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By Leon Thompson, The East County Eater


8910 Troy Street
Spring Valley, CA 92077


November 10, 2009 (Spring Valley) -- If you’re looking for a place with mouth-watering, home-cooked meals in a comfortable ambience—not to mention the best barbecued ribs in town—stop by Cali Comfort Restaurant & Sports Bar in Spring Valley.


I first sampled Cali Comfort’s fare at the Viejas BBQ Championships, where my companion and I both picked the same “utmost favorite” independently. Cali Comfort’s ribs were so tender, you could suck the meat off the bone. The sauce was flavorful, with just the right balance of spiciness. Team Captain Shawn Walchef was hospitable and his energetic young crew was having fun serving up crowd-pleasing fare. So when I learned that Cali-Comfort has a local restaurant, I couldn’t resist stopping by for lunch a few days later.

The name comes from the vision of Shawn’s grandfather, Dr. Luben Walchef to offer “California comfort food”. The Walchef clan emigrated from Bulgaria and in the early 1980s, turned their cheery yellow home into a place where neighbors and friends in the community could enjoy wholesome family food with warm Southern California hospitality. Today, Shawn, his business partner Corey Robinson, and chef Tommy House today remain actively involved in the community, catering special occasions and sponsoring local kids’ sporting teams.


Inside, the restaurant is spacious and spotless. The facility includes a patio with outdoor dining and, of course, a bar with sports memorabilia in addition to the dining areas. A customer at the sports bar, clearly a regular, welcomed my companion and I to Cali’s, where you can also enjoy watching games on wide-screen TVs or talking about sports with the knowledgeable staff—including Evan Wong, who works for the Aztec Athletics Department at San Diego State. The bar serves up domestic and imported draft beers, wine, and a variety of mixed drinks ranging from California Sunrises to a house specialty: the Cali Comfort Chocolate Martini.


On this hot autumn day, I settled for a cold draft and the tri-tip sandwich, which came highly recommended. The meat was lean and succulent. My companion ordered the ribs, which I resampled and found every bit as pleasing as the ones I’d savored at Viejas.

I came back on “Taco Tuesday” to have the blackened fish taco. I’m a real fan of fish tacos, and these are easily in the top three out of hundreds in San Diego County—the fish taco capitol of the world. Our editor savored the meat loaf with fresh vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy. This dish defines what “comfort food” means. Other options on the menu include soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, South of the Border entrees, breakfasts, and house favorites including Cajun tilapia and a “Thanksgiving year-round” turkey entrée complete with cranberry sauce and all the trimming.


At Cali’s, Happy Hour happens seven days a week from 4 to 7 p.m. with $5 appetizers and $2.50 beer and drinks. Check the website for specials – such as the recent NFL football pool, where a lucky winner could pick up a $50 house tab.


Cali’s is definitely a good bet in my book.


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