Comfort Food Dishes from Solano and Napa
You can’t beat traditional Mexican food or a twist on traditional American for comfort food fare.
El Azteca Vacaville
VACAVILLE – In 1975, with the support of her husband and eleven children, Ama (as she is fondly called by her family), opened El Azteca Mexican Food in a small shopping center in Fairfield. Ama’s delicious home cooked meals drew crowds from all over Solano County. In 1979, popularity supported opening a second location in Vacaville, which was purchased by her daughter, Josefina, in 1992.
In its quaint location, tucked back in the County Market Shopping Center, the El Azteca tradition of offering the feeling of home for over forty years was evident as soon as we walked in the door.
Comfort food was on the agenda, so we skipped an appetizer (although the Fiesta Platter and Azteca Nachos were hard to pass up) and enjoyed their fresh chips and salsa. We split a Jamaica Bebida, a dark purple hibiscus drink that is not overly sweet and was very refreshing.
Our order of a chimichanga, a chile relleño and a cheese enchilada arrived quickly and was piping hot, fresh out of the kitchen (we had to let it cool). The chimichanga was filled with shredded chicken, cheese and beans and topped with guacamole, sour cream, fresh tomatoes and crisp lettuce. The chicken was roasted to perfection and was tender and juicy and had just the right amount of seasoning that did not overpower the meal. The chile relleño’s seedless pepper was filled with a mixture of white and yellow cheeses and had a delicate, tasty egg batter coating. The enchilada also had a mixture of cheese and was topped with a very tasty red sauce.
For dessert we ordered the traditional flan, although it was hard to choose over the sopapilla dessert. The flan’s custard was very rich and creamy and complemented by the caramelized topping. It was a perfect finish to our delicious lunch.
With a menu filled with the usual traditional Mexican dishes, what sets El Azteca apart from others is their use of fresh ingredients, homemade tastes, upbeat atmosphere and great service.
El Azteca is located at 102 Peabody Rd. in Vacaville. Call 707-448-7231 or visit them at aztecavacaville.com.
NAPA – In the wake of the devastating fires in Napa this past fall, we decided to take the short drive to support our neighbors who have stood strong and in true Napa style, continue to offer visitors a warm culinary welcome. We chose Grace’s Table because they support the Napa community with the use of locally-sourced ingredients to create affordable, international comfort dishes.
Chef and proprietor, Mauro Pando, traveled globally to study his craft and love of food to bring his passion home and serve them to his guests. With an unassuming and comfortable atmosphere, you will truly feel at home when you walk in. Basic comfort foods that feature an international twist will entice you on their seasonal menu offerings.
I started out with the Roasted Beet Salad, although personally, after growing up with canned pickled beets, I was a little reluctant. I can honestly say Grace’s Table has truly converted me! The Roasted Beet Salad was delicious, offering a colorful variety of roasted (not pickled) beets, bleu cheese and house-pickled onions. We also ordered and enjoyed Skillet Corn Bread with Lavender Honey and Argentinian Empanadas that were filled with hand-cut beef, currants, olive, and egg, served with a green chimichurri sauce.
For supper we decided to stick with our comfort food adventure by choosing a House Ground Chuck Burger served with a side of chili d’espelette-parmesan fries. We added the optional cheddar cheese, bacon and a locally-farmed egg to top our burger. We also chose the Roasted Young Chicken, served with a quinoa and wild rice pilaf side, watercress and red verjus pan sauce.
We were so pleased with our choices and the diverse ingredients that we missed out on dessert, but are going back soon for a Devil’s Food Cake, Bruleé, Mousse or Soda Float.
Graces Table is located at 1400 Second St. in Downtown Napa. They serve breakfast, lunch and supper along with beer, wine and creative specialty beer and wine “cocktails”. Reservations are recommended but not required. Call 707-226-6200 or visit gracestable.net.
Michelle Trippi writes ‘Tastes of Your Town’, a monthly feature in the print edition of Your Town Monthly. This article was originally published in the February 2018 Solano and Yolo County Editions.