Steppin’ Out – Love Birds Coffee & Tea Co.

Sometimes a new business is very obvious, but still I drive by it several times a week and don’t see it. Such was the case with Love Birds Coffee and Tea Company.

It is located in the small shopping center at the southeast corner of Broadway and Wiltse, right next to the UPS Store . If you drove south from freeway on Schnell School Road and didn’t turn right or left onto Broadway, you would drive right into it.

Russ Salazar and I dropped in one Tuesday around noon and introduced ourselves to the high energy and very busy Garrett Sanders, who, with his wife Jasmin, own this business.

“This has been a dream of mine since high school,” he said. “I have previously worked in coffee shops and finally we opened our own about a year ago in the Smith Flat House. It was a little out of the way, so a few months ago moved here. We love both our business and this new location. We are the only Italian Espresso Bar in the Placerville area.”

Their goal is to bring their customers top quality products that are good for the body, soul and environment.

All of their coffees are sourced with the most intentional buying to bring to you wonderful coffee to be enjoyed. Their gourmet coffees come from single farms and co-ops along with Direct Trade Coffees which cost quite a bit more but its important to them to support the farmers from Seed to Cup. They also look for Rainforest Alliance and Organic Coffees when they are Direct Trade.

In their roasting plant the roasters take special pride in roasting each coffee in the style of the old world Italian tradition to ensure a wonderful coffee for their customers that follows coffee and espresso skills dating back to 19th century Italy.

We sat at one of the tables in this beautifully decorated and very clean coffee shop. Garrett offered us coffee and then said we should try one of their waffles.

For coffee, Russ selected Italian roast. I’m not really a coffee drinker, so I selected a special flavored coffee, Snickerdoodle. Both were really good.

To enjoy with the coffee, Garrett recommended the house speciality waffle, which comes with a triple berry compote and housemade huckleberry whipped cream on top.

Their waffles are a do-it-yourself item. They provide the ingredients and add the toppings, your only job is to bake the waffle.

The waffle was excellent. Russ pointed out to me that it had body, unlike most of the restaurant waffles. He really liked it.

In addition to gourmet coffee, coffee drinks and speciality tea, Love Birds Coffee and Tea Co. serves a multitude of delicious items, such as fresh baked pastries, like Cannoli (with mascarpone filling) and Pizzelle; fresh baked turnovers (Seasonal Flavors); assorted bagels and scones (Seasonal Flavors) and even banana bread using Jasmin’s recipe.

They also serve gluten-free Chocolate Dipped Macaroons and vegan turnovers, along with a good selection of seasonal baked goods from

Apple Hill bakeries.
You can also purchase coffee and tea for home use and, if you are looking for a unique gift, they ship anywhere.

Love Birds Coffee and Tea Co. is open weekdays from 5:45 until 4 and on Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 until 4. For more information call (530) 300-9891 or visit their webpage at

They do plan on special events in the near future, like music, poetry readings and much more. Be sure to ask about that. Oh, free Wi-Fi.

Okay, I am sure you want to know where the Love Birds name came from. I did.

Garrett told us that people commented on he and his wife Jasmin holding hands when they walked together. They would say, “There go the love birds” and it became their name.

You probably also noted that Garrett’s last name is Sanders. He is the nephew of John Sanders who has both Old Town Grill and the Smith Flat House Cellar and Grill Event Center.

Steppin’ Out – Missouri Station Deli (aka Metro Deli)

I don’t know how many times I have recently driven by Missouri Station, which is at the corner of Missouri Flat and China Garden roads, seen the deli signs and thought to myself, “I really should check this out.”

There has been some kind of a deli within the service station/convenience store for quite a while, but only for the past several months have there been signs advertising it.

I know what your are thinking, “A deli in a convenience store at a gas station? What kind of food are they going to have”? Well, I was more than pleasantly shocked and delighted.

When Hunt & Sons took over the Chevron Station at this location they hired a local young lady named Debra Mahnke to run the deli. She had worked (and still subs) in the cafeteria at Gold Oak school for several years and knew more than a bit about food and feeding people.

“Take the deli and run with it is what they told me when I was hired and that is just what I am doing,” Debra told me.

She added breakfast burritos, wraps, speciality sandwiches, pastries and more to what had been a weak menu. And, they were not just the run-of-the-mill food one might expect at this sort of location. They are restaurant quality goods made with the best ingredients.

Debra asked me to come by and try a few things, so I dropped in after calling her one Tuesday. She introduced me to her helper, Randa, as I found a seat at one of the small tables in one of the cleanest convenience stores I have ever visited.. Immediately she brought me a large burrito.

“This is our Breakfast Burrito,” she said. “It contains sausage, eggs, cheese, hash browns and sausage gravy, all rolled up in a flour tortilla.
I cut off a third of it to try because I suspected there would be more.

The burrito was delicious and because of the number of ingredients, and especially the gravy. Every bite was a bit different from the one before.

Before I had finished the sample I had cut from the burrito, she brought me a huge sandwich about two inches thick in the middle.

“This is our Huntsman,” she said. “It has roast beef, turkey, ham and Swiss cheese served on marbled rye, along with ‘all the goods”( mayonnaise, mustard, Special Sauce, lettuce, red onion, tomato, pickles, peperoncini, salt and pepper).

We have several speciality sandwiches on the menu, but you can build your own if you wish,” she added

“Well, that is enough food for a week,” I thought to myself as I tried to figure out if I could actually find room for half of what turned out to be one of the best deli sandwiches I have even eaten.

Then came a wrap, not just any wrap, but a Chicken and Spinach wrap, flavored with a Chipotle dressing. It was fantastic and very fresh.

“Don’t miss the cinnamon roll and cookie we gave you,” Debra added. “They too come from US. Foods. The cinnamon roll is unique, it is made from the centers of five rolls.”

“We get most of our ingredients from US. Foods,” Debra told me. “The meats, cheeses and most everything else are Metro Deli, one of their brands. I think they are the best.”

“Our sign out front says we serve Metro Deli products, so I lot of people (including yours truly) think that is our name,” Debra told me. “We also wear Metro Deli shirts because we are proud of their quality products. As a result, even though we are officially Missouri Station Deli, we are often called Metro Deli.”

While continuing to enjoy bites of everything, Debra introduced me to Dave, the store manager. He has some 25 years of experience in the food business and is also excited about the deli and what Debra is doing.

“By the way,” Debra continued, we also make pizza on French bread. We make them to order on any kind of bread or bagel we have, and also have them pre-made in our grab-and-go area.”

Yes, I found some room for a piece of that and it was very good.

If you are looking for great sandwiches, wraps, breakfast and lunch burritos, bread pizza, salads, soup or chili (both subject to weather), cookies, chips, pastries (including scones from our own Way Back Bakery in El Dorado), cupcake size cheesecakes, fruit and more (I’m sure I forgot something), stop by.

Hours are 5 a.m. until 3 p.m., Monday through Friday and 6 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturday. Lots of pre-made “grab and go” at other times.

“Things are crazy around here in the morning,” Debra said. “You ought to stop by.”

Future plans include a larger “Walk around” for more pre-made food and freshly sliced meats by the pound.

Oh, be sure check out the add and coupon in this paper. By one sandwich, get one free.

I almost forgot. They also do catering. Call (530) 285-9289 for more information on that.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Placerville

This new restaurant, located at 21 Fair Lane in Placerville (County Fair Shopping Center on the corner between Rite Aid and the Donut Factory), has been open for only a few weeks and business is booming.

The Tuesday Russ Salazar and I met there for lunch, there was a line out the door, which is great for a restaurant which at that time was only in its fifth day of operation.

“That’s normal,” said Troy Duncan, who with his wife and parents own the franchise. “The day we opened the line went all the way down the sidewalk to the doors of Rite Aid.”

In 1941, Travis Dickey, a World War I veteran, opened the first Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Dallas, Texas. Franchising began in 1994 after loyal guests and barbecue fanatics demanded more locations. Today there are nearly 600 locations in 43 states, including this one.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit still slow smokes all meats on-site just the same way they did in 1941. The menu features beef brisket, pulled pork, St. Louis style ribs, polish sausage, spicy cheddar sausage, smoked turkey, and marinated chicken, with an extensive array of homestyle sides from jalapeño beans to macaroni and cheese.

Russ and I decided to try the ribs, which were the Tuesday special, along with a sliced brisket sandwich plate. Both entrees included two sides, so for the ribs we chose Barbecue Beans and Cabbage Slaw.

“What was that? you are out of slaw at a barbecue restaurant?”

Troy apologized and told us the company failed to deliver it. I think I mumbled something about Raley’s has some, but we sadly changed that side to Mac & Cheese.

For the brisket sandwich plate I ordered Potato Salad and, after some thought, Creamed Spinach, to which Russ quickly said, “What did you order?”

They fill your order as you move down the counter. Because that area is noisy, it is difficult to hear and be heard, so remember to speak up so you get what you want.

We took our plates to the table and Russ filled the small, dipping cups with two of the three barbecue sauces they offer: regular and spicy, both of which were very good.. Later we would try the sweet sauce, which was also very good, although sweet sauces are not one of my favorites.

The three ribs of rib meat on the plate was completely off the bone (there were also a few small, bare bones with it). It was very good, especially with a bit of the spicy sauce.

The brisket sandwich was also good, but really needed the missing cabbage slaw to moisten it up and add a bit of crunch. Some sauce helped, but I missed the slaw. Both the bread on the sandwich and the roll Russ got with the ribs were excellent.

The sides were all very good. I especially liked the beans and the creamed spinach. Russ liked them all, although he only took one spoonful of the spinach and commented, “It’s better than it looks.” He is not as adventurous as I.

Their meats include, pulled pork, beef brisket, chicken breast, pork ribs, Polish Kielbasa, jalapeño Cheddar Kielbasa and turkey. You can get the meat as a plate or sandwich (full size and sliders). They also have cheese, cabbage slaw and jalapeños available to top your sandwich.
In addition, they serve Stacks, such as a Texas Fritos Pie Stack and a Brisket Mac Stack, along with Chicken and Cheese and Brisket and Cheese tacos.

For sides they serve barbecue beans, cabbage slaw, potato salad, baked potato casserole, Caesar salad, Mac & Cheese, creamed spinach, jalapeño beans and assorted chips.

For kids, they have a meat or slider plate.

To accompany your meal, they have fountain drinks. Check out their “Big Yellow Cup.”

You can also get family packs in several sizes and they do catering for larger groups. They have a catering menu available as you first walk in the door. Grab one for future reference..

The Placerville Dickey’s is open daily from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. and can be reached at (530) 748-3445.

The menu is above the counter where you order. If it is busy, put someone in line and step back so you can read the menu, or grab one of the small ones and your glasses (small type on the menu).

This Dickey’s is a real family operation, with even nephews and nieces working there.