This month’s food digest has two local restaurant reviews and a well-worn twist—another food review of a Folsom restaurant. As I’ve done in the past, I compared what I ate in Folsom with similar meals I’ve had in Amador County.

Taco Bell

My mother and I went to Taco Bell on November 17 because it’s close to our house and because we saw that Taco Bell won the Best Fast Food Restaurant award for 2021 in the Amador Ledger-Dispatch. Unfortunately, Taco Bell discontinued my mother’s favorite meal, the Fiesta Taco Salad, in spring 2020. So, she ordered the Power Menu Bowl with chicken instead. I ordered a cheese quesadilla and a black bean chalupa, the latter of which is available only when you order on the Taco Bell app or website.

Speaking of the app, it allows you to customize your order. My mother has a sensitive stomach, so I was able to hold the sour cream and go easy on the black beans with her meal. I paid for the meal on the app and picked it up in the drive-thru. I could see why people think of Taco Bell so highly because the food mostly looked like the menu pictures. (I think you’ll agree that’s not true of most fast-food restaurants.)

We found our meals to be tasty. I had some mild sauce with the quesadilla to complement the taste of the grilled burrito. (There isn’t any taste to the cheese.) The chalupa didn’t need any sauce as there was enough flavor from the tomatoes, sour cream, black beans, lettuce, cheese, and the seasoned chalupa shell. My mother thought the Power Bowl was a good alternative to the taco salad with plenty of lettuce, guacamole, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, and chicken.

Since we had our three-year-old daycare kid Huxley in the house that day, we also ordered a side of tortilla chips and nacho cheese sauce for him. Though Huxley said the cheese sauce was too spicy for him, I saw he ate nearly all of it. He also ate all the chips and asked for more—the Huxley seal of approval.

The price for our meal was $16.01, and you can review the menu on the Taco Bell website or on the Taco Bell app.

Land Ocean Birthday

My mother and I drove to Folsom on Monday, November 22, to enjoy my birthday dinner. I always passed by Land Ocean on my way to another Folsom restaurant, so I wanted to eat there. We ate in the middle of the afternoon, and we were surprised to find the restaurant was about a quarter full.

My mother ordered a salmon BLT with a lot of garlic steak fries. The BLT came on thick, toasted white bread, salmon, crispy bacon, lettuce, tomato, and garlic aioli. My mother thought the salmon was cooked properly and the bacon was crispy enough per her order, but there was so much in the sandwich that she couldn’t finish it all.

I ordered a mushroom burger and a side salad. The word “side salad” is misleading—you can easily eat the salad as an entire meal. The romaine lettuce and arugula were topped with shaved almonds, croutons, sliced cherry tomatoes, and carrots. The entire salad was tossed in a tasty white wine balsamic vinaigrette.

The mushroom burger deserved to have mushroom first in the title because there were so many combined with caramelized onions that I could barely make out the patty covered in melted gruyere cheese. The burger came with lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles on the side, but I ate those separately because the burger would have been too big with that produce on top.

I also had a chocolate lava cake for dessert, and the chef wrote Happy Birlhday (as you can see in the photo) in raspberry sauce and lit a candle on top of the ice cream. The taste of the chocolate lava cake wasn’t what I expected—bittersweet chocolate cake, vanilla ice cream that was almost tasteless, and the sweetness contained in the hot fudge within the cake and Heath toffee crumbles sprinkled on and around the cake. It was good—just different.

We came home satisfied, but soon after I felt a bit nauseated, and that feeling lasted for hours. I’m not sure that was from eating too much or from the lava cake.

Though I’m glad I went to Land Ocean and it’s one thing checked off my list, I don’t see myself going back. And I don’t think Amador County restaurants have anything to worry about from people going to Folsom instead to find high-end burgers. The price for our meal was about $60, and you can learn more about Land Ocean on their website.

Margaret’s Café & Bakery

The bakery at Margaret’s Café and Bakery in the Jackson Rancheria Casino and Resort has been open throughout the pandemic, but the café didn’t reopen until last month. On Monday, December 6, my mother and I ran a couple of errands and then continued up the hill to Jackson Rancheria and made our way past the slot machines to the first-floor café for lunch.

My mother ordered a tuna salad sandwich that came with tuna salad on the bottom slice of toasted wheat bread and then topped with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, mayonnaise, and the top slice of bread. She said the sandwich was very good, though she had to remove the red onions because they’re too strong for her. She also enjoyed the garlic fries and invited me to try one. I found a fry I liked, and I agreed that it had the right amount of salt and garlic.

I ordered the patty melt with American cheese and a side salad with Ranch dressing. The salad came in a separate bowl and had plenty of fresh arugula, cherry tomatoes, carrots, shaved red onions, as well as radish and cucumber slices. The vegetables were fresh and crisp, but I was disappointed that the Ranch dressing was watery.

The patty melt had grilled onions, American cheese, and a beef patty in between two slices of toasted sourdough bread. It looked like it was two-thirds the size of a patty melt I’ve had at other restaurants. The server didn’t ask me how I wanted the beef cooked and I should have told her myself because the beef was rare to medium-rare, which to me is a bit undercooked.

We both ordered dessert from Margaret’s bakery. My mother ordered a slice of carrot cake and I ordered a slice of lemon meringue pie. She said the cake was very good with bits of carrots on the inside, plenty of frosting inside and out, and walnuts at the end of the cake. There was so much frosting, in fact, that my mother couldn’t eat it all.

The lemon meringue pie had a good crust with a mild lemon taste. I wasn’t surprised because moderating the lemon flavor makes it less likely you’ll have unhappy customers, but if you’re used to a sweeter lemon taste as I am, then you’ll be disappointed.

I also wasn’t surprised by the tourist prices Margaret’s charged. The price of our two sandwiches, two drinks – hot tea for my mother and Diet Pepsi for me – and two desserts was $39.50 without the tip.

The café is open from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on weekdays, which explains why we went for lunch and not dinner. You can eat dinner at Margaret’s on weekends when they’re open until 8:00 p.m. You can view the Margaret’s Café and Bakery menu on the Jackson Rancheria website.

Amador Business Ticker food reviews are adventures in local dining with Editor Eric Butow and his mom.