For more than 30 years, the chefs of De Vinci’s Elk Grove have been hard at work perfecting the traditional Italian recipes that stock their deli counter. They begin every morning with their hands floury, crafting doughs that will form the base of housemade foccacia breads, cheese-filled ravioli, and custom sandwiches. Joined occasionally by a fluffy ravioli mascot in a toque, staff combine dishes into prearranged packages ready for the family dinner table or parcel out single dishes by the pint, quart, gallon, or 10-gallon hat.
When Jim Knudson bit into his first taco during dinner at a friend's house in 1949, he knew he had tasted something special. He added the item?which many diners were pronouncing "tay-co"?to the menu at his restaurant in Grass Valley, California. Determined to introduce the food to as many people as possible, Jim and his wife, Margaret, converted a 16-foot trailer into a kitchen on wheels. They adopted the nickname Jim had earned from one of his longtime customers and drove up to Lake Tahoe, where Jimboy's Tacos found its first permanent home.
Locals, tourists, and even members of the Rat Pack flocked to the tiny taco stand for the uniquely seasoned, parmesan-dusted ground-beef taco, the anchor of a growing menu. The family eventually relocated to Roseville, California, where they set up a small taco stand and began branching out to other locations in and around Sacramento.
Today, Jim Knudson?s daughter Karen, the current president of the company, carries on the legacy of taco obsession at more than 40 locations in northern California and Nevada. Guests who arrive early for breakfast might glimpse the cooks slowly simmering beans, mashing avocados into guacamole, and preparing their signature ground beef with trans-fat-free oil. In addition to classic corn-tortilla tacos, the menu holds the mega-size flour-tortilla El Gordo, golden-fried taquitos, and even a taco burger that fuses Mexican and American culinary traditions.
In October 2011, Jasmine Eastburn left her office job in search of more fulfilling career. Spurred by her love of cooking, she decided to become a personal chef. But Ms. Eastburn didn’t want to spend her days exclusively in millionaires' kitchens and billionaires’ secret underwater kitchens. Instead, she created a business that would cater to families on tight budgets. Today, Ms. Eastburn works as a personal chef, but she also works to pass on recipes for everything from breakfast casseroles to chili verde enchiladas. Drawing from her own experience as a mother, Ms. Eastburn shows parents step-by-step how to make baby food using organic fruits and veggies. And when she's not cooking in her customers' kitchens, Ms. Eastburn spends time at the grocery store picking out organic ingredients for her next in-home cooking service.
In Tasty Palace's clean and streamlined dining room, patrons can dig into plate of classic Chinese fare. Meals begin with crispy pork egg rolls and bowls of hot and sour soup before the main course arrives. Kung Pao tofu and stir-fried bok choy satisfy vegetarians, while orange chicken and mongolian beef sate meat lovers' appetites.
Visitors wrap empty hands and hungry mouths around Togo’s freshly crafted selections that stock a menu of sandwiches, wraps, and salads. Since 1971, Togo’s has been pairing meats, veggies, and cheeses with freshly baked artisan bread to create such handheld meals as The Clubhouse, with apple-wood-smoked bacon, turkey, and cheddar cheese, and Uncle Tony’s Italian, which cloaks salami, capicola, and ham in parmesan bread ($5.99 each).
Cheesesteak historians trace the sandwich's ancestry back to Pat Oliveri, a Philadelphian who combined sliced beef and onions over a Italian roll; once someone made the ingenious decision to add cheese, the classic combination was born. Today, Cheese Steak Restaurant's sandwich-smiths continue that noble tradition with more than 30 cheesesteak varieties.
Take your pick of either the classic, a chicken version, or a hoagie-style cheesesteak (topped with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise), and you have the option to pile it with grilled onions, hot cherry peppers, or sweet bell peppers. Other varieties feature added ingredients such as roasted cloves or garlic, mushrooms, or teriyaki sauce. There's also a veggie-only option, and diners can order twister fries, steak fries, fried mushrooms, and zucchini sticks to as a side dish or in case they need edible confetti for a chef's birthday party.