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Dec 7, 1998 03:12 PM

Modesto, CA

  • g

Yes, you can find good food away from the urban
centers. Modesto is a medium-sized city (182,000) in
the middle of California's Central Valley, with
agrarian roots which it has been growing away from.

I'll use this thread to report on some of the culinary
opportunities here.

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  1. g
    george osner

    Tokyo Express

    I just had lunch from the TE, a nice, unpretentious
    lunch spot in downtown Modesto. They feature a variety
    of both Chinese and Japanese lunch dishes. George, the
    owner and host, takes your order and relays it in
    Chinese to the cook just behind a curtain back of the
    counter, and soon a steaming plate with your order
    appears. George takes the time to know his regular
    customers names and the service is good.

    Today I had curry don--curried vegetables and thin
    strips of beef served over steamed rice. i know
    Japanese curry is really low class, but I like it--it's
    really sort of a curry-flavored gravy. Onions, carrots,
    potatoes, and beef--very nice, warm and filling for a
    cold day. This dish is accompanied by a small
    container of shredded pickle, and a steaming bowl of
    very tasty miso soup.

    A great lunch for under 5 bucks.

    1. Paper Moon is a nice place for lunch or dinner. Only
      about a month old, I think they've got the hang of it
      now. The service the first week was a bit sketchy.

      The menu is Chinese with a southeast aisian touch. I
      particularly enjoy the General Chu's chicken--good and
      spicy, and nicely crunchy.

      1. Pacifica Grill

        You can get some really excellent Mexican food in
        CA--after all, we share a border with Mexico, and even
        here many hundred miles north of the border, a
        significant fraction of the population is of Mexican
        descent (about 1/4 here in Modesto).

        On the other hand, there are lots of "fusion"
        offerings, of which Pacifica Grill is a local
        exponent--this evening I had a Burrito de Camarones,
        loaded up with rice, black beans, very nice grilled
        camarones (shrimp), guacamole, sour cream, all wrapped
        in a decent flour tortilla. Elise, on the other hand,
        had a Grilled Snapper burrito--sundried tomato tortilla
        wrapped around lentil rice, black beans, avocado, the
        grilled fish, and afew other odds 'n ends. Quite
        tasty, though certainly not something you'd find in
        Mexico. They do have the decency not to refer to
        themselves as "mexican" at all. Located in McHenry
        Village, McHenry and Granger Ave's.

        1. The Trucks

          In my last post I mentioned Mexican-influenced
          California food. The Trucks are another story, they
          are the real thing. These are a series of large
          catering trucks specializing in huge burritos; really
          great food. I patronize "Tacos Jessica #2" or
          "Titanic", both found on 8th Street between H and I
          Streets downtown.

          This is about the best $3 lunch you will find. The
          burrito comes with choice of meats--carne asada, pollo,
          or a wide choice of "parts"--tongue, cheek scrapings,
          brains, tripe, etc. with a generous helping of meat
          comes all the rice and beans they can pack in. All
          served wrapped in foil and on a plate with radishes and
          pickled jalapenos. You can take it with you or eat on
          one of the incredibly raspy picnic tables chained next
          to the truck amid the street people, and wash it all
          down with a Jarritos. Yum!

          2 Replies
          1. re: george osner
            Barry Strugatz

            I'm not familiar with cheek scrapings...what are they
            like? What are they called in Spanish?


            1. re: Barry Strugatz

              It's called cabesa. Rather gristly for my taste.

              Jeremy says you can get this in NY at La Espiga in
              Corona on weekends.

          2. j
            Jeremy and George

            I'm in town visiting my parents this week, we all went
            to India Oven for lunch today -- one of three local
            Indian restaurants. Everyone enjoyed the meal. Seven
            people ordered dishes and shared around the table. The
            spice level was a bit higher than I expected it to be,
            though not high enough that I would call it "hot" -- my
            dad just said, "oh, now I thought it was fairly mild";
            I said "yeah, but I expected it to be very mild".
            Anyway, it seems like a happy day when you can get
            fairly good Punjabi Indian cuisine in this fairly
            out-of-the-way location. (Modesto has had a fairly high
            level of immigration from India in the past few years.)

            3 Replies
            1. re: Jeremy and George
              Jonathan Gold

              I realize this place isn't really near
              Modesto--on the way to Modesto perhaps,
              but not in Modesto--but I had a swell
              Basque boardinghouse meal a couple of
              weeks ago at Wool Growers in Los Banos,
              and this seemed like an appropriate enough
              place to post..

              I love the mammoth Basque-style feeds at
              the Noriega Hotel in Bakersfield, and this
              was definitely in that league, huge family-
              style dinners that include vast tureens of
              vegetable soup, stewed pinto beans, green
              salad with garlic dressing (iceberg, sure,
              but probably picked just hours before),
              broccoli with garlic mayonnaise, profoundly
              garlicky pork chops, roast beef, hand cut
              french fries (amazing) and a slab of blue
              cheese for dessert. (This was lunchtime:
              dinner probably would have also included a
              plate of spaghetti and a big platter of stew.)

              This cost something like $24 for three of us,
              and the red wine is included in the cost of
              the meal. You could do worse on the drive from
              Sacramento or San Francisco to L.A.--Los Banos
              is only 10 minutes off I-5.

              1. re: Jonathan Gold

                I realize that this post is very late, but I am new here and was reading the messages.
                I have been working in Modesto for a few years now and have found that the downtown Modesto restaurants have atmosphere, food and wine lists that are at least as good as any San Francisco or Sacramento restaurant.
                "Tresetti's World Caffe" actually has a wonderful wine shop next to the restaurant. One of the Gallo family members has built a restaurant in Modesto "Galletto" and a few others, "1505" and "15th st Bistro" get some pretty good reviews as well. There is a gormet pizza restaurant that has started doing prix fix menus on the weekend evenings.
                The Central valley is the bedroom comunity for the bay area and is becoming their Gormet kitchen as well.

              2. re: Jeremy and George

                Yes this is true- Modesto, California does have an increasing Indian population. I am from Vancouver, BC and I have many relatives living in Modesto, Ca. I am frequently in Modesto and as for Indian restaurants, I previously had no idea that there even was one in Modesto, let alone 3. Also I'd like to add that the majority of Indian people that have emmigrated and settled in Modesto are from The FIJI Islands (who actually are people from India that re-located to The Fiji Islands). As is my family. There is and Indian Restaurant in Fresno (Brahma Bull) that I have been to- which served exceptionally delicious indian dishes. I recommend this restaurant to anyone who is in Fresno looking for some good Indian food.