Where Are The Southern Standard Foods CA In Restaurants? I Want A Chicken Fried Steak!
California restaurants, comfort food, foodie flood blogger
By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com Food Blogger
I am from the South and have the credentials that mark me as being a true Southerner: I love college football and independent women who also know how to make it seem as if the men are in charge of things, would rather wear jeans than slacks and prefer warm weather to being cold.
I also like true Southern food. You know, the standards, things that you can get in pretty much every restaurant in the South and are at every picnic and family outing.
Now that I live in California, tho, I can’t find those foods. This is because, let’s face it, California is not a great comfort food state.
All those transplanted Midwesterners out here who grew up on comfort food no doubt agree with me.
It is a rare thing to find true Southern food out here.
Instead, we get a lot of salads and tacos. Artichokes. Nearly every menu item – even omelettes – comes with either slices of avocado or a bowl of guacamole. Other than the latter items, I don’t mind this at all but sometimes, I would like something that sticks to the ribs.
Like ribs, for example (tho the California tri-tip, which has no sauce on it, can be sensational when properly cooked). Pot pies. Sloppy Joes. Chicken salad sandwiches. Chicken fried steak. Biscuits and gravy.
Heck, California restaurants can’t even get fried chicken right. The chefs just can’t bring themselves to put fried chicken on a plate without doing something “gourmet” to it. They have to place it just so on waffles, drizzle it with some kind of sticky and overly-sweet sauce and charge $15-20 for it.
That’s not comfort food – that’s food for the trendy types trying to be cool.
Oysters on the half shell? That’s comfort food in Southern beach bars. They are 50 cents each and washed down with pitchers of beer. Out here they are $25 a dozen and people drink wine or champagne with them.
Southern side dishes are especially rare in California restaurants: deviled eggs, mashed potatoes (and gravy!), potato salad, tater tots, coleslaw, baked beans, mac ‘n cheese, corn on the cob and cornbread.
Cornbread. I don’t think I’ve ever seen cornbread on a menu in California.
With this hole in my gastronomical gut, I have started to take matters into my own hands, making my own coleslaw, potato salad (without mayonnaise, by the way; it’s far less greasy and more tasty that way) and even cornbread.
Occasionally, I’ll find a place out here that has the familiar and comforting comfort food. The Waterfront bar here in San Diego – the oldest tavern in the city – has Chicken Fried Steak. With all the gravy.
During my many travels to Carmel and Monterey, I found an old diner – the Wild Horse Cafe – off Highway 101 that has a menu full of comfort foods, nearly all of which come with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy. The exit is Wild Horse Road in King City.
But they are so few and far between that I pile up on the Southern comfort food whenever I stumble into one of these places, even if I’m in the mood for a salad. Because who knows when I’ll see it on a California menu again.