Many of my friends have been raving about Wally's Cafe, located on Granite Drive in Rocklin, CA for quite some time, and have been giving special kudos to Wally's authentic Lebanese cuisine, and the amazing hospitality offered by the restaurant. I truly am a lover of Mediterranean cuisine, and I trust the opinion of my "foodie" friends in every way, so today, it was time for me to head over to Wally's Cafe, and enjoy...
As with all restaurant reviews 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 Granite Drive location of Wally's Cafe, in Rocklin, CA, is the "third" link of a small chain of three restaurants, with two stores located in Rocklin, and the other store in Emeryville, located in the San Francisco bay area.
It's mid afternoon, on a very rainy Thursday, March 09, 2023, and arrived at Wally's Cafe to enjoy the fine cuisine of Lebanon, and one of the top-rated restaurants of Placer County, and the "Gold Country" of Placer, Nevada and El Dorado counties.
Outside dining, on the patio in front of the store is offered, but on this rainy afternoon, it's not an option, at least to me.
Photo: As you enter the restaurant, you'll notice the meeting/greeting station, the counter, and the open kitchen. The restaurant offers a comfortable combination of tables and booths, in the spacious and attractive dining room.
I love the open kitchen, where you can watch the talented chef prepare your meal.
Menus are placed on the table in front of the counter for your dining pleasure. Wally's Cafe is a "sit down" restaurant, but also offers their hospitality online and over the phone, and can deliver your menu to you, using "to-go" services.
Wally's offers a great selection of beer and wine, and you get your wine served in a glass from the attractive wine rack placed above the order counter. As a bonus, they are one of the restaurants in the greater Sacramento area that offer Almaza beer, which is an amazing Lebanese lager beer, imported from Lebanon.
Photo: Wally's dining room is open attractive, comfortable, and lighted by natural lighting from the many floor-to-ceiling windows. The furniture is mostly tables, that there are booth and table combinations that make for comfortable dining, which invites you to stay awhile, and enjoy the delicious food and atmosphere.
Photo: Photos of Lebanon and the Mediterranean area decorate the wall of the dining room, that separates it from the kitchen.
Photo: The first page of the menu lists Panini sandwiches, pita wraps, and "Specialty Plates," which highlight the amazing cuisine of Lebanon.
Photo: Burgers, burritos, salads, side orders, dips, soup, drinks, dessert and an offering for the "younger crowd" are listed on the second page of the menu.
Photo: Chef Robbie presents a "Special Plates" order of "Chicken Kabobs," with pita bread, for another party, who agreed to allow me to photograph their food order.
Photo: The dining room is long and fairly narrow, but attractive and spacious. The furniture is mostly tables, but combination booths and tables line the walls. The dining room is decorated by many photos and pictures depicting life in Lebanon, and the culture of the country. The dining room is bright, as it's lighted by ceiling lights and from natural lighting, thanks to the many windows.
The open kitchen can be seen to the left and is separated from the dining room by a wall, decorated with many pictures.
Photo: From the "Special Plates" section of the menu, an order of "Chicken Kabobs." The meal includes a salad, rice pilaf, along with a couple cups of tzatziki. The other party dining was kind enough to allow me to photograph their meal.
Photo: "Lentil Soup," which is the only soup served at Wally's Cafe, is made from scratch, in-house, from a Lebanese recipe that's been passed down through generations of family. There is always a big pot of "Lentil Soup" simmering on the back burner!
Today was my first visit to Wally's Cafe, and I was hungry, so I decided to splurge, and order soup, along with other sides and appetizers.
Photo: Robbie points out to me the "Lentil Soup" is homemade, made from scratch, healthy and delicious.
Photo: From the "Soups" section of the menu, my bowl of homemade "Lentil Soup," which is the only soup the restaurant offers.
This amazing soup begins with in-house-made vegetable broth, followed by lentils, diced carrot, onion and lots of delicious seasoning. The soup is a family recipe, and it was simply delicious, as everything worked together to create a warm, hearty and healthy bowl of delicious soup. I could make an entire meal from a large bow of Wally's "Lentil Soup!" The bowl of soup was simply amazing, as is maybe the best bowl of lentil soup that I've ever had the pleasure to enjoy!
Photo: I was in the mood for appetizers, so besides the soup, I went with two types of hummus, a side of "Pickles," along with the order of pita bread that preceeded my main dish of "Lamb Kabobs." Check out the beer... it's imported from Lebanon!
Photo: My bottle of Almaza beer, which is a Lebanese pilsner lager beer, imported from Lebanon. Wally's Cafe is one of the few locations in the greater Sacrameno area where you can enjoy this quality beer.
Today was a "first" for me, as I'd never tasted Lebanese beer, or for that matter, even dreamed about it. Almaza is a truly delicious beer, and has a very similar taste to a quality European beer, such as Heinekin or Stella Artois.
Photo: From the "Side Orders" section of the menu, I ordered "Pickles," which included green olives and diced slices of pickled cucumber. Both the olives and "pickles" were made in-house, and carefully followed authentic Lebanese recipes.
The green olives weren't the kind like you find in the local supermarket, as they were pickled, and included the seed, which added both flavor and authenticity. The sliced "pickles" were Lebanese, crisp, tangy and delicious, with a very different taste from the pickles I'm used to. I really can't describe the taste, except that it was both different and delicious! Another "first" for me today... "Lebanese Pickles..."
Photo: From the "Dips" section of the menu, I ordered "Hummus," which complimented my meal, and could stand-in for an entire lunch.
Wally's Cafe makes delicious, authentic hummus, the way it's made in Lebanon. The garbanzo beans - which hummus is based on - were whipped to a creamy goodness and dusted with Spanish paprika, for added flavor and presentation. Diced tomato, chopped cilantro and a little extra virgin olive oil were in the center of the hummus for "dipping enjoyment!" Simply delicious!
Photo: My second appetizer of "Hummus" included diced tomato and cilantro, but an added helping of extra virgin olive oil that added to the amazing flavor. Spanish paprika was sprinkled on the hummus to add to the amazing taste and the presentation.
I've eaten a lot of hummus in my life, and I make hummus at home, but I have NEVER enjoyed such simply DELICIOUS hummus as the hummus I enjoyed today at Wally's Cafe! Come for the kabobs, but stay for the hummus!
Photo: Here's an appetizer that I couldn't resist... "Lebanese Salsa," as Robbie called it, a dish that's not listed on the menu. My host suggested that I give it a try, so I just HAD to order it and enjoy!
Another "first" for me, as I'd never heard of "Lebanese Salsa" before. This amazing appetizer started with a base of crumbled, feta cheese, with extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with oregano, ground pepper, and other Mediterranean seasonings. Piled on top of the cheese and seasonings were fresh, diced tomato and red onion.
I scooped up this amazing "salsa" with small slices of pita bread, which worked out well. Tortilla chips would work with this "salsa" too. Before today's visit to Wally's, I had never even dreamed of "Lebanese Salsa," much less tasted it. This "salsa" was delicious, and when you visit the restaurant, ask Chef Robbie to make you of plate of it! You'll love it...
Beruit meets Mexico City at Wally's Cafe, located in Rocklin, CA!
Photo: My amazing and varied array of "appetizers," inclucing "Pickles," two varieties of "Hummas" a side of "Lebanese salsa" along with "Lentil Soup" and the side of "Pita Bread" that was included with my entreé of "Lamb Kabobs."
The "appetizers" could have been a complete meal, but today I was hungry, and I wanted a generous sampling of the delicious cuisine that Wally's Cafe has to offer, and to sample as many offerings from the menu as I could. Yes, I did bring some home in a box to enjoy for dinner...
Photo: Meet Robbie, my amazing host, who brought my delicious entreé of "Lamb Kabobs" to me with a smile. He treated me like family and provided outstanding service, with a friendly smile.
Robbie is a total "foodie" and is very knowlegable in Meditterranean cuisine, and the cuisine of Lebanon. He told me that he's made a carrer in the hospitality industry for most of his working life, and it shows, as he could answer any question about the cuisine of Lebanon, and the amazing choices featured on Wally's menu.
Photo: Quite a lunch... thanks, Robbie, for taking my photo, as I prepare to enjoy my feast at Wally's Cafe, located in Rocklin. Yes... I actually brought much of this delicious lunch home in a "to-go" box to enjoy for dinner.
As much as the "foodie" that I am, I have no words to describe the lunch I enjoyed today at Wally's... except that the food was simply amazing! Every offering, according to friendly Robbie, was "made from scratch" and authentic Lebanese. By no means am I an expert on the cuisine of Lebanon - I'm a novice - but each dish was simply DELICIOUS!
This is not your "diner fare" or the typical cuisine offered in the "gold country," as this is delicious cuisine from the Mediterranean area and authentic Lebanese. Wally's Cafe offers amazing Lebanses cuisine in Placer County!
Photo: From the "Specialty Plates" section of the menu, I went with #12, "Lamb Kabobs." Like every dish that's listed on this section of the menu, my lunch arrived with a side of pita bread.
The menu describes this delicious choice as, "Two lamb skewers served with rice pilaf, salad, and tzatzki." That's a really simple description for such an amazing lunch!
The main entreé of this delicious Lebanese favorite was lamb kabobs, which is marinated, roasted lamb meat, cut in bite-sized chunks, and served on a skewer. The ample portion of lamb meat was simply delicious, as it was grilled to perfection, juicy, tender and made for the showcase of my "Mediterranean delight" of a late lunch/early dinner. I loved the juicy flavor of the lamb, which was enhanced by the grilling, along with the maridade and basing with tzatziki sauce. Delicious!
The braised lamb kabobs were placed on a bed of a large helping of savory, golden brown rice pilaf, which made for a n amazing side dish, and a great presentation for the lamb kabobs. The rice pilaf was simply delicious, as I could TASTE the chicken broth, and all of the homemade goodness of the made-from-scratch recipe, as this amazing side dish was imply flavorful, and was the essential Mediterranean side, any way you look at it.
Salad was a "Greek Salad," which included slices of fancy green and purple lettuce, fresh spinniich leaves, diced tomato, sliced red onion, sliced cucumber, feta cheese, seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, ground pepper, and diced orgegano. Wally's Cafe specilizes in "Extra Virgin" olive oil for seasoning, as olive oil is healthy, flavorful and adds a distinct "nutty" taste, which makes for amazing flavor. My salad was made from fresh ingredienients, which made it simply delicious, and the salad added an fresh, cool side to my lunch. The tzatzki sauce worked well with the salad, and the entire lunch, to add an extra dimension to my amazing meal...
Like all meals from the "Specialty Plates" section of the menu, my "Lamb Kabobs" included a basket of "Pita Bread," which had arrived with the wide array of appetizers and soup that I'd ordered. The bread was simply delicious and made for great dipping, and a way to sop up the last of the savory juice.
I dipped my lamb and salad into the cup of tzatzki sauce. As my host, Robbie explained to me, "Our tzatzki sauce is made in-house and made from a family recipe." Oh yes... the yogurt-based sauce was simply delicious, and it could have been a stand-alone for a side dish, and it made for a creamy enhancement for my lunch.
Braised lamb, pilaf, Greek salad, pita bread... along with the other appetizers... Wally's Cafe, simply made for a "over-the-top-amazing" lunch, thanks to the delicious Lebanese cuisine, and the amazing service of my host, Robbie.
Photo: Robbie displays a pan of freshly baked baklava that he just took out of the oven. Like everything else the restaurant serves, the baklava is made from scratch and uses family recipes. Wally's Cafe has their own "take" on this classic Greek desert recipe, and it's pure goodness!
Photo: From the "Dessert" section of the menu, two pices of "Homemade Baklava" made for a delicious sweet touch to my meal, especially when they were served with a small cup of Turkish coffee. How many ways can you say delicious?
The baklava I enjoyed was as fresh as it could be, as Robbie had just taken a freshly baked pan of the goodies out of the oven. The baklava served at Wally's Cafe is of Greek origin, but as the menu labels this fine desert, "Homemade... not too sweet ... baklava, stuffed with cashews and topped off with pistacios."
Oh my! The baklava was simply delicious, and added a sweet ending to my amazing meal.
Photo: Robbie pours a small cup of Turkish coffee, which made for an amazing drink to accompany my order of baklava. Like the pot of lentil soup, Turkish coffee is always ready to serve at Wally's Cafe, as it's a major part of the menu, and is always ready to enjoy any time the restaurant is open.
Photo: I take a bite of baklava, after a sip or Turkish coffee. Simply delicious! The baklava and coffee made for an outstanding finish to this fine meal.
Baklava was, as advertized on the menu, "not so sweet" but it had just the right amout of "sweetness" and was heavy on the "goodness" and the amazing mixture of sweet dough, honey and nuts. I'm a fan!
The "Turkish Coffee" I enjoyed at Wally's Cafe is coffee, yet it's a totally different coffee that you've come to love at your local diner. The coffee was served in a small cup - about the size of an espresso cup - but it didn't have the strong, sometimes bitter taste of espresso. Wally's "Turkish Coffee" was flavorable, robust, somewhat "nutty" in taste and amoratic, which simply complimented the baklava and took dessert to a whole new level.
No wonder Wally's Cafe has been a three-time winner in Yelp's "Top 100 Restaurants in the USA" and has been voted as one of the "Top-5" restaurants in Placer County! The delicious food is authentic, Lebanese cuisine, lovingly prepared by skilled chefs, using recipes from home, and the hospitality is helpful, sincere and wonderful.
Wally's Cafe, located on Granite Drive in Rocklin, CA just might be my "new" favorite restaurant in western Placer County...
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