How was your New Year's Eve? Good? Too good? Here, this will make you feel better.
Behind the Eight-Ball
So this is not actually "the hair of the dog that bit you." Which is disgusting if literal and really just about staying drunk if figurative. This is better. The Eight-Ball Stout Chocolate Cheesecake at Lost Coast Brewery (617 Fourth St., Eureka) is a hefty hunk of a thing ($5.50). Slice of Humboldt Pie whips it up especially for the restaurant using the same Eight-Ball Stout you can order on tap or in its beef stew. Just like in a porter cake, the brew gives the chocolate a little bite, the way coffee does, but it's not bitter. It's dense, not fluffy, and flavorful, with a pale layer on top and deep chocolate below, all of which has the slight tang of cream cheese. The thick layer of moist graham cracker crust has a sweet-salty, buttery finish, and, like a glass of stout, the cheesecake might just do for a meal if your mother's not with you. The spritz of whipped cream and streaks of sauce on the plate are unnecessary. Order a slice at the bar and ask for the little tray one of the regular patrons engineered so you can balance your plate on the railing. Who says beer kills brain cells?
Can we stop referring to menudo's hangover healing powers as a folk remedy and just call it medicine? You can return to the land of the living via a tangy bowl of spicy tripe soup with a side of tortillas ($5.99) at Carmela's (1701 Central Ave., McKinleyville and 1288 G St., Arcata), but not everybody can stomach the stomach.
Maybe, just as heart is said to embolden those who eat it, chowing down on the scrappy cactus plant can make a survivor out of you. Keep drinking water and order up the huarache with carne asada ($10.50). The grilled oval pancake of masa is a comfort to those for whom a corn tortilla can never be thick or soft enough. Covered in layers of black beans, grilled beef, crumbly queso fresco, tart green salsa, pico de gallo, cilantro and nopales (that's the cactus), it might actually be that nutrient-rich meal that boring medical experts recommend for recovery. The nopales, with their tender pickled bite will keep your head off the table, at least for the duration of the meal.
Up with the Sunrise
There are some who swear by a greasy breakfast for a hangover. But what if it's already past the dreaded 11 a.m. cutoff by the time you roll out? No worries — you can still catch the sunrise at Surfside Burger Shack (445 Fifth St., Eureka). The Sunrise burger, that is ($7.95). Humboldt grassfed with a fistful of bacon, pepper jack cheese and a fried egg. And maple syrup. The bacon is substantial (no skimpy single slice, this portion could fill a BLT) and the pepper-speckled egg is cooked but still runny enough to basically act as a sauce — a rich boost to the grilled flavor of the meat. Get the syrup on the side and just try it on a bite. Really. It's like when your breakfast sausage rolls into a pool of syrup and you're sitting there at the table secretly happy inside, telling no one.
Another $3 gets fries or rings or "frings," the half and half option. A voice, a reasonable voice, is telling you not to do this. You didn't listen last night, so why start now? Besides, the fries are hand-cut (fresh, unfrozen potatoes!) with the skins on and the rings are dipped in homemade batter whipped up daily. All are fried to a caramel brown because this is not a delicate zucchini blossom — this is a plate of fries and rings piled like a collapsed mine on top of a burger that would give a cardiologist the sweats. Also the mind-expanding discovery of a fry (or a ring!) dipped in syrup — hot and cold, salty and sweet, crisp and sticky — is something you have to experience, especially if you are a person who sometimes "accidentally" drops a fry into your milkshake.