Monthly Archives: October 2017

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.


Steppin’ Out – Oktoberfest at Wienerschnitzel

The last time I visited the Wienerschnitzel in Placerville they were having problems finding someone who would replace their aging carpet with tile. Then, after months of looking, they finally found someone and it was done.

Well, that and the fact that they always have great sausages this time of year, was more than enough to cause Russ Salazar and me to check things out.

The new tile has done wonders to the look of the restaurant. I really like it. It feels more bright and open to me. You should stop by and see.

I have to start with a warning that I am going to use more often, since people sometimes yell at me when the specials are no longer available.
Like most other fast food restaurants, a lot of their specials are for a limited time only, appearing and disappearing without notice. By the time I write this and it is printed, some items may no longer be available.

Not only is Wienerschnitzel celebrating Oktoberfest with those great gourmet sausages, but something new, Chicken Schnitzel sandwiches.
First the sausages.

Last year they had a quarter pound Bratwurst on a pretzel bun, served a couple of ways. This year they have both a quarter-pound Bratwurst and a quarter-pound Italian sausage and they are on “Brat Buns.”

The Bratwurst comes with mustard and grilled onions, while the Italian sausage comes with mustard, grilled onions and grilled peppers.

I really liked the Italian sausage, but at first thought the bun was a bit tough. Then they told me they use this special bun because a regular hot dog bun would not hold up. Ah, now I understand and take back my complaint about the bun.

Russ liked the Italian, but thought the peppers in the sandwich were a bit overdone. I told him I liked them and that is the way they are supposed to be cooked. He still wanted them crisper.

The Bratwurst was similarly excellent. They do a really good job selecting their sausages. I wish they had them all year. Fortunately they do have a Polish sausage on rye bread all year. I love it too.

The Chicken Schnitzel sandwiches come three ways: Classic Ranch, BBQ Bacon and Blazin’ Bacon Guacamole (spicy, but not that hot).
They had a one day special where you could get a Chicken Schnitzel sandwich with the purchase of a sausage sandwich, so we tried two of them, the BBQ Bacon and Blazin’ Bacon Guacamole.

I liked the way the chicken patty was breaded and cooked. The BBQ Bacon one was okay, but not something I would order again. The Blazin’ Bacon Guacamole was much better and actually quite good, but for some reason the lettuce, coated with guacamole, kept falling out on my lap.

They have also increased the size of the patty in their hamburgers, something I had never tried (with all those hot dogs and sausages, why would I?). So, a few days ago I again dropped in just to try one.

You can get their hamburger four different ways: Classic, with lettuce, tomato, pickles and Thousand island dressing, BBQ Bacon Cheese, Chili Cheese and Blazin’ Bacon Guacamole. I opted for the Classic.

It was very good and more like a burger you might fix at home than a restaurant burger. Like many, the beef patty was a bit on the dry side, given the fact that restaurants panic at undercooked beef (and for a good reason), but overall I really enjoyed the burger.

I had a small order of fries with the burger. I like mustard on my fries and they are the only place that has both catsup and mustard you can pump into those little containers in which to dip your fries. That sure beats the difficult to open little packages of mustard.

One thing I have not tried is their new “Bold” chili cheese fries. You can get them with Thousand island, Green Chile and Bacon or Blazin’ Bacon Guacamole.

Oh, you have probably noticed from their signs that they always have specials on multiple dogs, corn dogs and the such to feed a group or family.

Our Placerville Wienerschnitzel also has a drive-thru, in addition to inside seating, and is open daily from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. (11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday). They can be reached at (530) 295-8255.

It’s a happy place with friendly people.

Their public relations folks told me that we can expect pastrami back around the first of the year. I love their pastrami because it has just the right amount of fat to give it a great flavor.

Steppin’ Out – Taqueria El Dorado Mexican Grill, El Dorado Hills

Since Russ Salazar and I had planned on visiting Taqueria El Dorado a couple of weeks ago, we made it our next stop and dropped in on a Tuesday, about 1:30. The restaurant was about a third full.

You order at the counter, pay and they give you a number to take to a table. After the kitchen prepares your food, they bring it to you.

The menu is large and located above the counter, but if you have a cricky neck, you might not be able to read all of it. Fortunately, off to the side are paper menus.

Outside on a chalkboard were listed a few specials. They had a Super Burrito and drink that I decided upon. Russ was going to order three meat tacos and a drink, another special, but when he got inside and looked at the big menu, he changed his mind, ordering instead a Carnitas Torta, a Mexican sandwich of roasted pork on a torta roll. I asked for my “Mexican restaurant test meat,” chile verde, in my burrito. Russ ordered horchata to drink, I went for iced tea.

They have a nice salsa bar and chips for you to enjoy before and with your meal, so we each grabbed some salsas and a container of chips. I was happy they had two of my favorites, the spicy onions and sliced radishes, with the salsas.

The food soon arrived and they had cut each of them is two so we could share. We started with the burrito. It contained the chile verde, rice, pinto beans, salsa, sour cream, guacamole and cheese. I like black beans in my burritos, but Russ told me they are considered Cuban, not Mexican.

Russ doesn’t really like restaurant burritos. “They shouldn’t be so big you have to eat them with a fork,” he told me. “At home burritos were  smaller and also made with a thicker tortilla. I liked them better.”

We both liked the burrito, me especially, but also noticed something about it. The texture of the chunks of pork in the chile verde varied from dry, to solid to soft and perfect. Most restaurants make a large batch of it at one time and it is all the same. They may have been mixing batches.

Before I get to the torta, I want to same something about this Mexican sandwich that is becoming more and more popular at restaurants.
In Mexico, a torta is served on an oblong 15 cm (six inch) firm, crusty white sandwich roll. Depending on the region, this is called a bolillo, telera, birote, or pan francés. Tortas can be eaten cold or hot, and grilled or toasted in a press in the same manner as a panini or a Cuban sandwich.

You can buy the rolls at most grocery stores. They vary in texture and sweetness. Russ thinks the ones at Costco are best.

The torta was our favorite of the two things we ordered. It contained the carnitas, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, cheese, lettuce and tomato. It was a really great sandwich and the bread portion was very good.

We were trying to figure out what really added to the flavor of both the burrito and torta. There was something in both that was the same. I think it must have been the salsa-sour cream-guacamole combination they both had added to the taste.

As I mentioned, the menu is huge. Be sure to take your glasses if you want to read the paper one.

They have tacos, taco salads, enchiladas, nachos, tortas, quesadillas, burritos, tostadas, mariscos (seafood), special plates, combo plates, a kids menu and even breakfast.

Their meat choices include asada (beef), carnitas (roasted pork), pastor (marinated pork), tripa (beef tripe), pollo asado (grilled chicken), pollo desebrado (shredded chicken), buche (pork stomach), lengua (beef tongue) chorizo (Mexican sausage) and chile verde (pork in a green sauce).

With all that to choose from, I am sure there will be something to delight you.

Taqueria El Dorado Mexican Grill is located at 3955 Park Drive, Suite 6 in El Dorado Hills, just north of Highway 50. If you drive in Saratoga Way it is between Bella Bru and Taco Bell.

It is open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. daily, with extended hours until 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. For more information call (916) 933-8877.

Since they are in El Dorado Hills, where rents, etc. are higher, their dishes are a buck or two more, but not that bad.

Now, this is a question I have asked several people. What is “Authentic Mexican Food?” Is it food prepared the way it is served in Mexico? Is it food made with ingredients commonly found in Mexico?

Russ reminded me that the food in Mexico City is often very European, adding his answer to me question that authentic Mexican food is food made the way his grandmother made it.

I guess it is just what each of us think it is.

¡Buen provecho!