Steppin’ Out – A Place in Folsom and One in Sacramento

Islands, Fine Burgers and Drinks, Folsom

My neighbor and friend, Larry Stiles, is still healing from a broken foot and needed to go to Kaiser in Folsom for a quick test. He asked me if I could drive him and when he told me we could have lunch and visit Trader Joe’s, I jumped at the opportunity.

After his test, he mentioned he had some coupons for pizza, but we decided neither of us were up for pizza that day. He though for a minute and then said, “Have you ever eaten at Islands? It’s really good.” I hadn’t, so in a few minutes we were in their parking lot at 2455 Iron Point Road.

Islands, fine Burgers and Drinks, is a sit-down restaurant with a Hawaiian theme and lots of surfing on their big screen TVs. This theme is reflected in the names of their menu items, which are a mixture of American, Asian and Hispanic style dishes.

I ordered The Big Wave with cheese, which is their basic burger. It comes with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and mustard. I was trying to be good and didn’t know when we ordered that all their burgers come with endless fries (a real test for me).

Larry decided on the Kilauea, which is a jalapeño and black pepper crusted burger with pepper jack cheese, chipotle aioli, lettuce, tomato and Island Reds (fried red onions). He also opted for their whole wheat bun rather than the regular one.

The burgers were very large and both Larry and I really enjoyed them. The service was great.

I like crispy fries and was fortunate to get some that varied from lightly cooked to really crisp. They must have been the last left in the basket. I didn’t ask for more, but Larry did and I have to admit I ate a couple of his.

Islands serves a number of different burgers, all of which sound great and the prices are not that bad. They also have a large number of appetizers, salads and soups, “Beach Bowls,” Island Tacos and a list of lower calorie items under the heading “Paradise’s Bikini Beach.”

It doesn’t stop there, they have a gluten free menu, kids menu, lots of desserts and shakes and smoothies. Yes, there is a full bar.

The Islands in Folsom (there is also one in Roseville) is open Sunday through Thursday from 11a.m. until 9:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. For more information call: (916) 983-4092.

El Pollo Loco – Rancho Cordova

Mike Long, who I walk with most mornings, told me he had to pick up something in Sacramento and asked me if I wanted to ride along. I’m always up for a trip, so I said, “Sure.”

For some time he had been saying he wanted to try Pollo Loco’s stuffed quesadillas that they were advertising on TV, so this was our opportunity. And, since one of our stops was across the street from the Sunrise Blvd one, we went there.

Although they are now featuring “$5 Craveable Combos,” they still had the quesadillas on the menu and we ordered two: the Double Queso Overstuffed Chicken Quesadilla and the BBQ Bacon Avocado Overstuffed Quesadilla.

The Double Queso one is described by them as: Cheese lovers unite! In addition to our fire-grilled chicken, avocado, pico de gallo salsa, tortilla strips, and sliced jalapeno, this quesadilla is filled with enough Monterey Jack and double the queso cheese to satisfy your cheese cravings. The BBQ Bacon one they say is: Summer BBQ in a quesadilla! We start with our fire-grilled chicken with our Chipotle BBQ sauce, add cheese, bacon, onion, avocado and cilantro all tucked into a large flour tortilla and grilled to a warm and slightly crispy finish.

Mike picked up our order when it was ready and immediately returned to the counter to ask which quesadilla was which. They weren’t like a sandwich you could open and look at, they were in a folded tortilla and tucked in unmarked foil covered bags.

After a conversation among the employees, they determined they had made us two Double Queso quesadillas and “were making the other one and, as a bonus, we could keep both.”

The quesadillas were very good, and for a good reason.

Remember the burger I had at Islands? That was a big burger and burgers are notoriously high in calories, fat and salt, but the Double Queso quesadilla had nearly fifty percent more calories and fat, and, like the burger, enough salt for a full day. It appears it is the shredded Monterey Jack cheese that is responsible for almost half the fat.

Mike was a bit bummed with me, since I had noticed the 1180 calories it contained and not said anything before he ordered. Like me, he just thought the food at a chicken based restaurant would be healthier and lower in calories and fat.

Fast food is often full of fat, including saturated fat, and has loads of carbohydrates. Fat is what makes it taste so good. Remember, “Fat is flavor.”

So, the lesson is, if you want to eat fast food, either enjoy it and try to adjust your diet to compensate, or read the nutritional data and choose wisely.

I like Pollo Loco. They have lots of good food on their menu, especially their fire roasted chicken. If you are curious, their webpage actually allows you to add and subtract ingredients to see how it affects the total nutrition of a given item.

The Rancho Cordova El Pollo Loco is located at 2281 Sunrise Blvd and can be reached at (916) 638-2133. They are open daily from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m.

Oh, the “$5 Combo Dishes” have a better nutritional rating.

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