AM26: Iron Horse Tavern (SMF)

5AM / 10/06/2022

https://www.ironhorsetavern.net/

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!

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AM20: Alley Katz Citrus Heights

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This is a bit of a goof post to be honest.  I never would have thought to do a review of this bar, but having visited it 4 times now for Tuesday trivia over the last several months I have to share what a bizarre experience it is.

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To start, a very brief bit of information about Alley Katz and this location.  Alley Katz originated in Midtown Sacramento (and still has a location there).  They popped up in this really strange location, on Arcadia Dr in-between Rite Aid and the old Circuit City building, sometime ago – maybe a year or two?  This spot has been a number of different night clubs in the past and is quite a large space.

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The size of this bar is staggering, considering the very divey-nature of the place.  The 1st floor is the main area and contains the bar which hosts a TON of usually pretty good beer. This is the shining feature of Alley Katz Citrus Heights.  There is also another bar set somewhat in the middle towards the patio doors, but this one is completely unused.  A pool table and some arcade games are positioned along the walls on either side of this.  Upstairs you will find, get this, a second unused bar.  This area feels deserted, save for the other pool table located up here.  There are some seats, but it really feels like the staircase should be roped off and the level closed.

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I mentioned the patio, and that is a generous term.  This is an equally gigantic space that is almost completely unused.  It’s about as big as the interior.  There used to be a volley ball court here, complete with sand, but it has since been paved over and a giant chess/checkers board painted on top.  There are maybe a couple tables out here, but not much more than for smokers to step outside and use.  Finally, the bathrooms.  Actually pretty clean the couple times I’ve gone in there, they have the strangest, most upscale style sinks that I would never expect to find in a place like this.

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So, onto the food situation.  It’s a complete crapshoot every time.  On our first visit we were told that someone had vandalized their grills propane hookups so they had an extremely limited menu.  On our second visit I got a menu from the bartender and when we eventually went up to place our order I was told that all they were serving was tacos (taco tuesday) and like one or two random specials.  I was baffled as to why the guy would even bother to give me a menu in the first place.  The tacos were very blah.  On the 3rd visit I opted to eat at home prior to coming, but my teammates braved the kitchen once again and ordered burgers.  When they were brought out by a person from the kitchen they were told, sorry but they are a little cold.  That was that, no offer to replace them or anything, just, this is how it is, enjoy your cold burgers.

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This last week was probably our most successful food experience yet, not that it’s saying much!  I ordered the Alley Katz burger and added cheese and bacon (ultimately a good move since all it comes with is lettuce, mayo, ketchup and mustard).  This came out pretty quick and was surprisingly hot and pretty tasty, especially the bacon.  The odd thing about it was that it didn’t come with french fries, but instead a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips.  That was a bummer because I was really in the mood for fries.

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My friends ordered a couple sloppy joe sliders and a bourbon stout tri tip plate.  The tri tip plate was supposed to come with rice, but instead arrived with some salad with no dressing and a small dish of pinkish coleslaw.  A trip up to the bar to ask about the lack of rice yielded the response “we don’t have any rice”.  Ok then…  Ultimately, they said the tri tip was not good and that the sliders were unusual but fine.

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I was still hungry so I ordered the nachos and added pulled pork.  These come with tomatoes, jalapeños, sour cream and, of course, nacho cheese.  When it arrived the pork was somewhat warm, but the rest was fairly cool.  Given the place was chilly enough to warrant a jacket, the entire plate cooled off immediately and we ate cold nachos that were entirely too spicy.

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Given the Yelp reviews that I skimmed over, I feel that this post is a very accurate representation of what to expect here.  The service is virtually nonexistent.  I have never approached the bar and been acknowledged in less than a minute.  The only reason we continue to come here is because the trivia and it’s host are actually quite good, and of course there is always good beer to be had.  I’m genuinely curious what Friday/Saturday nights are like, but I doubt I’ll ever actually come check it out.  Have you had an experience here?  Tell me about it in the comments!

Website: none

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