AM26: Iron Horse Tavern (SMF)

5AM / 10/06/2022

Thursday morning I was off and up out. I thought it would be a nice opportunity to finally visit a restaurant in Terminal A at SMF. Almost six years ago I checked out Cafeteria 15L in terminal B. Today I visited Iron Horse Tavern, which is sort of the main dining option in this original terminal. There are a couple other eateries here including Freshii and Squeeze Inn, but this early in the morning the tavern and Peet’s Coffee is pretty much your selection. Peet’s always seems to have an enormous line so it was kind of nice to just stroll on in to this place and seat myself. There is a little island of a bar directly out front of the main dining area. A worker was just getting started prepping it for the day when I was heading out to my gate.

I arrived at the airport right about at 5AM, breezed through security like a leaf on the wind (watch as I soar), and headed straight from security into the food court, which is just past the checkpoint. Despite checking the hours ahead of time, I was a little worried as I approached because it looked like they might have been closed, however once I got closer I spotted people inside.

Taking my seat, with a nice view of the tarmac, I was greeted right away by the single server working at the time. As I looked at the menu QR code on the table and started to reach for my phone she brought a physical menu and took my drink order, a cup of coffee ($3.74). I looked at the breakfast section, which consisted of 4 items:

  • Breakfast Burrito (scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, cheese, salsa, guacamole)[$16.68]
  • Breakfast Plate (scrambled eggs, your choice of bacon or sausage, red peppers, onions, served with breakfast potatoes)[$17.79]
  • Egg & Cheese Bagel Sandwich [$16.68]
  • Bacon, Egg & Cheese Bagel Sandwich [$16.68]

The menu felt FAR more interesting when I had looked at it online. The website doesn’t actually acknowledge the airport location now that I look back at it again. Just the Sacramento and Folsom locations. I don’t really blame it.

While they will customize your order a bit, the limitations are fast and firm. As I overheard the table near me attempt to order a breakfast item with a dairy-free request, the server basically explained that pretty much everything is pre-prepared. That customer ended up leaving empty handed. I ended up ordering the burrito as-is. As only assembly was required I expected this to arrive very quickly. It ended up taking about 8 minutes, a little longer than I would have thought necessary.

I was delighted by the unexpected tater tots that accompanied it. They were golden crispy but I think even these are made in a large batch and staged in a buffet type heat tray until needed. This assumption was based on the temperature, which was somewhere between warm and hot, and how some of them were a bit mangled by whatever serving utensil was used to scoop them up. They were a decent little crunchy side to have, although they weren’t terribly notable otherwise.

The burrito was fairly small, smaller than any other burrito at this price point for sure, but also smaller than most burritos in general I would say. It’s perhaps a little bit more substantial than a beefy 5-layer burrito at Taco Bell. The good: it was constructed extremely well. Every bite had a little bit of everything, the tortilla was soft yet held together well all the way to the end without getting gummy. The OK: The eggs really dominated the flavor followed by tiny amounts of bacon, which added small bursts of saltiness, which the burrito otherwise lacked. The bad: This thing was pretty bland and totally uniform in texture. I would not go so far to describe this meal as enjoyable.

My server was very busy the entire time, yet stopped by frequently enough and refilled my coffee when it was about half empty. As bare-bones as the service is here, it was good. Overall though this place was extremely disappointing, especially when compared to my Terminal B experience. It’s really just an incredibly basic cafeteria masquerading as a full service restaurant. Perhaps the lunch/dinner experience is more worthwhile.

Side note: this post was made completely on the road with an iPad, and I hated every minute of it. Serves me right for trying to travel light. Put MacOS on the iPad already, Apple!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s