I can already anticipate the angry emails that I'm about to receive from Sacramento-area readers, citing the fact that Citrus Heights is not Sacramento, and they are completely right. However, up until cityhood was achieved by Citrus Heights a couple of years ago, Citrus Heights was part of Sacramento county, and its still very close to the City of Sacramento. Since the Sacramento Breakfast Club samples breakfasts all over the greater Sacramento area, I felt this would be the appropriate place to write a review of our enjoyable breakfast experience at Charlie's Cafe.
Left: Charlie's Cafe offers ample parking and an eye-catching sign. Just ask fellow diner David... Right: As Loretta Lynn would say, "You're lookin' at country" when you look at Charlie's menu.
Recently, fellow "Breakfast Clubber," David, was driving home on Auburn Blvd, after visiting a friend, and while waiting for a traffic light, a sign that read "Charlie's Cafe, Home Style Cooking" caught is eye. Being a huge fan of breakfast, David stopped by, asked a waitress a few questions, and noted that they're only open for breakfast and lunch. The fact that the restaurant is only open for breakfast, and lunch lets one know that they know how to serve breakfast, and immediately gets David's, and our stomachs hungry for a good breakfast. Since Thursday, March 8, 2007 was David's turn to choose the restaurant, and pay for the meal, Charlie's was slated to be today's breakfast mission.
And what an enjoyable mission! Charlie's has only been in business a couple of months, as suspected by the brand-new building, and confirmed by our friendly waitress, Jeanie, but as we pulled into their large parking lot, it was full of vehicles, with a heavy emphasis on vans and pickup trucks. When those types of vehicles form a majority in a restaurant's parking lot, it tells us that the a) is a magnet for locals, b) caters to local tastes, c) and serves good food. Trust us, as we've eaten breakfast at restaurants all over the Sacramento area. Charlie's has half-barrels planted with pansies, which lends an elegant touch to their parking lot. Just by looking at the exterior of the building you can tell its brand new, as everything is clean and shiny.
Left: The dining room was mostly deserted by 1000 when I snapped this photo. Notice the raised booths along the wall, next to the windows, which afford semi-private dining. Right: One of the many signs on the walls that gave me a big laugh. I guess some dogs have all the luck...
As you walk in, you're greeted by the friendly cashier on your left, and the comfortable breakfast counter and the kitchen to the right. The dining room is straight ahead. An interesting note is that the breakfast counter and kitchen are separated from the dining room by a partition, that contains a big-screen television aimed at the dining room; a very nice touch. In keeping with local tastes, Country and Western music is played, loud enough to be enjoyed, but not loud enough to interfere with normal conversation. As I'm a GIGANTIC fan of country music, I knew that I'd found home! The dining room is quite large, with raised booths lining the walls, and tables in the middle. The decor could be described as country, truck stop, or something of the sort, and the walls are plastered with photos, paintings and posters, many of which will bring a chuckle to you. The tables all feature plaid tablecloths, which gives the place a "homey" feel. Above all, its very comfortable, spotlessly clean and provides the perfect setting to enjoy a fine breakfast.
Jeanie asked us if we wanted coffee, even before she brought the menus to our table. Naturally, since we're ex-military, coffee was a necessary prelude to our meal. The breakfast menu features a wide array of combination plates, scrambles, omelets, waffles, pancakes, and quite a few very light entrees, for those watching their weight, like the author should normally be doing. The menu features something for everyone, even the few vegans who might care to enjoy a meal in a restaurant, and not have to encounter any animal products. As far as choosing from the menu, despite the many choices, it only took us about 5 minutes to decide, as everything looks and sounds good, and it just depends on your mood at the current time. We love the fact that biscuits and gravy are offered as a side to nearly every entree, a clear signal that Charlie's Cafe caters to local taste.
Left: Jeanie brings us our biscuts and gravy, and Dan seems especially pleased. Right: The Sacramento Breakfast club, from left to right, Eric, the author, David and Dan, grin for my digital camera. This photo gives a good idea of the tasteful decor of the main dining room.
After a bit of deliberation, David chose "Davy's Special," which is a scramble of bacon, sausage, peppers, onions, homestyle potatoes and eggs, topped by delicious gravy. Dan chose a huge chicken fried steak, with hash browns, and fried eggs, and I chose corn beef hash, eggs over easy, and homestyle potatoes. I requested extra onions and peppers, and Jeanie advised me that the potatoes already contained plenty of them, but I requested that they "Bring 'em on..." Naturally, all of chose biscuits and gravy instead of toast, as that particular dish is a de facto standard on the West Coast, particularly in our part of California. Dan waffled between the chicken fried steak, and the 6" sausage patty, and he even asked Jeanie which was the best, and she assured Dan that the sausage was freshly, in-house made, so he decided to order a patty on the side so we could all give it a taste. David and I had no objections!
The staff, including the waitresses, clean-up folks and cooks are efficient, pleasant and extremely friendly. Everybody seems to enjoy what they are doing, and they genuinely seem to enjoy being at your service, and it shows by the outstanding degree of service, the quality of the food, and the friendly smiles on the faces of the staff members. I've eaten at enough restaurants to know what is real and what isn't, and I pride myself on body language, and I can see the staff at Charlie's Cafe are real people, and really enjoy what they are doing. If I was a Beach Boy, I'd be singing "Good Vibrations..."
Photo: Our friendly cook, Jessie, takes a break from his kitchen duties to pose for my camera. How could I resist not publishing this guy's photo on this web site? I love folks who "ham it up" for my camera! This guy is the best!
Within minutes, we were served our meal. We were impressed with the quality of the food, the attractive presentation, and the quantity. If you're packing an appetite, you won't be disappointed, as the portions are huge. David and I were impressed with our homestyle potatoes, as they were quite "chunky," and crispy, golden brown on the outside, yet chewy on the inside, just the way we like them. I had ordered extra bell peppers and onions with mine, and the veggies were cooked and slightly blackened, but not burned, and cooked exactly the way I like them. The three of us raved about the sausage, as it was cooked perfectly, but most of all it was fresh, tasteful, tender and juicy. When you cut it, juice actually oozed out of it, unlike the institutional variety of sausage patty you're subjected to in a fast food restaurant. All of agreed the next time we visit Charlie's Cafe, we'll all have the sausage patty breakfast!
During our meal, we all compared notes about our breakfast, and collectively the three of decided that Charlie's serves a delicious breakfast, and we'd be coming back for more in the near feature. During our discussion, our friendly waitress came around every few minutes to refill our coffee cups from her bottomless coffee pot of delicious coffee. If you savor fine coffee, forget about your favorite what-his-Star-something and head to Charlie's, as they offer real coffee, to delight the taste of anybody who savors good coffee, without the fancy bells and whistles. When you combine outstanding food, reasonable prices, attractive presentation, comfortable surrounds, and efficient, friendly service, Charlie's Cafe can't be beat.
Left: My breakfast of biscuits and gravy, homestyle potatoes with extra diced peppers and onions, corned beef hash, and fried eggs, over easy, prepared perfectly with an attractive presentation. Right: Looking into Charlie's kitchen, with similing Jessie, posing for my camera, and waitress Jeanie hard at work.
As an aside, as David was paying for our meal, as I was amusing myself by taking a few photos of the breakfast counter and the kitchen, the friendly cook, Jessie, noticed that I was taking photos and raced out of the kitchen, and clowned it up for my camera. How can I resist taking a photo when someone cuts-up for me in front of my digital camera? As I mentioned before in this article, Charlie's Cafe features very friendly staff.
Photo: On Friday, July 31, 2009 I enjoyed Charlie's breakfast burrito, and her delicious homestyle potatoes, and I requested that the potatoes be covered in gravy. Simply delicious! Members of the Sacramento Breakfast Club are regulars at Charlie's. Photo taken with my camera phone using existing light.
If you want an outstanding breakfast, that caters to the taste of Sacramento-area locals, look no further than Charlie's Cafe. We give Carlie's a huge thumbs up! and we'll be back for more! Highly recommended by the Sacramento Breakfast Club!
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