I didn't grow up in the south, but there is nothing more that I love than authentic southern cuisine, and good ol' soul food. Authentic southern cuisine is a little difficult to find in Northern California, unless you happen to be in the small town of Olivehurst, which is the home of Erma Jeans Southern Cuisine Restaurant and Catering. That's a mouthful... let's just say that Erma Jeans serves delicious southern cuisine!
As with all of reviews that I publish, I have no affiliation with the restaurant reviewed, and there is no monetary gain on my part, as I am simply a person who likes to eat, and I love to write-up, and publish my dining experiences.
Photo: It's just past 4 in the afternoon, Saturday, July 20, 2019, and I've arrived at Erma Jeans ready to enjoy a mid-afternoon lunch of southern cuisine and soul food.
Erma Jeans is located in a small strip shopping center on the south side of Olivehurst, south of Marysville, and offers plenty of safe, free parking. There are even a couple of tables outside, for your sidewalk dining pleasure.
Photo: As you walk inside the restaurant, you'll be greeted by the owner, chef and waiter, Mr. Drake Jones, who will greet you, hand you a menu, and invite you to his hospitality. Note the line-up of soda cans on the counter, which gives you an idea that Erma Jeans is "dry," as the restaurant doesn't serve beer, wine or liquor. No worries, as I prefer a cold bottle of water.
Photo: The dining room features a variety of tables, each set with an assortment of condiments, and napkins. Not shown in the photo, but there is a big screen television monitor showing whatever the remote is tuned to. The lady in the photo seems more intent in texting, as she waits for her order.
Erma Jeans does a HUGE business in take out orders, along with catering, and many of the "dine-in" customers choose to order their meals in a catering box.
Photo: Erma Jeans is a family restaurant, and there are many plaques and photos on the wall that reflect the core family values of this fine restaurant.
Photo: Another look in the dining room, with most of the curtains drawn, to help protect against the hot, Sacramento Valley afternoon sun.
Photo: You want southern? At Erma Jeans, you got it, as the menu features many classic southern dishes, plus soul food classics. Note the menu features chittlins, which is a dish that's hard to find north of Sacramento. The menu truly brings "The South to Your Mouth."
Photo: Each table is set with condiments, including salt, pepper, napkins, ketchup, honey, Crystal hot sauce - a Louisiana quintessential hot sauce in the south and maybe everywhere else - 530 Sauce - a locally made hot sauce - and a vinegar bottle of pickled pepper, which I assume is more of "eye candy" than a viable option. I've never seen a vinegar bottle like this before.
An interesting note about the "530" sauce, Dirty In The 530 Sauce, is that I'd never heard, or seen of it before today. I tasted it, and I LOVED it, and I noted it is made in Citrus Heights, about an hour drive south of Olivehurst. When I "googled" up where to purchase this fine sauce, I was greeted with "urban slang," and I was educated with what "dirty in the 530" means in some circles. Along with that, I found distributors for this fine sauce, so I believe it will be a condiment at my home.
Photo: Meet amazingly friendly Nicole, who shows her lunch with fried chicken as her main entree. She and her friend dined at a table next to me, as we enjoyed lots of pleasant conversation. This gal is a "foodie," like I am, and appreciates almost every cuisine.
Photo: Nicole's lunch, in a take-out box, features fried chicken as the main entree, greens, along with yams. Quite a lunch! I asked her what her thoughts were on her lunch, and she told me she loved it. It seems that she and her friend changed their minds, as they chose to enjoy their take-out lunches in the dining room.
I was the benefactor of their charming company!
Photo: Nicole's friend ordered her main dish of oxtails, with sides of greens and yams. Like her friend, she chose to dine in the dining room, and loved her lunch.
Photo: I peek over the counter, into the open kitchen, and catch a glimpse of Drake preparing my lunch. I'm a total "sucker" for restaurants with an open kitchen.
Photo: Meet Drake Jones, the friendly owner of the restaurant, the chef, nice guy, and my host. My order arrived in about 20 minutes after placing it, which puts Erma Jeans into the "fast" category. The order is served rapidly, but this isn't a "fast food" restaurant, as each order is custom made by the talented staff.
Thanks for serving a delicious meal, and for treating me like family!
Photo: Drake takes my photo, and I smile, as I know I will be enjoying a delicious lunch at Erma Jeans. Don't you love the vinegar bottle with the pickled peppers inside? It definitely adds to the casual atmosphere.
Photo: All meals from the menu come with two sides, along with a piece of corn cornbread. I pondered the extensive menu, and I pondered the vast array of side dishes, but in the end, I decided to go with fried catfish as the main entree, and sides of red beans and rice, and fried cabbage. For a "first timer" at Erma Jeans, I made a great choice. Isn't the presentation beautiful?
The LARGE catfish fillet was breaded, slightly spicy, but very tender and tasty. Yes, it's deep-fried, which may cause alarm to some diners, but it's "southern," and if you want the authentic taste of the south, deep-fried catfish is the way to go. The catfish was perfectly cooked, breaded, crispy on the outside, and deliciously flaky-white on the inside, without the taste of any of the frying oil. If you've never enjoyed catfish before, Erma Jeans will make a believer out of you.
The red beans sit on top of a bed of rice, which looks appetizing, and together, the beans and rice acted in perfect harmony to make an outstanding side dish. Tender, juicy, mouth-watering... you name it, as it's all there! Actually, you could forget everything else and just concentrate on an order of red beans and rice for a delicious meal... talk about a "show stopper" side dish! Oh... speaking of "show stoppers..." the fried cabbage was simply AMAZING, and taking just one bite, I thought I'd died, and gone to Dixie, Dixieland, or maybe even Memphis. I loved the cornbread, as it was a little "thicker" than I'm used to, but it was delicious, and complimented the meal, and served as a delicious way to sop up the gravy from the rice and beans.
Southern cuisine at Emma Jeans isn't all about meat, as if you want to go vegetarian, just order a side of red beans/rice, along with a side of fried cabbage; you'll get a piece or cornbread, and you're good to go for a satisfying meal without the meat.
When you visit Erma Jeans, bring your appetite, as the portions are HUGE, and are bound to satisfy nearly any appetite, unless you're a football linebacker, a logger, or maybe even Paul Bunyan himself. I brought half my lunch home in a box, to enjoy for dinner in the early evening.
Did I hear that you're in the mood for delicious southern cuisine, and a taste of "soul food?" Erma Jeans dishes up some of the best southern cuisine that you'll find anywhere, and there is no other soul food restaurant, to my knowledge, north of Sacramento, that does anything like Erma Jeans does... Chef Drake Jones definitely knows how to cook.
You don't have to head south of the Mason-Dixon line to get your "southern fix," as all you have to do is head over to Erma Jean' Southern Cuisine Restaurant and Catering, located in Olivehurst, to get an authentic taste of the south.
Erma Jeans Southern Cuisine Restaurant and Catering
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