Steppin’ Out

Steppin’ Out – Subway, et al

About a week ago I was in Placerville for an appointment with my doctor and following it decided to stop for lunch. Then came the decision, where?

I had first made a stop at Grocery Outlet to check out their wine sale and started driving back towards downtown along Broadway when I recalled it had been some time since I had grabbed a sandwich at Subway.

I like Subway, since you can buy a six or twelve inch sandwich, depending on how hungry you are and you can add all the veggies you want.
Amongst their offerings they have a “Sub of the Day,” a six inch sandwich for only $3.99. Additionally, they have been adding new sandwiches and breads more often than they used to, extending your choices.

I wasn’t wild about that day’s “Sub of the Day,” so I took a long look at their menu boards. I thought about one of their regular sandwiches and then noticed a Chipotle Southwest Steak and Cheese Wrap. That looked and sounded good and since I had never tried one of their wraps, I ordered it.

I told them to put on it what they normally put on it, since somewhere in the kitchens of Subway someone had put a lot of thought into what should be in it and when I add things I usually mess it up.

The young lady making the sandwich did just that. She did stop and ask if I wanted jalapeños and I told her I would like those on the side. I do that so because sometimes they all end up in one place on the sandwich, making for one exciting bite.

It was really good: a tomato basil wrap filled with a double portion of steak, Monterey cheddar, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, green peppers and Chipotle Southwest sauce. The only thing it needed at all was to be a bit warmer.

They cut it in half and I intended to eat one half and take the other half home, but…..it was too good and, besides, it might not be as good later.

Subway regularly has a couple of dozen different kinds of sandwiches to choose from. They include Black Forest Ham, their BLT, Cold Cut Combo, Italian B.M.T., Meatball marinara, Oven Roasted Chicken, Rotisserie Style Chicken, Roast Beef, Spicy Italian, Turkey Breast, Veggie Delight and more. They also have a number of different breads, that they bake right there.

And, you can choose the dressings and fresh vegetables to add to the sandwich.

In addition to their regular menu, they often add something different in the way of a sandwich or bread. That is how the wraps ended up on the menu.

To give you a little background on Subway, in 1965, 17 year old Fred DeLuca set out to fulfill his dream of becoming a medical doctor. Searching for a way to help pay for his education, a family friend suggested he open a submarine sandwich shop.

DeLuca received a loan from a friend named Dr. Peter Buck and the two became partners, opening their first store, “Pete’s Super Submarines,” in Bridgeport, Connecticut in August, 1965.

It was very successful and they set a goal of having 32 stores opened in 10 years.

By 1974, the duo owned and operated 16 submarine sandwich shops throughout Connecticut, and realizing they would not reach their 32 store goal in one more year, they began franchising.

Today, the Subway brand is the world’s largest submarine sandwich chain with more than 45,000 locations in more than 100 countries around the world.

Just locally there are Subway locations in Placerville, Diamond Springs, Cameron Park, Shingle Springs, El Dorado Hills, Cool and South Lake Tahoe.

Subway can also cater your party or event by providing a six foot long sandwich or any number of sandwich trays.
Take a break from your normal routine and stop by your local Subway for something delicious and full of vegetables.

As an additional note, Wienerschnitzel has their tamales back, Jack in the Box has their ribeye burgers back and Carl’s Jr. just put out a coupon with a by one, get one deal on my favorite fast food burger, the Famous Star.

Steppin’ Out – High Hill Ranch, Apple Hill

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the new Blueberry Donuts at High Hill Ranch and that I hoped to go back and check out the food, of which there is quite a selection. Well, a couple of Fridays ago I did just that, again, just to check out the food.

Even though it was a weekday, it was very busy, so after I found a parking place among the apple trees, I went looking for my friend and contact there, Jerry Visman.

I looked in the office, the Apple Barn, Pie Shop and even wandered by the huge number of crafts people, but couldn’t find him. In fact, nobody seemed to know where he was.

I thought about heading back to my car and trying another day, when I saw him directing what appeared to be a never-ending line of cars coming in to their ranch. He was easy to notice, since he had on a yellow shirt emblazoned with “Cat Herder,” an appropriate name for his job that day.

While he directed cars, busses and vans to various parking locations with his well-worn red flag, I took the opportunity to talk with him about the food they serve.

“We try to find the best food for our restaurants,” he said between directing cars. “We believe our visitors deserve the best, so we get the best.”

“Our tri-tip sandwich is the big seller,” he told me. “We get the tri-tip from Swingle Meats in Jackson already marinated. It is so tender and delicious that people tell us they used to come here for the donuts, but now they come for the tri-tip.

“We also added a Wagyu beef (think Kobe beef, but American) burger to our menu that is fantastic, You really have to try one. I always get the double, it is double good. Or, you might like our Polish Sausages. They are big and delicious.

“We buy large chickens for the barbecued chicken we serve in the Apple Barn. You can get a half or a whole to share and, if you are not that hungry, our Chicken Salad Sandwich is very popular.

“Speaking of salads, they are all from scratch. It really makes a difference.”

He paused for a few minutes while he talked to the rest of the parking crew by radio, trying to figure out if they should open up another row of parking spaces between the trees for the endless line of cars that continued to turn into their driveway.

“Because of the crowds and shuttle issues on weekends, the number of Friday and Monday visitors is getting bigger,” he continued. “If we get a break in the traffic, I’ll buy you a tri-tip or burger, but it looks like it will be a while.”

A few minutes later an employee named Alice came by in one of their many golf carts. She was heading towards the kitchen, so he stopped her and said, “When you get to the Pie House, please make us a couple of tri-tip sandwiches and drive them back to us. We’re going to be here a while and we are getting hungry.”

While we anxiously waited for our lunch, he continued. “Let’s see, our chili is also made from scratch using our own recipe. That you don’t find everywhere. And, something that will really surprise you is that we make our own caramel for our apples. You can buy that in a can, but we always want to do the best we can do. We have our own secret recipe for that.

“Our pies tins are bigger and deeper than most. It is an added cost, but worth it. Many pies you buy are in 9 inch shallow pans. Not ours. We use a ten inch, deep dish pan. More pie!

“You know about the donuts and fritters, but recently we added turnovers. They are really flaky and you can get them in the Pie Shop, but only on weekends.”

About that time Alice came back with our two tri-tip sandwiches and two soft drinks.

I had tried their tri-tip a year ago, and was not impressed. I had told Jerry and he said they were getting new ovens so that the meat didn’t overcook while sitting. That was the problem before, but now the problem had been solved.

Fortunately there was a break in traffic so Jerry could join me in the shade to have lunch.

I was very surprised and delighted with the tri-tip. Now it was moist, delicious and nearly fall-apart tender. Perfect for a sandwich.
It came naked on the roll except for a drizzle of barbecue sauce, which I found did not overpower the meat, which by itself was, as I said before, outstanding.

“I usually leave off the sauce,” Jerry said, “since I like the taste of the meat so much. The marinade Swingle uses is the best.”

I really had to agree. I have never had tri-tip that tender and delicious and I have eaten a lot of tri-tip over the years. I may drive down to Swingle Meats to see what else they have.

In addition to what I have already mentioned, they also serve a Turkey sandwich, Grilled Cheese, a Veggie burger and a whole lot more. You can choose from a dozen different kinds of pies, many baked or unbaked. They also have sugar-free Apple pies and even apple cake. Most are also available by the slice. I personally like Dutch Apple or Sour Cream Apple.

Don’t forget the donuts they make fresh throughout the day, the Apple Fritters and the famous Caramel Apples. Also, apple juice and cider.
Oh, don’t forget it is an apple ranch, so they have a lot of different varieties of apples, with changes in the varieties as they ripen on the tree.

These are real crisp apples, local and freshly picked, not something that has been is cold storage for several months.

Okay, almost finished. Trout fishing, pony rides, hay rides, more crafts people and any other location in Apple Hill and excitement for kids of all ages. They are also available for field trips, weddings, picnics and events. Give them a call.

High Hill Ranch is open from mid-August through Christmas Eve, from 8 until 5, Monday through Friday and 7 until 6 on weekends. For more information you can call (530) 644-1973 or visit their webpage at www.highhillranch.com.

I really gotta go back and have one of their burgers and maybe a bowl of chili.

By the way, Jerry told me the crowds thin out about the last week in October, so take a trip to High Hill Ranch and/or the other Apple Hill Growers businesses. We are lucky to have this opportunity so near to us.

Steppin’ Out – 19 Slices Pizza and Grill and a few odds and ends

My daughter has been telling me about a pizza place that serves great burgers. She even told me that my grandson thought they were the best ever.

Well, last Friday I went to Carmichael to attend a high school water polo competition my granddaughter was playing in and, on Saturday, two football games my grandson was playing in.

First of all, they won all three games and, secondly, on Friday we went to the pizza place, which is named 19 Slices Pizza and Grill and is located at 4314 Marconi Avenue in Sacramento.

Their menu has a very simple twist. Sure, they have signature pizzas, but you can also craft your own. You start with a 12 or 16 inch crust and then add to it from a list of sauces, cheese, proteins, veggies and finishes. The price is the same no matter what you add. And, the same goes for the burgers.

They have three all beef burgers: a Hamburger, a Cheeseburger and a Bacon Cheeseburger. You pay for the burger and any or all of the toppings are free. They include: Special Sauce (1000 Island), Mayo, Ketchup, Lettuce, Mustard, Pickles, Tomatoes, Red Onions, Green Peppers, Grilled Onions, Grilled Mushrooms, Jalapeño Peppers, BBQ Sauce or Buffalo Hot Sauce.

I ordered the Bacon Cheeseburger with a half-dozen of them and it was wonderful.

My grandson, half way through the meal, asked if he could get some fries and it was decided he could.

My daughter had previously told me they were “okay,” but he came back with battered fries, which must be the “House Fries.” They were fantastic. Every time he turned away, someone took one.

The menu also includes Appetizers, Salads and lots of side. Check them out.

19 Slices Pizza and Grill is closed on Monday, but open every other day of the week from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. For more information call (916) 692-8887 or check out their Facebook page,

Yes, they also have 19 Handles Pub and Grill on Arden Way in Sacramento.

Bratwurst at Wienerschnitzel

Well, the Oktoberfest special bratwurst is back at Wienerschnitzel, an annual happy event.

Last year they had both bratwurst and Italian Sausage sandwiches, but this year they are focusing on just the bratwurst, serving it with either mustard and grilled onions or mustard and sauerkraut.

I think the bratwurst is a bit softer than last year, but the flavor is great: not too spicy, not too mild. Just right.

FreshMex Express Mexican Grill

FreshMex Express Mexican Grill, located next to Anytime Fitness in Prospector Plaza (K-Mart and Ross) at 3970 Missouri Flat, Suite H, has added Barbacoa (tender, slowly steam cooked beef) to their menu that already includes chicken, steak, al pastor, chile colorado, chile verde and more. I tried it, I loved it, loved it, loved it.

Hours: Daily 9:30 until 9. Their phone number is (530) 642-9778.

Rafael Garcia, who owns FreshMex, along with his son, John, recently opened El Fuego Express Mexican Grill at 1225 J Street in downtown Sacramento. I have heard nothing but great things about it and it has high social media ratings. Give it a try the next time you are in downtown Sacramento to yell at your legislators.

El Fuego is open daily, 9:30 until 9. Their phone number is (916) 917-5998.

By the way, catering is a big part of their business. Think about that when you are planning your next event, party or….

Carl’s Jr.

Well, I had to try the new Pastrami Burger at Carl’s Jr. They are calling the added pastrami “Condomeats,” a cute combination of the words meat and condiments.

I ordered it and it looked very much like the photograph in the ad, one of the few burgers that has. It was good, but even with lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles and a one-third pound patty, it was dry.

The pastrami is real, but very, very lean and, as fast food restaurants often do, the burger was overcooked. I asked for some more sauce to overcome the dryness and they were nice enough to simply make me a new burger with more sauce.

They use a thin mustard based sauce that tends to run out into the wrapper and, although there was more on the second burger, it was still a bit dry. I added a pack of mayo, which helped, but I think the burger needs a re-build.

By the way, Carl’s Jr. is one of the few fast food restaurants where you can get anything on the menu during breakfast hours.

Oh, the Famous Star with cheese is still my favorite fast food burger.

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.