Stop #24 – Roma’s Pizzeria

Roma's Logo5743 Franklin Boulevard (South of Fruitridge)

  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday: 11AM to 9:30 PM; Friday and Saturday: 11AM to 11PM.
  • Credit / Debit Cards Accepted
  • 916-421-1881

Chelsea’s Take

I was very excited to go to Roma’s Pizzeria since the beginning of this project. I have heard nothing but fantastic things from my boyfriend (who, for artistic purposes, we will call “Kirk”) about how great this place is.  I recall eating there once before for takeout and remember being really pleased with my experience. Unfortunately, my first experience and the one I had for Eating Franklin Blvd. were not quite the same.

Let me begin by telling you a little bit about the first time I went to Roma’s, just so you have a picture of what I’m comparing my EFB experience to. 

Convinced by Kirk to give it a try, we called in and ordered a White Pizza: white sauce, garlic, tomato, basil, and olive oil. When we picked it up, it was ready when they said it would be, and the final product was very good. Thus my excitement to return to this Franklin Boulevard icon.

Now, my EFB experience:

Upon arriving, plan to look for parking in the nearby neighborhood as the little strip mall parking lot fills up fast.

I arrived before my parents, so I stood in the front waiting area.  This is where you’d expect to talk to someone about where to be seated. . . uh, or even say “hello”.  Not the case on this particular evening.  Five to ten minutes passed with nobody acknowledging I was there.  With the ovens right next to the entrance a, and staff walking in and out of the kitchen area, it was off putting to be completely ignored.  For full disclosure, I work in the food industry (a pizza place even – though that does not influence my review).  I can tell you that no matter how busy we are, I always make the effort to say “hello” when somebody walks in, and thank you when they are leaving.

When my parents showed up, making a party of four, our party must have been big enough to get their attention.  We were seated in a corner. Then we sat for 15 minutes (my Dad clocked it) without being offered so much as a glass of water. If it was busy I’d be more patient, but it wasn’t. Sure, there were a few other families in there, but it wasn’t packed,  and there was no big party of 20 soccer players, so honestly it was just poor tending. 

When we did finally got served our waitress was very friendly, and even apologized for the wait.

Since this is a pizzeria, I had to order pizza.  We ordered the White Pizza because I loved it so much the first time, and pizza with linguisa.  My parents opted for something from the ala carte and “Special Dinners” menu.

It took about 20 minutes for our food to arrive. As for our sodas, we were given them once, and then never refilled again until after we got our to go boxes.  Those of you who have followed EFB know that non refilled sodas are my biggest peeve.

Romas PizzasThe pizza. . .  The pizza. . . Ohhh. . . the pizza. How it so differed from the first time I ate their pie. I don’t know if they were having a bad day, a recipe change, or a change in cooks,  but it wasn’t the way I remembered.  The flavors were fine, there was nothing bad about the toppings, but the dough was so hard, it made my jaw sore.

The crust, the most important part of a successful pizza, was the real problem.  The fresh basil, tomatoes, and olive oil on top of the pizza were overpowered by the huge amount of crust.  The ratio of toppings to crust was way off.  Believe me, I love bread more than the next person, but its not all I want for my pizza, otherwise I’d have ordered bread sticks (though I would hope they would be easier to chew).

The linguisa was okay.  I like my sausage spicy, and it delivered there, but it could have used a little more time in the oven to crisp up both the toppings and the crust.

So one great experience with takeout, and one not so good one in-house. Very friendly but slow service, and average pizza for an average price.

A word from The Old Man

I wont repeat much of what Chelsea had to say, but I won’t disagree with it either   The one area in which I will echo her thoughts is the service.  It was really slow.  I have to admit that I feel a tinge of guilt saying that, because when we finally did get service, the server was very nice, even charming in a neighborhood joint kind of way.  But really slow service (have I said it was really slow?) in a half full restaurant does not make for a good experience.

As for the food, I have been to Roma’s several times for soccer parties over the years.  I always found the pizza to be okay, but nothing spectacular.  So this time Mrs. Old Man and I opted to see how they do on non-pizza items.

I ask our server for a recommendation and she replies with a smile, “the ravioli and meatballs, if you like a lot of meat.”  Why, yes I do.  Mrs. Old Man is a fan of house made ravioli, so she goes for the ravioli (“Homemade with meat sauce”).

Because it was on listed on the “Roma Special Dinners” section of the menu, mine came with a choice of salad or the “homemade” minestrone soup.  I love a good minestrone, so that is where I headed.

What came may technically be made in-house, but the vegetables were clearly from a can.  This was a disappointment.  I don’t expect fine dining everywhere I go, but living in the capital of the Farm to Fork movement, I have come to expect fresh green beans over canned.  This gave the soup a strong flavor of tin.

We also ordered a bottle of wine, a Banfi Chianti ($15).  It was actually quite good, particularly for that price.  Of course, Chianti always seems particularly good when there is garlic and olive oil wafting in the air.

When my ravioli with meatballs arrives, most of what I see is a thick layer of molten hot Romas Ravioli and Meatballsmozzarella cheese on top.  A bit too much cheese.  I had to peel it away to find the ravioli and meatballs.  Besides, I ordered this particular dish because our server appealed to the carnivore in me.  Now, I want my meat!

The red sauce and ravioli weren’t bad, but were completely overshadowed by the sixteen inch layer of cheese, but it is the meatball I am after.  You see, I love a good meatball.  I don’t care what kind of meat really.  I am sure I could enjoy a platter of possum meatballs, if they were done right.

Biting into this meatball was almost surreal.  It completely transformed me back to my childhood.  When I was a kid, I loved those nights when my mom would have a date.  Not only because it gave me an opportunity to torture some poor unsuspecting babysitter, but because it meant one thing:  Swanson’s TV Dinner!  Now there are connoisseurs of the 1970′s Swanson’s fried chicken.  There are those who know a thing or two about the turkey dinner.  But nothing said gourmet to me in 1976 more than Salisbury Steak! Oddly, that is EXACTLY what these meatballs tasted like.  I am not saying that is a good thing or a bad thing.  It’s just a thing.  I don’t know how they did it, but Roma’s has perfected the Swanson’s Salisbury Steak both in taste and texture.

Romas RavioliMrs. Old Man’s ravioli were fairly average.  Nothing to write home to Mama about, but not Chef Boyardee by any means.  They are listed as “homemade”, and I will take their word for it, though I would expect a more distinctive pasta with tooth for one made in-house.

Unfortunately, our experience at Roma’s was not the best.  I know this will likely evoke harsh criticism from loyalists to this fine old establishment.  Please keep in mind that, if we are wrong, we are not too proud to admit it.  We will gladly allow you to buy us dinner to change our minds.

Posted in Italian Food, Pizza, Take Out, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stop #23: Tacos and Beer (Or is it Comida al Estilo Apatzingan Michoacan?)

Beer and Tacos Front5701 Franklin Boulevard (South of Fruitridge on the Eastern side of the Boulevard)

  • Monday thru Thursday: 9:00 AM to ?; Friday thru Sunday: ? thru ? (Really!)
  • Credit / Debit Cards Accepted
  • Outdoor patio dining available
  • 916-428-7844

Chelsea’s Take

Walking in the place smelled, looked, and sounded great with music playing and people eating, decorations and warm vibrant colors on the walls. My dad and I were immediately excited about this stop.

We were admittedly a little confused as to where to begin on the extensive menu on the wall, but a very helpful and friendly lady asked us to take a seat and handed us menus while taking our drink orders. When she returned to take our order, she was more than happy to guide me in the right direction – pointing out the Flautas de Asada.  I rarely get unsolicited suggestions from servers, so I appreciated her making the effort to go out of her way.

The food didn’t take long to prepare and as it was being cooked it filled the tiny restaurant with fresh aromas and sizzling sounds of meat cooking on a grill. Mouths watering, we gratefully dug into the chips and salsa that was brought to us. The salsa was chopped finely, juicy, and fresh- snaps of onion and jalapeño swam with cilantro and chunks of tomato.

Oops.  The flautas were so good, I forgot to wait for my dad to take the photo

Oops. The flautas were so good, I forgot to wait for my dad to take the photo

Our food was brought to us by the same smiling woman.  It was clear that she was proud of the food and eager for us to try it. I ordered four rolled corn tortillas stuffed with steak and fried to crispy and not soggy perfection. It was topped with cheese and set on top of a really tangy tomato based sauce. It was sooooooo good I wish I was there again right now eating it. The steak was smoking and crispy, the tortilla shells were crunchy yet still maintained the right amount of chewiness.  The cheese added a really nice cooling deep flavor toned that rounded the dish nicely. I loved that it was simple but so flavorful. The sauce reminded me of what I get in Mexico, really simple and light while adding a bright note to the steak.

The beans were really creamy and dark and flavorful. Warm, smooth, and seasoned wonderfully, and the rice was spot-on in texture and flavor as well. It was just right salty, it had tomato flavor, and it was fluffy.

Along with the rice and beans was a small pile of iceberg lettuce cut up avocado (automatic win for any restaurant that serves avocado without an extra dollar fee!), and tomato. With every bite I piled on a little iceberg lettuce and avocado to add to the hot flavors of the meat and add a bit of refreshing pop. You could taste everything as it all came together to compliment each other, not one of the ingredients over powered another but instead enhanced each others flavors and textures.

I cleaned my plate and half jokingly asked my dad if I could order another.

It’s a small little place and I worry it could get lost because of its location. This place is a home run, and not expensive- almost right across the street from Jim boys, but worlds apart in flavor.

The owners were both very friendly and excited for us to be there, I will absolutely be returning very soon.

A word from the Old Man

First, the problem with the name.  Most of the signage for this restaurant, as well as the menu, appears to indicate that the name of this place is simply “Tacos and Beer”.  Hey, I’m good with that.  Most readers know by now that those are two of my favorite things.  The problem is that it in no way prepares you for what is inside.

Perhaps that is why they have hung a banner out front exclaiming, “Comida al Estilo Apatzingan Michoacán“.  Roughly translated, this better describes it as a place that specializes in the food style of the city of Apatzingan, in the Mexican State of Michoacán.

A municipality with approximately 115,000 residents in the west-central part of Michoacán, Apatzingan has recently made more headlines for its notorious drug cartels than its cuisine.  If this place is truly reflective of the food of this area, that oversight is a real crime.

While not necessarily a take-it-to-the-bank kind of thing, walking into a place and hearing Mexican music and seeing fútbol playing on the TV always makes a good first impression for a small Mexican restaurant.  Seeing that it also caters to local Mexicans can also be an indicator of quality.  All were the case when we entered Tacos and Beer.

We were immediately greeted by  a friendly woman who, as it turns out, owns and operates the place with her husband, who is tending the grill.  After standing at the counter, looking up at the extensive menu, our necks growing stiff, she offers to serve us at our table, handing us menus.

The menu is anything but your standard fare.  Sure they have a variety of tacos with your choice of meat, platos con carne asada, cecina (dried meat), and flautas, but Bisteck con Queso  (Steak with Cheese Fondue)?  I am a big fan of cheese fondue.  Even make a pretty good one myself.  But I have never encountered it in a Mexican restaurant – not even in French restaurants in Mexico.  They also offer a cheese fondue as an appetizer.  I am intrigued.

The menu also offers up a number of seafood options, including a variety of camarones (shrimp) plates including garlic shrimp, grilled shrimp, spicy diablo shrimp, shrimp ranchero in a tomato sauce, and shrimp cocktail.  They just won’t make this easy!

Our attentive hostess quickly delivers my Dos Equis and is ready to take my order. . . I punt.  Asking her what she would consider a specialty of the house, she immediately smiles from ear to ear and replies, “our enchiladas”.

Now my dilemma.  After all, I did ask.  The problem is, I just don’t like enchiladas at restaurants.  It’s like so many Italians will swear that their mom makes the best marinara sauce.  They are spoiled by what they grew up on and forever doomed to be disappointed by any other replica.  That is how I am with enchiladas.

As a boy, a close family friend, Consuelo Ramirez, would make me her red enchiladas.  She even taught me to make them as an adult.  So, if it is not Connie’s enchiladas (or, now mine), I am inevitably disappointed.  Then again, I did ask.

Given a choice of green or red, I opt for the red with adobado (spicy marinated pork) and hope for the best.

As our meal is being prepared, an incredible smell begins to waft from the small kitchen.  Our dishes arrive in good time, but not so fast as to make us think they were pre-prepared.

Looking at the enchiladas gives me reason for hope.  I was expecting tortillas filled with too much cheese and too little meat, then drenched and swimming in a watery, weak orangy red sauce.  Nope.  These look like the real deal.  Three smallish tortillas lightly fried, then dipped in a rich chili sauce – almost a chili past – then filled with a healthy portion of meat, rolled and lightly covered with cheese.

The enchiladas did not disappoint.  They may be the best enchiladas I have had on the Boulevard.  Maybe the best I have ever had in a restaurant.  The sauce and meat were perfectly seasoned, spicy, but not too spicy and the meat was allowed to be the star.

Salsa Acieto:  So good, I'd put it on my ice cream

Salsa Acieto: So good, I’d put it on my ice cream

Then came nirvana in a jar:  salsa acieto.  Our hostess returned to our table with what appeared to be the chili sauce you find on the lazy susan of most Chinese restaurants.  Smiling (still), she suggested we try it, warning us that it is hot.  That’s an invitation I cannot resist.

It was like no salsa I have ever had.  She was right, it is hot, but not too hot, with an earthy chili flavor.  I could have put this stuff on my left shoe and it would have tasted good.  If you do go to Beer and Tacos, be sure to ask for this salsa, regardless of what you order.

Finally, both Chelsea and the Old Man fully satisfied with our meal, I walk to the register to pay our bill.  As I am waiting, the amiable chef emerges from from the kitchen with a strange, though tasty looking, concoction he is serving in a molcajete.  A molcajete is a stone tool, the traditional Mexican version of the mortar and pestle tool, used for grinding herbs and other food products.  In this case it is the vessel used to serve the Molcajete de Camarones, Pollo y Carne.  A red chili based stew  of shrimp, chicken and beef, adorned with a roasted chili, lemon and cilantro.  “This is very good.  You have to try it next time.”   I intend to do just that.

So, don’t be misled by the name,  Tacos and Beer is anything but just that.  Do yourself a favor, make the trip south of Fruitridge and give this place a try.

Posted in Dinner, Franklin Boulevard, Lunch, Mexican Food, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stop #22 – Jimboy’s Tacos

Jimboys5551 Franklin Boulevard (Near Fruitridge)

  • Credit / Debit Cards Accepted
  • Drive Thru Window

Chelsea’s Take

Let me start by saying we all know that fast food (at least 98 percent of fast food) isn’t going to be made with the best quality ingredients. But that’s okay – when you go to fast food you’re paying for FAST food, not great food. However, when I go to any restaurant I expect a few basic things: clean restaurant, good service, tasty food, and free refills. These are standards I expect a lot of people share with me, and standards I expected from Jimboy’s Tacos, since a lot of people I know really like to eat there.

The first problem you are likely to encounter when going to Jimboy’s on Franklin Boulevard is getting into the place.  It’s fenced off with chain link fences that only allow access from a driveway on Fruitridge.

Finally figuring out how to get into the parking lot, I noticed a lot of cars lining up in the drive thru lane and a few cars in the lot, so it was looking good. On this particular outing, I was starving to the point that  rotting brains were starting to sound yummy.

Walking in, I found the restaurant to be clean and festive:  Pass. They were playing nice holiday music with decorations that really put me in a holiday seasons good mood. There were a few families eating and waiting for their meals.  It was looking like this could be a pleasant lunch.

Then we got to the cashier. She not only did not greet us with even a weak “hello” or “how are you doing today,” she said nothing at all.  She just stared at us blankly.  She wasn’t helpful with ordering either – didn’t tell us our total, or time wait – literally nothing. I myself work a job similar to hers in customer service and I can tell you that if I didn’t say “hello, thank you, how are you, or you have a good day,” I would be approached by my manager – but aside from that, it’s just common courtesy to greet another human when they are right in front of you. Even if we don’t speak the same language, a bit of friendliness like a smile or even a nod would have been worlds better than the stone cold silence we received.   I’m not sure if this issue should come down on management or staff, but: Good Service, Fail.

Jimboys Tacos

Warning: This photo makes the food look better than it is.

I ordered the ground beef taco platter, which comes with rice and beans, a small salad, and tortilla.  My dad and I were both starving so we looked immediately at the salsa bar for some chips and salsa but of course, you have to buy those separately. It’s not like the cashier didn’t ask us if we wanted chips or drinks…oh wait, that’s right, she didn’t.

I was so hungry I thought I would pass out, so when our number was called out I was rejoicing in happiness, truly celebrating inside. Our platters both had a decent amount of food piled on them, and my mouth was watering at the sight of Parmesan cheese on the taco shells (their delicious trademark). Then, I started to eat. The meat was ground beef like most fast food places, kind of like a meat paste – but completely void of flavor. The “crunchy” taco shell was less crunchy than floppy, and dripping with grease. The iceberg lettuce and tomatoes were really more for visual effect because they didn’t add to the taste.

My beans clearly came from a can, and were covered in a weird orange plastic-like grease sheet that I think was supposed to be cheese. The rice was hard, dry, and bland. Finally the “salad” was just a small pile of undressed shredded taco lettuce. My soda cup said “fresh tasting” but it’s not!  Tasty food: Fail.

My meal was boring and sickly, and just plain LAME.  But I still had one final check and I’m relieved to say that they do allow free refills: Pass.

I was really disappointed. People I know rave about it being a cheap good quality fast food restaurant, but the food in my opinion was barely edible. You’re not even saving that much money here – I can’t help but wonder why anybody would go to Jimboy’s on Franklin Boulevard when there are so many better, cheaper, friendlier, Mexican restaurants on almost every block!

When you go to Jimboy’s, you’re paying for the fast, but that’s about it.

What the Old Man Says

Wow.  I just read Chelsea’s take.  Could it really have been that bad?

Surprisingly, yes.

Jimboys Burrito PlateI went with the special of the day, a beef burrito plate complete with rice, beans and the aforementioned “salad”.  As for the rice, beans and salad, I can’t add much to what has already been said, so I will focus on the burrito.  The meat was the same flavorless ground beef as was found in the taco.  In addition to the beef was a healthy amount of bland canned refried beans.   In fact the ratio of beans to beef was at least two to one, which I found odd considering that it was a “beef burrito”.  This all wrapped on a fried tortilla.  I made three trips to the salsa bar to retrieve pickled jalapenos in order to give this thing any semblance of flavor – it didn’t work.

While waiting for my order, I decided to pay a visit to the bathroom.  Why do I mention this?  Because it was a strange experience.  The lock on the door requires you to ask the cashier for a token to get in, with many “Restrooms are for Customers Only” warnings on the wall.  I understand there may be a need for locking the bathroom door, but why not hang a key on a hook?  Having to wait in line to get a token from the cashier is a bit unusual, but it did give me another opportunity to bask in her charm.  Then, once in the fairly clean facility, I noticed the toilet is actually chained to the wall.  Is there a rash of toilet robberies on Franklin Boulevard of which I am not aware?

I digress. . . back to the food.

I grew up hearing how great Jimboy’s tacos are, with their trademark Parmesan cheese crunchy shell.  So I tried one of Chelsea’s.  I was hugely disappointed as soon as I bit into the greasy soggy shell, and even more so when I discovered the meat to be as bad as that in my burrito.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am not a taco snob or purist.  I can look at the Americanized version of a taco and not judge it against its distant cousin the street taco found at taquerias.  The two are very different and both have their place under the great taco umbrella.  I have been known to make the trek to Swabbies on the river, or Loree’s Shack in Rocklin to see this type of taco done right, even exceptionally.  So, I am not discriminating against the style of the taco, just the poor execution.

To add insult to my injury, as I was eating my meal all I had to do was look over Chelsea’s shoulder across the street and see no less than three places where my money, and appetite, would have been better spent.

Jimboys PlenairThe bright side of the trip actually came out in the parking lot, where you can see the Plein Air painting on the wall.  It was painted by local artist Anthony Padilla for the Franklin Urban Plein Air Project which we featured on Stop #18. It is one of the best of the collection.

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Stop #21 – Carniceria Lopez

5550 Franklin Blvd (Near Fruitridge)

  • Debit / Credit Cards Accepted
  • Monday thru Saturday:  10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Take Out Only

EFB NOTE:  Due to the fact that life sometimes gets in the way (the Old Man’s work and Chelsea’s college life), we had to take a little time off.  We apologize for the interruption and hope you took the time to catch up with us on the boulevard.  But we are back and in the final home stretch with only a few stops to go!

Chelsea’s Take

This is the first time I didn’t see the inside of one of our stops, but this place offers take-out only, so while I was finishing up class my dad went to Carniceria Lopez market and picked up fried pig skin, carnitas, spicy pork, salsa, guacamole, tortillas, rice and beans.

Since I didn’t go with my dad he did all the ordering, and as an appetizer he brought home fried pigs ears. Having grown up watching him eat things off of animals that the rest of us are too scared to even touch – bones, eyes, brains, and skin – it’s really not unusual in our house to eat the skin of pork, but it just never really tempted me to eat a fried ear pig. It really wasn’t hard though, it tasted just like really crispy bacon! A scary looking but tasty treat.

For dinner we were having traditional taqueria dishes like carnitas and spicy adobado pork with all the fixings. The salsas were all delicious and fresh. I was really impressed at the quality of the vegetables used in the salsa fresco – we had ordered at the end of the day but nothing we had, appeared as though it had been sitting out all day.

The star topping had to be the guacamole! It was tart, creamy, smooth, with chunks of tomato, and seasoned perfectly. Guacamole is easily messed up, but theirs was perfect and stays tasty for days (I can say for I’ve eaten it 3 days in a row with leftovers since we got it)

The two pork meats were both really well done. My favorite would definitely have to be the spicy adobado pork that you fry up yourself at home. It was really well balanced with spices and flavors.  Brightened by lime juice, you could eat it as is, with the rice and beans, alone, or on a tortilla.  It really doesn’t matter because it’s always going to be delicious.

The carnitas came in big chunks that where crispy and caramelized on the outside, pink and juicy on the inside. Again you really can’t go wrong here, it too is brought to another level when doused in lime juice and wrapped in a warm tortilla blanket.

The beans were rich and tasty and the rice was light – the perfect last links to complete any Mexican meal.

When my dad brought home Carniceria Lopez food home for dinner he brought home quality and flavorful food. Keeping the good food roll going on Franklin Blvd.

The Old Man’s Take

Since it was take-out, and I knew anything I didn’t eat would end up in the fridge, I did what I usually do in such circumstances:  I completely over ordered!  No harm.  No foul.  We ate well for days.

In addition to those items Chelsea discussed, there were a few more of note.  (By the way, I agree with her assessment, but since having the carnitas at La Esperanza, I have trouble going back for my fried pork friend anywhere else).

Also on the menu were birria de res and a coctel de camarones.

By now, if you have followed, you know I am a big fan of birria.  This one was okay.  Not bad, but not the best on the boulevard.  (Another BTW – our “Best of the Boulevard” is coming soon!)  It was much more like an American pot roast.  The meat – in this case beef – was slow cooked,  and fork tender as it should be, but it missed the chili laden broth that I look for in birria.  If you added some carrots and potatoes, you could have been eating at your Midwestern grandma’s table.  Again, not a bad thing, just not what I am looking for in birria.

For me, the surprise of the meal was the coctel de camarones (shrimp cocktail).  I could have been going out on a limb eating pre-prepared shrimp cocktail at a Mexican deli style counter at the end of the day at a place nowhere near the ocean.  As it turned out, that is a limb I will hang out on all day long.  The shrimp was fresh, perfectly cooked and plentiful.  A little squeeze of lime for some acid, and I was transported to a warm beach, minus the sand fleas.  That alone was worth a repeat visit.

In addition to their very good take out, Carniceria Lopez is also a small, but well stocked general Mexican goods store with an impressive butcher counter.  In fact, I intend to hit that side of the shop very soon. Just as soon as I empty the fridge, that is.

Next stop:  Fast food stop #2 – Jimboy’s Tacos.

Posted in Carnitas, Dinner, Franklin Boulevard, Lunch, Mexican Food, Seafood, Take Out, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Stop #20 – El Michoacano; And a bonus – The 7th Annual Hispanic / Latino Parade and Festival

A Mural Paying Homage to El Michoacano’s History as an Early Food Truck

5681 Franklin Blvd (Just South of Fruitridge)

  • Open for lunch and dinner
  • Credit / Debit Cards accepted

Chelsea’s Take

When my dad, grandpa, and I went into El Michoacano, we  all took note of how quiet it was. The entire restaurant was empty and there was only one lady working behind the counter. At least the line was short.

I placed my order using the very little Spanish that has stuck with me since high school.  The woman was very accommodating in trying to understand.

El Michoacano has a long menu with a lot of traditional items found in a taqueria, such as tacos, tortas, and burritos.  They also feature items not found on most menus, like gorditas and sub sandwiches.

La Gordita

I ordered a corn gordita with marinated pork and all the fixings. I wasn’t a hundred percent sure what a gordita was going to be, but from its description I figured it to be something similar to a sopa, which is like a corn tortilla pancake with meat, lettuce, tomato and salsa topped on top like a fancy tostada. When it arrived, I saw that the gordita was a like a sopa sandwich! Two corn pancakes fried to a crispy golden brown on the outside, but moist, soft, and bready on the inside. I haven’t seen anything like it anywhere on the boulevard – or anywhere for that matter.

In between the sopa-like-bread was a tower of the marinated pork, usual shredded lettuce, and juicy red tomatoes, but in addition was BIG cubes of fresh avocado. If the friendly service, free chips, or great quality ingredients didn’t make up for the somewhat dead atmosphere – then the fact that they put a mountain of creamy fresh avocado on the dish did!  (If you haven’t noticed by now, I like avocado almost as much as I like bacon).

The pork was the real surprise and stood out as possibly some of the most flavorful pork I’ve tried so far. It was marinated in a perfect blend of Mexican spices and then crisped up so that each chunk would crunch then burst with flavor as you chewed.

The toppings as I said before surpassed all of my expectations being obviously fresh and real. The tomatoes were red, the lettuce was crisp, the avocado was green, not brown.

The beans were unique when compared to other beans on the boulevard.  They seemed like a family recipe that has been passed down.  Very dark, which made me wonder if they held back on the lard (a healthy option yes, but loses the rich quality I’ve come to expect from Franklin Boulevard restaurant beans).  Well, if they did, I couldn’t tell.  These beans were decadent and savory.

The rice wasn’t clumpy, too red, or too yellow- a perfect Mexican rice orange with the perfect amount of tangy flavor. Whatever fell out of the gordita was gladly scooped up along with the rice and beans!

I couldn’t tell you why El Michaocano was so empty when we walked in. The place is clean, the service is good, and the food is most certainly good enough to keep bringing people back.  My only theory is that it is at the end of a long line of taquerias, so people turn off of Franklin Blvd. too early to find the place.  From my experiences trying every restaurant, I strongly encourage people to continue on a tiny bit further and enjoy all the great things this restaurant has to offer!

A Word from The Old Man

So, here we are on stop # 20.  I have had cabeza, lengua, birria, pasole, chili verde, even octopus.  But still no burrito.

I have wanted to be more adventuresome to provide insight to followers looking for unique dining experiences on the boulevard.  But on this day, well. . . I just felt like a burrito dammit.  So, I ordered the Burrito Grande with Adobado (marinated pork).

What Chelsea left out was the fact that she actually ordered the gordita with carnitas, but her sketchy Spanish threw the poor woman behind the counter for a loop and thus she too ended up with adobado.  She would have complained, but she liked it too much to stop eating it.

And I fully concur with my gastronomical protege.  My somewhat frequent problem with adobado is that the marinade overpowers the flavor of pork.  For those of us who are pork fiends, we want to taste the pork.  Gladly, El Michoacano, commits no such sin.  Their marinade adds to the flavor of the pork without masking it.

As for the buritto itself, both my Father-In-law, who also ordered a burrito, were a little intimidated when they arrived, due to their massive size.  And, again agreeing with Chelsea, the freshness of the ingredients was as noteworthy as the generosity.  But within minutes both The Old Man and The Really Old Man managed to eat every bite, mine washed down with a cold Modelo, his a Corona.

It was odd that this place was so empty on a weekday at lunch.  It is one of the oldest taquerias around, dating back much farther than the new facade on the building would lead you to believe.  And it has always received good reviews.  I am hoping this was an anomaly    And hoping that followers will give it a try.

THE SEVENTH ANNUAL HISPANIC / LATINO PARADE AND FESTIVAL

The Caballero Traditions Alive and Well on Franklin Boulevard

Both Chelsea and The Old Man had an opportunity to take part in the 7th Annual Hispanic / Latino Parade and Festival this year.  This parade, which starts at Sutterville and heads South down our favorite boulevard before finishing up at St. Rose’s Church, grows more popular every year.

A Shameless (and appreciated) Plug for The Old Man from Supervisor Phil Serna

It was great to join community leaders like our County Supervisor, Phil Serna, who The Old Man had the honor of riding with in the parade, and so many community members to celebrate our rich local Hispanic / Latino culture and Franklin Boulevard itself!  The entries of horses this year were particularly impressive.  With so many families lining the streets, it made me proud of our City and our Boulevard.

Chelsea Waving to her Fans

Even Chelsea got her own convertible and the opportunity to be a part of the parade representing Eating Franklin Boulevard – though her parade wave needs some work.

Thanks to the North Franklin Boulevard Business District and the City of Sacramento for making this a great event!

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Oktoberfest Special – Morant’s Old Fashioned Sausage Kitchen

5001 Franklin Boulevard (At 25th Avenue)

  • Credit / Debit Cards Accepted
  • Tuesday through Saturday:  9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Closed Sunday and Monday)
  • morantssausage@comcast.net

This is a special EFB.  Up until now, we have visited only places that offer prepared hot and cold food to eat in or take out.  Morant’s is in its own category – a German sausage kitchen.  In fact, it is rumored to be the only remaining true German Sausage Kitchen left in Northern California.  So save yourself a trip to Los Angeles and head down Franklin Boulevard.

The Old Man

Owner Dirk Mueller has run Morant’s since 1989, and he personally oversees the quality sausage making right there in the store.  Born in Lima, Peru to German immigrants, Mueller grew up speaking German at home and immigrated to the U.S. as a child.  He later moved to Germany to learn the art of sausage making, eventually rising to the level of a certified “Wurstmeister” (a master sausage maker).  After five years in Germany, he returned to the U.S. and  soon took over at Morant’s, where German is still spoken today.

Morant’s is a bit of a tradition around our house, especially this time of year.  With baseball in the playoff season and football getting started, what better time for a great hand made sausage link?  But that is not why we go there on this particular weekend every year.  To us, the first weekend of October means only one thing – Oktoberfest!  And Morant’s has been supplying our sausages for more years than I can remember.

And this year was no   different.  As a perfect accompaniment to my hot German potato salad, red cabbage and soft pretzels, we chose the Thuringer Bratwurst, White Bratwurst, and Smoked Bratwurst.  I would love to give a full report on which we preferred but I can’t.  Seems everybody had a

Oktoberfest Dinner 2012 at the Kennedy’s

favorite and all agreed that each one was great!  The fresh White Bratwurst has an amazing texture and mild flavor;  the Smoked Bratwurst had just the right smoke with a more typical sausage consistency; and the Thuringer Bratwurst (Wisconsin style) had spices and herbs that were a great compliment, but didn’t overpower the meatiness of the sausage.  All have a perfect ration of fat to filling, so while very lean, they are not at all dry.  Bravo Her Wurstmeister!

But Morant’s is not just for Oktoberfest.  It is to be enjoyed all year round.  They also make such favorites as Basque Chorizo (perfect for my paella), Louisiana Hot Links and Andouille Sausage (my jambalaya). In addition, they make sandwich meats such as head cheese, salami, bologna and an assortment of liverwurst and pate.  I have it on good authority from a German transplant that they even prepare the perfect cuts of pork for Schnitzel.

I could go on, but I think you get the point – GO TO MORANT’S OLD FASHIONED SAUSAGE KITCHEN!  This is a community asset we should support, and you will be glad you did.

Prost!

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Stop #19 – La Favorita (Fast Food? Think again!)

Franklin Blvd & Fruitridge

  • Credit / Debit Cards Accepted
  • Monday thru Sunday 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Chelsea’s Take

La Favorita.  On the outside it’s a generic building that looks like a fast food restaurant chain (complete with a drive through window) but step inside and the atmosphere is like one you’d expect to find in a family owned restaurant that’s been around for generations. Inside, families fill just about every table, talking and enjoying their Sunday while fresh tortillas are being made by hand for everybody to see in the middle of the dining area.

On the walls black and white murals of famous people, from both the US and Mexico, smile down at the diners who are diving into their giant platters of food ranging from soups to enchiladas. Music plays and the air smells great as you line up to place your order.

The service is quick, you’re in and out of line (which was fairly long when we got there) within minutes. Then as you wait for your food (which couldn’t have taken longer than fifteen minutes) you can pile homemade chips into a basket and serve up as much of any of the salsas and guac as you want. The pico is fresh and the guacamole is really flavorful and refreshing.

I ordered the carnitas platter with corn tortillas and a steak taco. When offered corn or flour tortillas I had to say corn because I could see them being made and they looked (and smelled) mouth-watering. A good move. The tortillas were fluffy and hot, and I could have eaten 20 of them alone! The carnitas came steaming, crispy and salty- perfect with the lime and guacamole and contrasting yet complimenting the sweet softness of the corn tortilla.

The rice I am happy to report was excellent. I found chunks of real tomato and corn mixed in giving it a really hearty fresh taste. And the beans were thick and oozing with cheese- begging to be scooped by one of their perfectly fried chips and topped with salsa!

My taco was a meal itself being about the size and density of two of my fists. It was overflowing with fresh cilantro and onion (who when together add an acidic sweet flavor), green salsa, grilled smoky juicy steak, and lime. My mouth is watering remembering it.

A really satisfying meal, fantastic people, and festive atmosphere – I really had a great time. La Favorita serves at fast food pace, but with real restaurant quality in both their food and service. You get a sense of the community when you’re there because they give off the impression that they actually want to be apart of the neighborhood and not just be in it.

A word from The Old Man

My previous visits to La Favorita have always been during the week, grabbing a bite at lunch.  I went because I knew I was guaranteed quality food at good prices and be out in little time.  I always considered it really good fast food.  That perception changed on a recent Sunday.

First, I was pleased to see a special weekend menu, including menudo, pasole and birria.  And a particularly pleasant surprise was the woman hand making tortillas in the dining room.

The place was also full of families at almost every table.  There was an almost family reunion feeling, and nobody was in a hurry to leave.  I had no idea that La Favorita was such a welcoming neighborhood meeting place.

I chose to forgo the regular menu, instead opting for the sandwich board specials menu.  As I have written in the past (see La Superior), I am a fan of birria, the slow cooked Mexican stew.  Traditionally made with goat meat, it is often substituted with beef (res).  Not here.   What came was a bowl of rich, red, spicy, though not too hot, broth and perfectly cooked fall-apart lamb – and a lot of it. If you like lamb, and I love it, you must have this dish.  It was among the best birria I have had.  I could not stop eating it. Throw in a hand-made, home-made tortilla and you have near perfection.

As an accompaniment to this Nirvana in a bowl, I helped myself to the assortment of salsas from the salsa bar.  Theirs has to be among the best salsa bars in the city, both in terms of selection and quality.  Particularly interesting was a salsa with an almost molé flavor and consistency.  A perfect blend of chili and what I believe was chocolate.  After eating the rich birria, the last thing I needed was a basket of chips, but I ended up eating two baskets to get my fill of this unique salsa.

The food was so good, it completely erased the memory of watching my football team getting shut out on the large screen TV.  . . well, almost.

I finally had to push myself away from the table while I still could, and make my way home in a near food induced coma.  The rest of the day shot, I now had an appointment with the sofa and remote control.  A pretty good Sunday courtesy of the good people at La Favorita.

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