That Hometown Taste: Family favorites

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Over the long weekend, I faced the challenge of which local sips and eats I might explore for this month. I generally like to go out alone, but I didn’t feel like facing potential waits as visitors came to dine and enjoy our downtown food fares. Feeling feisty, I did the one thing that I usually do not do — I asked my children what they would like to eat. I’m aware most families do this regularly. However, with anywhere from four to six children at home at any given time, that kind of question can lead to more trouble than it’s worth. Surprisingly, and not surprisingly, it narrowed down to three places: Ocean Restaurant, El Pueblo Meat Market & Taqueria and Green River Brewing & Taproom. The surprising factor being that two of the four picked menu items at the same restaurant, not surprising is that we frequent these three places the most due to the fact that they are all usually open on days that we need to order out the most (Monday and Tuesday) and have menus that please the pallet of even the most picky of my eaters. To be more transparent, I asked my children, “If you could eat any meal from a Winters restaurant, what would you order?” To give it more flair, I asked my youngest (age 4) first and ended with my oldest who was there (age 21). The other two were not here this weekend. Pick One: Chicken nuggies and fries from Green River Chicken nuggets and fries is probably a given for most four-year-old children (or anyone who is selective). She did specify “the big French fries with the the curls” which lead me to Green River. It probably also didn’t hurt that I had recently shared that exact meal with her just a few weeks ago. You may recall that in January I raved a bit about Green River’s thick cut spirals of fried potato deliciousness. The apple didn’t fall far, because we may have debated over who got the last fry. My four-year-old daughter is rather persuasive, and I did not want to be reminded about the time I didn’t let her eat the last fry so I gave in and let her have it. Pick Two: Barbecue pork appetizer and steamed rice from Ocean My 9-year-old daughter would happily eat the barbecue pork appetizer from Ocean Restaurant and a bowl of sticky rice (as we call it) every day from now until forever. Every year on her birthday I drive around the county (if Ocean is out that day) to hunt it down at every Chinese restaurant I can get to until I find it. Luckily, I have only had to do this twice so far in the past six years. Also known as Chinese BBQ Pork, Char siu is popular barbecued pork dish in Cantonese cuisine. I have tried to make it, and she did not approve. Thus the annual dash to order it from Ocean. As her mini-me, I blame my sister for the particularness — but if I’m honest, it’s truly a delicious dish and no one makes it better than Ocean. The flavor is sweet and savory with a bit of saltyness. It’s sliced into small cuts and served with sesame seeds on top. She likes it as it, while I prefer to dip it in the hot mustard sauce. Pick Three: Five taco plate from Mi Pueblo In the chance you have forgotten, I love tacos. I proudly stand by the idea that if happiness was a food it would be a taco. And, my 10-year-old daughter agrees wholeheartedly (that apple didn’t fall too far either). You get to choose five tacos in your choice of carnitas, pollo or asada (pork, chicken or grilled beef). If you so choose, you can even have all three by select ordering a combination of your choice. Each of the tacos is crafted with two street-sized tortillas, filled with juicy, flavorful meat, and piled high with freshly chopped cilantro and diced raw onions, and finished with wedges of limes and radishes. She enjoys dousing each taco in a shower of Cholula. I prefer a combination of sliced jalapeño chiles, pico de gallo, the red hot salsa and a squirt of lime juice. Pick Four: Orange chicken and chow mein from Ocean My 21-year-old son had the longest to think about it and decided the Orange Chicken and chowmein from Ocean was his choice. I asked if he had a favorite chow mein and he said he would happily eat any of them on their menu. For the record, my favorite chow mein from Ocean is the tomato beef followed by the vegetable chow mein. Ocean’s orange chicken is not to be underestimated. It has fried, golden chicken pieces covered in a thick sauce that packs a punch of heat. I do like their orange chicken because it’s not too sweet and the flavor is not overpowering of orange juice or marmalade. It’s mixed with broccoli and orange pieces big enough to enjoy or sort out if you’re not a fan. With two of the four votes landing on Ocean’s menu, we opted to order to-go from them. No one complained and we all ate way more than we should have. Tell me what your favorite local meals are and I will check them out for a future column. Send me your top picks to

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