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Comfort Food


Posted on December 3

eat & drink

Photography by Rachel Valley

(page 1 of 3)

We all need a dose of comfort from time to time, and when winter’s blustery weather chills your fingers and batters your windows, it’s time to seek out food that makes you feel nourished and cozy. Comfort food means something different to everyone. Some reach for a bowl of chili or a mound of mashed potatoes when they’re feeling low; others re-energize with a slice of apple pie or a steaming cup of hot cocoa. Here are 25 local dishes that are sure to warm your bellies and lift your spirits this season.

MEATLOAF (above)
CAFETERIA 15L
Ravenously hungry? Dig into a slab of Cafeteria 15L’s dense, hearty ground beef and pork meatloaf. Served on top of a crunchy jumble of green beans and a heap of dreamily soft mashed potatoes, the meatloaf is drenched in a savory gravy that just might be better than your mom’s. This is a nurturing, home-style dish that will warm you from the inside out. 1116 15th St., Sacramento; (916) 492-1960; cafeteria15l.com

HOUSEMADE OATMEAL
CAFE BERNARDO

It’s often the simplest foods that provide the most comfort. When you’re battling the blues or simply need a pick-me-up, you’ll appreciate the appealing texture of this homey dish. It’s not overly soft and baby foodish (like some commercial packaged varieties), and it’s topped with slices of ripe banana, toasted pecans and a generous sprinkling of brown sugar. Multiple locations; paragarys.com

BACON-WRAPPED CORN DOG
CAPITOL DAWG

C’mon, you know you want it. Capitol Dawg takes a perfectly respectable corn dog and elevates it to serious comfort-food status by cooking a big piece of bacon around the outside, adding a crispy-salty edge to the dog that makes it the perfect partner for one of the restaurant’s craft beers (and, of course, a side of the kitchen’s popular cheesy fries). 1226 20th St., Sacramento; (916) 444-1226; capitoldawg.com

ROASTED DUCK RED CURRY
THAI CHILI
Heat things up with this luscious and fragrant dish: chunks of roasted duck in a complex and spicy red curry and coconut milk broth, punctuated with bamboo shoots, carrots, bell pepper and sprightly Thai basil leaves. Still hungry? Don’t miss the restaurant’s exotic and sweetly pleasing tamarind shrimp. 8696 Elk Grove Blvd., Elk Grove; (916) 714-3519; thaichilielkgrove.net

BREAKFAST CHIMICHANGA
SHADY LADY SALOON
Shady Lady cranks out a terrific brunch, and one of its star dishes is the breakfast chimichanga, a crispy flour tortilla packed with scrambled eggs, black beans and Jack cheese, and doused with spicy ranchero salsa and crème fraîche. Hefty and nourishing, it’s a nice alternative to bacon and eggs, especially when paired with one of the saloon’s zesty Bloody Marys. 1409 R St., Sacramento; (916) 231-9121; shadyladybar.com

VEGGIE SANDWICH
BAAGAN
You can’t help but bounce out of Baagan after dining, whatever you order—this cheery restaurant serves up wonderfully fresh vegan cuisine. (All dishes are dairy-free, lactose-free, casein-free, refined-sugar-free, and free of artificial colors and flavors.) I especially like the veggie sandwich, abundantly filled with seasonal produce (a recent one contained super-ripe tomato slices, grated carrots, cucumbers, red onion and sprouts) on warm grilled bread enlivened with your choice of housemade spread. I’m partial to the plain hummus, but other selections include olive tapenade, pesto and jalapeño hummus. 910 Pleasant Grove Blvd., Roseville; (916) 771-2117; baagan.com

SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS
MICHELANGELO’S
This lusty dish is the perfect antidote to Sacramento’s shivery winter weather. A generous pile of pasta is submerged in Michelangelo’s vivacious tomato sauce, and an enormous, Parmesan-sprinkled handmade meatball is plunked on top. It’s hard not to think about Disney’s Lady and the Tramp when you slurp up the long, saucy noodles. My advice? Share with your sweetie. 1725 I St., Sacramento; (916) 446-5012; sacartz.com

GARLIC CHICKEN PITA
OPA! OPA!
I’m a big fan of Opa! Opa!’s exuberantly fresh, flavorful Greek fare. My favorite dish is the garlic chicken pita, featuring the garlickiest garlic sauce I have ever encountered. Your breath will suffer, but never mind: Sink your teeth into this plump pita sandwich, crammed full of moist chicken, ripe tomato slices and lettuce (and make sure to have lots of napkins nearby). 5644 J St., Sacramento; (916) 451-4000; eatatopa.com

TWICE-BAKED POTATO
SACRAMENTO NATURAL FOODS CO-OP
Who cares about calories? Try out a couple of the co-op’s delectable twice-baked potatoes for your next dinner party or family celebration. Loaded with (what else?) sour cream, butter and Asiago cheese, these carbohydrated lovelies are crusty on top, creamy and decadent inside. Pair the potatoes with prime rib, leg of lamb or a big glass of your favorite red wine. 1900 Alhambra Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 455-2667; sacfoodcoop.com

CARNITAS
LA ESPERANZA
This little hole-in-the-wall market on Franklin Boulevard sells all the Mexican food items you love. Walk in and take a place in line (there will be a line) and you’ll be mesmerized by the enormous piles of hot carnitas steaming in the display case. Buy a pound or two of this fabulous meat, along with big containers of house-prepared beans, rice and salsa, then go home and make a batch of guacamole. Put it all on the table with warm corn tortillas (and some cold Tecates) and watch how fast it all disappears. 5028 Franklin Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 455-0234