I follow the Jackson Rancheria Casino and Resort Facebook profile page, and they recently announced their June special at the Pacific Grill. I decided I wanted to eat there because the Pacific Grill was the only restaurant at Jackson Rancheria where I hadn’t eaten. My mother liked the idea and we decided that it was time to finally eat lunch indoors at a restaurant, even if it’s a restaurant space within a casino, and try Pacific Grill.
My mother and I drove to Jackson Rancheria on Ridge Road after we were disappointed that Starbucks in Martell closed at 2:00 p.m. for reasons unknown. After we parked in the casino’s self-parking garage, we arrived at the front door of the casino at about 2:45 p.m. If you’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19, masks are optional.
One thing I found that masks blocked are inside smells, and I found myself taken aback by the cigarette smoke in the main casino area. I decided to put my mask on and walk through the main area as quickly as I could to get to the Pacific Grill area, which is close to Margaret’s Café. (The café is currently closed, but the bakery is still open as I’ll talk about later).
Once we arrived at the main ordering station, my mother was dismayed to find that the June fried crab special she wanted was considerably more expensive than she expected. After some negotiation, my mother decided to order the Sesame Chicken Combo Platter and I ordered the fried fish sandwich with French fries, which was the other June special. We also ordered two self-serve sodas we got from the fountain alongside one of the walls.
A few minutes later, the sound over the loudspeaker in the Pacific Grill dining area announced the number on our receipt. At the designated pickup station, my mother picked up a black, medium-sized plastic bag that contained the two boxes of food. We had to get up to get napkins and a plastic fork from the silverware and napkins station nearby. I was pleased to find that when I took my mask off, the air quality in the Pacific Grill dining area was much cleaner than on the casino floor.
The fish sandwich and fries came in a lidded cardboard box. The fish sandwich had a split-top bun, some lettuce, and a little bit of a fried fish filet peeking out from the bun. There was a healthy amount of medium-sized breaded fries piled next to the sandwich. I didn’t see any plate stations in the restaurant, but I had no problem eating the sandwich and the fries straight out of the box.
When I took my first bite of the sandwich, I discovered that there were two medium-sized fish fillets in the sandwich that nearly covered the entire diameter of the bun. That’s because one of the fillets popped out of the sandwich and I had the entire filet clenched in my teeth.
Once I put the fish back into the bun and took a few more bites, the fish stayed in the bun, and I eventually started tasting the tartar sauce spread at the bottom of the buttered bun. The fish itself had a crispy fried shell around a lot of flaky white fish, as seen in my photo after I took a bite. (I wouldn’t have been able to cut the sandwich with a plastic knife.) Most of the lettuce was fresh but some areas looked a bit worn.
The fries themselves were crispy and the breading was tasty, but there were so many that we took more than half of the fries home with us. My mother tried one of the fries during lunch and she said she’d have those fries with our dinner the next day. (I did, too.)
The sesame chicken came in a large Styrofoam container and came with two side dishes and an egg roll. In the large compartment of the box, there were plenty of pieces of chicken in teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds on top. One of the small compartments had vegetable chow mein and the other had pork-fried rice.
My mother said that all the dishes were fresh, and the egg roll was crispy and contained pork and beef. The chicken had crispy breading with enough teriyaki sauce to coat the pieces but not drown them. The side dishes had plenty of fresh vegetables including celery and onions in the chow mein and large peas in the rice.
She only ate the entire egg roll during lunch. My mother saved the rest of the food for lunch not only the next day but also the day after that.
When we ordered, we looked at some eclairs in the display box for sale, but they didn’t look appetizing. The bakery at Margaret’s Café is still open, so on our way out we stopped by the bakery and purchased a couple of apple fritters to take home with us.
The fritters were a step above what you find at the Safeway bakery. To start, they were 30 percent larger. There were areas with apple chunks and sauce inside the dough, and the glaze on the fried crust was sweeter than Safeway fritters. My mother found more apple chunks throughout her fritter, and I only found mine at the far end. But I didn’t mind because that allowed me to taste the cinnamon, sugar, and the texture of the soft dough.
I found the fish sandwich to be tasty with the right amount of tartar sauce and lettuce so that I could taste every ingredient. The sandwich wasn’t hard to eat, either. That is, the buns were soft, the lettuce was (mostly) crisp, and the fish was flaky. The sandwich was consistent with many other fish sandwiches at restaurants I’ve had, though not quite up to the level of fish sandwiches I’ve eaten that include cabbage and tomatoes.
My mother was pleasantly surprised by her meal. She wasn’t sure about ordering the sesame chicken but when she finished her lunch, she declared it to be the best Chinese food she’s tried in the county—including the food from Le’s Chinese Kitchen. And she said the food was just as tasty when she enjoyed them for lunch the following two days.
In all, we give a green light for the food at Pacific Grill and Margaret’s Café Bakery. The cost for our meals at Pacific Grill was a little over $23.00. The cost of our two apple fritters was $7.00.
Want to Try Them?
Two separate menus comprise the offerings at Pacific Grill: the Asian Grill and the California Grill. Each menu is available at different times. The California Grill is open Sundays through Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. to midnight and Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. The Asian Grill is open Mondays through Thursdays from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Fridays through Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Amador Business Ticker food reviews are adventures in local dining with Editor Eric Butow and his mom.