On the Towne

Illustration By Mark Stivers

Alkali Flat doesn’t sound very appetizing, but the neighborhood’s not-so-foodie rep may change with the opening of Sampino’s Towne Foods, in a drab strip mall at 16th and F streets. Inside is a meat counter with cured and raw meats, other prepared items like a tangy giant white-bean salad, a smattering of produce, good bread, and a friendly neighborhood vibe that you won’t find most places. When I stopped in on a Friday afternoon to forage for a low-effort dinner, the owners’ kids were there, too, and so was their grandfather, who offered me a taste of the house-made clam chowder and packed up the meatloaf (“It’s my mother’s recipe. Very simple: a little pork in with the ground sirloin”). I chose to take home and bake. Mom’s recipe was a hit: Not only did it make a tasty dinner, but it was great on sandwiches the next day. The place seems like it’s already attracted a crowd of chatty regulars; obviously, the neighborhood was starved not just for good food, but for a hangout as well. 1607 F Street, (916) 441-2372.