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Modesto, CA

g
georeg osner Dec 7, 1998 03:12 PM

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.

  1. j
    Jeremy and George Dec 27, 1998 11:18 PM

    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
      j
      Jonathan Gold Dec 28, 1998 08:19 PM

      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
        m
        Mark Sep 29, 2001 01:50 PM

        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.
        Mark

      2. re: Jeremy and George
        s
        SN May 27, 2001 10:47 PM

        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.

      3. g
        george osner Dec 23, 1998 12:22 AM

        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
          b
          Barry Strugatz Dec 23, 1998 08:27 AM

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

          Thanks,
          Barry

          1. re: Barry Strugatz
            g
            george osner Dec 25, 1998 08:57 PM

            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. g
          george osner Dec 23, 1998 12:15 AM

          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. g
            george osner Dec 14, 1998 06:57 PM

            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. g
              george osner Dec 7, 1998 03:19 PM

              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.

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