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Restaurants in Redding, Dunsmuir, and Chico

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A friend of mine driving to Seattle from Los Angeles planned to stop in Redding and asked me to recommend a place to eat. The problem is that I’ve never eaten in Redding, so I couldn’t speak from personal experience. But I scoured various food websites, including Chowhound, and other sources of information about restaurants in Redding, Dunsmuir, and Chico, including a New York Times article on Redding. I thought I would share the results of my research in the hope that local Chowhounds, or Chowhounds who have actual experience eating in Redding, will tell me where my research misses the mark and which of my recommendations are okay. Here’s the list:

Jack’s Grill, located downtown on California St., is an old standby hole-in-the-wall kind of place, with bingo-parlor-style furniture and a large local crowd eating red meat and drinking hard liquor. Jack’s opened in 1938 and still going strong for good steaks at reasonable prices. It has its original tin ceiling from 1938, a 1944 cash register, iceberg lettuce salads and steaks. It is hugely popular with locals and, according to a 2006 New York Times article on Redding, if you don’t arrive by 4:30 pm, plan to wait an hour or so before you sit down. If you want something other than steak or something a little more upscale, I’d go to Maritime Seafood & Grill or Moonstone Bistro. Moonstone Bistro opened in June 2007, so it wasn’t yet open at the time of the 2006 New York Times article, but gets high reviews on food websites like Yelp. It uses fresh, seasonal local produce and free-range meats. Its menu includes lightly battered and crisply fried calamari with a spicy chili oil, tender braised lamb shank, and a beef filet with an herbed butter sauce, mashed potatoes, and a rosemary wonton that has drawn raves The New York Times’ article described Maritime Seafood & Grill as “the city’s newest and nicest restaurant.” Examples of the French-style California cuisine are eggplant salad with salmon mousse in mustard sauce, duck paté, grilled salmon in lemon saffron sauce, and free-range chicken stuffed with gorgonzola butter. Another place that popped up during my research was Vintage Wine Bar where, according to a Chowhound review, the appetizers and deserts are better than the entrees (as I have found to be the case at many restaurants). One Chowhound who lives in Redding recommended Racha Noodle, located on Highway 273 South at the intersection with California Street, for good Thai food. One dish there that received special mention was Khao Soy, a spicy curried soup with chicken, rice noodles, bean sprouts, a hard-boiled egg, and veggies. There are lots of Mexican restaurants in Redding. El Mariachi’s generally gets high marks. Recommended dishes include Chile Colorado and Machaca, Los Gordos Tacqueria also comes almost universally praised for tacos, burritos, and other authentic Mexican food, especially the carnitas and al pastor. It also has a salsa bar with various types of salsas and different degrees of heat. Some folks still rave about the crab at Buz’s Crab Stand, but most agree that this once-revered place has slipped in quality over the years.

For breakfast, the New York Times recommended Country Kitchen and Yaks Koffee Shop. Of the two, Yaks gets better reviews, but mostly for lunch. I checked its website and the breakfast menu isn’t large, but has some interesting breakfast sandwiches (choice of panini, burrito, bagel, or biscuit) like Chicken Chipotle and the Texas Manhandler (eggs, cheddar, bacon, and Texas sauce), oatmeal with cranberries, blueberries, and pecans, and two kinds of quiche, a garden veggie quiche and quiche Lorraine. Yaks gets high marks for its ambience with lots of open space and some interesting art. Country Kitchen has a more extensive breakfast menu, serving scrapple, corned beef hash and eggs (one of my personal faves if the hash is any good) and linguica sausage, along with breakfast standards like oatmeal, eggs, and hashbrowns. On the food websites like Yelp, however, it gets very mixed reviews. Déjà Vu, mentioned in the New York Times article for lunch, also serves breakfast with housemade biscuits, fresh squeezed orange juice, and a big selection of omelets, pancakes, etc. Blackbear Diner, a chain with 40 locations in the Western U.S., has a view of Mt. Shasta from the dining room. It gets pretty high marks for its breakfast and lunch fare, especially the country fried steak and eggs and biscuits and gravy. The extensive breakfast menu also features homemade corned beef hash and eggs, Portuguese linguica and eggs, 7-grain almond granola pancakes, fresh squeezed orange juice, and lots of other options.

In Dunsmuir, 40 miles north of Redding, one of the recommended places to eat is Sensthongs, featuring highly rated Northeastern Thai {Isaan) cuisine). Senthong’s also owns a music venue down the street, Sengthong’s Blue Sky Room, with live music and a lighter version of the restaurant menu. Other recommendations include Café Maddalena for Mediterranean cuisine in a rustic wood-paneled dining room with an open kitchen, and Cornerstone Bakery & Café, which gets high marks for breakfast and lunch with breakfast fare like omelets, applewood-smoked bacon, banana-pecan French toast, chai pancakes, and buckwheat pancakes, and lunch fare like a salmon melt sandwich (fillet of salmon, avocado, and a caper aioli).

There’s a place in Chico called Red Tavern that many think is great. It features locally grown, seasonal organic produce and meats and a Mediterranean influenced cuisine. Chico is south of Redding and Red Bluff, and about 20 miles east of the I-5.

Any comments, criticisms, or other input will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

I

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  1. I recommend Senthongs and Cornerstone, both are excellent. Never had anything chow worthy in Redding. Senthongs is as good as just about anything I have had in the Bay area, fresh ingredients and lovely nuanced flavors. Cornerstone also focuses on fresh food, and does have delicious breakfasts.

    2 Replies
    1. re: karenfinan

      Thanks. Somewhere in my research, I can't remember where, someone else suggested skipping Redding and heading for Dunsmuir.

      1. re: Tom Armitage

        Agree completely, also just six miles north of Dunsmuir is Mt. Shasta, Trinity Cafe, the Piemont, Lilly's, and Casa Ramos for their seafood molcajete.

    2. In my opinion Lily's has really gone downhill, never eat there anymore. If you want a REALLY good burger at lunch time (only open for lunch), there is a place in Yreka, called GoldRush Burger. Absolutely not fancy, but homemade onion rings from real onions, excellent fries and wonderful juicy burgers. Its on main st, between second and third
      I-5exits for Yreka

      1 Reply
      1. re: karenfinan

        I had the same feeling about Lily's last visit, would visit one of the other three in Mt. Shasta or even drive down to Dunsmuir next time.

        PS Curious about your dressing for raw kale (on your MyChow page). Have you posted it on the home cooking board, and if not would you kindly? TIA