Restaurant: The Firehouse Café
Address: 500 Pleasant Valley Road in Diamond Springs
Hours: Open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily
I have driven past The Firehouse Café, 500 Pleasant Valley Road in Diamond Springs, every day for the last three years and have never stopped to eat there. There’s no excuse for it, either.
It’s one of those places that has little curb appeal — looks like it’s been there forever and whose parking lot in front is always full.
A typical local hangout, in other words right up my alley.
I love finding these places, these little culinary gems.
Usually, I can’t wait to try them out, so why did it take me so long to pull the trigger with this one?
Heck, I don’t know, but I’m going to remedy that. I park across the street on Diamond Springs’ main drag and dodge all sorts of traffic crossing the street, like some kind of human “Frogger” video game, and make my way inside.
My lunch date has cancelled at the last minute so I am once again the solitary figure, alone and brooding, at the corner table.
Don’t feel too bad for me, fellow gastronomics, for I take this time to do a little reconnaissance of the joint for you.
Do you want to know an easy and subtle way to know how important cleanliness and consequently the health of their patrons, is to a restaurant owner? Take a gander at the blades on the ceiling fans. If they don’t have ceiling fans, then take a look at the lighting fixtures, usually located right above your head. If they’re clean, you’re golden. If there’s dirt or dust on the fixtures, leave the place immediately. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200. You’ll thank me later.
Anyway, the Firehouse Café has a number of ceiling fans and all are thankfully sparkling clean, as is the rest of this restaurant. Always a great sign.
Whenever I eat at a new “dive” (and let me state here that I use the term affectionately), I usually gauge the menu by how well they do a clubhouse sandwich.
Experience has shown me that if they can get that right then the rest is usually pretty good.
When my clubhouse sandwich arrived, a mere 10 minutes after ordering, I dig in.
It’s much better than average — it’s excellent, as a matter of fact.
Crispy, thin slices of sourdough toast, juicy tomato, smoky and think cut bacon, tender turkey and fresh lettuce, and a conservative portion of mayonnaise to add just the right amount of tanginess.
My lunch is nicely plated as well. The sandwich is quartered and has a nice big mound of piping hot French fries in the middle of the plate — overall an excellent meal.
They serve an amazing array of breakfast favorites all day long (I hear the Firehouse breakfast burrito is outstanding), and have all your lunch standards in addition to a few surprises like homemade eggplant dishes, a dynamite Philly cheese steak sandwich (according to one of the other patrons, who was just raving about it at the counter) and many other tasty treats.
Don’t go there for the firefighter oriented theme, because really, it’s subtle at best. Go for the food, which is fantastic.
The Firehouse Café is located at 500 Pleasant Valley Road in Diamond Springs. The phone number is 530-626-4757. It is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.