“Only in America do we buy hot dogs in packages of 10 and buns in packages of eight.”
— Claimed by several people
Old Town Grill
As I mentioned before, my daughter brought the grandkids up for the Christmas Parade last year. The kids wanted French fries for lunch (hey, it is a parade day), so she went into Old Town Grill, 444 Main St. in Placerville, to get them. When she came out she said to me with a smile, “Those people are all so friendly. What a pleasure that was.”
I mentioned that and the fact that they have a unique round hot dog to my foodie friend, Russ Salazar, and he e-mailed back, “Let’s go.”
I showed up early and chatted with both John Sanders and his wife Debbi, who own the business: John standing at the grill in his white chef’s coat and Debbi taking orders. Along with their other duties both of them were greeting arriving customers and thanking departing customers, always with a smile.
After Russ arrived we looked over the menu posted above the counter and the list of delicious looking specials and decided to order an Old Town Dog, a cheese burger and an order of Thompson’s Snowshoes seasoned crisscross fries that come with bleu cheese dressing, spicy garlic oil and more crumbled bleu cheese.
For our drinks we both ordered soda, but we could have had iced tea, water, a milkshake, a malt or a root beer float (yes, real ice cream, which is also available by the scoop).
The “Old Town Dog” is a quarter pound dog that has been cut every quarter inch or so on one side, so it curls into a circle when it is grilled (as it should be) and put on a hamburger bun with lettuce, tomato, grilled onions and Old Town spread. The cheeseburger comes with jack and cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, dill pickle, red onion and Old Town spread.
We both really liked the hot dog. Grilling it with those cuts in it really brings out the flavor, and the lettuce, tomato and sauce actually worked, whereas mustard, etc., might have overpowered the dog. The grilled onions also added a lot to the flavor and fit very nice inside the dog. Russ thought the bun could be a bit larger, but not as large as the cheeseburger bun, since the dog kept slipping out. I somewhat agreed, but don’t like to have too much bread on my dogs and burgers.
The cheeseburger brought equal praise from both of us. The hamburger is fresh ground from grass fed, hormone free beef, which really makes a difference, and the cheese combination enhanced the flavor.
The Thompson’s Snowshoes — you can’t help but love them, but not more than now and then. They are very rich.
There are a number of other things on the menu, such as the bacon cheeseburger, mushroom cheeseburger, bleu (Gorgonzola) cheese burger, their own “Earthburger” and even a “Soul Burger,” that is made with grilled Louisiana hot link coins. There are also three chicken sandwiches: Dijon, pesto and teriyaki, along with “John Studebaker’s Wheel,” a polish sausage served in a wheel like the hot dog and “Gold Miner’s Hand” — chicken breast fingers breaded with Panko crumbs.
There are also a large number of specials listed each day that deserve checking out. Most are very unique and often made with exotic meats, such as buffalo and elk.
Old Town Grill has just started staying open until 8 p.m. for dinner, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, serving its regular menu along with different specials. “Our customers talk to us and tell us what they want as specials,” said John, “it pays to listen them.”
About half way through our meal, John and Debbi’s daughter, Genevieve, who is also known as “Genny the Genie” when she performs magic, arrived and greeted us. Russ has a lady friend who is also a magician and a family friend of the Sanders, so they had quite a conversation. Genny likes magic, but said, “I think the restaurant business is my future.”
“This is our 11th year in business,” said John. “and we love it here. We had a restaurant in Sacramento years ago, but the Placerville people are the best. They are super people and it is a super place to have a business.”
I think everyone who was working that day came by our table, and everyone else’s table to make sure the food was satisfactory and to see if we needed a refill on our drinks. I don’t believe there is a friendlier or happier place in town. Russ was delighted with the food and the place overall and seriously asked me why we hadn’t come here earlier.
Old Town Grill is open weekdays from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., and until 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On Sunday it opens at noon and is closed on Tuesday. For more information call 530-622-2631.