Moo Creamery, like Red Pepper, is a local jewel, a treasure that is constantly tweaking the “specials” portion of its menu to offer new and different and trendy fare.

Their latest tag line is “food for every mood,” which is really the place in a nutshell: great brunches, happy hour, desserts, made-on-the-premises ice cream, craft beers, comfort food with modern twists, such as the “mac and sloppy” sandwich ($11.75) on the specials menu recently featuring griddled mac and cheese (Hmmm — burnt cheese!), pepper jack cheese, Sloppy Joe mix on Country White bread that (rarely) is not made in house.

Better yet, the orange chicken burrito ($10.75), made with the Chinese standard, bacon fried rice (more on that wonderful creation later), soy vinaigrette, cabbage, Sriracha and more. Just like the Red Pepper, I have favorites on the regular menu but I can’t not order the specials even if it’s just out of curiosity. Don’t even get me started on the chilaquiles made with roasted chicken. It’s not just for breakfast anymore.

When we visited recently the food was so satisfying and tasty we didn’t even get ice cream for dessert. My companion’s must order when we visit is the salmon, either a sandwich ($14) or the salmon tacos ($12.25), which she selected on this visit. If you’re a regular at Moo, you understand the restaurant’s emphasis on excellent ingredients is the secret sauce in their formula for success, whether it’s the milk they use in the house made ice creams or their burgers now being made with Redhouse grass fed beef (try that and tell me all beef is the same). I ordered the French onion burger ($13.50) off the same specials menu and we ordered an appetizer that singlehandedly pretty much destroyed any chances of dessert, the bacon fried rice ($12.75).

Where has this been all my life? Sure, I’ve consumed a boatload of pork fried rice but this is not the same, by a long shot, and the Moo version is pretty amazing in 50 different ways, some of which I hope to detail here. Hint: it starts with the veggies, which include Pickalittle farms radishes that are pickled, pineapple, fresh ginger, carrot and then topping the whole mess with two eggs over easy. It was dark brown, it was smoky, the bacon was not overdone in quality or quantity and with all these different flavors every bite was different. If you’ve never tried this wonderful creation and you do love bacon, this is a must order.

My companion’s salmon tacos were similarly intelligently designed, with a thick jicama slaw (the strips cut at varying widths and lengths to keep your palate on its toes, I guess), cilantro, capers, a perfect lemon aioli and a red pepper jam. You can see that this was a full orchestra of tastes and textures, not a simple thing, even though the grilled salmon strip on its own would have been delectable.

The burger with its gruyere cheese (melted nicely), fried onion string, thick cut bacon and an aioli made from caramelized onion with a brush of Dijon mustard on the top of the house made bun was so complete, so satisfying that it deserves a promotion to the regular burger menu, where I already have favorites like the 24-hour burger. The patty was so juicy, the mustard such an important crowning touch and the cheese calling to mind great French onion soups you may have had in the past.

Moo is still a family place, with seemingly every table having two or three generations. Though we consumed too much food for dessert (our favorite cookies look to have a thicker brown butter frosting than they used to), at a table nearby a dad was treating his three children to an end of the school year sundae treat that was right out of Norman Rockwell. The patios outdoors were particularly inviting this spring even as we looked at the maze of bridges under construction for our new freeways nearby.

The staff is always hospitable and our waiter Marcos was no exception on this visit. I think it’s easy to be happy when you’re bringing plates out full of food like this.

Happy hour is still a plus if you like quality food, but it’s only 2-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Stars of that special time are the garlic pita chips with hummus ($5), the 10 different sliders for $5.50 and $2 off all draft beers.

Weekend brunch is another experience entirely, available 8 a.m.-noon on Saturday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. So much to recommend, including the baked French toast ($10.75), the pulled pork eggs benedict ($13.75), the veggie goat cheese frittata ($9.75), the stunning Protein Sweet Potato waffles ($10.25) and the Mediterranean lamb burger ($13.50) which is superior to that late, great version served at Eureka! for years.

Moo Creamery can be recommended for a fine dining experience.

Pete Tittl’s Dining Out column appears here on Sundays. Email him at pftittl@yahoo.com

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