The Journal's new Menu of Menus, our annual listing of places to nibble, nosh, taste wine and sample brews, is plated and served up on newsstands. (This edition also features Linda Stansberry's inspiring egg, cheese and carb odyssey, "Morning, Noon and Night.") And since last summer, the roster of restaurants in Humboldt has changed like the specials on a chalkboard.
It's been a year of comebacks and transformations for storied favorites all over the county. The Fieldbrook Family Market is sending up smoke from the barbecue again, and folks are already sucking the sauce from their fingers and stomping the floorboards to live music. In the next couple of weeks, Curley's Full Circle should be open and serving up steaks, coconut prawns, cobb salad and other favorites that diners have been missing since the original Curley's closed years ago. What was once the Scotia Inn Pub is newly reborn as a second location for Gallagher's Irish Pub, complete with the same Celtic comfort food, piping hot Irish coffees and live music it offers in the original Eureka locale. And Mad River Brewing Co., which recently scored a bronze medal at the World Beer Cup in Denver, Colo., has finally fired up its kitchen for fish and chips, burgers and fancy fries in the tap room so you can lay down a base for all that beer.
Food on wheels keeps rolling in, too. Dashi, an Asian fusion truck ladling out noodles and sandwiches with teriyaki chicken, tofu and Korean bulgogi beef, has made camp in Arcata. And showing up here and there with pork and tri-tip sandwiches — in the parking lot of Springville Steaks in Fortuna, in front of Humboldt Coffee Roasters during Eureka Arts! Alive, across from the Ivanhoe in Ferndale — is Hop's Barbecue, a mobile grill fashioned from a bright blue propane tank.
Northtown Coffee has taken over the spot that was Couple Cups in Arcata, with organic coffee, a bevy of gluten-free baked goods (no more longing glances at those forbidden scones) and actual Wi-fi, which is sort of like finding a unicorn over there. Blocks away in the former Crosswinds Café location, the sunny T's Café North has popped up with stacks of pancakes, scrambles, skillets of potatoes and other lazy-day brunch options that may send you happily back to bed.
Eureka gets its second gourmet hot dog joint with the opening of Northtown Dogs N' Delights, where the list of dogs (Jalapeño? Uncured cheddar? Linguica?) and toppings (Curry? Pineapple? Sriracha?) is long, and the possible permutations boggle the mind. Thai cuisine is back on the menu in the form of Siam Orchid, which features the coconut curries, noodles, salads and spring rolls of the region. Torn between noodles and tart tom yum soup? The chef will do an off-the-menu mash-up for you. Ethiopian International Café brings the turmeric and garlic infused stews and sautés of East Africa to town, as well as traditional crepe-like Ethiopian bread. And right downstairs from the Journal offices in Old Town, Because Coffee is hammering and painting in preparation for its grand opening — not a moment too soon for the twitching caffeine junkies upstairs.
Fortuna scored a couple of new places to watch the game. Timeout Sports Club has opened up with its full bar, pulled-pork sliders and flat-screen TVs. Funky Monkey, not to be confused with the Sequoia Zoo's café, also features a sports bar and a separate dining and arcade section for kids and families to have some burgers and pizza. No more apologizing to diners at the next table for your happy, rowdy group (kids or sports fans). More slices and pies are to be had, even late at night, at Westside Pizza's new outpost in the friendly city. Dorris and Daughter Catering and Café is turning out a little pizza, too, along with quiches, scones and sandwiches, all made from scratch. The dangerous autonomy of self-serve frozen yogurt has made it to Fortuna in the form of Hoppy's FroYo, which posts its changing flavors daily. Little L's Kitchen, an offshoot of the original, has moved into Campton Heights Café's old spot, dishing out hot "messes" — scrambles with everything but the kitchen sink.
Ferndale Pie Company and Ferndale Omelet Factory are open right next door to one another (same owners, very convenient). Old-fashioned, state-fair type pies, cookies and brownies on your left, a mellow café with omelets, Belgian waffles and burgers on the right. If you linger long enough at one, you can more or less justify a stop at the other.
Farther south, Humboldt Bar & Grill is offering quite a wine list to go with American favorites, like Southern fried chicken, grass-fed burgers and chicken pot-pie, all in a spiffy Garberville setting.
So who's hungry? Grab a Menu of Menus guide and let us know what your favorites are as you try out the new joints in town. We'd love to share it in the paper and on the Hum Plate blog. Send your hot tips to Jennifer@northcoastjournal.com.