Ernie's Coffee Shop is quite brash in touting their attributes, as their website proclaims "Voted best breakfast in South Lake Tahoe." OK, OK, South Lake Tahoe is an hour's drive east of Sacramento, but golly gee, Ernie's has an outlet in Folsom, which is within the stomping grounds of the Sacramento Breakfast Club. Geography aside, we just had to visit a restaurant that proclaims to be the best breakfast... if you're a regular visitor to this web site, you've probably ascertained that we've visited quite a few restaurants that serve breakfast. After all, that's what the Sacramento Breakfast Club is all about...
Photo: Ernie's Coffee Shop is located in a beautifully landscape, upscale strip mall in suburban Folsom, CA. The words "of Lake Tahoe" are part of Ernie's logo, as the "original" restaurant is located in beautiful South Lake Tahoe.
Ernie's does have their roots in beautiful South Lake Tahoe, as I noted the awning on their Folsom location sports the words "Ernie's of South Lake Tahoe." Fine with me. OK, we normally don't hold club meetings at chain restaurants, but a quick check of the Internet will tell you that Ernie's has only two locations, a) South Lake Tahoe, b) Folsom, and Friday, July 9, 2010, we chose to hold our breakfast club meeting at the Folsom location. A quick query to our friendly waiter, Greg confirmed that Ernie's has only two locations, so the place fits well within the established protocol of our club.
David chose the venue, as he was familiar with Ernie's from a previous scouting trip, as he always maintains an eagle eye for a new breakfast venue. We were seated in the spacious dining room, and were treated to the service of Greg, a very efficient and friendly waiter, who remembered David from his previous visit, six weeks in the past. Get this: Greg not only remembered David, but he remembered what David had ordered in his previous visit: Mountain Man Breakfast, with sausage and scrambled eggs. More on that later... By the way, the breakfast menu features a vast array of breakfast choices... you name it, and the menu has it. Although the menu and Ernie's web site attempts to distant the Tahoe and Folsom locations, the menus are identical and the prices are the same, which reflects upon the taste of the locals: Identical. Green breakfast flag: Ernie's is open for breakfast and lunch only, so you know they're serious about serving a great breakfast. If you're a fan of breakfast, you can't go wrong at Ernie's, as the menu features something for every taste.
Photo: The decor of Ernie's is light, airy, comfortable, and very modern. Check out the life preserver above the breakfast bar, well... Folsom is located next to Folsom Lake, but Ernie's is a bit of a walk from the lake, so go figure...
Ernie's Coffee Shop has their menu published on their web site, and you can bet yourself that I spent lots of time surfing their web site, checking out their menu, and agonizing out my selection. I was torn between the huge Mountain Man Breakfast, featuring a whole lot more than I could comfortably eat, or something more conventional, such as a potato and egg entrée, with meat such as linguica, bacon, sausage or ham as the main course. I chose Italian sausage for my main entrée, and two fried eggs over easy, home fried potatoes, and sourdough toast on the side. I also chose to enhance my breakfast with a tasty option: Sausage gravy on my potatoes, for an extra charge, of course. David and Dan both chose the gigantic Mountain Man Breakfast, while Bev and Robert chose a much more modest dish.
At Ernie's, the service is fast, as after placing our orders, Greg was bringing our breakfasts to the table in less than 5 minutes! Now that's fast, with a capital "F!"
Photo: Our friendly waiter, Greg, places Robert's order of sourdough toast on the table, and holds his omelet and hash browns. Robert had commented to me "Why don't you take a photo when I'm smiling?" so I obliged, but you don't always have that luxury when you're behind a camera, attempting to record fast, unfolding action.
A word about the Mountain Man Breakfast that Dan and David ordered... in one word: Huge! Here's what they got: Side dish of biscuits and gravy, a large glass of juice and all-you-can-drink coffee included with the meal. The main entrée, placed on a platter, included three eggs, hash browns or home style potatoes, and six link sausage, six slices of bacon, or two slabs of ham. Dan semi-punked-out and chose sliced tomatoes rather than potatoes, but true to form, David ordered home style potatoes; David doesn't know how to eat breakfast unless in includes potatoes. Robert and Bev each ordered a more modest breakfast of an omelet, bacon and potatoes, and I ordered Italian sausage, eggs over easy, homestyle potatoes, sourdough toast, and a extra enhancement of sausage gravy topping my potatoes.
Ernie's claims that they've received the "Best Breakfast Award of South Lake Tahoe," and we can see where their claim is justified, as Ernie's serves one delicious breakfast. That being said, it's been years since I've enjoyed a breakfast in South Lake Tahoe, and when I've eaten there, I've never brought a camera or a notepad, so I can't really comment about breakfast at the lake. However, after enjoying a delightful breakfast at Ernie's in Folsom, the subject was mentioned of a future road trip to South Lake Tahoe to pay Ernie's a visit to check out their breakfast. Since Ernie's Coffee Shop is open for breakfast and lunch only, you know they place a huge emphasis on breakfast... and their menu advertises that breakfast is available at any time - along with lunch items, if that's what floats your boat.
Photo: My order of two perfectly cooked eggs over easy, home style potatoes covered with gravy, grilled Italian sausage, sourdough toast, and a cup of delicious coffee. The breakfast was quite ample, but since I'd just come off a 16-hour tour at work, I helped Robert finish off his meal when he offered.
David and Dan managed to finish all of their breakfasts, which was an accomplishment, considering how much food was offered. I could have completed a Mountain Man Breakfast with ease, in fact the next time we visit Ernie's a Mountain Man is definitely in my periscope. Surprisingly, Robert only ate about half of his breakfast, and offered the rest to me, which I readily accepted, as I'd just completed a 16-hour shift from work and was absolutely ravenous. I remarked to him that "You don't eat enough to keep a spotted owl alive," which got a chuckle out of the group.
My breakfast was delicious, cooked to perfection, and attractively presented. The only criticism that I can offer is that the portions were adequate, but not ample. Perhaps I was overly hungry, as on a "regular" day, I probably would have been comfortably full. But this wasn't a "regular" day, but my buddy Robert came through and saved the say.
Photo: Today's Sacramento Breakfast Club members, left to right: Eric Rench, your web author, photographer and webmaster, Robert Kipperman, David DeMario, Dan MacLeod and Bev MacLeod. Greg graciously took the photo.
Ernie's Coffee Shop is definitely a place to visit if you want a great breakfast, at a reasonable price. Greg's fast, friendly and efficient service makes the dining experience a joy and a pleasure, and his photographic mind will dazzle and amaze you. Editor's Note: I plan to put him to the test in a month or two to see if he remembers me, like he remembered David. We enjoyed our meeting at Ernie's Folsom location, and are looking forward to a future road trip to South Lake Tahoe.
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