#279: Local Kitchens

1:15PM 6/18-19/2022

https://order.localkitchens.com/store/roseville/

A couple of months ago a co-worker recommended Local Kitchens, located on Fairway (near Kohl’s, BevMo, In’n’Out), and told me a little about it. It sounded a bit like a few food trucks got together and leased a brick and mortar restaurant space. I didn’t really have much of an idea what it would be like. Does each vendor have their own counter? Does it feel like a food court? Is it pickup only? Today I have answers to these questions and more as I just returned from lunch #2 in as many days at Local Kitchens.

Sometimes I like to go in cold, doing zero research. Sometimes this gets me into trouble, like when they are closed and I didn’t even go so far as to check their hours. Other times, like yesterday, I was delighted by a totally fresh experience. At first from outside it’s hard to say what you are looking at. The windows in-line with the building signage are totally covered up with more signage. The front door is to the left. Once inside it’s a shockingly simple setup. An open kitchen with a pickup counter sits at the back. To the right is a bare bones seating area with a few different types of tables, high and low-tops. A small counter towards the back of that area has a few basic items like napkins and plastic utensils. To your immediate left from the entrance are 3 touch screens for placing orders (you can also use their app to order for pickup or delivery). It’s honestly as if a shared Ghost Kitchen started offering dine in.

The ordering process was very smooth. I found the touch screens (iPad Pros, I think) responsive and the ordering app to be well designed, uncluttered and with a nice photo of every single item I looked through. It took me a moment of poking around to realize what “trucks” were available here. The first menu lumps a bunch of the most popular items from all the businesses together. Other menus organize the options for beverages, kids, vegan and vegetarian. Finally, each entity has their own menus. You can choose from: Sushiritto (Japanese), Nash & Proper (chicken), Senor Sisig (Filipino / Asian fusion), The Melt (burgers), Curry Up Now (Indian, burritos), Garden of Eat’n (healthy, salads, sandwiches) and Humphry Slocombe (ice cream). I’ve heard of a few of these before, most notably Nash & Proper, Curry Up Now and Garden of Eat’n (the last of which I visited back in 2016 and still has a location across from the Galleria). I was very excited to see Nash & Proper here. They are one of a few trucks I will go out of my way to try and visit when they are up here. Below is my favorite photo of their “Sammich”, their signature Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich.

Now that I’ve downloaded and looked around the app I see that this is one of a small handful of locations. All the others are in the Bay Area and have mostly the same options for “trucks” with each store seemingly having one or two unique to it.

Nash & Proper was calling to me loudly. I fought those calls off and checked out nearly everything available before the Tosilog Burrito caught my eye and I added to to the visual cart/bag/whatever. This is from Senor Sisig and consists of Filipino Sweet Pork, adobo garlic rice, fresh tomatoes and a fried egg. Served with a side of peppered vinegar. (Additional Eggs can be added). This was $13.50 + $1.75 to add a fried egg, which I did. The configuration options for this were kind of funny. First off the spice levels you choose from are No Spice, Mild, Medium, Spicy, Hella Spicy & Hella Hella Spicy. After the egg selection screen is a screen that just says “No Tomato” and has a checkbox for it. Tomatoes are sort of a love/hate thing for me so I went ahead and ticked the box. The last screen has a handful of extras you can add: Beans, Shredded Cheese, Guacamole, Sour Cream, Pico de Gallo, Adobo Rice, Cilantro Cream Sauce and Lettuce. I left all those alone, added a can of soda [$2] and checked out.

Checking out was simple with tap-to-pay on the credit card machine. You enter your name, which then shows up on a screen above the kitchen with an estimated wait time. You can also email yourself a receipt and enter your phone number for order updates.

The vast majority of customers seemed to be taking out. Most of the dine-in crowd were utilizing the outdoor seating since the weather was insanely beautiful. My order was ready in about 10 minutes and the manager, whom I spoke to briefly after ordering, actually brought it out to me (well we met about half way as I didn’t expect that). I grabbed a couple napkins (excellent, substantial and large napkins by the way, they were surprisingly noteworthy) and got to work.

What can I say other than this was a tasty burrito. It was constructed expertly and everything inside was perfectly distributed so I got a bit of everything in just about every bite. As noted in the description this came with a little cup of peppered vinegar. I cautiously took a whiff of it and wasn’t sure I would like it. It was straight up intense vinegar. Carefully, I poured a small amount into the burrito and took a bite and was pleasantly surprised. The strong vinegar flavor had melted away into the burrito and just served to enhance all the existing ingredients. I ended up using all of it by the end!

This morning, after playing video games instead of hitting the gym, I decided I would return for Nash & Proper for lunch. Little did I know that when I would get there I’d change my mind at the last second and order from Sushiritto instead. The Sumo Crunch sounded interesting and the photo was just sucking me in (Shrimp Tempura, Surimi Crab, Cucumbers, Red Tempura Flakes, and Sriracha Aioli rolled with Ginger Guac, Super-Premium Koshihikari Rice, and Proprietary Nori) [$14].

I had a decent view of the area that was making Sushiritto items. They have this crazy automated rice machine that spits out perfectly formed rice sheets ready to be rolled up. I would love to get a closer look at how the hell that thing works on the inside (Science Channel, let’s get together on a mini “How It’s Made” with stuff like this!)

My order was ready once again in about 10 minutes. This was a bit messy and slightly less crunchy than the name implied, though quite a visually interesting item with the red tempura flakes. The nori was fairly easy to bite through, although I wonder how well it would hold up if you had it delivered or were taking it to go. It did seem to get slightly chewier as I got to the end.

Overall I was really quite pleased with this place and it’s concept. These businesses all have something interesting to check out and it’s nice that you can get them all in the same order. A couple of thoughts I had on how they could make this even better:

  1. Shrink some of the items and sides down or offer different sizes, so you can try more variety in one visit without having leftovers or spending a small fortune.
  2. Liven up the dine-in option some more, it’s incredibly basic – amounting to the indoor equivalent of picnic tables and little else. Serve up some local beers!
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AM23: Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop

4:10PM, 5/27/2022
https://capriottis.com/

Although I recently learned this was a large nation-wide chain, anyone I’ve ever mentioned it to had not heard of it. This location, at Sierra College & Douglas, opened a little over 2 years ago. The next closest locations are in Reno, Carson City and Fresno. I was introduced to this chain by my friends in Vegas and it became a must-go spot for lunch any time I traveled there. I was ecstatic when I noticed the sign go up on the building in 2019. Anyway, although this is not unique to the area, I don’t think they are well-known to NorCal, which is a shame, so I figured it was worth doing a post on.

They offer a few traditional deli sub options like Italian, tuna & meatball subs and have a line of Wagyu cheesesteaks as well. The sandwiches that really stand out to me are The Bobbie and the Capastrami. These are the ones I was introduced to Cap’s on and regularly order to this day.

This location is situated in a row of excellent food options (Vampire Penguin, El Sombrero, Falafel Corner & Habit). I headed in just after 4PM and was greeted right away. I had already mentally picked out what I would order today. Looking at the menu I don’t see anything new. A year ago I noticed a sign advertising Flat Fries with a couple topping options (Capastrami or Cheese Steak). This day I decided I would finally check them out. They come in a regular ($6.69) or large ($8.69). I asked what the size difference was like and honestly did not get a good sense as he appeared to hold up two identical containers, though he did liken it to appetizer vs entree sizing. With that I got the regular size and added on a Half size Bobbie (Turkey, Cranberry Sauce, Stuffing & Mayo)[$6.49], because I can’t come here and not get a sandwich.

The Bobbie is offered in cold and hot versions, but I’ve only ever tried cold. For some reason hot has never appealed to me (until I type this that is, I’m suddenly very curious now…). Toward the bottom of this post I’ve added additional photos of the Bobbie, Capastrami and a Cheese Steak from previous visits. Today’s sandwich was no different than any other time. If they have one thing, it’s consistency. But they have more than one thing and that’s a damn good sandwich that’s like Thanksgiving any time of year. I never cared for cranberry sauce until I first had the Bobbie. It won me over on it. The only thing I think that they might be able to do better with is the roll, which is totally fine and nothing to write home about. It’s a fairly dense bread and I think this sandwich would be incredible with something a bit lighter.

Moving on to the Capastrami Flat Fries. The sandwich version is Pastrami, Swiss cheese, Cole Slaw & Russian Dressing. The flat fries are basically flat steak fries with all that on top. The way this comes is not exactly the most photogenic. You can’t really tell what’s in it and it sort of just looks like a salad at first glance. It was only once I started moving things around that I found a thin later of pastrami underneath the Cole slaw and the fries under that. While I will say that flavor-wise this was totally on point, I strongly prefer the sandwich version. Steak fries are possibly the worst type of fry in my opinion. They are often not cooked long enough, leaving the entire thing too mushy instead of having a crisp outer shell and soft inside. These had that issue which was compounded with the ingredients piled on top. The pastrami and Russian dressing really carry the flavor here, with the dressing adding a sort of 1000 island flavor but more tangy.

The fries were an interesting idea but ultimately I’ll be sticking to the sandwiches. As far as other sandwiches here I’ve tried both the Wagyu and the Impossible Cheese Steaks (side by side even) and they are both solid and I can recommend them.

Factoring in the fries for this visit I’d knock it down from 5/5 to 3.5/5. It’s the first miss for Capriotti’s that I’ve experienced.

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#276: Jersey Mike’s Subs

1:30PM, 4/15/2022 & 12PM, 5/7/2022

https://www.jerseymikes.com/

Jersey Mike’s is a quite large national chain. Its presence in our area is in a bit of a resurgence at the moment. I remember they first showed up many years ago with 2 or 3 locations and just a few year later had totally left the market. I was pretty bummed about it and even made a point to visit locations while traveling to get my fix. Now they are back again and in bigger numbers. We have 2 here in Roseville with one by Top Golf and the other just having opened very recently on Douglas in the Sprouts shopping center. I had not planned on doing a visit here due to the chains size but I’ve had more than a few messages inquiring about it so here we are. I stopped on a lark about a month ago and had this half written up for a rainy day. Last couple weekends have been insanely busy, so now’s the time. On Saturday while running errands I dropped in one more time so I’ve got a couple sandwiches here to show. Photos at the store were taken with my phone.

Anyway, what is Jersey Mikes and what makes them so special? It’s a sub sandwich place and what makes it special, to me anyway, is how they slice the meats and cheeses to order from big blocks right in front of you, with expert speed and efficiency. It’s a level of involvement no chain deals with (even a lot of smaller delis don’t do this, to be honest). I’m personally a fan of their cold subs, and the #8 Club Sub in particular, but I’ve also enjoyed their cheesesteaks and tuna sandwiches as well. This location is really no different than any other I’ve been to. The space is clean, modern and the staff is as friendly as all the others. It sort of reminds me of the Chick-fil-a or In’n’Out level of friendliness, but a bit more casual if that makes sense. What I mean by that is I get a strong sense that those two fast food chains put some amount of pressure on their staff to achieve that reputation. Jersey Mike’s may apply some of this pressure as well but it’s somehow comes across as a bit more natural and genuine here.

I’ve visited locations in Sacramento, Rancho Cordova and Folsom a number of times with a co-worker who doesn’t eat pork and they not only made it a point to either clean the slicer right then and there or use a different slicer in the back for his order but also remembered him on subsequent visits and started cleaning the slicer in advance. The customer service has rarely been anything less than great.

On my first visit I walked right up to the counter with no one in line ahead of me, and the whole process took less than five minutes. When there is a line it can take much longer, as with any assemble-as-you-order type place. I went with my typical Club Sub (Provolone, applewood smoked bacon, ham, Turkey & mayo)[Regular size, $9.85]. Bread options (baked fresh in the store) include White, Wheat, Rosemary Parmesan & a gluten free option. I’ve had all but the GF and they’re all good. Wheat has been my go-to for years but I’ve been going with the Rosemary Parm lately, which adds a little something extra flavor-wise. With this sandwich they alway ask if Mayo and Bacon are OK and if you want it Mike’s Way. Mikes Way includes Onions, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Red Wine Vinegar, Olive Oil, Oregano & Salt. I usually ask for “a little extra mayo” but was distracted and just said extra mayo. Hatchi Matchi, they didn’t disappoint with that as you can tell from the photos, lol. It was the first time I said to myself, this is probably too much mayo.

Mike’s Way, with its vinegar & oil, can get lead to a bit of a soggy sub if you travel with it. I think it’s best to have in the store but it’s OK within 10-15 min. I’ve played with proportions over the many, many visits. Different amounts of produce, getting extra and even double meats, etc. Honestly, just getting it as it is I feel is the best. They’ve got a very solid sandwich right out of the gate.

On my 2nd visit I dropped in to grab a sub in between laundry loads. Today it was totally empty inside but the staff was still busy, working on online orders no doubt. The same bearded gentleman as last time greeted me as I stared up at the menu. I confessed that I’d probably get my usuall but it’s sort of become a ritual to look over the menu in case something new pops out at me. He took the opportunity to make a few recommendations and noted they have a bit of a secret menu, which I asked more about. One thing everyone I bring here always seems to comment on is how the numbers on the menu are sort of random. As I learned this day, the missing numbers do exist but are rotated through a specials corner of the menu, but you can order them all the time. He described the #4 (known on the website simply as “The Number Four”) (provolone, prosciuttini, and cappacuolo) and gave me a quick slice of the prosciuttini and cappacuolo to taste. I liked the peppery notes on these and decided to go for it. Mike’s Way and all that jazz. This one doesn’t have mayo. Turns out I had earned enough points from previous visits for a free regular so I was off without ever taking out my wallet.

This sandwich was delightful, lighter and less salty than the Club Sub. The vinegar, onions and oil is a big part of their cold sandwiches and was able to stand out even more with the lack of the mayo and bacon here. A hint of the pepper from the prosciuttini was present throughout. I’ll probably be coming back to this one in the future.

Anyway, obviously I’m a big fan of this gigantic chain. For those that haven’t checked it out, it’s worth a visit. Their hot sandos are good. The cold subs are where they shine, in my opinion.

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