Winning duo: Immediately after winning "Food Court Wars" on the Food Network, the brother-sister cooking team of Juliano and Noris Gomez took possession of the grand prize: Their own restaurant, rent-free for a year, courtesy of the Food Network.
The eatery, Sabor de San Miguel, is located in the Food Court at NewPark Mall in Newark, where the episode was filmed. The two had squared off against a ramen team, with their authentic Guatemalan cuisine coming up the winner.
Admittedly, they've had a lot of practice feeding Bay Area diners: Juliano and Noris have been operating a colorful food truck emblazoned with a quetzal bird in the SOMA area of San Francisco. Among their signature dishes and specials are saucy pork marinated overnight; churrasco with chimichurri sauce; chicken and vegetable tamales; and shrimp pico de gallo. Side dishes include black beans and fried plaintains, and tortillas are made by hand daily.
Hosted by Tyler Florence, "Food Court Wars" visits a different U.S. shopping mall in each episode and pits two cooking teams against each other, with the goal of introducing regional cuisine to more diners. NewPark's episode was the first filmed at a California mall.
Mission Chinese: After epic success in Palo Alto and San Francisco with farm-to-fork Mexican food, Tacolicious owners Joe Hargrave and Sara Deseran have opened a new Chinese-inspired restaurant and bar, Chino, in the Mission District.
Chino is an ode to their family's obsession with dumplings and noodles. A "research" trip to Taipei this past winter has resulted in a menu featuring everything from lumpia and boba cocktails to dan dan mian and matcha soft-serve ice cream. And, of course, addictive soup dumplings, courtesy of Shanghainese chef Leo Gan (former dumpling maker at Mandarin).
The new Erik's: Some things at Erik's DeliCafe never change. For example, their classic Pilgrim's Progress (perhaps the state's first "branded" turkey-avocado sandwich?) and R.E.O. Speedwagon probably will always remain on the menu, along with the Vegetarian Vegetable soup. But the new Santa Clara location is a major departure for the 33-shop chain now headquartered in San Jose. In a nod to the high-tech workforce nearby, this Erik's will be the first location to serve breakfast (until 10:30 a.m. daily) and coffee drinks from Equator Coffee & Teas of Marin County. Look for hot breakfast sandwiches like the Sierra (egg, bacon, Gruyere, arugula and aioli on toasted sourdough), lunchtime paninis, including the Caprese (sliced ham, fresh mozzarella and locally sourced tomatoes and basil on Pierini bread) -- and plenty of USB ports so you can recharge while noshing. Details: Open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends at Santa Clara Gateway, 5451 Great America Parkway. www.eriksdelicafe.com.
Food truck frenzy: Summer in the suburbs got a foodie boost last month when Off-the-Grid launched its third market in Contra Costa County along Trelany Road in Pleasant Hill. Every Wednesday from 5 to 9 p.m., vendors like Kasa Indian and We're on a Roll will surround the perimeter of the lawn at City Hall's duck pond. Picnic in the grass or lounge in an Adirondack chair while chowing down on lobster rolls and listening to live music. This past Wednesday's vendors included Curry Up Now, Street Dogs, and Lexie's Frozen Kuhsterd. For next's weeks trucks, visit http://offthegridsf.com.
Perfect spot: A Peninsula nonprofit called Collective Roots has started a very tiny farmers market at a location where they and their organic food can make a big difference: in front of the Ravenswood Family Health Center. This East Palo Alto farmers market runs from noon to 3 p.m. Wednesdays at 1798 Bay Road. One bonus: The group offers a Fresh Checks program that matches spending on fruits and veggies by qualified families and other shoppers. Details: www.collectiveroots.org.