Roots radical

Caterers-cum-restaurateurs put local spin on global cuisine



Photo By ken smith

Roots Catering
3221 Esplanade
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; Sun., 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

Compared to other towns of its size, Chico is undoubtedly blessed with myriad diverse, authentic and delicious dining opportunities, but it sometimes still falls a little short. For instance, where does one go when struck with the craving for a Cuban-style sandwich, a hankering for some downhome Tex-Mex, or perhaps the more rare (but nonetheless overwhelming) inclination for some Indonesian-inspired breakfast?

All of these dishes and much, much more can readily be found at Roots Catering, a Chico catering company whose rentable banquet hall on The Esplanade in north Chico also doubles as a restaurant during breakfast and lunch hours. Despite the double-duty nature of the eatery and the Roots crew, there is nothing half-cocked about the food or facilities; to the contrary, Roots offers one of the most radical local menus served in an airy, comfortable and ultramodern space.

Roots is dedicated to taking fresh, local ingredients and applying them to a fantastic array of globally inspired, sometimes striking entrees. Though attempts at fusion are not unique to Roots, the breadth of cultures they draw from—Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Indian, South American, regional American and many more—is impressive, as are the resulting dishes, which can be best summarized as cosmopolitan comfort food.

With the exception of Mexican-influenced items common on many local menus, most restaurants are reticent to apply much foreign influence to the traditional meat-and-eggs breakfast staples. This is not the case at Roots, where the breakfast menu includes such exotic entrees as nasi goreng (Indonesian chile-spiced fried rice topped with two eggs and garnished with cucumbers and tomatoes, $9) and akoori (an Indian scramble of eggs, chiles, ginger, tomato, cilantro and green onions paired with spicy potato-stuffed tortillas, $9).

One of my favorite breakfast dishes at Roots is the Pupusas de Queso Y Huevos—pupusas (thick Salvadoran maize pockets) stuffed with Orland Farmstead Creamery queso fresco and served with black beans, rice and a choice of cherrywood-smoked bacon or chicken-apple sausage ($10). Also excellent is the Huevos Benedicto ($10), a Los Angeles-born twist on the classic Benedict featuring chorizo gravy in lieu of hollandaise and topped with West Coast staples: avocados, sour cream and cheddar cheese.

Roots Catering

Photo By david gomez

For those who don’t feel as adventurous in the morning, Roots also has more traditional, all-American classics. These include the Southern Comfort (Virginia-style biscuits and gravy served with cheesy grits and two eggs, for $9), and the bare-basic American breakfast ($9), with eggs, potatoes, toast and choice of meat.

Though Roots has become a common breakfast destination where I’ve been slowly working my way through the morning menu, I hadn’t visited for lunch until recently. As it was a lovely fall day, I bypassed the promising list of unique hot and cold sandwiches, tortas and burgers (particularly enticing examples include a Vietnamese-style báhn mì burger with ginger-spiced pork patty, $10; and the chicken shawarma with an Israeli spicy grilled-chicken-and-onion concoction served on pita bread, $9) and opted for the calabacita.

Indian <i>akoori</i> for breakfast.

Photo By David Gomez

Originating from Texas, the calabacita is a rustic stew made with pork, zucchini, carmelized onion and corn, served with pinto beans, Mexican rice and fluffy, flour tortillas, the whole delicious mess topped with queso fresco ($9). It was spicy, savory and delicious, especially when enhanced with a few dashes of Roots’ house-made pumpkin-seed picante sauce, which I liked so much I ordered a bottle to go for $5.

Roots Catering is an excellent destination for breakfast and lunch, with a refreshingly original menu. Portions are ample, the service is superb, and the food fresh and tasty. With its worldly menu and numerous vegetarian and gluten-free dishes, the restaurant offers something for all tastes.