A few weeks ago I was having a delicious burger at Shoestring, on Broadway in Placerville, and got into a conversation with a couple sitting nearby. They were comparing the food with another restaurant, a relatively new chain of burger places called The Habit Burger Grill.
I mentioned that I had been to two different Habits in Sacramento with my daughter and grandkids and really enjoyed the food. The lady asked me if I had been to the new one in Folsom, and I said I hadn’t. She introduced herself as Julie Harrington, the General Manager of that restaurant and gave me a couple of cards for free cheeseburgers, asking me come by. The gentleman with her immediately added that I should be sure and try the grilled albacore sandwich.
The Habit, it turns out, started in Santa Barbara in 1969, and only recently started spreading out, bringing “Santa Barbara Style” burgers to the rest of us.
Well, I had only tried their burgers, so I gave my friend Russ Salazar a call and the next week we drove down the hill to Folsom to visit The Habit which is located at 1115 E.Bidwell St., #126. The restaurant is actually easier to get to by turning south at Blue Ravine and then turning right into the parking lot almost immediately (you’ll see it).
It was about a quarter to noon when we arrived and the restaurant was buzzing with people. We got in line and looked over the menu on the wall. We decided to try the Original Charburger, the Albacore tuna filet and an order of sweet potato fries, along with a couple of drinks.
The line moved fast, so shortly we reached the counter and placed our order. We were handed our drink cups and one of those brown, square buzzers that vibrate and light up when your order is ready. Important: Everything is cooked to order!
As we were heading for a table I heard a voice say, “You made it.” It was Julie, the manager, who was making sure everything was up to their high standards.
We found a table and then went back to fill our glasses and pick up some of the peppers from their pepper bar – jalapeño, peperoncini and those hot little yellow ones. I stuck with the peperoncini, I wanted to taste the food.
A few minutes later our brown “time bomb” went off and I went to get our food.
When you go to a restaurant and your food, it turns out, doesn’t look a bit like the picture on the menu, it is disappointing, but, unfortunately expected. The Habit is different.
Our food, and everyone else’s (Russ made me look around to make sure they weren’t just being nice to us), looked delicious and as close to the picture as you can get. They care; they care a lot. They will tell you it is “Quality first and speed second.” The presentation alone has a huge effect on how much you enjoy the meal and their’s is excellent.
Both the burger and the albacore filet were delicious. The burger was not overcooked and the albacore was slightly pink in the middle (I like it that way, but I was told they will cook it longer if you ask). All the veggies were fresh.
Russ commented to me that the burger patty was loose and not tough, like it was made with a better grade of coarse ground beef, adding the comment that the bun was excellent. I agreed, but took the tomato out of the albacore filet sandwich because I thought it took away from the taste of the fish. Next time, no tomato.
The sweet potato fries were outstanding. They were not overcooked and actually tasted like sweet potato.
When we were close to finished, Julie came over and asked us how we liked everything. She said the albacore is flown in from Fiji three times a week, so it is fresh, and, no, they don’t use a coarser grind of beef, they simply don’t overcook it and live up to their motto: “Respect the Burger.” That is why the burgers look so good and taste so delicious. Everything is put together carefully, not just thrown together.
Julie also surprised me by telling me that many years ago she worked with my son, Steve, at the Jack in the Box on Missouri Flat Road, and that later she opened the one in El Dorado Hills. It’s a small world.
The menu at The Habit includes a number of burgers like the Charburger, Double Char, Teriyaki Char, BBQ Bacon Char, Mushroom Char and Santa Barbara Style, a Double Char with cheese and avocado on grilled sourdough.
Grilled sandwiches included the Albacore filet, Chicken, Tri-tip steak, Veggie Burger, Pastrami (lean) and a Chicken Club.
If you opt for a salad, they have a number they make to order like two different Grilled Chicken salads, BBQ Chicken, Santa Barbara Cobb, Caesar and Garden. To the last two you can add grilled albacore or tri-tip if you wish.
To accompany your meal, soda, shakes and malts, cones and sundaes.
My daughter really likes The Habit for a good reason. Kids meals. For kids under 10, a Charburger, Chicken Nuggets or Grilled Cheese is only $3.95 and included fries, apple slices or applesauce and a soft drink, apple juice or milk. She can treat her family of four for around twenty bucks.
The Habit in Folsom is open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 until 10 and on Sunday from 11 until 9. For more information call (916) 983-2038.
Note: Since I wrote this in January of 2015, The Habit has been rated by several critics and publications as one of the best, if not the best, hamburger restaurant around.