Why is everyone in town going to Romano's Macaroni and Olive Garden when we have this place?" It'll probably go out of business because nobody knows about it, unfortunately. it is so good!

              1 Reply
              1. re: drucie

                Went to Spuntino's Friday. Food was great. Best pizza, very fresh.