Monthly Archives: June 2017

Steppin’ Out – Wally’s Pizza Bar, Cameron Park

A few weeks ago Russ Salazar met me in town for lunch. After a short conversation we decided to try one of several places in Cameron Park instead of Placerville. However, by the time we arrived there, we still hadn’t made up our minds.

As we cruised south on Cameron Park Drive, I saw the Wally’s Pizza Bar sign. “That’s it,” I said to Russ, “we need to go to Wally’s.” He thought that sounded good.

If you are not familiar with Wally’s Pizza Bar, it is a full service restaurant featuring gourmet pizza, pasta, salads and more, in a sports bar atmosphere. It is located at 4079 Cameron Park Drive, south of the freeway, near Sizzler and Carl’s Jr.

Wally’s is locally owned and operated by Wally, Dan, Jeremy and Monica Dreher. The Dreher family has owned and operated FLB Sports Bar & Casino in Folsom since 1979. They have wanted to open a business in Cameron Park since they moved there almost 40 years ago and that is exactly what they did.

We walked in to the huge dining/bar area, which is lined with at least a dozen giant screens showing all kinds of sports events in progress, We were seated at a table of our choice and handed both the regular and lunch menus. As we were looking over the menus, a nice young lady came by to get our drink orders.

When she left I casually asked Russ if he noticed the diamond stud in her nose. “No,” he answered. “I couldn’t get by the purple lipstick.”
I guess you shouldn’t ask us two old guys our opinion on tattoos that aren’t an anchor or say “Mom.”

The Lunch Specials, available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., include Soup and Salad, Chicken Marinara and Chicken Pesto stuffed portabella mushrooms, Gouda Mac & Cheese with Ham, Classic Tomato Basil spaghetti and Spaghetti Bolognese. These are followed by three different calzones: Rubicon, Chicken Pesto and Smokey BBQ Chicken, and three sandwiches, Meatball, Chicken Club and Chicken Pesto.

I immediately went for the Rubicon Calzone, which is loaded with Italian sausage, bacon, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, marinara and their signature four cheese blend. Just reading the ingredients made me hungry for it.

Russ said a friend of his advised that he order the Chicken Club, which had chunks of chicken breast, bacon bits, tomatoes, avocado and Spring mix on a toasted ciabatta bun with garlic aioli spread and Parmesan.

Both of them came with a choice of House / Caesar salad or French fries. We both went for the Caesar salad.

When our lunch arrived, they had been kind enough to put one half of each of the sandwiches, along with our salads, on two plates. They really looked good and, let me tell you, they tasted even better.

I tried the Chicken Club first and it was fantastic. Everything about it was perfect: the abundant amount of chicken, the right amount of dressing and everything else in the proper proportions. Russ looked at me and said, “My friend said it was the sandwich to order, and she was right.”

After a couple of bites of the fresh, crisp Caesar salad, I tried the Calzone. What a mass of flavors all working together.
Think of the best “all meat” pizza you have ever eaten and then make it better. I said to Russ, “Someone in the kitchen knows what they are doing.”

I don’t know where he found it – or maybe made it up – but he replied: “The ingredients make the sandwich, the sandwich maker makes it great.”

I believe it is one of the very best lunches we have enjoyed. Everything was wonderful, even the size of my water glass. I’m sure Russ would agree.

The regular menu starts with a list of interesting looking appetizers, including one of the favorites, FLB Wings. These are followed on the menu by their Soup of the Day and several salads, including The Greek, Classic Caesar and their interesting Pear & Walnut salad.

The list of Gourmet Pizzas includes just about anything you would want, including the Rubicon (like our calzone) and even one featuring Pear & Gorgonzola. And, yes, you can create your own.

If you are a meal of pasta, they have a half a dozen different ones, ranging from a Classic Tomato Basil to a Thai Curry, with a bit of heat.

Yes, there is a really nice Kids Menu too.

Unique desserts are available and they have drinks for all ages, from soda to speciality cocktails, including 20 beers on tap and about 20 wines, local and from elsewhere in California.

Wally’s Sports Bar is open weekdays from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. Breakfast is served on Saturday and Sunday until 2 p.m.

For more information call (530) 677-3205 or check out everything, including their new Breakfast Menu, at www.wallyspizzabar.com. Be sure to also check for special events and live music.

Steppin’ Out – Wild Bill’s Cheesesteaks & Grill, Cameron Park

A little over a year ago my friend Russ Salazar and I had lunch at the Wild Bill’s in Folsom. We tried one of their Original Cheesesteak sandwiches and a Chicago Dog. They were both good, but the Cheesesteak didn’t have grilled peppers on it and the Chicago Dog was missing both a pickle spear and the necessary celery salt.

A month or so ago Russ noticed that a Wild Bill’s had opened in Cameron Park, so we decided to give it a try, this time with a better idea of what to order.

It is located in big shopping center with Safeway, but on the far west side right side across from McDonald’s, near the street. The address is 3326 Coach Lane.

When we walked in we were immediately, and happily, greeted by a young lady named Kathleen. She then asked us what we wanted to order, but we replied we first wanted to look over the menu on the wall.

The menu was a bit different from Wild Bill’s in Folsom (no Chicago Dog), but after looking it over, we decided to split a large Cali, which has steak, a choice of cheese, along with bell peppers and onions. The cheese choices were American, Provolone, Pepper Jack or Cheese Whiz (is that really cheese?). I said Provolone, but should have taken the American (white), which is what would probably come on it in “Philly.”

As I mentioned last time, white American cheese is the most authentic cheese for this sandwich, but Provolone is right up there with it, according to the afficionados in Philadelphia.

Instead of another sandwich to split, we went for sweet potato fries. We are finding that two sandwiches, and a side or two, is actually too much for us to split, eat and still feel comfortable.

While we were waiting for the food, I went to the condiments table and filled two small containers, one with sweet peppers and one with hot peppers.

The sandwich was beautiful, filled with grilled steak and peppers and nice and moist. I’ve had them that were served very dry and this one wasn’t at all. It was delicious, especially when a few of the hot peppers were added.

Like at the restaurant in Folsom, it was served on an Amoroso roll, the proper roll for a Philly sandwich. Amoroso’s Baking Co. is in Philadelphia, if you are wondering.

I should add a note about the hot peppers. They are not that hot and really add to your sandwich, as do the sweet ones. Kathleen said they could be added to the sandwich in the kitchen when it was made if you ask.

The sweet potato fries could have been a bit crisper, and there could have been a few more of them, but they were very good.

After most of the lunch rush had left, Kathleen came over to us to see how we liked the food. We told her we loved the sandwich and gave her our comments on the fries. I then asked about one item on the menu, Bill’s Chips.

They turned out to be thinly sliced potatoes that they buy and then deep fry. Yes, freshly made potato chips!

Kathleen had some cooked for us to try. They were very good, but go for the really crispy ones. We actually fought over those. Russ thought they were the best thing on the menu.

Overall the food was very good and the service likewise.

Their menu includes a number of variations on the Philly sandwich and a lot more. You can choose Philly sandwiches with double meat, bacon, mushrooms, garlic, lettuce and tomato, spinach, barbecue sauce, peppers and onions (#9, the Cali), au jus, Frank’s Hot sauce, pepperoni (#12 the Freak) and more. There are 12 Philly sandwiches to choose from and you can substitute chicken for the steak if you want.

They also serve burgers, hot wings, fish and chips, hot dogs, Polish dogs, Cheesesteak nachos and a Cheesesteak salad. In addition, there are speciality sandwiches like the Guido, hot pastrami with lettuce, tomato, mayo and more (Why lettuce, tomato and mayo on pastrami?), pulled pork, a Vegi and a grilled ham and cheese.

For sides the have steak fries, Bill’s Chips, tater tots, twister fries, onion rings, fried pickles, garlic fries, cheese fries, chili cheese fries, jalapeno poppers and Mozzarella sticks. Oh, yes, there is also a kid’s menu and extras you can add to your sandwich.

Drinks include soda, tea and Calypsos (flavored lemonade).

Wild Bill’s Cheesesteak & Grill is open from 11 until 8, except Sunday. On Sunday they close at 4. For more information, call (530) 677-5221.
The food was good, the service was good and the place was clean.

Oh, look closely at the “How to Order” list on the wall to the left of the menu. You can get your sandwich “wit” or “witout” onions.

Steppin’ Out – Taqueria La Palmita, Placerville

I actually drove by this place and missed it for over a year. Then I noticed a small sign by the edge of the street advertising burritos, looked up and found it.

The place is called Taqueria La Palmita and is obvious once you know where it is, which is at 1349 Broadway, in Placerville, just west of Splasherville Express Car Wash and across the street from Tractor Supply Co.

They started out about a year and a half ago featuring just “Antojitas Mexicanas,” which literally translates to “little cravings,” dishes that would not regularly served at a meal.

Included on that menu and still available today, are dishes like: Mangonada: (fresh sliced mango, Chamoy, powdered chile, salt and lemon); Bionicos: (grapes, bananas, apples, papaya, cantaloup, strawberries, cream and topped off with granola, raisins and shredded coconut); Fruta Picada (pineapple, mango, cucumber, papaya, cantaloupe and watermelon) and Cueritos Preparados (pickled pork rinds, cucumber, jicama, peanuts, tamarind, Valentino Hot Sauce, Chamoy, salt and lemon). That is just a sampling. There are a lot more.

Last September they added to the menu tacos, burritos, tortas and quesadillias and to the front window, the word “Taqueria.”

I gave my friend Russ Salazar a call right after I noticed the sign and we met there around noon one day.

On the wall, just inside the door, is their menu. I looked it over and then told Russ to order us something good, knowing he would order the most unique food.

He selected four tacos, lengua (tongue), al pastor (marinated strips of pork), tripitas (tripe) and adobada (marinated pork, similar to al pastor). He had originally wanted buche (pork stomach), but they were out. Thus the al pastor.

He also added a quesadilla, made with asada (beef steak), cheese and champinones (mushrooms), which sounded quite interesting.

The place is small, with somewhat limited booth and table seating, but we easily found a table. That done, I went to the salsa bar to gather some salsas for the food and the chips they would bring with our meal.

The food came and the tacos were what we expected, “Street Tacos,” two smaller corn tortillas with the marinated meat cooked with onions and spices. They were only $2 each and worth it.

We split them (one tortilla for each of us)and gave them a try, adding different salsas as we went along..

I have eaten tongue in a taco before and even though the texture is different, it was very good, as were the al pastor and adobada, but I was really surprised with the tripe.

I do not like menudo because of the texture of the tripe and the overall flavor. It is just not in my flavor categories. However, being marinated and grilled gives the tripe a bit of a crunch and a very nice flavor. Old dog, new tricks again.

The hit of the meal was the quesadilla. The meat and cheese and, especially, the mushrooms, were a great combination. I don’t recall mushrooms in Mexican food before, but they sure made a difference and added both flavor and texture.

Seemingly finished with our lunch, Russ decided we should try a couple of antojitas for “dessert.” He ordered us a Bionicos and a Fruita Picada (mixed fruit with jicama and cucumber).

The Bionicos was outstanding – lots of fruit with granola and cream. The Fruita Picada was also great and a real palate cleanser with all the varieties of fruit in it. At that point we were full and happy.

As I mentioned, they serve quite a list of Antojitas along with tacos, burritos, tortas and quesadillas. Everything we tried was very, very good.

I was especially impressed with the varieties of meats available. Next time I am going to try their chile verde. That is my guide to a great Mexican restaurant.

Taqueria La Palmita is open daily from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. and can be reached at (530) 391-3908.

Oh, on Tuesdays, tacos are only $1.49 each and on Saturday and Sunday they serve two Mexican specialities, Menudo and Birria.

Steppin’ Out – Diamond Springs Hotel for Breakfast

When going out for breakfast comes to mind, a lot of local people immediately think, “Why not the Diamond Springs Hotel or her sister restaurant, Sportsman’s Hall?” They both serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, but breakfast, as far as I am concerned, is the best time to visit.

Russ Salazar and I met at the Diamond Springs Hotel one morning about 10 a.m. He wanted me to try their Lobster Benedict (and he was buying!).

I got there a bit early and was greeted by not only one of the friendly servers, but also Leonard, who was cooking, and Moon Shim, Amy’s husband. He oversees the Hotel while Amy takes care of Sportsman’s.

I believe of all of the people who own restaurants in our area, they are the greatest: friendly, happy and always there to make sure you enjoy your meal.

I found a table in the front area and went over the menu while waiting a few minutes for Russ. When he arrived we discussed what we should order with the Lobster Benedict, if anything.

I had originally planned on also ordering one of their breakfast specials to share along with the benedict: two eggs, sausage patty and homemade buttermilk biscuits and gravy (I love their biscuits and gravy). However, after discussing it, we decided that might be way more than enough food, so we settled on just a half-order of biscuits and gravy on the side to split.

Our food soon arrived and they had nicely split both the benedict and the biscuit and gravy on separate plates so we didn’t have to make a mess trying to do it ourselves. I think the word is out that we shouldn’t be allowed to do it ourselves. We are a bit messy.

The Lobster Benedict was beautiful and not only looked very appetizing and delicious, but was. It was piled with diced, grilled lobster, the eggs were perfectly poached, the English muffin, underneath, was nicely toasted and the hollandaise sauce was buttery with a slight tang of lemon. Beside them on each plate was a generous helping of their hash browns.

Both of us made “ooh and ah” comments while we ate the benedict and Russ also pointed out that the hash browns were especially good.
I don’t usually order potatoes at breakfast, but I had to agree these were really good. Maybe I will change my mind next time and order them for breakfast.

The buttermilk biscuit and gravy was very good. They make the biscuits and they are always good, but both of us thought the country gravy could have used a bit more sausage in it.

When Leonard came out of the kitchen to ask us how we liked the meal he had prepared, we complemented him on the Lobster Benedict and then asked about the country gravy.

He told us he puts a lot of sausage into the gravy, then with a smile, added that he must have scooped ours from an area that was low on sausage.

All in all, the breakfast was wonderful. And, no, I didn’t eat lunch that day.

Their breakfast menu is large, very large. It starts with the usual bacon or sausage patty, eggs, pancakes or French toast or potatoes, followed by waffles, corned beef hash and three kinds of benedicts: Traditional, Florentine and Lobster.

It continues with cinnamon roll French toast and then quite a list of “Breakfast Favorites,” the dishes you would find on most menus. It doesn’t stop there, but goes on with Ribeye steak and eggs, Ham steak and eggs, Country Fried Steak and eggs (one of my favorites) and a dish named after the previous owner: Original Dan’s – sautéed hamburger, eggs, spinach, onion, mushrooms topped with Parmesan cheese.

Then come the omelettes and it is quite a list. If you are looking for something special, it is probably included in this list. They range from the ever popular Hotel Omelette, with ham, bell pepper, onion, mushroom and Spanish sauce to a Shrimp, Avocado and Cheese omelette to a Veggie one. I think I counted 14 of them.

Oh, you can get them with only eggs whites or Egg Beaters for a small additional cost.

Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m., with some limitations on pancakes and waffles during and after lunch hours.

Okay, that is their breakfast menu and there are two more, lunch and dinner. All of them are on their webpage at http://diamondsprings-hotel.com/our-menu/, so go there and check them out. In addition to the menus, there are lots of pictures and some great history, along with a link to the Sportsman’s Hall’s webpage.

I was surprised to see both the webpages are available to you in English and also Spanish, Italian, German, French and Korean.

The Diamond Springs Hotel is open Tuesday through Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The Diamond Springs Hotel is closed on Mondays, however, if you can’t wait, Sportsman’s Hall is open on Monday and closed on Tuesday.

For more information visit their webpages or call (530) 647-2670.