Super bites

Essential foods for Super Bowl Sunday are nearly as prescribed as those for Thanksgiving. Think big, loud, uncomplicated food, with plenty of melted cheese, spicy beans, towering sandwiches and fiery chili.

"No Super Bowl party is complete without chips and guacamole," says Chef Jack Mitchell of Jack and Tony's Restaurant and Whisky Bar in Santa Rosa, and statistics confirm that avocado sales nearly double as the Super Bowl approaches.

Other essential nibbles for big-game parties include chicken wings, nachos, deviled eggs and gooey fondue.

"And if you don't cook," Mitchell continues, "you have pizza delivered."

This year, given that San Francisco, Baltimore and New Orleans are all seafood country, expect plenty of crab and oysters, too. Indeed, there's an ongoing debate over the relative merits of the Bay Area's Dungeness versus Maryland's blue crab. Crab cake cook-off, anyone?

So, how, exactly, is Sonoma County celebrating? We asked several local restaurateurs and chefs about their plans and for their best advice.

Traditionally, Jack and Tony's has closed, but this year it's open and Mitchell expects bar food, including deviled eggs, taquitos with guacamole, pulled pork sandwiches, garlic fries and mussels steamed in beer to be popular.

Restaurateur Mark Stark, although rooting for the Niners, is from the Baltimore area; a win by the Ravens wouldn't be a total tragedy.

When the 49ers secured their spot in the Super Bowl, Stark and hiw wife, Terri, celebrated with Buffalo-style pork short ribs, inspired by the classic Buffalo Chicken Wings.

"I had the short ribs on hand and they were so good that I'm surprised no one has thought to do this," he says.

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