By Mariah Jeantet
As we all know, looks can be deceiving. Especially when you’re new to an area, it’s easy to miss out on amazing food because they look, well, like a hole-in-the-wall. They’re usually small, indistinct and very, very casual. The idea of running a restaurant out of a place that wasn’t always a restaurant, or where there’s little to no ambiance is kind of cool, especially when the food keeps you coming back for more.
These are some of the places I most frequent in our local area. It has nothing to do with their décor, service or the atmosphere, it’s the grub baby. The grub! Leave it to the locals like myself to guide you and give you a little taste of what you might be missing out…
Maria’s Top Picks:
Say that really fast – ten times! It’s extremely common in Mexico for people to give nicknames to names like “Pancho” for Francisco or “Chuy” for Jesus. Well, La Cocina De Chuy is “Chuy’s Kitchen” for short. If you drive fast, you’ll miss this place on Eureka Way, so pay attention and look for the blue restaurant next to the gas station.
My favorite dish: Chile Rellenos or Arepas (the Venezuelan version of the Mexican Torta). Owner’s wife Ruth is from Venezuela. She’s the first person to greet you.
2030 Eureka Way
Redding CA 96001
Go for the experience and come back for the food. When you need a change of pace, try the Airpark Café, one of my kid’s favorite. If the weather’s good, you’ll want to sit outside and watch all the action while you enjoy your omelet and on your way out, be sure to visit the pilot store downstairs.
Yelper Review: “My wife and I have lived around the area for a long time, but we have never eaten here. The idea of eating at an “airport” sounds unappetizing. I was wrong. Give this little spot a try. I am always looking for the perfect pancake and this one has to have some of the best! I was pleasantly surprised and will go back for sure. My wife and I had breakfast this time and will go back for lunch to see if it is as good. Thanks Airport Cafe for an unexpected surprise. We will be back!”
My favorite dish: Open-face Tostada Omelet
2600 Gold St.
You know that question, “if you had to eat your last meal on earth what would it be?” My answer would be “Chicken Fried Rice.” Any day, all day!
630 N. Market St.
Redding CA 96001
4. Jack’s Grill (a Redding Landmark)
You want to feel cool, calm and collected? Go to Jack’s! It’s like walking into the 1930’s – so unassuming and yet so classic. I know I don’t need to convince you if you’re a local, but if you’re not, just take our word for it. You’ll love it. As one Yelper said, “It will knock your socks off.” Nuff said!
It’s so dark in there I can only see his bright, white teeth. Again, that’s part of the coolness and experience…not the white teeth but the darkness! Now, to be fair Jack’s doesn’t quite fit the “hole in the wall” type because if there’s one thing Jack’s Grill does not lack is ambiance.
This place happens to be my husband’s favorite place for a juicy steak.
1743 California St
Redding, CA 96001
So, here’s the deal – if you would have asked me a month ago where to go for the healthiest, freshest, yummiest and quickest food in town – I would have never said Country Organics. It wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. But that all changed thanks to my friend Marty who raved about these crazy wraps. So I gave it a chance and what do you know…been going there every week since!
Yep. Every week – I’d go daily if I could. (Insider’s tip: go on Thursdays and get your card punched twice. You’re welcome). You wouldn’t think of this place as a “restaurant” but just step inside and savor one of these wraps (my favorite is the pesto wrap w/grilled turkey, oh man!)
2745 Bechelli Ln
Redding, CA 96002
Boys and girls, I don’t do sandwiches very much. Yeah, I know…It’s a taco thing. The reason this made it to my top 6 is their hot pastrami on rye, it’s my husband’s favorite! These guys hustle in the kitchen and their creations are unreal. I haven’t had beef roast as good as theirs here in town, and it’s cut right from the roast in front of you.
There’s so many delicious choices you really owe it to yourself to try it at least once. Driving into Don’s Sandwich Shop you’ll feel like you’re there to meet your mechanic, but don’t panic, it’s all good. You’re in the right place.
My favorite dish: Chicken Blueberry Salad
3034 Bechelli Ln.
Redding, CA 96002
This is by no means a complete list of hole-in-the-wall restaurants so please feel free to chime in – where do you like to go and why? When your visitors come into town where do you take them?
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine