Monthly Archives: March 2015

Steppin’ Out – J & J Java: Great Coffee, Great Friends, Great Food

J & JLooking for a great cup of coffee or a coffee drink served with a real smile? Looking for breakfast or lunch served with the same smile? And, how about a warm and cozy place where you can relax in an easy chair while you enjoy your drink or sit outside on a shaded patio and watch the passing crowd while you satisfy your thirst or hunger.

Well, that place is J & J Java Coffee Shop and Restaurant, at 2650 Cameron Park Drive, #370 (on the south west corner of Cameron Park Drive and Green Valley Road), and the smiling face is none other than the owner, Jennifer Hoff.

Jennifer purchased J & J Java about four years ago and has been working ever since to show people that there is a real difference between coffee from a big chain restaurant and one where the owner is your neighbor.

Russ Salazar and I stopped by for lunch a couple of weeks ago and introduced ourselves to Jennifer. She immediately said to me, “I know you, I went to school with your son Steve,” which explained before I could ask her why my son was a friend of hers on her Facebook pages.

“As a new owner,” she said, “I had to overcome some bad comments that one of the earlier owners had received. I’m working on it and more and more people are telling me what a great job I am doing and how good my coffee and food are.”

Russ is a coffee drinker, so while we were choosing what we wanted to sample, he tried her coffee. He is a man of few words, so I was lucky to get “It’s good,” out of him.

After much discussion, we decided to try the Sunshine Sandwich and the Breakfast Burrito, from the breakfast menu.

The Sunshine consists of honey ham (or turkey) Applewood bacon, Swiss (or cheddar) cheese with an egg cooked over medium served on a flaky croissant. The Breakfast Burrito includes eggs in a fresh cracked pepper and cream mixture, made fresh to order with a pinch of sea salt, marinated artichoke hearts, Applewood bacon, Yukon gold potatoes, baby portabella mushrooms sautéed in fresh garlic and wilted spinach.

I loved the Sunshine from the start. The croissant was flaky and buttery and together with everything else made a great tasting breakfast sandwich. The Breakfast Burrito was really special and came with Sriracha sauce (Russ asked for more sauce). Like really good dishes we have shared before, both of us slowed down so we could really enjoy the taste.

Steppin’ Out – Que Viva!

que vivaWhile I was talking to a friend about restaurants, he mentioned a Mexican restaurant called Que Viva in Cameron Park and told me it served handmade tamales.

I drew a blank, which rarely happens to me when a local restaurant is mentioned. I asked if it was new and he told me it had been there for a number of years, right in the middle of Burke Junction.

I had eaten at a lot of the restaurants in Burke Junction, and slowly it came back to me that there was a Mexican restaurant there. So I called my friend Russ Salazar and told him we had a place we had to visit, and that they had tamales, something he is always looking to try.

As we drove up to park in front of the restaurant, I began to remember more. I had been here nearly 20 years before when it was called Rogelio’s and later Mision Rogelio Mexican and Seafood Cuisine.

Rogelio Oritz expanded from here and opened several other Mision Rogelio Mexican and Seafood Cuisine restaurants in the greater Sacramento area, all of which are, sadly, now closed.

Back to Que Viva. It has been owned by Isabel and Moises Rodriguez for the past 10 or so years and a it is quite popular. People have told me on weekends it can even get a bit crowded.

As you walk in, in front of you are line of booths, while over to the right is a room of tables. The decor is what I would do if I had a restaurant, a fountain, lots of ceramic animals and “this and thats” all around. An eclectic collection of great stuff (one person called it “adorable.”)

We sat down at a booth and went over the menu. As I have mentioned before, normally we try a chile relleno and something with chile verde, two dishes that seem to rate a restaurant (at least for us). However, Russ has been looking for good tamales and those were on his mind.

Our server, Freddie (his real name is Alfredo) brought us some warm chips and salsa while we continued to pore over the menu. Both the chips (thin) and the salsa were very good. Freddie told us he has been working there for 18 years, first for Rogelio and since then for the present owners.