K&A Take Away is worth a stop on the way to Dillon Beach
A cartoon-esque butcher knife sign hangs above the sea-blue building at 27005 Highway 1, you’ll see it as you pass through the town of Tomales on the way to or from Dillon Beach.
That alone should have caught my attention years ago, however we also appear to have missed the forked sausage flag that flutters in the breeze below, the colorful yellow door and the “open” signs. However, with so many pedestrians in downtown Tomales, especially on a summer weekend, by the time you see the signs for K&A Take Away, it’s almost too late to stop.
After its years in existence, last weekend was the first time we noticed this sausage sandwich shop and made our way inside. After tasting just one bite of the standard bratwurst with beer onions, plus a side of delectable potato salad, we realized we have a lot of catching up to do.
There are plenty of establishments we visit that do not spark enough interest to research and write an article, but K&A Take Away is one of those gems that keeps our coastal communities so interesting and diverse. It also gave us an excuse for a quick re-visit in order to sample even more.
Although undeniably quaint, the main attraction here is the food. Not that I have a lot of faith in review sites, but K&A has a truly spectacular record on Yelp (if that makes any difference to you). All but three of their 48 reviews are “five stars.”
More importantly, they say things about K&A that you will rarely find mentioned about a big city eatery. In one case, the reviewer mentioned being so enamored with the sweet potato salad that she reached out to the owners and actually requested the recipe. Without blinking an eye, K&A provided it, although the reviewer admitted that she could not make it nearly as well as.
K&A Take Away gets its name from Trevor Brand and Amy Carpenter, both Tomales and Point Reyes natives who have known each other since childhood and first started dating while sophomores at Tomales High School.
“‘T&A Take Away’ wouldn’t have worked,” laughs Amy. “So we went with the ‘K’ from Trevor’s middle name, which is Kai.”
Amy worked at Tomales Bakery, then moved on to a vet hospital. She always loved to cook, especially sausages, which Trevor encouraged her to try making at home. She read up and jumped in, at first just making them for herself and Trevor. Soon family and friends were asking to try. Eventually, a little space opened up in downtown Tomales. Again, with minimal formal training, but a whole lot of natural skill, Amy took the plunge.
“The first sandwich I ever made to order, other than what I make for Trevor’s lunches, was for the very first customer when we opened our doors,” says Amy. “I had never worked in a sandwich shop before.”
After tasting her handmade sausages, I can attest that her artistry with a meat grinder is worth exploring, every combination just works.
Trevor is a carpenter in Point Reyes during the week, but you can often find him at the front counter on weekends. They are about to mark their seventh year in business, and have changed very little since day one. Amy makes four types of sausage, with the hot Italian, mild Italian and bratwurst as the staples, and a flavored chicken sausage that changes every few weeks.
Everything is made by hand, weekly, in the 240-square-foot kitchen tucked behind and below the order counter. She makes roughly 10-15 pounds of each sausage per week during the summer and about 5 pounds during the winter. Because of UDSA rules, fans can only buy sausage sandwiches and not packages of sausages to roast at the beach, although K&A does some very-limited catering, but you will need some serious street cred and plenty of local references to get them to close up shop for your special occasion. Most recently, they cooked the sausages for the Tomales Volunteer Fire Department’s pancake breakfast (inspiring me to mark my calendar for next year’s fundraising breakfast).
K&A also offers specials every couple of days but when they run out, they move on to the next, so don’t expect to find these items on every visit. Recent specials have included sandwiches of meatloaf, pot roast and the Thai favorite, banh mi. They also always have a vegetarian option, which is usually potato cakes, this week with chow-chow, which is a southern relish and smoked paprika aioli. “I like the change the toppings to match the season’s flavors,” Amy says.
Also look for the Thai chicken sausage, apple-walnut-chipotle hand pies, quinoa pancakes, lamb meatballs, pozole, dried cherry radish and dill slaw, Hawaiian Portuguese bean soup and the ever-popular smoked salmon chowder (when it is in season). Another reviewer revealed that K&A’s chicken turnover, with flakey pastry crust filled with creamy chicken, peas and carrots, was the best she had ever had.