Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Entries in Modesto (3)


Modesto Taco Truck Scene

I've been hitting Modesto fairly often the last couple of months making my way around town. Generally, my exit takes me through Downtown and over the train tracks. There is a semi-permanent set-up of taco trucks and pop-up tents at the intersection of H Street and 8th Street.

I tried 3 trucks one night, Los Portolitos, El Super Taco 2, and F.K. Jessica's. Of the three, Los Portolitos was the best that evening. Jessica's had the longest line, probably a good 10 people waiting on orders. I ate one al pastor taco at all three locations. (Los Portolito's al pastor taco pic)

Jessica's, the truck with the longest line, had al pastor that seemed more like ground and seasoned pork rather than meaty chunks and frankly, pretty wet. El Super, was fine, just nothing special. Los Portolitos was far and away the best in my 15 minute eating extravaganza. The individual pieces of meat were well seasoned and had a good mix of fat and meat.

However, earlier in the day, I made a quick stop at the Chevron Station at the Kansas Ave. Exit on Highway 99 for a taco at El Maguey (the taco you see with the radishes). Now that was a good al pastor taco. The balance was right, the meat was tasty, the condiments were fresh. 

All the tacos I ate that day were $1.00. Long live tacos!


Harvest Moon, Modesto

As I’ve been doing a bit more road travel on Highway 99, I’ve had more opportunities to visit the town of Modesto. Similar to many of the Valley towns, Modesto, like Bakersfield has a reasonably developed dining scene. 

Harvest Moon has been operating for at least 15 year downtown. I’ve only been recently stopping in Modesto, so I have zero expectations of any place I wander in to.

After speaking with the bartender Amanda, she said the crab sandwich was her favorite sandwich on the menu. “The crab is fresh, it’s not the processed stuff”, I decided to take her recommendation. I was a bit hesitant to order a crab sandwich in Modesto. I probably wouldn’t order one in Fresno or Bakersfield either. San Francisco, yes. But, I’ll bite on the recommendation.

True to Amanda’s claim, the crab sandwich was tasty. The crab was cold and well seasoned. While I may have a personal problem with adding cheese to shellfish, per my Italian heritage, I didn’t find the addition of cheese offensive. This was a good sandwich. The bread was slightly toasted and the individual elements were all fresh. I didn’t have any sides.

Harvest Moon seems to do a brisk lunch business with plenty of regulars. I’d be happy to sit at the bar again and take Amanda’s second recommendation when I come through Modesto again.

Harvest Moon on Urbanspoon


Phoenix Noodle House, Modesto

More travel up and down Highway 99 in recent weeks and another stop along the Highway Trail in Modesto. Phoenix Pho is a small place hustling out bowls of Pho and other specialties. I opted for an order of spring rolls and bowl of pho with beef and tripe.

The spring rolls were fresh and a mix of shrimp and pork with veggies. But no one eats spring rolls without sauce. The peanut sauce was just ok, it needed some additions, like a little heat and probably could have used some fish sauce. Just seemed a little flat to me.

As for my steaming bowl of Pho, it’s really all about the broth for me. The steam smelled good. More often than not, steaming bowls of tripe can be stinky rather than savory. I didn’t detect any stink. My pho came with a whole branch of fresh basil, some lime, and bean sprouts. I added the entire branch of basil, half the sprouts, and all the limes. I also added a bit of the pickled hot chili mixture and the fermented bean paste to my pho. Both condiments were provided at each table. After all this preparation, it was time to try the soup.

The beef was thin, fresh, and tender. The honeycombed tripe was frankly a bit too chewy. Easily corrected, don’t eat the tripe. Otherwise, the broth, noodles and beef made for a good soup. The broth wasn’t too salty and reasonably rich. The recent experience at Thai Fusion in Fresno, where the broth is much darker, much richer, proves that a cook’s mettle is often proven out by the broth they make. The Pho broth at Phoenix is good, but I’d like it to be richer.

I think my experience at Phoenix Noodle House was a good one. The service was quick, the pricing was value oriented, and the food was good. I don’t think it was off-the-charts good, but it can scratch an itch for something other than a sandwich, burger, or taco on my travels up and down Highway 99.

Phoenix Noodle House on Urbanspoon