There are many restaurants that serve delicious breakfasts in the greater Sacramento area that we've had the pleasure to visit, and without exception, all of the restaurants that we've visited are worth a second, third or who knows how many more visits... yet with so many restaurants to choose from, that serve the preferred breakfast cuisine that The Sacramento Breakfast Club cherishes, how many restaurants do we actually visit multiple times? How many stars are there in the sky, or how many grains of sand lie on your favorite beach? With so many restaurants to choose from, and the little time that members of our club have, if we pay a repeat visit to a restaurant, the restaurant must have some features that make it stand above the crowded field of restaurants that serve a fine breakfast, in the greater Sacramento, CA metropolitan area.
Photo: Railroad Cafe now sports a colorful mural, depicting the Sierra Nevada mountains, Sacramento life, and a Union Pacific railroad locomotive.
Falderal and hype aside, Railroad Café is a restaurant that stands head and shoulders above the crowded pack of restaurants that serve an outstanding breakfast in the greater Sacramento area. Sure, Railroad Cafe serves excellent food, at reasonable prices, in comfortable surroundings, and the portions are ample, and the service is friendly... but you could say that about practically any other restaurant located in the greater Sacramento area. So what is so special about Railroad Café that keeps us coming back time after time? ... Steve and Sherry Jones, a couple of the friendliest folks that you'll ever meet. Nice people aside, they serve one of the best chicken fried steaks that I've ever eaten, layered with some of the best home-style gravy that The Sacramento Breakfast Club has ever had the pleasure to enjoy.
Photo: A leftover from the restaurant's previous days as a biker bar, the beautiful mahogany bar is still in place, but its mostly used for decoration, as the dining is to the right of the bar, where members of The Sacramento Breakfast Club are seated, in the center of the photo.
When it comes down to menu basics, there is nothing fancy or pretentious about the items featured on the menu offered at Railroad Cafe, as the menu mostly features Sacramento Valley favorites, and what makes the breakfast menu really interesting is that each selection on the menu, in keeping with the theme of the restaurant, is named with names in keeping with the railroad theme, such as "Locomotive, Southern Pacific, Train Wreck, Choo-choo or Union Pacific." The aforementioned names are just monikers for classic American standards such as biscuits and gravy, ham and eggs, chicken-fried steak, and other breakfast delights. Basically, Railroad Cafe menu features delightful breakfast entrées that translate into plain English... For example, the menu entry called "Union Pacific" translates into a perfectly cooked chicken-fried steak, served with two eggs, cooked any way you like 'em, your choice of hash brown or home-style potatoes, and your choice of bread on the side. If you a man,you can order biscuits and gravy on the side... YEEEEEEEE HAAAAAAA! The menu at Railroad Cafe may feature quaint names, but the selections translate into Sacramento-style-plain-English, down-home, good cookin'. To add to the friendly dining experience, your waitress is none other than friendly Sherry Jones, who just happens to be the co-owner of the restaurant, along with her husband, Steve Jones. Steve spends most of his time in the kitchen, as he seems to be the chief cook and bottle washer, as he prepares the delicious entrées, but when he has a break from his kitchen duties, he circulates around the dining room, and impresses the patrons with his charm. As a plus to the whole experience enjoyed at Railroad Café, the restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch, so that sends up a green flag for breakfast lovers, such as we are!
Photo: I can't resist hugging a beautiful woman, so my friend Dan takes my photo, as I hug Sherry Jones, co-owner and chief cook and bottle washer of Railroad Café.
Speaking of Sherry Jones, you just gotta love the girl, as she's basically the girl next door, or the sister that you never had, but she would be the sister that you really wished for, but you never enjoyed. Her friendly smile and bubbly personality light up the restaurant, which in days gone by, used to be a rough-around-the-edge, down-and-out bar that catered to the leather-jacket biker crowd. Those days are long gone, as Steve and Sherry Jones leased the building a couple of years ago, spend a few months in the renovation mode, and turned an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. The biker bar legacy hasn't completely vanished, as the beautiful mahogany bar remains, but it's been completely renovated, and it now serves as a breakfast bar. Steve and Sherry have put a lot of work into Railroad Café, and their hard work is quite apparent as you enter the restaurant, as the decor is very comfortable, railroad-oriented, and very "blue collar" in nature. It's a good thing that the decor reflects on railroad heritage, considering the name of the restaurant, and the fact that its located only a hundred feet or so from Union Pacific's busy main railroad line, which is the main railroad line between Northern California, and points east. By the way, if you're a fan of toy trains, particularly of the Lionel genre, Railroad Café would be a place to enjoy breakfast, as the restaurant has toy trains displayed everywhere. Well, I suppose that's appropriate considering the name, and the heritage of the restaurant!
Photo: Inside the kitchen, of Railroad Café, Steve Jones is busy preparing hash browns for our breakfast.
Friday morning, March 28, 2008, at about 0830, The Sacramento Breakfast Club invaded Railroad Café with the intent of enjoying another delicious breakfast. Mark, Mike, Dan and I arrived at the restaurant after work, as David was off that Friday morning, and had selected a table for us near the center of the restaurant, and he was waiting for us, as the four of us arrived. True to fashion, the wood stove was already lighted in the dining room, and friendly Sherry had already placed coffee cups on the table, as David had advised her of the fact that we LOVE coffee, as coffee is the de facto beverage of choice when you're enjoying breakfast with The Sacramento Breakfast Club.
After we were seated at our table, friendly co-owner and waitress Sherry produced menus, which really wasn't all that necessary, as 80% of us had already decided on our choice of breakfast, as who could pass on their award-winning menu entry, entitled "Union Pacific," named after the railroad that is just across the street from the café. What is a "Union Pacific" breakfast you ask? It's a delicious chicken-fried steak, covered in thick gravy, with two eggs, fruit and toast, and your choice of has browns, or homemade country potatoes. Anyway you look at it, it's a delicious, stick-to-your-ribs kind of breakfast. Four out of the five of us ordered the "Union Pacific," but alas, there's always somebody to bend the trend, and stomp on the protocol, and today's surprise was Dan, as he ordered a plain omelet, with sliced tomatoes on the side.
Photo: Railroad Café is a friendly place, and you will get laughs when you visit their spotlessly clean kitchen.
Sherry doesn't just take your order and disappear into a black hole, as she keeps your coffee cup full, and she keeps the conversation lively. We're in love with this girl, as she's friendly, sweet and very talkative, and she's a good of a waitress as it gets, and a truly nice person. As our meals were being prepared, I made my way to the kitchen, to chat with Steve, while he was hard at work preparing our breakfasts. Most corporate-owned restaurants will not allow guests into the kitchen, due to very legitimate insurance issues, but since Railroad Café is a locally-owned and operated, mom-and-pop restaurant, insurance issues be damned; you are allowed into their kitchen. Just for the record, if I did injure myself while visiting their kitchen, there is no way in the world that I would sue the Jones family, as they're nice people, gracious hosts, and they prepare a mean chicken-fried steak breakfast. Heck, I make a decent living, so why would I want to profit from somebody else?
Photo: Sherry Jones, with a smile on her face, places my plate of biscuits and gravy on the table, as friend Dan MacLeod watches. I had to cut the photo session short to keep Dan from stealing my plate of biscuits and gravy away from me.
Personally, since I am a bit on the eccentric side, I ordered a side dish of biscuits and gravy, which is a favorite dish of mine, and a de facto west coast standard breakfast entrée. Why not, as it was my turn to pick the restaurant, and my turn to pay, as per the protocol employed by The Sacramento Breakfast Club?
We couldn't help to notice since our last visit that the Jones's had completely redecorated the outside of the building, as its now painted in a Sierra Nevada, art deco, graffiti style, and the entrance is almost camoflauged by the colorful graffiti. In keeping with the theme of the restaurant, and the location next to the railroad tracks, there is a painting of a modern locomotive, in the Union Pacific livery on the side of the building that faces Auburn Bvd.
Photo: Today's meeting of The Sacramento Breakfast Club include members, from left to right: Mark McIntire, Mike Collins, your webmaster, smiling Eric Rench, Dan MacLeod, and David Demario. We're co-workers and buddies, and breakfast enthusiasts! Photo was taken by our gracious hostess, Sherry Jones.
Mere words can't fully describe the delicious breakfasts served at Railroad Café, but suffice to say, we've visited the restaurant many times, so our multiple visits speak for the fact that you'll enjoy delicious, home-style cooking, efficient and friendly service, huge portions, and very reasonable prices. Plus, you'll be treated to the award-winning smile of beautiful Sherry Jones, who will treat you like family and make you feel at home. If you're a railfan, or a lover of trains, you can savor the railroad decor of the restaurant, or look out the window and watch the busy mainline of the Union Pacific Railroad in action.
Photo: Oh Baby! It doesn't get any better than this for breakfast! My "Union Pacific" breakfast of a chicken-fried steak, covered in delicious sausage gravy, country potatoes, and two fried eggs, over easy, on the side, with fruit garnishes. On the side is a mug of delicious coffee, buttered sourdough toast, and a plate of biscuits and gravy. What a breakfast to enjoy after working all night long.
Since the next dining experience was similar in many respects to the previous article, I decided to simply add a second chapter to this article, about our visit of Friday June 27, 2008 with this article; the following tells the story about that particular visit...
Photo: Friday, June 27, 2008 finds The Sacramento Breakfast Club enjoying another fine breakfast at Railroad Café. Friendly Sherry Jones brings Brad his breakfast with her trademark big smile, while Bruce and Dan look on.
Besides the great food, great company, Sherry's wonderful service, and the overall outstanding dining experience to be enjoyed at the Railroad Café, the June 27th excursion was notable for a few funny things that happened that day. For starters, Dan has been to Railroad Café several times, yet today, he and Brad, who was riding shotgun with him, took the "scenic route" to the restaurant... in other words, they got lost on the way and were delayed for a few minutes until the got their bearings and found their way. True, Railroad Café is a little out of the way, but after you've been there once, it shouldn't be too hard to find your way back. Mark, who was following them, got lost as well, although he'd been to the restaurant once before. However, Mark is the first person to admit that he's hopeless when it comes to directions. The rest of us were waiting in the parking lot for them, and gave them a good kidding when they actually admitted that they got lost. I reminded Dan that he should have brought his wife's car, which has a built-in G.P.S. navigation system.
Photo: My "Union Pacific" breakfast of chicken fried steak, fried eggs, home style potatoes, toast, coffee, with gravy on the side. Today, all of us ordered a "Union Pacific" breakfast except for Bruce, who likes to be different.
There's nothing like a good breakfast to get Dan excited, and today's breakfast was no exception. However when he gets really excited, Dan gets a little bit tongue-tied at times, and can have a bit of trouble expressing himself. So when it came his turn to order, what he really meant to say was "biscuits and gravy," but it didn't really turn out that way, as he substituted the word "muffin" for biscuits and kept making awkward up and down motions with both hands in attempting to describe the word gravy, in some sort of sign language that only he can comprehend. As he was rattling about muffins, all of us looked at him in disbelief, as he doesn't like muffins, as they're to foo-foo for members of the Sacramento Breakfast Club. Sherry stared dumbfounded at him, as she attempted to decipher what he was trying to order, as all of us started to laugh, and Brad piped and said, "Don't you mean biscuits and gravy?" Of course that's what he wanted, but I think he was just too excited, or perhaps too hungry, to be able to speak the words. For this particular effort, Dan has earned the nickname of "Muffin Man."
Photo: Today's breakfast crew consists, from left to right, Eric Rench, your webmaster, photographer and author, Mark McIntire, Bruce Coulter, Brad Holther, Dan MacLeod, and our newest member, Sergio Gaona. Photo was taken by Sherry Jones.
After Sherry took our orders, we sat around the table, drinking coffee and swapping lies. After about five minutes, Mark started mentioning to us if he had really ordered, and if Sherry had really taken his order. We told him of course he'd ordered, how could he forget? But he wouldn't let it die, and sat at the table puzzling over the age-old question, "did I or didn't I?" Finally, his musing got the best of him, and he got up from the table, went into the kitchen, and asked Sherry at point-blank range if she had taken his order. She assured him that she had, and it was in the process of being cooked. A much-relieved Mark emerged from the kitchen and took his place at the table, much to amusement of the rest of us. Like Dan, Mark garnered his share of laughs from the rest of us.
Despite the memory-challenges of a couple of the members of our club, we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast, due to great food, good company, and Sherry's friendly and efficient service. Railroad Café is a unique place to eat, and we can't stack enough praises on the place, as it has everything and more that we could ever desire in a diner. It has morphed itself into one of our favorite breakfast hang-outs, and we'll be sure to visit, again, again, and again...
Update September 29, 2008: Sadly, the Railroad
Café has derailed with the
economic downturn. It is closed and it's colorful murals have been painted over a dull
beige. We'll miss you, Sherry and Steve. We hope you'll open another restaurant when the economy improves.
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