Five great places to eat in the San Jacinto Valley

In response to The Valley Chronicle’s question of the week: “There are hundreds of locally-owned restaurants in the valley. Which ones are your favorites and why?”

■ Kathy McNeeley / Contributed

First, I would like to say that everyone who knows me knows that I am a foodie. The terminology may be trite, but it is descriptive. I could say that I am an epicure, but what it really boils down to, like a fine reduction sauce, is that I like food – a lot.
I have eaten at the best restaurants that I can find within my reach. French Laundry in Yountville was a mouth-watering experience. But for me, who I am with, what I am eating, and the service that I am given, all meld into my most memorable meals.
So, a few weeks ago, the “Question of the Week” was “There are hundreds of locally-owned restaurants in the valley. Which ones are your favorites and why?” I thought, “Hey, I can comment on that subject!” I generally don’t say much – in print – but, this one was scrumptious.
We at The Valley Chronicle ask a “Question of the Week” to elicit comments from the community in which we serve. We ask these questions to start a debate. We kinda like that sorta thing because it engages the community in a way that allows us to do our job correctly. We want you to write a Letter to the Editor – even if it disagrees with our opinions – we just want you to write in. Come to our Town Hall meetings (5-5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays at TVC offices – 227 E. Florida Ave.) and we will listen. Do whatever you have to do to exercise your First Amendment right. We do. And then we eat (or at least, I do -ravenously).
OK, let’s get back to the real topic of this article – food!
So, what are the best meals I have eaten in Hemet and San Jacinto?
1. El Basha Market & Grill – Falafel. Samia handcrafts them! She knows exactly what she is doing and it can be chickpeas or fava beans, but that textural crunch nails it for me.
2. Spicy Sushi and Grill – Spicy Baked Green Mussels. What I have to say is “slurp” and then say no more.
3. Datillo’s Ristorante – Pollo Nonna Cristina. Such a sauce. I have no idea who “Nonna” is but I think Maria does, so the family restaurant works for me. It’s a family recipe handed down from one generation to the next.
4. El Ranchito Taco Shop – Two Chicken Tacos. Taco Tuesdays for $3.26 out the door? That’s a delicious – and cheap – no-brainer.
5. Oryz Family Restaurant – Chile Colorado on anything. I ask for crispy home fries with that chile Colorado and my eyes roll back into my head and there is peace in this world.
The politics of this community interests me not. But, when it comes to food? Offer me your best.

[Editor’s Note – Restaurant locations are as follows: El Basha Market & Grill, 199 N. State St., Hemet; Spicy Sushi and Grill, 3353 W. Florida Ave., Hemet; Datillo’s Ristorante, 2288 E. Florida Ave., Hemet; El Ranchito Taco Shop, 3148 W. Florida Ave., Hemet; Oryz Family Restaurant, 306 E. Florida Ave., Hemet.

Kathy McNeeley is the sales and advertising manager at The Valley Chronicle.

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