I've been traveleing Interstate 80 between Sacramento and Reno for 50 years, but only recently did I discover a hidden "gem" of a restaurant, tucked away in seldom-visited Emigrant Gap: The Rustic Table. Wow! What a discovery...
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: The Rustic Table restaurant is located in Emigrant Gap, just off Interstate 80, between Sacramento and Reno. On this mid Saturday afternoon, July 14, 2018, it's around 90 degrees outside, which is definitely hot for the 5300-foot elevation where the restaurant is located, but it's a great day to enjoy a burger on the beautiful outdoor patio.
Photo: As you enter the restaurant, a board announces today's specials. For me, it was a late lunch or a very early dinner, and I had "burger" on my mind.
Photo: The main dining room, complete with what looks like a full-service bar. Looks can be deceiving, as this fine restaurant is "dry," - no alcohol, not even beer is on the menu - but that's okay, as you can enjoy a refreshing glass of ice water, or if you're sitting on the patio, you can enjoy the beautiful pines. If you're musically inclined, there's even an old fashioned piano in the dining room that you can play, to "wow" and entertain the staff and guests.
Photo: The "main" and formal dining room is off to the side. On this mid-Saturday afternoon, the restaurant was lightly seated, as all patrons were outside, enjoying the beautiful warm afternoon.
Photo: I arrived around 2:30 in the afternoon, and my eyes centered on the burger portion of the menu. Since today was my first visit to this fine restaurant, I ordered from the top of the menu, "The Rustic Burger," as that's always a good place to start.
I truly believe my favorite food in my entire life is a hamburger or a cheeseburger. If you follow my web site, you'll notice my absolute LOVE of Mexican cuisine, but when it comes down to "brass tacks," you can't beat a burger in any shape or form. So... "The Rustic Burger" was my meal of choice on this beautiful July Saturday...
Photo: The elevation is around 5300 feet, and the temperature is hovering in the 90-degree mark. Who would want to dine indoors, when you have the option of dining on the patio, under the sugar pines and the incense cedars, and enjoying the sweet smell of the mountain air? Such a lovely afternoon, so I chose to dine outside on the patio. Unless the weather is truly terrible, I always prefer to dine outside.
When I'm in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, especially above the 5000 foot mark, dining outside is always a superior option, during beautiful summer afternoons. It's a different story during the winter, thanks to the many feet of snow that falls at Emigrant Gap...
Photo: The patio offers a long table, with chairs in a row, that faces the meadow, and the view into the woods beyond. These 20-something's are enjoying the view, but seem to be more interested in texting on their cell phones than enjoying the scenery, and the beautiful mountain air.
Photo: View from the dining room, and the patio deck. Check out that vintage Fordson tractor, and the Catipillar D-2 crawler. Beside the vintage tractors, the mountain scenery, at the 5300-foot elevation is beautiful.
Photo: Meet Chris, my super-friendly server, as he brings my "The Rustic Burger" to me with a smile. The weird light is due to the umbrellas, which shade me from the unusually hot Sierra Nevada mountain sunshine.
Photo: Chris brought my burger and fries to me, and on my request, he snapped my photo. Since the restaurant doesn't serve alcohol, including beer, I opted for a glass of ice water, which was promptly refilled. Actually, it's not a bad option to forgo any beer, as you save a few bucks, and the risk of driving under the influence is nil.
Photo: "Stock" from the menu, I ordered "The Rustic Burger" and fries. The menu offers many upgrades, but since today was my first visit to this fine restaurant, I chose to go with the menu.
As my friendly server, Chris, took my order, he asked me how I wanted my burger cooked. What a surprise, as that is not a question usually asked, as you usually "take it or leave it." Like the middle-of-the-road guy I am, I ordered my burger cooked medium, and that's how it arrived, along with some of the best fries you can ever enjoy along the Interstate 80 corridor.
Photo: "The Rustic Burger" starts with a half-pound patty of hamburger, cooked your way. I chose medium, which is my de facto standard, The beef patty is served on a large bun, and topped with romaine lettuce, onion and tomato. The burger is not "dressed" as it's up to you to "dress" it your way. Me... I prefer a burger "raw," as in the natural state, it brings out the true talent in any burger.
Look at the fries! Perfect in every way. Yes, they have SKIN, but there is nothing "clunky" about this skin, and the fries aren't salty, nor are they greasy. The fries are PERFECT!!!
Photo: My friendly server initially asked if I wanted any condiments, and I said "no," but then I relented, as the "kid" in me loves to dip my fries in ketchup. I was presented with a whole tray of condiments, but I only used ketchup for "fry dipping."
My fries didn't need to be dipped in ketchup, it was just the "kid" in me that made it happen.
My goodness... this was a delicious burger, the fries were top notch; this meal was delicious!
The Rustic Table is a hidden gem among the sugar pines and incense cedars at beautiful Emigrant Gap, off busy Interstate 80. The food is delicious, the staff is friendly, and it's absolutely wonderful to relax on the shady patio, enjoy the clean mountain air, the blue sky, and enjoy a great meal. Great food, great relaxation along with mountain scenery make The Rustic Table a go-to restaurant on your way to Reno.
The Rustic Table
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