Lunch at the Harbor
Here is another look back to a memorable lunch... back when we could do road trips and eat at quirky diners and cafes.
It was last October, many months before the world turned pandemic. Don and I stopped at this curious, blue restaurant at the far tip, of the South Harbor Pier in Crescent City.
Don and I gave ourselves some added entertainment, before heading in.
I posed with the shark and Don posed with the mermaid. We always make the most of our dining adventures.
Welcomed by the Cowboy
Once inside, we were greeted by a cowboy statue, holding a sign. He told us to seat ourselves.
We passed under a collection of flags and headed towards the wall of windows.
The best table was taken, in the corner.
It had a view of the docks and boats as well as the sea lions.
Table with a View
There were a couple of other window tables open. We took a seat below a display of maps and globes and other curious nautical knickknacks.
As soon as Don finished checking his phone for some trip route info, we hunkered down to check out the view.
The window offered us a fun peek at about 20 sea lions, lounging on 2 floating docks. We also had a view of the distant lighthouse, with its light blinking in the foggy sky.
The sea lions mostly lounged like giant slugs. Now and then one barked and the others chimed in. We watched one big guy nudge another off the platform. Poor guy just swam to the other platform. Luckily we witnessed nothing worse from that aggressive guy.
The menu and placemat reminded me of the old seafood places my family enjoyed when we lived in Florida. I love a good retro, seafood joint.
I was surprised to see on the menu that the biz had only been around since 1988. A quick internet search told me the place had once been a boat engine, machine shop business. So there probably were some interesting stories. But the young servers (none looked over 20) wouldn't have known them.
I ordered a half of a grilled tuna salad and cheese sandwich, with a cup of smoked salmon chowder.
Yum! It was just the right amount. The soup was thick and chunky, with a little spice.
Don had cod fish tacos. He wasn't overly delighted, but I loved his slaw.
I took a quick peek around, on my way to the Ladies Room.
I took in all the nautical decor. I do love a theme.
eThe bicycles and kiddie car didn't exactly fit the them, but I'm always happy with some entertaining nostalgia stuff.
There was a little reminder near the front door. I used to hate signs like that when I was a kid.
My best surprise came when I opened the door to the ladies room!
You have to love this special piece of art! Birth of Venus, modified to include the very lighthouse that we had been studying across the harbor.
On Our Way
We finished our meal and headed out.
We wandered a bit before getting back on the road. We spotted a few fishing boats.
We especially enjoyed a trio of snowmen, made with circular fish traps. Or something!
Before leaving the little coastal town, we drove out to get a better view of the lighthouse.
What a pretty little building, with it's glowing light! What an odd little town and restaurant. Worth the stop!
Cozy Cafe in Mount Shasta, California
I love a little stone building!
The air was chilly, but sunshine was warming the outside garden area. We headed inside to see about lunch options.
The little cafe had three rooms. The first room was all about coffee and ordering.
We ordered and moved into the middle room. We would have sat by the boarded up fireplace, but the table was occupied by 3 policeman.
I wish I'd been able to join in some of their socializing. The 3 policeman chatted up a storm with each other, as well as a number of locals who wandered over. One employee grabbed a baby from a customer and introduced the tot to the cooing officers. It was very entertaining.
Soup, Salad and Sandwich
We ordered just a light bite. Don had bean soup and BLT sandwich.
I had a mixed green salad for less than 6 dollars. It was actually pretty tasty, along with a big, fat yeast roll, that made me feel I'd gone back to the grade school cafeteria. I mean that as a compliment. It was heavenly.
I wondered about our little building as I looked out into the garden from a side window. Had this once been someone's private home?
When we finished and stepped outside, I looked at the entrance and it looked more like a shop than a home.
If our little cafe had not been so busy... or if there had been someone older than 30, who might have known some history... I would have asked.
Instead, I crawled in the car and Googled. Our little cafe had been a grocery store!
Our teeny tiny dining adventure was a pleasant stop along our road trip. Our food was tasty and cheap. Our little stone building was pretty adorable!
Sometimes you just have to go back and remember a good burger.
We had no picnic packed, so we decided to pick up a little something at Jenny's
"Old Fashioned Quality"
I'm not exactly sure what old fashioned quality means. But I liked the little retro burger joint, when we pulled up.
We passed a dad and son and the patriotic flag on the window, then headed for the side entrance.
Behind the Counter
I watched 3 men working away. All 3 had some interesting tattoos, especially the guy with the shaved head.
All were friendly and efficient and before long we had out warm bag and drinks and we were off.
Noyou Headlands Park
We found a picnic table, not too far from the water.
I didn't get a photo of the raven that tried to join us. A man walking by, said that raven frequently visited people at that table.
Cheeseburger & Fries
The burger and fries reminded me of fast food when I was kid. It was nice and hot and yes, a little bit greasy. It was darn good!
After we ate, we wandered on the rocks along near the water.
There's not a whole lot to say about our Jenny's experience, except the food was cheap and decent. However, the combo of our carry out picnic and the beautiful scenery, was perfect. We even found lots of tiny, colored pieces of glass. What a fun burger and beach memory!
Italian Feast at Noon
As we headed into the 5-block town, we tried to remember the name of the place where we'd had an amazing Italian meal, about 38 years ago!
We spotted a couple of Italian restaurants in the small town. We weren't absolutely sure if the old Union Hotel was the place we remembered, but it was open and it looked pretty charming.
We parked and headed towards the gate with the Union Hotel clock. The patio area looked lovely on a September day, but it didn't seem to be open.
Lots of Doors
I believe the saloon is the original structure from 1879. It began as a general store and meeting house. Then it became a saloon and eventually a hotel and restaurant. I was tempted to ask the bartender, since he had no customers. But he didn't look like he was up for a talking history. We moved on down the hall.
Carlo carried Mary to the doctor and before long, they were married. Their descendants own and run the Union Hotel today!
The Main Dining Room
I had to grin when I saw the red and white checked curtains and table cloths in the dining room.
Our server (Terry, I think) was wonderful. She seemed excited to know we were from Texas, since she'd lived there a while herself. She gave us some ordering suggestions and then the food started coming... family style!
Before the Main Course
The bread and oil arrived first. A plate of salami and cheese came next, with serving bowls of minestrone and salad and kidney beans.
Lasagna and Ravioli
We had to order a little Chianti to go along with our lasagna and ravioli. Don looks happy about that. But actually we were just happy about the fun of this cozy place, where the food kept coming.
Don and I love to eat, but neither of us can actually eat all that much. It's sort of embarrassing sometimes. But, Terry was happy to wrap up about all our leftovers. Usually that doesn't work well when we're traveling, but we actually microwaved them for dinner, in our hotel room that night.
My Kind of Cozy
I had a great view from my chair of the cozy dining room. There is just nothing better than comfort food in a comfy-cozy setting. Not all people love the red & white checked look, or even the dark wood paneling, but this is my idea of comfort dining.
From Doors to Barrels
I loved the kitchen door with its little square window, balancing on point. I loved the barrel supported shelf, holding pumpkins, flowers and the Virgin Mary.
Off to Explore
The retro pink bathroom was worthy of a photo. I love pink tile.
I took a little peek into the Bocce Ballroom with its own bar and raised stage. Flowers and decorations told me a wedding had been celebrated recently.
The Dining Room
From the Bocce Ballroom, I looked back at the dining room. The dining room was actually built in the 1940's to connect the original Union Hotel and the Bocce Ballroom.
As I looked at the candles and lights strung from the ceiling, it made me hope to return sometime for a dinner, at night. I'd love to see the place filled with families and romantic couples... and maybe a little Italian music!
Two Diners in North Sacramento
The brown building, with tile trim had a nice retro look. But it was the sign that lured us. "God Bless...Over a Million Steaks Sold... Dinner... Ham & Eggs... New York..."
Since 1953, on Del Paso Blvd
It was February and Scott and Chali were still trying to figure out what this whole area was about. The Del Paso Boulevard showed a couple good signs of beautification here and there. There were some new businesses, but some pretty sketchy stuff as well. We figured if Lil Joe's had lasted this long, then it must be worth trying.
Bold Menu and Stylin' Vinyl
We were greeted by a smiling waitress, who called everyone at our table "Sweetie". The pink counters, blue booths and original stools pleased me. The giant cow on the menu sort of scared me. I ordered oatmeal and coffee, so I can hardly comment on the steaks.
Banter at the Cash Register
Probably the best part of the dining experience was watching all the locals come and go. We seemed to be the only non-locals. I asked about the cash register and was told it had been there since 1953. The fellow in the kitchen was actually very friendly and was happy for me to take a photo.
It was tempting to have a seat right there at the pink counter. The swivel stools looked mighty comfy and the cups and utensils were just waiting for us.
I don't think those mugs (decorated with emojis) were around when Sammy's first opened!
The Back Room
We were greeted with smiles, but ushered to a table in the back. I'm pretty sure that was to prevent us from grabbing any of the tables that are usually claimed by regulars.
We placed our breakfast order with our waitress, who has probably worked at Sammy's for decades. She didn't blink at the notion of someone wanting a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast. However she was pretty concerned about Don ordering the proper potatoes to go with his scrambled eggs and grilled ham.
"Do you want peppers and onions on them taters? Because if you don't, they're just gonna be naked taters." Naked was pronounced neck-ed.
Lots of Leftovers
Hopefully the cook and staff took it as a compliment that we wanted to take home what we couldn't eat. They seemed pretty pleased that we newcomers had enjoyed our eggs, pancakes and grilled cheese.
Past & Future
Before 1964, North Sacramento was its own town and Del Paso Boulevard was a thriving Main Street. I wish I could go back, 60 years in time and visit both diners and all that surrounded them.
Last February, we spent some time wandering up and down the Boulevard, imagining the past and seeing some signs of good things to come. I'm glad we got to step back in time, with our 2 breakfasts. I hope the diners can keep on doing what they do!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.