Cook's Station was originally founded as a stagecoach stop back in the early 1860's, and to this day continues to offer to highway travelers hospitality, service, and delicious "comfort food," in the picturesque setting of the El Dorado National Forest, located just a few miles east of the small town of Pioneer, CA. Over the years, this fine restaurant has become a favorite of Amador County locals, travelers on State Route 88, and anybody who loves fine food, and friendly service.
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 early Tuesday afternoon, February 16, 2021, and my friend and I have arrived at Cook's Station, located east of Pioneer, CA, for lunch. The Dodge "Challenger" parked in front of the restaurant is a fine auto, but Adrienne is prettier than the fine car, with a 6.2 litre HEMI SRT supercharged "Hellcat" engine under the hood. Besides great food, I LOVE fast cars!
Photo: As you walk in the door, you'll be greeted with a wood-burning stove, that provides heat for the restaurant, using locally-gathered pine and cedar logs. I love the "rustic" smell of the logs burning in the stove, and the cheery glow of the burning longs. In keeping with the Sierra Nevada mountains, the dining room is rustic, comfortable and very informal.
Photo: Posted on the wall, next to the entrance of the kitchen, there's a photo of Cook's Station, dating back to the late 1800's. Beside food and drinks, the restaurant sells firewood, and many in-house made items, such as hats and scarves. Connie, the co-owner of the restaurant, is talented when it comes to sewing or crocheting.
Photo: The dining room at Cook's Station, looking toward the small bar, where there are two local diners seated. The bar may be small, but it's full service, and this fine restaurant can mix your favorite drink for you.
The restaurant is open from 07:00 in the morning until 14:00 in the afternoon, every day of the week. Breakfast is served until noon, and the last two hours are reserved for lunch.
Photo: The menu is HUGE, and features a total of 18 pages of "comfort food" and diner cuisine. The "Lunch" section of the menu starts out with burgers, all 25 varieties! I was seriously tempted for the "Eric Burger," as it bears my name, but I just had to go with the "Noel Burger," as today, I had a "monster" appetite.
Click ON THIS LINK to view all 18 pages of the amazing cuisine offered at Cook's Station. I had checked out the "Lunch" menu during my previous visit, and I just "had" to order a HUGE burger!
Photo: The "25 Sandwiches" page - and more sandwiches - of the "Lunch" menu offers a wide array of both cold and hot sandwiches. True "comfort" food served in California's "Gold Country!" The complete menu offered at Cook's Station is found here... after clicking on the highlighted link.
Photo: Meet Amber, our gracious hostess, who brought my "Noel Burger" to me with a smile. Amber is a daughter-in-law to co-owner of the restaurant, Connie.
On this early Tuesday afternoon, Amber was the only staff member working the restaurant, and she not only brought our lunch to the table but she did chef duties as well! This lady is talented!
The two local diners, seated at the bar, seem to be amused that I'm taking a photo of Amber, as she delivered my "monster burger" to me with a smile.
Photo: My "foodie" friend and favorite dining companion, Adrienne and I pose with our lunches, and our beer. Thanks, Amber for snapping the photo.
Cook's Station is very "informal" so when you want a beer, you simply help yourself to the wide selection of both domestic and imported beers from the cooler, which is in the background of the photo.
Note the size of the hamburger that I ordered... it's GIGANTIC!
Photo: From the "25 Sandwiches" section of the "Lunch" menu, my "foodie" friend Adrienne ordered a "Patty Melt" sandwich, along with an order of crinkle-fries, which accompany every hot sandwich on the menu. The menu describes this awesome selection as "One third (pound) beef patty, grilled red onions, Swiss cheese, on grilled sourdough bread." Adrienne ordered a complimentary side of both "Ranch" and "Thousand Island" dressing to accompany her sandwich.
My friend absolutely loved her sandwich! The one-third pound patty of ground beef was cooked perfectly to medium, and topped with both Cheddar and Swiss cheese, sliced red onion, and garnished with butter and a little garlic. I enjoyed a bite of her sandwich, and I can attest that this sandwich was simply delicious and amazing!
Photo: From the "Lunch" Section of the menu - which is only offered from noon until closing time at 2:00, I ordered the "Noel Burger." Our hostess, Amber, reminded me the name of the burger was correctly pronounced as the "Knoll Burger," rather than then "no-ell." It's her choice, and it's Cook's Station!
This burger is curly a "Monster Burger," as it includes one pound of ground beef, four slices of bacon, and six slices of cheese. The menu advertises this as the "Noel Burger," or "Monster Burger," as described on the menu, and any way you look at it, it's a GIANT BURGER! If you're hungry, and if you're in he mood for a burger, the "Noel Burger" should be your choice!
The three 1/3 ground beef patties arrived cooked medium, which is the "default," but the meat could be cooked any way you choose to order. In addition to the ground beef, this burner sports four slices of bacon, with three slices of Cheddar cheese and three slices of Swiss cheese. Vegetables included several leaves or Romaine lettuce, thick sliced red onion, tomato slices and dill pickle hamburger chips. The toasted buns were lightly buttered. The burger didn't come with any mustard, mayonnaise or ketchup, but there were plenty of containers of condiments should you choose to apply them to your burger. This burger was simply delicious and didn't need any condiments to enhance the goodness of it. All one pound of it!
Along with the burger, my lunch included a generous portion of crinkle-cut fries, which made for a perfect side dish to compliment this amazing burger. The fries were deep fried to a light golden brown on the outside, and tender, white and chewy on the inside. Simply perfect fries!
This is a "behemoth" of a hamburger, along with the fries, but if you've got a serious appetite, and if you're in the mood for a seriously-delicious burger, the "Noel Burger" served at Cook's Station should be on your "burger list."
As an aside, our charming hostess, Amber, not only served us, but she also cooked our lunch, and delivered it to our table in only about 20 minutes after we placed our order. Quite an accomplishment! Amber has talent as a chef and is truly a "people person."
Photo: I cut my "Noel Burger" in half, so I could see all of the goodness, in layers. This burger is amazingly good!
Back a just four days ago, on February 12, 2021, I visited Cook's Station to enjoy a delicious breakfast. As in keeping with "everything is larger than life" at this amazing restaurant, I went with the "Monster Breakfast."
Photo: It's just after 09:00 in the morning, Friday, February 12, 2021, and I've arrived at Cook's Station, east of Pioneer, CA to enjoy breakfast. I checked my G.P.S. and noted the elevation is just under 5000 feet, at exactly 4996 feet.
The snow from last night's storm has already been plowed from the parking lot, and at this time of the morning, the temperature is 39 degrees, which is on the "nice side."
Photo: As you enter the restaurant, you're greeted with a wood-burning stove, and a cheery wood fire. The dining room is heated by the wood-burning stove, which adds to the rustic atmosphere of the restaurant. The stove is fed by pine logs, and heats the dining room with a cheery, "rustic" glow.
What more could you ask for when you're enjoying fine dining at a restaurant, in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California?
Photo: The dining room is quite compact, and is furnished with tables, but it includes a full-service bar, which can supply almost any drink of your choosing. There isn't beer on tap, but at the far end of the dining room, there is a cooler that holds a wide array of beer and soft drinks. If you're in the mood for a beer with your meal, all you need to do is walk up to the cooler and select the beer of your choice. If you choose a bottled beer, one of the friendly staff members will be happy to break out a bottle opener and open it for you.
Photo: The menu at Cook's Station is extensive, to say the least, as if features a full 18 PAGES of delicious breakfast and lunch selections! This is "page one" of the menu, with starts with breakfast, and I went with the "Monster Breakfast" as it has everything that I crave about for breakfast.
Unlike other restaurants, Cook's Station serves breakfast until noon. If you're in the mood for "lunch" before noon, there are only limited choices available until noon, thanks to the rules of the chef. So... if you're in the mood for a burger, plan to arrive after noon, but plan your visit, as the restaurant closes at 2 in the afternoon.
Click on THIS LINK as I've posted all 18 pages of the menu at Cook's Station. Yes... the menu has 18 pages of amazing breakfast and lunch choices!
Photo: Co-owner of the restaurant, Connie, takes orders from a couple of friendly locals who were seated at the table next to me, by the wood-burning stove.
Photo: "Mr. Buck," graces the dining room, and represents the "rustic" atmosphere. Cook's Station is located in the El Dorado National Forest, and the area features some of the best deer hunting available in California. Amador County is home to many who enjoy the outdoors, including camping, fishing and deer hunting, legally and in season.
Photo: Meet Connie, my friendly server, who along with her husband Jack, own Cook's Station. Connie was simply amazing, as she was both friendly and welcoming, and treated me as a member of the family.
Not only was the service and atmosphere friendly, but the service was FAST, as my "Monster Breakfast" arrived in about 15 minutes after I placed my order.
Photo: I smile as I'm ready to enjoy my "Monster Breakfast," which is as good as breakfast gets. The Pacifico beer, Tabasco sauce and the optional side of gravy made this Friday morning breakfast even better.
Photo: From the first page of the "Breakfast" menu, I went with the "Monster Breakfast" selection, and I ordered an optional side of gravy, to satisfy the "monster" appetite" I had on this mid Friday morning. My amazing breakfast arrived less than 15 minutes after I placed my order... Can you say FAST SERVICE at Cook's Station?
"Monster Breakfast" features THREE breakfast meat, ham, sausage and bacon. The "foundation" of the meat is a large, thick piece of ham; I didn't measure but I'd guess it approaches a half inch thick. The next "layer" is two sausage patties and all of the goodness is topped by two slices of bacon. The ham, sausage and bacon was perfectly grilled, and juicy and tender. Such an amazing "stack" of ham, sausage and bacon... with every bite I enjoyed a trio of the some of the best breakfast meat that I've ever tasted!
"Monster Breakfast" included three eggs, in my case, as per my "de facto" standard, I ordered my eggs fried over easy. The trademark of a talented chef is one who can cook eggs as ordered, over easy, and deliver the eggs as ordered. Cook's Station did not disappoint me, as my eggs were plated to me over easy, as per my order. The chef has talent!
"Monster Breakfast" includes hash brown potatoes, and if you love hash browns, you're in luck, as you get a large slab of them. Naturally, they're perfectly golden brown, crispy on the outside, and soft, juicy tender inside, just like perfect hash browns you enjoy at "Anywhere" diner. But, you're enjoying perfect hash browns at Cook's Station, at nearly the 5000 foot level, in the El Dorado National Forest.
Toast choices include all favorite varieties, including a biscuit, but I went with sourdough, and an optional bowl of gravy, on the side. The sourdough toast was nothing special, except that it arrived warm, toasted, and buttered, which is always a good thing. The breakfast gravy was sausage gravy, thick, flavorful, which made for a perfect side to this amazing breakfast.
Cook's Station is serious about breakfast, and if you're a serious lover of breakfast, Cook's Station should be on your "breakfast destination" list.
When you're headed east on California Highway 88 to the ski slopes, the many lakes or to your favorite camping destination, stop at Cook's Station to enjoy some of the best "comfort food" that you can ever imagine! You'll LOVE the food, the "woodsy atmosphere," the low prices, and the amazingly friendly service. You don't have to endure a stagecoach trip to enjoy the amazing cuisine offered at Cooks Station, east of Pioneer, CA.
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