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If you're looking for a comfortable, family-friendly place to enjoy a delicious breakfast, look no further than Erica's Café.  The restaurant is owned and operated by a charming couple, and it features attractive décor, warm hospitality, friendly atmosphere, very reasonable prices, and ... dare I say?  ... delicious breakfasts?

Photo:  You can't miss Erica's, as it's located in front of a small strip mall, on busy Greenback Lane, plus it would be hard to miss their sign, which is, literally, on top of the heap.

Erica's Café is owned and operated by John and Sunny, a married couple, and that truly makes the restaurant a mom and pop operation in the truest sense of the word.  As you enter the restaurant, friendly Sunny will greet you, and seat you at one of the many available tables.  The décor is light and airy - quite impressionistic - and features pastel colors... we thought the many realistic artificial plants made the place look extra nice.  The layout of the restaurant is very open and simple, as it's basically a medium size dining room, with the kitchen, a service room, and restrooms off to the side, with no partitions to hinder photography.

Erica's breakfast menu features all of the breakfast classics and comfort food that you could possibly desire, at very reasonable prices.  Most entrées that include meat are priced in the $6.00 to $8.00 range, with my de facto standard breakfast, a chicken fried steak, with all the fixin's priced at $7.95.  As we walked in, we noted the daily specials listed on a white board, surrounded by artificial plants, and one of the daily specials listed was my chicken fried steak for $7.50; sign me up!  As a contrast, last weekend, my wife and I enjoyed breakfast at a restaurant in nearby Auburn, and I paid $7.50 for two eggs, hash brown potatoes and toast.  Erica's Café represents an outstanding value.

Photo:  Note the contemporary, light and airy décor of the dining room, as this shot looks back toward the cash register, and the kitchen in the door behind Sunny.

Photo:  I caught Sunny at the cash register, multi-tasking between calculators, the telephone, and the coffee pots. You can peer into the kitchen at the extreme right of the photo.  Due to insurance issues, I couldn't venture into the kitchen, which is the norm in most restaurants in the greater Sacramento area.

During today's visit on Friday, September 10, 2010, we noticed that, despite a decent sized breakfast crowd, that the restaurant appeared to be staffed by only three folks, Sunny, who took orders, greeted diners, and waited tables, her husband John, who kept the coffee cups full, and only one chef in the kitchen.  Sunny and John seem to have business down to a polished routine, as our coffee cups remained full of delicious coffee and our breakfast arrived in a timely manner.

Dan and I are like-minded in many ways, especially when it comes to breakfast, so the lure of the discounted price of the chicken friend steak breakfast couldn't be ignored, and we weren't disappointed in our choice of breakfast fare.  We ordered chicken fried steak, two eggs cooked over easy, country fried potatoes - hash brown potatoes are an option - and sourdough toast.  That's what we ordered from the menu, what did we actually get?  For starters, the chicken fried steak was cooked perfectly, as the mildly spiced batter was cooked to a perfect golden brown, and fried to the right amount of crisp.  The steak wasn't excessively battered; I'm not a fan of inch-thick batter, as it's usually soggy or greasy, and my arteries constrict just thinking about it.  The meat was so tender that you really didn't need a knife to cut it, as it could have easily be cut with a fork.  The steak wasn't gigantic, but it was just the right size to fill me up, and it was covered in delicious sausage gravy, with large chunks of sausage.

Photo:  John pours the coffee.  Our coffee cups never ran dry, thanks to John's attention.  Photo gives an idea of the spacious and attractive décor of the dining room.

Photo:  I got Sunny to pose for the camera, as she holds Dan's breakfast of chicken fried steak, eggs and potatoes. Dan faces the camera, and looks somewhat startled - e.g. such as a deer caught in headlights - as I snap the photo.  Maybe the flash took his mind off the breakfast that Sunny was about to place in front of him.

The country style potatoes were cut quite large - in cubes around a half-inch or so - and fried to a nice golden brown, crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, and garnished with chopped bell pepper pieces.  My eggs over easy were cooked just that - over easy - not runny or hard; they were cooked perfectly.  The sourdough toast arrived buttered and hot, which is always a nice touch.  Dan was especially pleased to note that condiments included apple butter, and he applied a couple of packages of it liberally to his toast.  I guess that I prefer the simple life, as the only condiment that I apply to my toast is butter, and I eat my toast "dry" a good deal of the time.

Photo:  Folks, this is a chicken fried steak breakfast, at a price that's a real bargain:  Coffee, sourdough toast, two perfectly cooked eggs over easy, chicken fried steak, and homestyle potatoes.  Check out the large chunks of sausage in the gravy.  David should have ordered this breakfast instead of his steak...

Two problems arose with David's order:  1)  He ordered pork chops and eggs, which listed on the menu, and Sunny said they didn't have pork chops in stock.  He ordered steak and eggs instead.  2)  He wasn't happy with his steak, as he said it was a poor cut of meat, and quite tough, with a piece of gristle through middle of it.  David is a breakfast connoisseur, but not at all "picky," so if he rates the meat a "tough call," then I take him at his word.  If it was me, I probably would have told Sunny that the meat wasn't acceptable and I'd like to have another go at it, but maybe that's just me.

Photo:  Today's Sacramento Breakfast Club members, from left to right:  Eric Rench, your webmaster, editor and photographer, David DeMario, Matt Donnelly, Sarah Donnelly, Dan MacLeod and Bev MacLeod.  Not shown is new club member Tony "The Weasel" Godsey, who arrived after the photo was taken.  Thanks to John for taking the photo.

It's almost a shame that there are so many fine breakfast restaurants in the greater Sacramento area - and so many restaurants that we haven't had a chance to visit - that we can't patronize Erica's Café  more often, as it's been three years since we held the last breakfast club meeting at Erica's restaurant.  Erica's Café meets every criteria that our club holds dear, including fast, friendly service, comfortable surroundings, great food, ample portions, and reasonable prices.  Except for the small faux pas that David encountered, Erica's represents an outstanding value for your hard-earned dollars, so if you're in the mood for a delicious breakfast, and you don't want to visit the bank on your way to breakfast, you owe it to yourself to visit Erica's Café.

Erica's Café
57451 Greenback Lane
Citrus Heights, CA 95610
916 728-7285

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