Monthly Archives: July 2016

Steppin’ Out – Main Street Melters, Placerville

main street meltersA couple of years ago I stopped at a place called Olde Towne Deli. It was located at the northwest corner of Main and Clay streets. The owner was a gentleman with the very interesting name of Igor Khavin, who had fixed the place up very nicely. Working there and partnering with him was a friend of mine, Sharon Neu, who I had met at the Golden Poppy restaurant some years before.

The menu was mostly “build it yourself” sandwiches which they made using Boar’s Head meats and delicious breads and cheeses.
Sometime later, Khavin needed to sell the business and a little over a year ago it was purchased by the Stone family, one of whom had worked there previously.

The menu has been substantially expanded and now has salads, sides and lots of sandwiches, cold and hot, that are specialities of the house.
Russ Salazar was in town for an appointment, so he asked me to meet him there around 11:30 one morning.

We looked over the menu to find a couple of different sandwiches to share and settled on the Reuben, from the “Grilled Sandwiches” list and the Californian from the “Massive Melters” list (double meat for the hungry).

The Ruben is made with corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing and served on toasted marble rye. Although the Boar’s Head corned beef is very lean, it was still a great sandwich (fat is flavor). It was not over-sauced with dressing and the sauerkraut did not make the bread soggy, two things that we often find with a Reuben. They did a great job with this one, but the Californian was even better.

The Californian (aka Cali Club) is so big they have to cut it into two and wrap each half separately. It is a “real club” sandwich with three slices of bread and contains lots of turkey, ham, bacon, avocado, “mayo,” lettuce, tomato and red onion. The three slices of Country White Bread are perfectly toasted.

It is so big, at first the questioned why we ordered another sandwich, but, in spite of its generous size, it was light and very, very good. I’d order that one again.

Now, the food it great, but there is something else about this restaurant that is almost as good – the view.

They have outside seating on the porch and under umbrellas and a tree where you can sit and “watch the passing crowd” along that part of Main Street. You can also answer questions by people who are new in town or visiting and trying to find a certain business, we found out.
It really is a great place to enjoy a great lunch.

Their menu starts out with several salads, including turkey, a Caesar and a unique, Nothing But Veggies. The “Kids Corner” lists a PB&J and a grilled cheese. Sides include Mac N Cheese, a side salad, potato salad and a bag of chips. Oh, oh, I just noticed they have a “e” on potato.

The “Grilled Sandwich” list includes sandwiches with very interesting names, most of which I am sure you can probably figure out: The Hammy, Swiss Piggy, The Jalapeno Popper, Beef & Bleu, The Avocado, Little Philly, Big Kahuna, Thanksgiving, Hot Ace (spicy), Mac N Cheese Melt, Lean On Me, Loaded Irishmen, Angry Irishmen and the Reuben we enjoyed.

The “Massive Melters” with double meat and “hot off the grill,” include The Standard, Double Irishmen, Double Angry Irishmen, The Cali Club, The Rancher, Big Bird, Italian Hero (I’m trying that one next time), Double Reuben and The Philly.

“Cold Sandwiches” (your choice of bread or roll) includes the roast beef, pastrami, Bird, ham, turkey, B.L.T. and The Tuna.

They will also make you a grilled cheese sandwich on your choice of bread and any one of eight cheeses.

Finally, if you can’t find something you love on the sandwich menus, you can build your own sandwich by selecting your choice of bread, meat, cheese, condiments and veggies.

Main Street Melters is open daily from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

For more information give them a call at (530) 303-3871.

Oh, they will deliver to businesses in downtown Placerville. There is a minimum order and a small delivery charge.


Steppin’ Out – Back Forty Texas BBQ, Shingle Springs

Back Forty Logo2I was very surprised that my friend, Russ Salazar, had never been to this very popular restaurant at 3977 Durock Road in Shingle Springs. I’ve eaten there several time and enjoyed their food at a number of catered events. It has always been consistently good.

Shelley Cobb, along with her husband and pitmaster, Jerry Cobb, have been in business at this easy to reach location for 23 years as of last March, she told me. I remember when they first opened and called me. That seems like just a few years ago. How time flies when you’re having fun.

We dropped in one early afternoon on a Thursday and were showed to a table by one of their efficient and friendly staff. As usual, the restaurant was spotlessly clean.

I wanted beef brisket (moist) and Russ wanted to try their ribs, since he just bought a smoker and is looking to try as many different ribs as he can.

If you are not familiar with a beef brisket, it has two parts: flat and point. The point, which is more marbled and fatter, is on top and the source of the moister meat.

We looked at the menu trying to decide how to do this most efficiently and decided to split an order of Ribs and Beef (four ribs and a quarter pound of moist brisket) from the Best of Both portion of the menu. It came with two sides and a choice of bread. We chose Gram’s Chili (Russ wants to try everyone’s chili) and Texas Country fries. along with cornbread.

Well, everything was great. The ribs bit off the bone like they should and were not only pretty, but delicious. The moist brisket was just as I remembered, tender and full of flavor. I had been tasting it in my mind for several days before we went there. I was not disappointed.
The chili was thick, hearty and full of delicious shredded meat. Russ, my chili expert, was impressed, as was I.

Often thick cut (steak fries) are mushy inside. These Texas Country fries were crispy on the outside and firm inside. They were especially good when dipped in their barbecue sauce.

The cornbread was excellent and held together. I love cornbread, but hate it when it crumbles away. Theirs did not. I guessed how they did it, but I am sworn to secrecy.

While we were enjoying the food, our server brought us some pickle slices. They were outstanding and looked fresh and homemade because the skin was still bright green. I asked and it turns out they get them from their supplier (could have fooled me).

We were almost finished with our growing lunch when we were unexpectedly brought a serving of Burnt Ends, which they only serve on Wednesday and Thursday. Now, this was a real treat they thought we would enjoy.

Burnt ends are flavorful pieces of meat cut from the point (fatter) part of a smoked brisket and usually re-smoked or cooked longer. Thus their darker color giving them the name “burnt,” although they really aren’t. I have only had burnt ends once before and these were even better than that time.

Full of great food, we decided to skip dessert, although Bread or Banana puddin’ seemed appropriate.

The menu is full of great things and starts with quite a list of appetizers, followed by their list of meats. They serve their award winning pork ribs, beef ribs, chicken several ways, moist and lean brisket, tri-tip, sliced turkey, hot links, Cajun catfish and pulled pork and even prime rib after 4:30. You can order one or as many of these as you like.

For sides you can choose from potato salad, cole slaw, bbq beans, the Texas fries, chili and, after 4:30, baked potato with all the fixin’s.
The menu continues with several great looking salads and a lot of sandwiches made with their wonderful meats. Under Soup and Chili they have the homemade soup of the day and Gram’s great chili. Not only can you get a bowl or cup of the chili, you can get it in a combination as “Bob’s Chili Size,” Chili and Cheese Fries and even “Myhah’s Chili Mac,” which is Gram’s Chili over their mac and cheese.

For beverages they have coffee, tea, sweet tea, milk, soda, floats, beer and wine.

I should also add that they can make up a “Party Pack” for you and are very popular as a party and event caterer. As they put it, they don’t just cater, they “Cater to you.”

I can’t really do their menu justice by relating it to you, go on line and look at it at Both their regular and catering menus are there.

Back Forty Texas BBQ is open Tuesday – Thursday from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m, Friday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Closed Monday.

For more information give them a call at (530) 676-4040.

There is also a Back Forty Texas BBQ in Pleasant Hill and Roseville.

Steppin’ Out – Togo’s, Cameron Park

togosSeveral times Russ Salazar and I have driven by Togo’s sandwich shop in Folsom, thinking we should go there and try the pastrami. Then it occurred to me – I had forgotten that there is a Togo’s in Cameron Park in the northeast corner of the shopping center with Safeway, between Taco Bell and McDonald’s (also one in El Dorado Hills). And, if we really wanted to ignore our diets, there is a Baskin-Robbins with it.

I had actually reviewed this Togo’s before and went back in the archives to dig out what I had said.

It turned out it was in mid- November of 2010 that I had gone there to try their new toasted sandwiches. I had chosen the Pepper Jack Pastrami – pastrami, thousand island dressing, pepper jack cheese and pepperoncinis on classic white bread. I had enjoyed it, but someone told me that the next time I should order their Classic Pastrami and have them toast it.

Well, with that in mind Russ and I met there, anxious to try that and something else from their menu, both to be cut in two to share.

The first thing we found out when we ordered the pastrami was that their toaster was out of order and they didn’t know when it would be fixed or replaced. That threw a wet blanket over our anxiousness. That was a couple of months ago, so, hopefully, it has been fixed by now.

We ordered the Classic/Signature Pastrami anyway and then ran into another problem. Russ doesn’t think a pastrami sandwich should have cheese (I go for Swiss) and only likes light mustard. I got a little more mustard and pickles on half of the sandwich and, sadly, took it without cheese, which, in this case, was probably a good idea as I could really taste the pastrami.

Our second sandwich was a wrap: Bacon Ranch Chicken on a spinach wrap. Russ saw they have chili and, as he always does, ordered a bowl of it to try.

We watched them make our sandwiches and noticed that the young lady making the wrap had to toss out a couple of wraps (tortillas) before she found one that wouldn’t crack when she rolled it.

The chili was disappointing. It tasted and had texture like the beans in it were canned. It also didn’t have much flavor. We asked and one of the employees told us it comes pre-made.

The pastrami sandwich was really okay, but would have been better if toasted. The roll and pastrami were both very good, but I thought it had way too much bread for the amount of pastrami. (I also thought it needed more mustard and Swiss cheese).
Russ likes bread and commented that it was good bread. We both decided that, for sandwich shops, Subway makes a better overall pastrami sandwich.
I thought the wrap was very good, but the spinach wrap itself was as expected: dry and cold.

I mentioned the wrap problem and the chili issues to the good folks at the counter and, as I often do, even emailed the company with my comments. They didn’t respond to the email, which is interesting, because they have a customer comment form. Only they and KFC have failed to respond.

I decided they were just having a bad day, because I have eaten at several Togo’s before and been delighted with the food and service.
Togo’s has quite a menu of Classic Sandwiches from which to choose. They have over a dozen they serve cold, several they serve hot and even a number of veggie ones. On any of those you can choose from a number of breads, cheeses and condiments.

They also serve four speciality toasted sandwiches (when the toaster is working) along with Sandwich Wraps, Salads and Salad Wraps.
You can also make a Classic into a mini (half a sandwich) if you are not hungry, or combine that mini with a soup or half salad.

For the kids, there is a combination of a mini sandwich, side and small drink.

And, don’t forget the chips, cookies or brownie to finish off your meal.

If you are having a special event or meeting, Togo’s can cater it for you. The whole backside of their menu explains the great things you can get.

The Cameron Park Togo’s opens at 10 a.m. daily, and closes at 9 p.m., 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For more information give them a call at (530) 672-9295.

Oh, we decided to pass on something from Baskin Robbins. Neither of us needed it.

Steppin’ Out – Durango’s Mexican Restaurant, Placerville

DurangosMy friend Russ Salazar wanted us to visit Durango’s the evening of Cinco de Mayo for the Mariachi music, but the weather seemed not to be cooperating. So, we decided to visit this popular restaurant for lunch on this Mexican holiday celebrating their defeat of the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

Durango’s has been around for quite a while, taking over the Westerner – Arnavais – Tinker’s Cove location at 263 Placerville Drive many years ago.

It is very popular and on this celebratory Thursday, both the bar and dining rooms were well occupied by singles, couples, foursomes and even a large group of “Red Hat” ladies.

We were first offered a booth, but it was a bit too tight for two well-fed gentlemen, so they gladly shifted us to a more comfortable table.
As usual we decided to order two different dishes and share them, so we looked over the “Especiales de Lonche” part of the menu to see what looked good. Russ decided on a Shredded Beef (machaca) taco, which he had enjoyed before, while I ordered the Chile Verde plate with flour tortillas. I love chile verde, but in all these years had not tried theirs.

Both lunches came with Spanish rice and beans, so we ordered one lunch with refried beans and the other with their Ranchero beans. After thinking about it for a minute or so, Russ added cup of their Sopa de Albondigas (homemade meatball and vegetable soup) to our order just to give it a try.

While waiting for our food, we munched on their multi-colored tortilla chips and the accompanying very nice, but not very hot, salsa.
In a short while Russ’ soup arrived. It looked very good and, it turns out, tasted even better. Russ, who is obviously my Mexican food expert, complemented it by telling me it was very good and then shared some with me. I agreed, the meatballs had a nice consistency and the broth was very tasty.

When our main order arrived they had given both of us refried beans, but that was solved in a friendly flash with a small bowl filled with their Ranchero beans.

My chile verde “needed more verde,” Russ told me, and then added that the pork was perfectly cooked and tender.

He then asked why I was eating it with a fork and, as before, showed my the proper way to tear off a piece of flour tortilla and scoop up the meat, beans and rice. I can do that, but only a portion of the food ever reaches my mouth, the rest landing somewhere between it and the plate, usually on my clothes. I’ll stick with the fork.

His shredded beef taco was also superb. He pointed out to be that in spite of being crisp, the tortilla did not break while eating it. So often tacos do that and end up joining the rest of the food on your clothes.

I really liked the rice and both of us commented to each other about the beans and how good they were. The Ranchero beans were whole and the refried beans were only partially mashed, which added a bit of texture to them.

All in all, everything was great and, for you who do not favor hot food, nicely seasoned for your taste.

Their lunch menu also has a Chile Relleno (the true test of a Mexican restaurant), Pork Tamale, several burritos, Enchilada, Flauta, Quesadilla, Tostada and Chile Colorado.

Under the heading of Sopa Y Ensaladas, are found the Albondigas and a shrimp with vegetables soup, along with Avocado, Shrimp, Shrimp Taco, Taco and Grilled Steak or Chicken Fajita salads.

The Especialidades de la Casa include everything a good Mexican restaurant should have, like Carnitas, Carne Adobada, Flautas, Machaca, Picadillo, Chimichangas, Chile Colorado, Chile Verde, Enchiladas – Rancheras, Steak Ranchero and much more.

Mariscos de la Casa (seafood) includes Crab Enchiladas, Fish Tacos, Shrimp Enchiladas, Shrimp Tacos, Shrimp Quesadilla and Camerones ala Mexicana. This is followed by a list of Cenas Favorites and a dozen and a half Combinationes de la Casa.

You can view their entire menu at

Durango’s Mexican Restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. For more information visit their webpage or call (530) 626-0841.