by Tom Sims
Tom Sims covers the Tower District, Downtown Fresno, and Old Town Clovis in his monthly column Strolling the Town.
We feel these are three areas in this Valley that are filled with history, culture and interesting stories. So join us each month as Tom goes Strolling!
My most resent stroll around Fresno was while doing something else, but then that is the business of strolling! It is also what one does downtown. I wanted to do Peeve’s Public House and Local Market next … and I will. In the meantime, they are getting a lot of fresh press. So I will come back to them.
What I wanted that day was fresh food and I wanted it fast. I wanted it fast because that is also part of what it means to stroll downtown sometimes–to be between places and responsibilities.
On Kern, about a block from the County Registrar’s office and within blocks of other municipal services and businesses is a bit of home cooking in the city. Sumtin’ Ta Eat, until recently, was a catering service. Then the opportunity to occupy a large space in the middle of the city opened up and Stephanie Mitchell took her place in that space. She is the culinary queen of down-home cooking.
Sumtin’ Ta Eat Restaurant and Christian Lounge bills itself as “a new concept on an old idea. Fresno’s premier catering truck with its ole tyme charm,” according to its Facebook page.
To bill this establishment’s fare as “soul food” would not express the depth and breadth of the menu choices, but the menu does include soul food. The same could be said about the label, “country cooking” or any other label.
Chicken chipotle certainly fits in neither “box.” But they can put it in a box for you because they also have curbside delivery. Downtown!!! Perhaps it is comfort food. It is nurturing and well prepared and it is certainly food that makes a person feel at home. They still do catering, but now they have added cafeteria style service with family style dining, custom menus, a food truck, at-the-table-meals, full meals and fast food, free delivery, smiling service, a friendly atmosphere and on-site banquets. Then, there is the lounge where they are experimenting with comedy and musical performances and a relaxed place to sit and enjoy the company of other people in the evening downtown.
Stephanie’s commitment is to add to the community. This is a dream for her and a mission. She wants her restaurant and lounge to be a safe and comfortable place, and she wants it to be a home away from home for families who value a clean environment and clean entertainment.
I was in a hurry when I stopped by, drawn in by the signs strategically placed at least a block away. I recognized the name from previous business contacts with Stephanie, so I kept walking in that direction. I was hungry and between appointments, needing something fast, something tasty, something healthy and something hot. I had intended to do my article this time on another place. I was just looking for somewhere to eat. About half way through I realized that I was strolling, that I was downtown, and that I was supposed to be writing about strolling downtown and about what I was eating. Serendipity!
I needed “something to eat!”
I was greeted by the owner, Stephanie Mitchell, who introduces herself on Facebook by her chef name, “Sumtin’ Ta Eat.” She recited the specials and they all revolved around meat dishes. Not a problem! I asked what the side dishes were and was offered a verbal menu that was perfect for me. The cabbage was perfect; I had one other vegetable and corn bread. That put me well under the daily special cost of $7.00 which did not bother me at all.
At some point, I will try the peach or pomegranate lemonade. I will also need to return to sit at the counter for a proper lunch filled with conversation with the local regulars. But, for now, I have to make a deadline. I will also come back for the poetry readings, music and comedy. I might even bring my wife out for some dancing (but probably not).
I’d like to try out the freer Wi-Fi too!
I am not sure what secret ingredients Stephanie hides in her kitchen, but I am fairly certain that Sumtin’ Ta Eat has all the ingredients for a valuable contribution to any stroll through downtown Fresno. It is a welcome addition to the community.
Sumtin’ To Eat Restaurant and Christian Lounge
2039 Kern, Fresno, California 93721
Phone (559) 572-2328