By Mariah Jeantet
As we all know, looks can be deceiving. Especially when youâ€™re new to an area, itâ€™s easy to miss out on amazing food because they look, well, like a hole-in-the-wall. Theyâ€™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 thereâ€™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 dÃ©cor, service or the atmosphere, itâ€™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 outâ€¦
Maria’s Top Picks:
Say that really fast â€“ ten times! It’s extremely common in Mexico for people to give nicknames to names like â€œPanchoâ€ for Francisco or â€œChuyâ€ for Jesus. Well, La Cocina De Chuy is â€œChuyâ€™s Kitchenâ€ for short. If you drive fast, youâ€™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). Ownerâ€™s wife Ruth is from Venezuela. Sheâ€™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 CafÃ©, one of my kidâ€™s favorite. If the weatherâ€™s good, youâ€™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: â€œMy 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!â€
My favorite dish:Â Open-face Tostada Omelet
2600 Gold St.
You know that question, â€œif you had to eat your last meal on earth what would it be?â€ My answer would be â€œChicken Fried Rice.” Any day, all day!
630 N. Market St.
Redding CA 96001
4.Â Jackâ€™s GrillÂ (a Redding Landmark)
You want to feel cool, calm and collected? Go to Jackâ€™s! Itâ€™s like walking into the 1930â€™s – so unassuming and yet so classic. I know I donâ€™t need to convince you if youâ€™re a local, but if youâ€™re not, just take our word for it. Youâ€™ll love it. As one Yelper said, â€œIt will knock your socks off.â€ Nuff said!
Itâ€™s so dark in there I can only see his bright, white teeth. Again, thatâ€™s part of the coolness and experienceâ€¦not the white teeth but the darkness! Now, to be fair Jackâ€™s doesnâ€™t quite fit the â€œhole in the wallâ€ type because if thereâ€™s one thing Jackâ€™s Grill does not lack is ambiance.
This place happens to be my husbandâ€™s favorite place for a juicy steak.
1743 California St
Redding, CA 96001
5.Â Country Organics
So, hereâ€™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 wouldnâ€™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 knowâ€¦been going there every week since!
Yep. Every week â€“ Iâ€™d go daily if I could. (Insiderâ€™s tip: go on Thursdays and get your card punched twice. Youâ€™re welcome). You wouldnâ€™t think of this place as a â€œrestaurantâ€ but just step inside and savor one of these wraps (my favorite is the pesto wrap w/grilled turkey, oh man!)
2745 Bechelli LnÂ
Redding, CA 96002
Boys and girls, I donâ€™t do sandwiches very much. Yeah, I knowâ€¦Itâ€™s a taco thing. The reason this made it to my top 6 is their hot pastrami on rye, itâ€™s my husbandâ€™s favorite! These guys hustle in the kitchen and their creations are unreal. I havenâ€™t had beef roast as good as theirs here in town, and itâ€™s cut right from the roast in front of you.
Thereâ€™s so many delicious choices you really owe it to yourself to try it at least once. Driving into Donâ€™s Sandwich Shop youâ€™ll feel like youâ€™re there to meet your mechanic, but donâ€™t panic, itâ€™s all good. Youâ€™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?