American comfort food... now that's saying something. I love to be in my comfort zone, and I love a restaurant that fulfills this niche. When I think of American comfort food, and I want to associate the food with the restaurant... Black Bear Diner comes to mind.
Photo: It's a rainy Friday morning in early December, but the rain tends to whet the breakfast appetite, which is something that you need to bring with you when you dine at Black Bear Diner, as the portions are huge! Note the new building, the small tree, and the clean parking lot... as of this review, this restaurant had only been in business a couple of months.
In the greater Sacramento area, we've been waiting a long time for Black Bear Diner to come to town. Yes, if you're a regular reader of the adventures of the Sacramento Breakfast Club, you'll note that we mostly avoid chain restaurants, as we prefer local, mom and pop operations, yet... we do operate outside "the box..." Black Bear Diner is a good example of our deviation from our normal method of operation.
Black Bear Diner is a chain of restaurants which originated in Mt. Shasta City, Ca, and has expanded into the central valley of California, and beyond. I've had the pleasure to enjoy breakfast at their Reno outlet, and also their Gridley restaurant as well; click on the hyperlink to read the article that I published about my dining experience. Without fanfare, Black Bear Diner opened an outlet in the North Natomas area of Sacramento, and despite my instinct for keeping my eyes open for new breakfast outlets, Black Bear totally escaped my attention until by friend and sometimes breakfast club member Bruce Coulter pointed out to me that Black Bear Diner had come to town. It was Bev's turn to pick the location of our club meeting, and after I talked to her on the phone, and hurriedly emailed me the news about Black Bear Diner, well... the rest was history, as she chose our meeting of Friday, December 3, 2010, at Black Bear Diner. It was basically, a done deal.
Photo: This photo gives an idea of how big the place is... there is lots of room to speared out. The dining room is decorated for Christmas.
Photo: Briana takes Bev's breakfast order. The photo gives a good idea of the large dining room, the windows to the "outside" and the rustic decor. Menus are presented on a piece of news paper, funky, but unique. Jeff seems to be struggling with his menu - or maybe it's his menu choice!
Actually, our club meeting was almost "after the fact," as Dan and Bev jumped the gun and enjoyed breakfast the day before the club meeting, and alerted the staff what to expect when the Sacramento Breakfast Club came to town. Eighteen hours before the scheduled club meeting, Dan sent me an email and he described the breakfast that he and Bev enjoyed... He raved... raved... and raved a bit about it... and more. I sort of had an idea, as I'd eaten at a couple of Black Bear Diner outlets before... but I was excited that they had come to town, and that I would no longer be required to drive elsewhere to enjoy their fine Americana cuisine.
The phrase, "Americana," in a word, would be a good way to describe Black Bear Diner. The Sacramento Natomas outlet is in a new part of North Sacramento, as it now occupies land that was a cow pasture just a few months ago. Black Bear Diner is in the fast-growing North Natomas area of Sacramento, between the City of Sacramento and the Sacramento International Airport, close to the Silver Skillet Restaurant and the truck stop along busy Interstate 5. Anyway, as you enter Black Bear Diner, it's both rustic and modern.... it's clean, comfortable and spacious... you aren't crammed into a cramped booth or shuffled into a small table. There is plenty of room to move about, and enjoy the rustic, yet modern decor. Inside, it's almost like being in a gigantic log cabin, and the "black bear" theme is everywhere, but it borders on intimate, and the friendly staff will make you feel at home.
Photo: The corridor to the ladies' and men's rooms are decorated with... what else? ... photos of bears!
Photo: Our friendly waitress Briana, seems to have dazzled and amazed Louis, as she poses with David's one pound ham steak breakfast, with one of the Black Bear Diner signature offerings: Biscuit the size of softball. Yes, the gigantic biscuit is included with many of Black Bear Diner's breakfasts as the preferred side, yet varieties of toast are offered as options. On the other hand, she's holding the optional bowls of delicious breakfast gravy that Louis and I ordered to compliment our New York steak breakfasts. Our other server, Robyn, is waiting in the wings... Louis seems to be overwhelmed by the prospect of a superior breakfast... or is it the ladies? Awwwwwwwww.... Louis just seems to have breakfast on his mind...
By the time I arrived, Dan and Bev were already seated at a table in the middle of the restaurant, and had already briefed our friendly server Briana, and her helper Robyn, on the mission of the Sacramento Breakfast Club. In my case, it was just a matter to sit down at the table and take in the rustic, yet modern and thoroughly comfortable decor of the Sacramento outlet of Black Bear Diner. I was privileged to welcome first time member Louis Bugai, and long time, yet absent club member Jeff Brown to our breakfast table. We were privileged to have friendly Briana as our server, who kept our coffee cups full and made us feel at home.
Prior to our visit, Dan and Bev had already scouted out the restaurant and had alerted the staff of what to expect when the Sacramento Breakfast Club arrives; e.g. the photos, the endless questions, and all of the "collateral damage" that goes with publishing an article on the web. Briana took our orders, kept our coffee cups full, and made us feel at home.
Black Bear Diner's dining room is huge, and it's rustic, comfortable, clean, and ultra-modern. When you enter the room, you can sit yourself at a table or a booth, or you can place yourself at the breakfast counter, where you'll see all of the action happen. If you need to use the restroom, you'll be treated to a wall full of pictures of bears, and other mascots promoting the rustic theme that the restaurant promotes...
Photo: Robyn gives me her best smile, as she delivers Dan's GIGANTIC breakfast of chicken fried steak and all of the trimmings.
Photo: Here's my New York Steak "Breakfast Special," for the base price of $6.99. OK, for $6.99, you get an 8-oz New York steak, cooked anyway you like it, for me... medium, two eggs any style... for me, over easy, choice of home style potatoes - my choice - or hash brown potatoes, and your choice of toast or biscuit... I chose sourdough toast. My options included a bottomless cup of coffee and a cup of delicious breakfast gravy. The total bill was well under $10.00, but I left our beautiful waitresses a generous tip for friendly service, answering my many questions, and tolerating my many photos.
When she took our orders, she mentioned the special breakfast item of the day, the $6.99 New York Steak and eggs... yes, I'd had my sights on the chicken fried steak breakfast, which is my de facto standard, but how could I resist a steak breakfast for the below market price? Louis took the bait as well... maybe it was because he was sitting next to me, or maybe it was a case of good judgment. Breakfast choices at Black Bear Diner are almost endless, as you not only can pick from their vast array of menu choices but if whatever you want is not listed on the menu, all you have to do is ask, and their friendly staff can probably accommodate your request.
When you visit Black Bear Diner, you will definitely want to bring your appetite as the portions are gargantuan in proportion. In my case, for $6.99, I received a 8-oz New York steak, cooked medium well, as per my request, along with two eggs over easy, home style potatoes, and an order of sourdough toast. I requested a bowl of country gravy on the side; I have a hard time of eating breakfast without gravy. My breakfast was fulfilling, and delicious, but paled at David's one pound ham steak! Gosh, I can't describe it... check out the photo! David took about half it home in a box...
It was about time that Black Bear Diner came to town... this restaurant just might become the de facto standard of the Sacramento Breakfast Club. Although it's a chain restaurant, which is the only "bad" thing that I can publish about Black Bear Diner, they serve good food, classic, feel-good "American" standards of comfort food, and the people are friendly... they make you feel at home. Wow! Black Bear Diner has come to town, and they have, in the opinion of the Sacramento Breakfast Club, taken the town by storm. They just might be our new "de facto" standard diner...
Photo: Today's Sacramento Breakfast Club members, from left to right: Eric Rench, David DeMario, Dan MacLeod, Bev MacLeod, Jeff Brown and Louis Bugaj.
Drive up and down highway 99 in California's central valley, an you'll probably see an array of signs advertising Black Bear Diner. If you're in the mood for delicious food, and plenty of it, do yourself a favor, and stop at Black Bear Diner, and prepare to enjoy some of the best comfort food to be found up and down the highway. Black Bear Diner is a win-win situation any way you look at it. Highly recommended by the members of the Sacramento Breakfast Club!
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