Just for a change of pace, a few weeks ago Russ Salazar and I met up at Café El Dorado for breakfast, not our normal lunch.
Café El Dorado is located at 5787 Pleasant Valley Road, between the town of El Dorado and the El Dorado “Y,” where Pleasant Valley Road meets Mother Lode Drive. It is not a fancy building and one of those places you have probably driven by a hundred times and not noticed, except for the number of parked customer’s cars. But, you should stop by, and often, because the ambience is happy and warm, the staff is great and the food is great, in good sized portions and inexpensive (Yelp, which is full of rave reviews, rates them four stars plus and under $10).
I was expecting to have a nice chat with the owner and chef, Adalberto Flores, but to my surprise less than three weeks before we got there, he sold it to Cherie Kenworthy (you may remember her from the Train Station in Shingle Springs).
As we walked in, Rose Taylor, who used to own the Firehouse Café in Diamond Springs, greeted me by name and asked where we would like to sit. We glanced at the specials board for a few seconds, and they followed her to a nice table near the heater.
he handed us two menus and filled us in on the transfer of ownership and that not to worry, the kitchen staff was the same and all women. Because of that they laughingly refer to the place as the “Home of 5 Broke Girls.”
Rose, along with our server, Cindy, were just there helping Cherie get things going, and doing a very good job of it.
I had decided on the Eggs Benedict, because I had seen a picture of them and if they really looked that good, they had to taste good.
Russ had seen on the Specials Board a combo dish of a tamale and an enchilada, with rice and beans. He is my expert on those, so he ordered that.
Russ’ order was more of a lunch meal and came with clam chowder. Our server insisted that I also get a cup to try. I am glad they did that.
The clam chowder was, as Russ called it, “complete.” He said, “Tell people to taste it first before adding salt, pepper, hot sauce or anything else. It needs nothing and is perfect as it comes from the kitchen.” I really liked it and thought it had a nice underlying warmth to it which I suspect was white pepper.
My Eggs Benedict arrived and they did look like the picture I had seen. The eggs were perfectly cooked, the Canadian bacon/ham was thick, tender and delicious, the hollandaise sauce had just the right about of lemon and the English muffin was nicely toasted.
I really loved the country potatoes that came with the dish. The potatoes were crisp but not over cooked and the peppers and onions (optional) were tender and delicious. Russ mirrored my opinion.
Both Russ’ tamale and enchilada were overstuffed with meat (he had chosen beef) and excellent. I think the tamale had more meat than masa, which may be the reason the masa was a bit dry and crumbly. Russ, who grew up on Mexican food, thought the masa might have needed a bit more lard (do they still use that?) in the mixture.
The beans and rice were excellent in my opinion. Nobody, according to Russ, makes them quite as good as his grandmother did, but he like them too.
We opted not to have dessert since the dishes we shared filled us up.
Backing up a little bit, when we first opened the menus Russ looked at me and said, “We have to come back here. The menu has too many good looking dishes that we need to try.” That is probably the greatest complement he has ever paid a restaurant since I have known him.
Café El Dorado is open daily (except Thanksgiving and Christmas) from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. and can be reached at (530) 626-8865. Rose assured me that as long as you show up before 2, you will be cheerfully served.