MY FAVORITE FOODS
a restaurant reviewer, instead of critiquing each bite, I like to give
the readers an idea of what its like to go to a certain restaurant.
I love good
food, but thats the key. What is good? I feel its a matter of
opinion, and just like hearts, we all have one.
While a friend
may swoon over a high-priced ounce of food with colorful swirls of
sauce criss-crossing the plate, I shrug. Instead, I want to find out
how the food tastes, and am I getting a good value for my dollar?
Sometimes Ill even overlook a higher price if the food is great.
In the six
months Ive been checking restaurants for the News Mirror, Ive found
some jewelsin small places where I order at the counter as well as in
beautifully-decorated name restaurants. Some I love and recommend and
others I avoid.
But since I dont slam foods or a restaurant, Ive been asked about my personal favorites. Where do I go when I go out?
That depends, I
answer, on whether I want a sit-down restaurant with a full meal or
whether I want fast food. Sometimes, when Im working diligently on my
third novel, Ill forget the time and work until my empty stomach yells
at me. Then, sometimes in my gown and robe, Ill grab my keys and head
for a drive-thru and hope to heaven I dont have a breakdown or a tire
I have my favorites in each category.
Quick drive-thru even if Im in a robe and gown:
By then Ive lost all sense of nutrition and simply want something I like and can grab from a car window to take home.
Taco Bell, Calimesa: Ive enjoyed their food for over thirty years but my personal favorites are their bean burritos and nachos bellgrande.
Yucaipa or Calimesa: While I used to love Big Macs, I find, as I grow
older, I cant comfortably eat some of the things I did when I was a
young woman, so now I like the filet-o-fish sandwich and their little
hamburgers with lots of mustard, onions and no ketchup. I ask for
regular onions instead of the reconstituted ones. Until all the
changes, I thought their fries were the best, but now I seldom order
them. Instead, I get the side salad.
Bakers, Yucaipa or Calimesa:
When I moved to California about four years ago, I went to the familiar
names as well as tried some regional favorites. In Bakers, I thought
the food tasted fresh and the lineup for the drive-thru moved pretty
quickly. So, when Im in the mood for a great burger, I head for
Bakers and their old-fashioned hamburger, sometimes with cheese, but
more often without. Love them and I like their fries as well.
But my all-time favorite fast-food is a chili dog with onions, so high on my list is,
Love that place. But, since I was born and raised in the South, I cant
have a simple chili dog with mustard and onions. No, I have to dress it
up so that it tastes like the ones I remember as a child. A good chili
dog, like a BBQ sandwich, has to have cole slaw on top. Not sauerkraut,
but cold, crunchy cole slaw. The combination of the spicy chili,
mustard, the bite of the onion and the cold crunch from slaw adds up to
the perfect bite. At least in my opinion.
And speaking as
a Southerner, I love chicken. Fried, broiled, rotisserie, BBQ, and just
about any other way I can think of. But my all-time favorite is good
fried chicken. So when I want good fried chicken, I head for the casino
Now were moving to places I love when Im dressed.
San Manuel Casino buffet, Highland:
To me, they have the best fried chicken and ribs on their weekday lunch
buffet. The rest of the food is okay, they certainly have a variety,
but the chicken and ribs is what I go for.
Gabys Mexican Food, Yucaipa:
If Im busy and want something quick, I head for Gabys. He has the
best chile rellenos Ive ever tasted. Now hes added a ground beef taco
and I love those as well. His fresh tortillas are crisp and crunchy,
and the taco filling is great. I think he adds a little potato, but
whatever he adds, the result is delicious.
Since I shy away from sunlight and am on the move at night, I often
wind up at Dennys. I never cared for breakfast food at breakfast, but
love it much later. I also enjoy their BLTs. And no matter how
elaborate some dessert are at different places, no one, in my opinion,
has better hot fudge.
Tonys Spunky Steer, Redlands:
I used to order the lunch filet, which can be ordered at any time, but
now I love their pepper steak. Salad and a sirloin steak covered with
sautéed onions, bell peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms, baked potato with
all the trimmings, or a dish of green beans, leaves me full and
satisfied at a reasonable price.
Wings Garden Café, Banning:
Home of freshest Chinese food. I dearly love their chow mein. Instead
of a dish full of noodles with some veggies, Wing makes his full of
crisp veggies. The chef's special is good as well, and the fried rice
Frijoles, Beaumont: While I could enjoy any of their food, I especially Love their fresh guacamole dip and rotisserie chicken.
Agua Caliente Casino, Rancho Mirage:
Their Friday night seafood buffet is pricy, but worth it. They even
have fresh oysters on the half-shell. Ive tried other seafood buffets,
but so far, I like this one the best.
Thai Chili, Calimesa:
I havent had time to order a variety of things, but I love their
appetizer plate. Their breading isnt standard breading and its not
exactly like the tempura Ive had, but its fresh and crunchy. I
especially love the onion rings, zucchini and shrimp.
Places I can order almost anything and like it:
Napoli Italian Food, Loma Linda
Changs Dragon House, Moreno Valley
Mimis Café, San Bernardino
Hickory Ranch, Yucaipa:
My favorite place for a home-cooked meal. Real mashed potatoes, gravy,
chicken-fried steak, or the roast turkey dinner, comfort food at its
best. Their veggie sides are the best as well, and I love their
oversized, crunchy fries with a buffalo burger.
Papaya Bay, Yucaipa:
Ive tried a variety of their dishes, and so far, Ive loved them all,
from the rich appetizer plate with their own Money Bags to their
creamy, spicy soup served in a hot pot with a flame in the middle.
Maybe presentation does count after all, because I love the soup from
Until next week, Bon Appétit!