Monthly Archives: February 2017

Steppin’ Out – Nation’s Giant Hamburgers, Folsom


I don’t know how many times I have driven by this restaurant at 2750 East Bidwell Street in Folsom with out stopping, but thinking I should. Finally, several weeks ago I called Russ Salazar. He said he had some business in the Folsom area, and we drove there for lunch.

We arrived about 1 p.m. and there were only four people eating and two in front of us ordering. There were also only two people working, one young lady taking orders, one cooking.

As we were standing in line, the young lady cooking asked us how many burgers we were going to order, so she could put them down. We answered that we were going to share one, along with a chili dog.

When we reached the cashier, we ordered the burger, cut in two, and a chili dog, also cut in two, along with a water and a milk.

She rang it up, but Russ noticed that the total was too low and pointed it out. She read it back to him and the chili dog was missing from the order. She added it, we paid and we went to find a table.

We found one next to a window and wiped up some water that the previous diners had spilled.

About 15 minutes later they called the order number of the people who had ordered in front of us. Five minutes after that, they called our order.

After I got the order Russ mentioned that we hadn’t received our drinks and that the chili dog had not been cut in two.

I took the chili dog back to get it cut and asked for our drinks, which the lady doing the cooking handed to me. I also picked up a second fork, since the chili dog was obviously not “finger food.”

I returned to the table where Russ was looking at the burger. In the approximately 20 minutes they had taken to cook the burger, the “giant” patty, which looked like it was around one-third pound, was now smaller than one from most other restaurants. In fact, the whole sandwich was not as large as a Carl’s Jr. Famous Star burger. So much for an “oversized” burger.

Russ liked the bun and I liked the veggies, but we both agreed the burger was way over cooked and dry.

The chili dog was an all beef dog, split and grilled, which I liked. The bun was okay, but we both agreed the chili was way too salty.

Nation’s Giant Hamburgers has been around since 1952, serving hearty breakfasts, burgers, freshly baked pies, shakes and more. In fact, they are one of the few restaurants of this kind that serves pie, something that most all restaurants used to serve. Yes, I thought about pie ala mode, but opted not to order it. I actually like it better for breakfast.

Prior to visiting, as I often do, I had looked on the internet at the ratings of this one of their many restaurants. Several people had noted service problems at this location, which I thought might be a result of there only being two visible staff. Perhaps I was right.

When I started writing this story, a little over a week ago, I went online to get some more information on this restaurant. Sadly, what I found was numerous reports of this location being closed. I checked the corporate webpage and it was no longer listed, nor did they answer their phone.

Restaurants as a whole have been having monetary problems for the past year. I get several restaurant publications each week and they have all been predicting an approaching recession because of this.

Restaurants are a very tough business and when they start into a decline, for one reason or another, people are let go or hours are reduced and service declines, starting a downward spiral that they rarely survive.

In the 30 plus years I have been writing about restaurants, I have found, over and over, that people will put up with just okay food if the service is really good, but if the service is poor, it doesn’t matter how good the food is.

For more information on the location of other Nation’s restaurants in our general area, visit their webpage at

Steppin’ Out – Robby’s Cafe, Garden Valley


You probably remember this location at 4916 Marshall Road in Garden Valley (next to the real estate office) as Rose’s Garden Café. It was that for over a dozen years until two very delightful and personable people, Robby and Anne Holly, bought it last March and changed the name to Robby’s.

Both Rose and John Anderson were delighted with the excitement expressed by the new owners and John told them, “You have to put your signature on the place,” so that is just what Robby did. The sign is his signature.

Russ Salazar and I dropped by a couple of weeks ago on a Tuesday, about noon. They were delighted to see us, even though the message of our intended arrival that day had somehow been missed.

Several other customers were enjoying a late breakfast when we arrived, but Robby was delighted to share some time with us, while not forgetting the other customers and also greeting new ones on their arrival.

Robby graduated from Michigan’s Culinary Arts Academy in 1981, second in the first class they graduated. I had never heard of that school before and he informed me it was no longer in existence. That is really too bad if he is an example of their quality teaching.

From there his life was a bit of a whirlwind.

“I went to work on a cruise ship that took short trips from Florida and back,” he said. “I was working as a chef when they found out I knew how to carve large ice figures for events. I carved one for them and then that became my job on the ship.”

That was just the beginning for him. He is self-taught on stringed instruments and for a number of years toured playing Bluegrass.
Ask him about the instruments on the wall and he may give you tune or two if he has time. He is also looking to find musicians to drop by one evening a week or so and play.

Well, back to the reason we were there, the food.

The Tuesday Special that day was a grilled, smoked salmon patty with grilled pineapple and teriyaki sauce. It is usually served on a brioche bun, but Robby is having a very difficult time getting them from his supplier in Sacramento. Instead he put it on a seeded hamburger bun, an okay substitute, but I would have loved to taste it on the brioche bun. Hopefully he will find a new source shortly.

We asked Robby for his recommendation on a second entree to share and he said we should try the Homesteader, a wrap on our choice of flavored “tortilla,” filled with honey cured bacon, two chicken strips, baby arugula, baby spinach, tomato and their own buttermilk ranch dressing.

Russ left it up to me, so I chose the tomato chili wrap.

Russ asked that his half of the wrap not have any arugula, since it is not one of his favorite greens. I, on the other hand, love it for its little bit of bite, or peppery flavor. I found that comment from him interesting, but have heard that before. He often reminds me that he is the only Mexican that does not eat cilantro. He just doesn’t like the taste, although they are finding out that issue might be genetic, since a portion of the population says to them it tastes like soap.

Before the food arrived, Robby treated us to what he called our dessert, a “Mounds Bar in a glass,” which he concocted from different syrups and soda. It tasted exactly like that.

I asked him why he served us dessert first and he replied, “You never know what might happen, so enjoy dessert first.”

I started with the wrap and it was wonderful and a real mix of textures and flavors. Russ also liked it, but unfortunately a few pieces of arugula made it to his half of the wrap and he had to fish them out.

The salmon “burger” also had a mixture of great flavors. I think the grilled pineapple was perfect as an accompaniment for the salmon, adding texture and a bit of sweetness and acidity. Russ had similar complements for the sandwich, but also wished it had a better bun.

With our meal came crinkle cut fries, which both of us really liked. I don’t know where he gets them, but they were crisp on the outside and smooth inside. Best of all, ten minutes later they were still crisp and good. One of my pet peeves is French Fries that go soggy in just a couple of minutes, so I was delighted.

Their breakfast menu (served until 11 a.m.) includes a two egg breakfast with pancakes or has browns and a choice of bacon or sausage; The Predator, two eggs, tow sausage, two bacon, ham steak, hash browns and toast; a Breakfast sandwich, served on a croissant or grilled sourdough; a Biscuit Breakfast sandwich; a Breakfast Burrito and the Fat Hillbilly, a Breakfast Burrito with eggs, sausage, potatoes and country gravy and biscuits and gravy.

For lunch you can choose from Combo #1, a 1/3 pound burger, fries and a drink; Combo #2, the Homesteader Wrap with fries and a drink; the Club, a triple-decker on grilled sourdough with fries and a drink and the Ursus Arctos (Grizzly Bear, the high school’s mascot), a sandwich standing a whopping 12 inches tall: six 1/3 pound Angus beef patties, six strips of thick sliced honey cured bacon, six slices of cheese, six onion rings, nine pickle slices, six tomato slices and lettuce served on three Brioche buns, along with a half pound of fries, a half pound of onion rings and a 32 ounce milkshake. $25 for the lot. Not that hungry? Bring some friends.

And, don’t forget they have espresso, cappuccino, lattes, mochas, Mexican mochas and a whole list of other coffee drinks.

Check the specials board and the menu, order at the counter, find a seat and get ready for a delicious meal.

Robby’s Café is open 5 until 2, Monday through Friday and from 7 until 2 on Saturday. Closed on Sunday.
For more information give them a call at (530) 333-9900.

Steppin’ Out – Subway, Pollock Pines

Subway has another new sandwich, the Corned Beef Reuben. I have no idea how long they are going to have it, so Russ Salazar and I thought we better go try it while they do.

Since Russ lives in our “Nature’s Wonderland,” Pollock Pines, he thought we should try his local Subway restaurant, rather than have him drive down to Placerville or even Camino.

The Pollock Pines Subway is located at the Crystal View Station (Shell), which is at 6528 Pony Express Trail, just east of its intersection with Sly Park Road.

Right off the bat, I have to tell you this is one of the cleanest and nicest Subways around. It is on the east end of the building that holds the mini-mart and has a magnificent view of the snow covered (this time of year) Sierra Nevada. It also has an area with a television, fireplace and over-stuffed chairs. When the weather allows, they also have outside seating with a great view.

I had written about this place a number of years ago, when it was a bit more “Spartan” and at this visit was very impressed with the whole facility.

Russ and I decided to share a foot long sandwich and were nicely greeted when we approached the counter to order. When we ordered, the young lady making our sandwich asked us if we wanted it on a rye roll. I didn’t know they made rye rolls, but apparently they do just for this sandwich.

She then told us that they recommend we have it with Swiss cheese and also have it toasted. We agreed and I told Russ I wanted at least my portion to have pickles and mustard, while I wandered around, completely forgetting a Reuben, by design, has 1000 Island dressing on it.

When I returned, the sandwich was finished, so we each grabbed a bag of chips and ordered a drink and found a table with a Sierra view.
I don’t know why I had some chips, I don’t do that when I go to Subway. But, since Russ did, I figured, “Why not.”

When I opened my sandwich is when I recalled it should have 1000 Island dressing on it. Russ said the young lady had asked, but, like I had asked, he added only mustard and pickles. The young lady was kind enough to give me a small container of 1000 Island so I could try it.

The corned beef they serve is real, sliced corned beef, not corned beef ground and formed into something that looks like corned beef. For that reason alone, it tasted very good.

The rye roll was not very “rye,” but was good.

The sauerkraut was dry and not very flavorful. Russ thought it might be old. I thought that since it didn’t overpower the flavor of the corned beef, it was okay.

I put some of the 1000 Island dressing on my half of the sandwich and discovered it was best if I didn’t use a lot of it. It was also good as a dip for my chips (I know, more unnecessary calories).

Overall we both enjoyed the Corned Beef Reuben. I would surely order it again the same way, but this time with a light coating of both mustard and 1000 Island dressing in addition to the pickles. I might even consider doubling the meat, even though there was a lot of it on the sandwich. I love corned beef.

This Subway, like most of the others, has quite an array of sandwiches, both hot and cold, and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. They even have special breakfast sandwiches.

You have them make your sandwich the way you want it, add your choice of condiments along with fresh veggies, pickles, olives, etc. and enjoy.

In addition to their regular menu they also have a daily special six-inch sandwich for only $3.50 (foot long is $6) or a six-inch meal (sandwich, drink and chips) for $6. Each day of the week the sandwich is different. I especially like the Oven Roasted Chicken Breast on Tuesdays and Tuna on Fridays.

I always like to remind people that all sandwiches made from processed meats are high in salt, something you have to consider. Subway, in my experience, is lower than many of the others.

We have Subways in El Dorado Hills, Cameron Park, Diamond Springs, Placerville, Camino, Cool and this one in Pollock Pines. The food and service at all of them is great, but this one has the best view.

The Pollock Pines Subway is open from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. daily. For more information you can give them a call at (530) 644-3490.

The rye roll at Subway reminded me that one of my very favorite fast food sandwiches is the Polish Sausage on Rye at Wienerschnitzel. A split, grilled Polish sausage on real rye bread with mustard and a dill pickle spear in the middle. You can even get it with sauerkraut if you wish. They usually have a coupon for this sandwich.

Steppin’ Out – Bubbies Love Deli & Catering, Citrus Heights

I don’t know if it was Russ Salazar or me who first came across this family run, Jewish style deli at 7800 Sunrise Blvd, Number 11 in Citrus Heights (northeast corner of Sunrise and Antelope Road), but it seemed like a great place to try. Yelp, if you follow them, has it rated as the best.

How it got its name is an interesting story. The owner’s Jewish grandmother, Bubbie Mary, seemed to have a secret ingredient in everything she would make. What was the secret ingredient? It was her love for her family and her passion for her food. The dishes they offer are recipes that have been handed down from Bubbie.

After a bit of driving around, we finally found the place on the Antelope Road side of the mini-mall where it is located.

I was after 1 p.m. when we walked into the restaurant and were immediately greeted by the owner, Stacie Shoob-Allen. Being that it was after the normal lunch rush, we were the only customers, so we chatted with her for a while, asking what she would recommend we try.

“It’s all good,” she said, “I get my pastrami from New York and it is expensive, but it is the best. In fact, I’m proud that everything I serve is the best.”

We looked over the menu and decided to try the Traditional Hot Pastrami on dark rye with brown deli mustard. It came with a choice of a side dish, so we added their housemade cole slaw. For our second choice we decided not to have another sandwich, but went a bit out of the normal and ordered Bagel and Lox, with an everything bagel. We were happy we did.

The pastrami sandwich contained a goodly amount of pastrami and was quite tasty, but we both thought the brown deli mustard was a bit too much and overpowered the taste of the pastrami. The cole slaw was just that. I remember another Jewish deli in Sacramento, that unfortunately closed, having the best cole slaw ever, so I was disappointed.

Now, about the bagel and lox. Fantastic. It came with lots of lox curled in the form of a flower, accompanied by a great bagel. With it came cream cheese, thin onion slices, cored large tomato slices and capers. By itself the lox was the best, the very best I have tried and everything together on the bagel was heavenly. If I ordered it again I would add a second bagel. There was enough of everything for that. It was so good that as we slowly ate it we traded complements about it.

Bubbie’s Love serves both breakfast and lunch, so they have quite a menu for what is actually a small restaurant.

At breakfast, in addition to the normal egg dishes, you can get eggs with pastrami, corned beef or Kosher salami, along with biscuits and gravy or a Country Benny: two poached eggs stacked on a split biscuit and sausage patties. There are also House Specialties, including Cousin Brenda’s Beef Brisket, Homemade Corned Beef Hash, Hand Cut and Breaded Country Fried Steak, Tofu Scramble and even a Fish Platter (Lox, Whitefish Salad and Pickled Herring).

The breakfast list continues with a number of omelets with regular and unique ingredients and a Build Your Own omelet. On weekends they add Eggs Benedict, Eggs Florentine and Uncle Benny’s Eggs Benny to the menu.

The lunch menu includes appetizers (Nosherai) like: Falafels, Sweet Cheese Blintzes, Knishes, Chopped Chicken Liver and more, followed by Israeli, Garden, Whitefish and Caesar salads and Matzo Ball or Cold Beet Borscht soups.

The Specialty Sandwiches list is what first caught my eye and it includes: The Reuben, The Rachel (pastrami instead of corned beef), Falafel (homemade pita bread stuffed with homemade falafel), Kosher Klub, Traditional Club, Uncle Grump’s Hot Pastrami, The Beefeater, Traditional Pastrami or Corned Beef. You can also get cold sandwiches like turkey, roast beef, ham, Kosher salami or chopped liver.

Finally, there are larger plates such as Chicken Strips and Fries, Baked Mac & Cheese, Cousin Brenda’s Brisket and a Fish Platter, along with sides like, Coleslaw, Potato or Macaroni salad, Whitefish Salad, French Fries, Mac & Cheese and a Latke.

Beverages on the menu include milk or fruit juice, hot cocoa, New York Egg Cream or Chocolate Phosphate, coffee and tea, soft drinks and Dr. Brown’s bottled soda.

If you have never heard of Dr. Brown’s, it is a brand of soft drink popular in the New York City region and South Florida, that can also be found in Jewish delicatessens and upscale supermarkets around the United States. Varieties include: cream soda (regular and diet), black cherry soda (regular and diet), orange soda, ginger ale, root beer, and Cel-Ray (celery-flavored soda).

Bubbie’s Love Deli & Catering is open from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., seven days a week. They can be reached (916) 722-7800 and you can view the menu at

They have limited seating, so think about off hours.

Ess gezunterhait! “Eat in good health”