We sent Sacramento writer Barbara L. Steinberg to check out the dining scene in Woodland – here is her enthusiastic report.
In California, every season is splendiferous and bountiful along back roads of Yolo County. Part of the Central Valley, this agricultural heartland is situated between coastal foothills and the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. Rolling hills, verdant valleys and mountains overflow with a profusion of vineyards, orchards, pastured livestock and row crops. All the best, the finest and most delicious ingredients take center stage.
Yolo County is ahead of the foodie moniker! Nowhere is this more evident than historic Woodland, your new gourmand destination. Historic Woodland’s up-and-coming restaurant scene is skyrocketing! Just remember you heard it here. These five culinary stars in Woodland are creating locavore magic, showcasing regional meats, fish, nuts, honey, olive oil, organic produce and local wines and craft beer.
Beyond the creative and tasty offerings, I was most impressed by a true sense of family throughout the Woodland community. There’s no happier way to dine than with family and friends. Insider Tip: Housed in historic buildings, Woodland pairs dining with extraordinary architecture.
435 Main Street ~ (530) 668-1044
While approaches may vary, at Father Paddy’s house recipes are a true collaboration. Owner Pat Redmond and Executive Chef Justin Severson have created a fresh, honest, common sense approach. “Comfort food with a flare!” said Pat. Less than a year on Main Street, Justin and Pat found what works between their flavors.
Come January 22nd, your taste buds will understand why! Paddy’s red carpet presentation includes local Lamb Loin Chops with Buckeye Creek Blueberry Balsamic Reduction, Celery Root Potato Gratin, and seasonal veggies. Take a deep breath, Pastry Chef Anya Redmond reinvents eat, drink and be merry. Dessert is an Irish Toddy-inspired parfait of Meyer Lemon Cake, Tullamore DEW (legendary triple distilled Irish whiskey) and Henry’s Bullfrog Bees Honey Mousse.
Insider Tip: Savor Whiskey tastings and Father Paddy’s primer in the Whiskey Vault!
306 – 6th Street; (530) 402-1540
Kellie Morgan bravely dipped her toe in the restaurant world; she’d never owned a restaurant. “I had a concept and wanted to bring it to life. Good food. Good ambiance – a fun place,” she says. “Hiring Executive Chef John Gamboni was the final key.” Maria’s Cantina has clearly hit the mark. Feeling lucky to be in the center of fresh agriculture, Head Chef William Jeffries utilizes as much local product as possible.
For Restaurant Week, savor a traditional Mexican slow-roasted pork dish from the Yucatán Peninsula, Cochinita Pibil with an Achiote Glaze served over Poblano Jícama slaw with Cilantro Vinaigrette, garnished pickled red onions and micro cilantro. Naturally plenty of Cantina chips and salsa beside a “damn good” house margarita, it’s a palate fiesta!
Insider Tip: The fine art of sipping tequila spoken here. A tequila menu sports more than 30!
614 Main Street; (530) 402-1275
The dynamic duo of Morgan and Gamboni wanted to bring something different to Woodland. “It wasn’t a big jump from Mexican to Morgan’s,” Kellie remarked. So they successfully made that leap of faith and delivered a great steak house. Originally the historic Cranston Hardware, the restaurant and the new “Big Bar” are Uber chic.
Chef de Cuisine Benjy Head celebrates the feast of Yolo’s Restaurant Week with SunFed Ranch Braised, Boneless Short Ribs with oven roasted Marble Potatoes, Honey (Del Rio Farms) glazed Parsnips, Turnips and Rainbow Baby Carrots (Capay Organics). “Timing is unique for the season. Root vegetables are more bountiful, so we selected what’s available,” says Benjy.
Insider Tip: Shared plates included Pull Apart Bread and Bowl of Bacon (a combination of candied lardons and spicy chicharrón con carne). Yes, everything’s better with bacon!
428 – 1st Street; (530) 661-0428
“People are rediscovering Woodland,” owner Christy Hayes says with pride. “It’s a family vibe, local vibe – easy to make a connection.” And people are connecting at Mojo’s/Kitchen428. Kismet came calling to help Christy reinvent the historic Jackson Building once home to local landmark Morrison’s Restaurant and where she once tended bar. Casual Mojo’s Lounge and stylish Kitchen428 share the same farm-to-fork philosophy under Executive Chef Efrain Hernandez’s culinary prowess. “The art of food fascinates me,” said Efrain. “I especially love working with seafood; in my region of Mexico I grew-up with fresh fish.”
Christy and Efrain combine efforts crafting changing menus. Come restaurant week, they celebrate Yolo and Sacramento counties winter harvest featuring Sacramento Grilled Sturgeon, Capay Organic Roasted Rainbow Carrots and Sautéed Swiss Chard, and Dragon Gourmet Oyster Mushrooms Beurre Blanc.
Insider Tip: Ask about monthly Cocktail for the Cause. Proceeds (50%) from in-house crafty potions are donated to local charities.
722 Main Street; (530) 668-4009
When it comes to family and farm-fresh, Juan and Toby Barajas embrace the mantra at Savory Café. The brothers inherited their culinary acumen from their mother and grandmother along with an appreciation for sourcing local products. After navigating the family’s Knights Landing restaurant, Las Maracas, they wanted something different and, in 2015, acquired Savory Café. In slower winter months, they break from regular dinner service Thursday-Saturday.
During Restaurant Week, their triple-threat lunch specials include a 10-ounce Grilled New York Steak with Brown Butter Sauce, Riverdog Farm Frites, Del Rio Botanical Greens and Citrus Vinaigrette; a Chicken Piccata with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Riverdog Bloomsdale Heirloom Spinach and roasted Nantes Carrots; and house-made Pasta with Fried Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Butternut Squash, Brown Butter and garnish of Pomegranate Seeds, Pecorino Cheese and aged Balsamic Vinegar. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, Chef Toby proudly admits, “I’ve always loved cooking!” Clearly, it shows!
Insider Tip: Not to be missed, Sunday’s Brunch spotlights Frittata with Lacinato Kale, Leeks, Chicken Apple Sausage, Potatoes and Toby’s Salsa Verde.
One More Insider Tip: When it comes to local, Woodland’s dining establishments also feature local and regional wines and craft beers. Cheers!