Steppin’ Out – Beef ‘n’ Brew, Diamond Springs

bee-and-brew-3Last week one of the owners of “Windfall,” Robert Henderson, and I had the opportunity to have lunch with the owners of Beef ‘n’ Brew in Diamond Springs, Mike and Vicky Fagan.

It had been almost exactly three years since I interviewed Mike and Vicky right after they opened Mike’s Grill a bit east of this restaurant, at the corner of Pleasant Valley and Oak Hill roads. At that time he told me he had some 36 years of experience with cooking and the food business, and loves what he does, which is very apparent when you meet him.

He has worked in of all kinds of restaurants and owned several. Their last restaurant before Mike’s Grill was Mike’s Beef and Brew in Oakley, CA, which had high ratings from all the social rating services.

“I am attached to the Placerville area,” he told me. “I spent a year at El Dorado High School when I lived with my mother in Pollock Pines. I have a brother and a niece in the area and a son in Grizzly Flat. We were thinking about another restaurant and my son noticed this location was available.

Last January they moved to here at 4252 Fowler Lane, #101, just south of the Diamond Springs Post Office, opened Beef ‘n’ Brew and business has been booming ever since.

The four of us sat at a table while Mike filled us in on their gorgeous new place and new menu. We were obviously there to try some of the food and he asked if we wanted to order something from the new menu or have him ask the kitchen to prepare a sampling for us. Samples, the magic words to a food writer.

While we were waiting to see what delicious dishes would come out of the kitchen, I asked Mike what their number one sellers were. “At breakfast people seem to stick to the standards, like ham and eggs,” he said. “At lunch the top burger is the new buffalo burger, followed by our new Kobe beef burger.”

“And at dinner too,” added Vicky.

“Oh,” added Mike, “we have new hash browns at breakfast for you to try,” as he got up and headed back into the kitchen.

Our first treat were their new deep fried artichoke hearts, which is served as an appetizer with an avocado-chipotle-ranch dipping sauce. Light and delicious. I could have filled up on those. Vicky said that they are her favorite.

All of a sudden a plate of hash browns appeared. They really looked good and, I found out, tasted even better. “They have quinoa, kale, spinach and sharp white Cheddar cheese in them,” said Mike. “ They are delicious, customers love them and they even cook faster.”

Then magically appeared two huge, fully outfitted burgers and a side of their well known, crispy fries. The burgers both had half pound patties, one was buffalo and one was Kobe beef.

I might mention here that very little of the hugely expensive Kobe beef is exported from Japan. What we get is from the same breed of cattle, Wagyu, but raised in America. The meat is more marbled and has a great flavor. It is often referred to as American Wagyu or American Kobe.

The buffalo burger was fantastic. Cooked to a perfect medium-rare, it was delicious and surprisingly very moist, even though it is one of the leanest meats. I can see why it is the number one burger.

The Kobe burger was very, very good, but not up to the buffalo, in my opinion. I think it had something to do with the meat being ground less coarse than the buffalo. While we were trying the burgers, Mike mentioned that he is going to be trying other meats, including ostrich.

Even though by this point we should have been finished, Mike brought us a full serving of their Flat Iron steak to try. It came with a whiskey-peppercorn sauce and was accompanied by lightly sauteed vegetables, garlic-cheddar mashed potatoes and a great piece of garlic toast.

I love flat iron steak and often cook it at home. Theirs was excellent, and the sauce was a perfect fit. The vegetables were crisp and the potatoes were delicious. I took some of it home for dinner.

Their new menu is fantastic, with lots of new dishes. At breakfast you have to try their pancakes, combos, scrambles, omelets, and, don’t forget those potatoes. At lunch, salads, sandwiches and the fantastic burgers you can get prepared many ways and always the way you want them cooked. At dinner people rave about their entrees, like pasta dishes, several chicken dishes, ribs, steak, steak and lobster, shrimp and grits, boneless short-rib and ribeye steak. And, if you are really looking for a treat, they have a USDA Prime New York steak. Prime Rib is served Thursday through Saturday evenings and you can even get it with lobster.

They get their bread from Bella Bru’s speciality bakery and their meat is the top few percent of USDA Choice. What else could you ask for.

Soda, coffee, tea, milk and lots of great local beers and wines to have with your meal.

Hours are from 7 am. until 9, except on Sunday when they close at 8. For more information give them a call at (530) 344-7296.

For a view of their new menu go to and click on Directory and then Beef n brew.

Oh, check out their great covered patio and their upcoming special events.

Steppin’ Out – Suzie Burgers, Nationwide Freezer Meats and Cash & Carry

It started out that I wanted to go to Cash & Carry, which is located on Richards Blvd. in Sacramento. They carry a certain brand of hot dogs that I wanted to check out. My friend Russ Salazar was up for it, so he picked me up and we headed that way.

Well, you know we can’t go to Sacramento without making a stop or two to sample food, so prior to meeting up both of us came up with a place we wanted to visit but hadn’t before.

We ended up with two that were on our way, both highly rated “retro” places: Suzie Burger and Nationwide Freezer Meats.

suzie-burger Our first stop was Suzie Burger, which is at 2820 P street, the corner of P and 29th. It appears to be in an old gas station and has been there for a long time. The front area of the old station is one dining area, the garage bays are a larger one and there are even several tables outside. In between the two dining areas is the kitchen.

Parking is limited, but you can park on the street. We found a spot where the old gas pumps had been located and walked in.

They have a very large menu, but feature burgers. We decided to try a simple cheeseburger and something that was on special that day, Philly Cheesesteak Tater-Tots. We placed our order and found an empty table in the larger dining area. In a few minutes they called our number.

The burger was very good with lots of pickles and a thin layer of coleslaw, along with all the other regular items. The coleslaw was a surprise that really added a bit of texture and moisture.

Russ and I both liked the Philly Cheesesteak Tater-Tots, but Russ thought they would come with slices of grilled meat, rather than crumbled hamburger. We both grumbled a bit about the meat being overcooked, but we ate every bit of them.

nationwideOur next stop was Nationwide Freezer Meats at 1930 H Street, which is at the corner of H and 20th. Although not always at this location, it has been around as a meat market or restaurant since the 1960s.

They have some interesting murals on the walls showing things like downtown Sacramento with trains, boats, etc., painted like hot dogs, along with a lot of “Coca Cola” memorabilia.

Their speciality is the French Ground Steakburger, which comes with a one-third pound, fresh ground beef patty as a single, double, tripple (that must be French for triple) or quadruple, on a soft and chewy French roll. We decided to try it, but only a single patty.

Also on their menu board were several hot dogs. Russ got a positive reply to his question,”Do you make your own chili,” so we ordered a chili dog. I asked if any of their hot dogs was old-fashioned with a skin on it. They said that the “longer dog” did, so we had that in our chili dog.

Although it is all inside seating, they serve your food to you in the same bag on which they wrote the order and handed to the cooks to fill.

The burger was good and the bun was nice and almost too chewy, but with a single patty, it was really too much bread.

The chili for the chili dog was mostly beans. It wasn’t bad chili, but both of us prefer beanless chili as a condiment (I know, we should have asked). The “longer dog” was a regular hot dog made by the Evergood Company. That is one of Russ’ favorites, but to me it is too salty, something I actually mentioned before we knew who made it. I wonder how big their regular dog is if this is “longer.”

While we were finishing, they brought us some of their large, Fresh-Cut Steak Fries to try. I liked them, crunchy on the outside and soft inside. Russ said they needed a steak to go with them.

cash-carry-smart-foodservice-78571534Our last stop, before returning to home was Cash & Carry at 1101 Richards Blvd. When Russ was employed by the State, his office was near, so he knew the way. I would have been lost for a while.

Cash & Carry is a wholesale supplier for small restaurants and the public. They carry a brand of sausages from a small factory called Cloverdale, in North Dakota. They make the hot dog for the Seattle Mariners that a friend brought me from Washington. I loved them and wanted to see what else they had.

foothill-food-slider-main1They have a huge selection of everything you would need, from bread to meats to spices and, well, you name it. It is quite like Foothill Food Service in the Diamond Springs Industrial Park, but with a slightly larger meat and deli section (haven’t been to Foothill Food Service? It’s open to the public. Check them out).

I looked and looked, but didn’t find anything that excited me, as they were out of the ones I wanted. I did pick up a bag of different rolls to try.

As to the food at the two restaurants, it was good and different, but I still think I can do better right here in the Placerville area. I always put coleslaw on pulled pork, but never thought about it on a burger.

Suzie Burger, 2820 P Street, Sacramento, phone (916) 455-3500.
Nationwide Freezer Meats, 1930 H Street, Sacramento, phone (916) 444-3286.
Cash & Carry, 1101 Richards Blvd., Sacramento, phone (916) 441-1618.
Foothill Food Service, 6230 Enterprise Drive, Diamond Springs, phone (530) 295-1274.

For hours or any other information, call or check out their web pages:, and