Firewater Grill – Coloma

“Every time I east Rice Krispies . . . . . .I listen.”

Merritt Malloy


Firewater Grill

Okay, you have never heard of the Firewater Grill. Neither had I until last week. It has only been open a couple of weeks and doesn’t have a sign yet, but you can easily find it because it is located on Highway 49 in the Ponderosa Store and Café at Ponderosa Resort, in the Lotus – Coloma area, just north of the bridge over the South Fork of the American River, across the river from the Sierra Nevada House.

Now that I have got you there, you really have to try their food. They specialize in burritos, tacos and burrito bowls that are more than a bit upscale in ingredients from what you would normally find, and still affordable.

In June Tym Armstrong, of Gold Rush Whitewater Rafting moved his office to this building and reopened the general store, which is presently being expanded. He always felt his rafting customers should have the best food used chefs for the meals. Because of that he thought it might be a good idea to open a small burrito café to serve the adjoining campground, tourists and the community. He contacted his friend chef Jason Story, who has 18 years in the fine dining business, including two years as Chef de Cuisine at Sequoia, and told him what he wanted. Story took it from there, hiring Sous Chef Matt Nicholls, who worked at Amerikan Sushi in Placerville, to help him.

Their menu is basic, but the selection of meats and other ingredients is unique. They build your order as you request, right in front of you, and even have a list of suggested combinations if you would like to try something they have found works well and is delicious.

The meat selections include: pork carnitas, spicy pineapple pork, guajillo chicken, beef barbacoa and citrus cilantro mahi. If you are a vegetarian, you can try sauteed onions and peppers, ginger soy tempeh and falafel. They have two kinds of beans: refried pinto (made with butter) and vegetarian black beans. There are also two kinds of rice: garlic cilantro rice and Mexican style rice, which is vegetarian. At that point you can have them add cheese, onions, cilantro, cabbage, guacamole, sour cream and anything else from the fresh vegetable bar. Now, with your burrito, taco or burrito bowl completed to your exact specifications, you probably want some sauce. How about chipotle BBQ, verde, enchilada, wasabi aioli, jalapeno aioli, tahini vinegarette or coconut curry. (mouth watering yet?)

I tried a taco made with the citrus cilantro Mahi and a burrito made with spicy pineapple pork and garlic cilantro rice. I asked Chef Story to make it them both as if he was going to eat them and they turned out to be absolutely delicious and moist enough that I didn’t have to or want to add more salsa.

A large burrito is usually all I can eat at one sitting, but I was able to eat both it and the taco, along with some chips, so that I could try the selection of salsas.

The salsa bar is quite large and includes mango salsa, marinated onions, marinated jalapenos and carrots, pico de gallo, tomatillo, guacamole vinegarette, roasted corn and a rojo, which is made with different kids of chiles and is hot. I sampled each of them and also the sauces that I hadn’t tasted in my food, like the coconut curry, which I loved.

There is a limited amount of seating inside and a nice patio to which they are adding a plants, a waterfall and a fire bar (Thus the name Firewater).

As I have said before, I guess I could add more to this, but why don’t you give Firewater Grill a try. They are open from 11 until 8 daily, and until 9 on Friday and Saturday. And, this weekend, like the last one, they are offering a BOGO, a buy one, get one free deal on their food.

For more information call (530) 295-8380.

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