It is really kind of hard to describe this “cornerstone” of Diamond Springs which is located at 460 Pleasant Valley Road ( also Main St. and Highway 49).
I first went there in the 1970s when Elaida Smith owned and operated it. She was an interesting person who some called the “Mayor of Diamond Springs.” Some people loved her and some people were afraid of her, but all in all, she made great burgers.
The new operators have changed the menu to add a lot of Mexican food, so my friend Russ Salazar, my Mexican food expert, and I, decided to get Deb’s a try.
The restaurant is a bit “quaint” on the outside (think fifties) and very eclectic, but clean inside. Apparently years ago it had been a drive-in, and the covered parking stalls are still there.
The menu is only on several boards on the wall, since they are in the process of changing it. So it takes a bit of time to read everything.
Russ wanted to try a tamale, with no sauce, and a bowl of their menudo. I wanted to try a chile relleno combination plate, but strangely, Russ is not wild about what I consider the test of a Mexican restaurant. So, I ended up ordering a cheeseburger and chili dog in order to get a better sample of their overall menu.
The tamale was the first thing to arrive, followed immediately by the small bowl of menudo. The tamale was full of shredded beef with a thin corn masa outside. It would have been better sauced, but it was still very, very good.
The menudo? Well, it is not high on my food list. In fact, it is one of very few things that I really don’t like. I’ve had it several times and it varied from sort of okay to “no, I won’t eat that.” The broth can be good, but I just can’t get by the boiled tripe.
Russ thought it was good, but not on his list of the 10 best. I gave it a try, but it is not on my 10 best list either, even with the added lime, onions and oregano. Millions of people in the world love it, just not me.
The cheeseburger was very good. It was exactly like one you might make at home. It had everything you would put on it yourself, including leaf lettuce and amazingly ripe tomato. The burger patty was a bit well done, but they had grilled the bun, a nice thing. We both enjoyed it.
The chili dog was very interesting. I had been told it took up a whole plate. They weren’t kidding.
The dog itself had been grilled, a nice touch, placed on the grilled bun and then covered with what must have been two cups of chili beans. It too was just like you might make at home.
It tasted good, but a bit bland, so I went through their extensive collection of hot sauces to find one to pep it up.
While we were eating, a number of people, young and old, came in and appeared to enjoy their food very much. Most of them had burgers and fries. It is a very popular place.
I don’t really know where to start with the menu: burgers, cheese burgers, bacon burger Deb’s burger, pastrami burger, chili burger, garden burger, barbecue bacon burger, chicken strips and fish and chips. Regular fries, curly fries, crisscut fries, fried zucchini and fried mushrooms.
Under sandwiches: hot pastrami, pastrami Reuben, patty melt, grilled turkey, roast beef melt, grilled cheese, grilled ham and cheese, chicken, French dip, bbq beef and a BLT.
It continues: taco salad, steak salad, green salad, crispy chicken salad, Big dog, Diamond dog, Polish dog, chili dog, corn dog, Lil dog, chili cheese fries, nachos supreme and onion rings.
Their Mexican food includes: burritos, small and large, chile relleno, tamale, enchiladas, tacos and tortas. The enchiladas come with chicken, cheese or ground beef and the tortas, tacos and burritos can be made with carnitas, carne azada, birria (Mexican stew), chicken, ground beef, al pastor (grilled, a Mexican adaptation of a mid-Eastern dish), chorizo, lengua (tongue) or pezcado (fish).
Add to this soft drinks, iced tea, coffee, hot chocolate, milk, floats and a dozen or more flavors of shakes, malts and sundaes. Oh, also cones in several sizes and, yes, a banana split.
They are a bit flexible with their hours, but they told me: Monday through Saturday from 10 until 7 and on Sunday from 8:30 until 7.
For more information you can call them at (530) 621-3327.
They feature a car show once a month and it is a great place for a bite while wandering through the Diamond Springs Sunday Flea Market, which is right next door (they also add breakfast burritos and donuts on Sunday for the crowd).
Great sign in their window “We have the right to refuse service to anyone. Please be respectful and come in fully clothed. Thank you.”
Guys, before you get excited, it is shirtless men they are talking about. Sorry.