Bargain Bites of Folsom: 25+ Great Eats for $10 & under
Feb 28, 2018 01:45PM
When you’re hungry for a good plate of food that won’t cost a fortune, it can be difficult deciding where to feed the need. Luckily, we have a list of over 25 local dishes that won’t break the bank, plus a handful of the happiest hours in town. Ready, set, eat! In no particular order…
Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Brioche
$8.50 at Selland’s Market-Café
4370 Town Center Boulevard, Suite 120, El Dorado Hills, 916-932-5025, sellands.com
From the owners of Ella and OBO, Selland’s Market-Café now has three locations, including one on Broadway and their flagship in East Sacramento. The El Dorado Hills spot, which is tucked inside Town Center, is the perfect brunch destination during a day of shopping or before catching a matinee at the nearby Regal Theaters. The brioche sandwiches are always divine, as the bread is warm, buttery, and fluffy on the inside with a golden crust. My favorite is the bacon, egg, and cheese variety with peppered bacon, fluffy scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, fresh tomatoes, and green onions. With an amazing combo deal for lunch, you might just want to stop in after the movie, too; for $9.50, pick your choice of any two items: a cup of soup or chili, 1/2 cold sandwich, cold side, or variety of small side salads.
$8-$8.75 at Julian’s Pâtisserie and Café
6610 Folsom-Auburn Road, Suite 7, Folsom, 916-936-4735, julianscafe.com
Here is the ultimate test of willpower: Order one of Julian’s exquisite savory crêpes, perhaps the Early Bird with bacon, melty mozzarella, and scrambled eggs; or the Turkey and Pesto with roasted turkey breast, fresh tomatoes, and pesto sauce. All of them are “served with a side of fruit salad until 10:30 a.m. Afterwards served with mixed greens salad with feta cheese and housemade balsamic vinaigrette.” Following your last bite, but before the final sip of coffee, tell yourself you’re not going to order and devour one of their glorious pastries gleaming at you from just a few feet away. It can’t be done…by me at least.
Egg, Tomato, Avocado, and Mushroom Bagel
$6.75 at Coffee Republic
6610 Folsom-Auburn Road, Suite 2, Folsom, 916-987-8001, coffeerepublicfolsom.com
A Folsom tradition for over 25 years, Coffee Republic is a down-to-earth, family-owned and operated eatery serving sandwiches, salads, unique sweet teas, and espresso drinks. They also serve some of the best (and most budget-friendly) breakfasts in town. Offering a plethora of freshly baked bagel subs, including pesto pizza, feta, and jam; and (my favorite) egg, tomato, avocado, and mushroom, with your choice of bagel (I recommend bacon Swiss, spinach Parmesan, or garlic Havarti). Not a fan of mushrooms? Try the spicy sausage, pepper jack, and avocado sammie, or the turkey, brie, and onion variety. With cozy seating both indoor and out, the patio is my personal preference, with its large umbrellas and fun checkerboard tabletops.
Steel Cut Oats and Quinoa
$9 at Karen’s Bakery and Café
705 Gold Lake Drive, Folsom, 916-985-2665, karensbakery.com
Widely known for their decadent and gorgeous baked goods and custom cakes using gourmet ingredients, Karen’s Bakery and Café is also a popular breakfast and lunch destination that’s just a short walk from historic Sutter Street. Whether it’s grab-and-go for coffee and a quick bite or a leisurely brunch, Karen’s has a full breakfast menu of items that are prepared in-house daily and according to season. Their steel cut oats and quinoa breakfast cereal, which is served warmed and loaded with poached pears, fresh blueberries, and a pat of sweet butter is heavenly fuel for your day that won’t break the bank…or your diet. Other rise and shine favorites include the croissant bread pudding with orange custard sauce and fresh fruit ($9) or the green egg n’ avocado featuring a slow-braised egg in salsa verde with a slice of grilled avocado toast ($9.50).
Three-Egg Cajun Sausage Omelet
$9.59 at The Purple Place Bar and Grill
363 Green Valley Road, El Dorado Hills, 916-933-2313, thepurp.com
Established in 1955, The Purple Place has long been a laid-back, family-friendly roadhouse serving delicious, seasonal dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Renowned also for their large covered patio (umbrellas and misters in the summer and heaters during winter), pool tables, shuffleboard, Etch A Sketches, a whopping 10 high-definition TVs, live entertainment, and awesome specialty cocktails, there’s plenty of reasons why this is “the place” to go in El Dorado Hills. Breakfast features fan favorites like egg bennies, pancakes, French toast, and signature omelets. Try their three-egg omelet with farm-fresh eggs, diced Cajun sausage, cheddar cheese, hearty seasoned country potatoes, and your choice of toast. Pets are welcome here, too, so be sure to check out their “Purple Pooch” menu for your furry friend!
Lunch Break: Midday Meal
Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich
$9.99 at Mexquite
25095 Blue Ravine Road, Folsom, 916-984-8607, mexquite.com
I love a good torta as much as I love a good portmanteau (one is a Mexican sandwich, the other a new word formed by joining two others; i.e., Mex-quite). I actually like the torta better, in this instance. Barbecued pulled pork on house torta bread (bolillos) with a house salad or French fries are included in this under $10 fiesta. The bolillos are what makes the torta so popular—crusty outside with a soft, sweet, white bread inside. Stuffing that with the perfectly prepared pork completes the Tex-Mex union. Stop on by…you don’t have to take my word for it.
$6.99 at Hacienda Del Rio
702 Sutter Street, Folsom, 916-351-1800, hacdelrio.com
Referred to as “The Hac” by locals for over 35 years, Hacienda Del Rio is a staple on Sutter Street and is known for its traditional Mexican cuisine and libations, fantastic outdoor balcony, and lively entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights (plus karaoke on Wednesdays). During the week, the restaurant serves up several screaming lunch specials for under $7. Their carnitas plate is especially exceptional and features slow-cooked pork alongside rice and refried beans, sour cream, guacamole, and pico de gallo, with your choice of flour or corn tortillas. You could also choose chicken or cheese enchiladas, chicken tacos, and a burrito or burrito bowl. Did we already mention the balcony? It’s now pooch-friendly, so Fido can tag along to enjoy some of the best people- and bird-watching in Folsom, from atop your perch.
$10.95 at Thai Paradise
2770 East Bidwell Street, Suite 100, Folsom, 916-984-8988, thaiparadisefolsom.com
The most famous Thai dish would probably have to be pad Thai. It’s almost every American’s first exposure to Thai food, and yet few of us know much, if anything, about what’s in it other than noodles, meat and/or tofu, bean sprouts, peanuts, and some kind of sauce. It’s the sauce that sets good pad Thai apart for me. The combination of fish sauce, palm sugar, tamarind paste, water, and salt create the definitive, authentic pad Thai. Paradise Thai has mastered its version, garnering praise across social media sites and local food blogs. And if that isn’t testimonial enough for you, my octogenarian mother loves it.
$8.95 at 36 Handles
1010 White Rock Road, El Dorado Hills, 916-941-3606, 36handles.com
If ever a place has captured the “Irish pub” vibe, 36 Handles has it. From the dark interior, dart boards, and “Pub Fare Menu,” the feeling that you’re sitting in a strip mall in El Dorado Hills evaporates as fast as the bubbles in your beer…unless it’s a dark Irish stout. The “Lunch Portion Menu” features Irish pub favorites like bangers and mash, The 36 Reuben, and Mary’s Chicken and Brie sandwich; all include soup, salad, or fries—and all are only $8.95. The bacon-wrapped meatloaf caught my eye immediately—possibly because of its bacon and beef bathed in Guinness gravy…and I’ll take my Guinness any way you serve it!
Eggplant, Red Bell Peppers, Provolone and Pesto Panini
$10 at Visconti's Ristorante
2700 East Bidwell Street, Suite 700, Folsom, 916-983-5181, viscontisristorante.com
Remember when “the panini” was the next big thing? When $200 sandwich presses were flying off the shelf at Williams Sonoma? I do, and I have one, and here’s the kicker: I still use it…often! So when I see a panini for $10 at an upscale Italian ristorante, I’m goin’ in. Visconti’s offers four veramente buono (“really good”) paninis for lunch: mortadella and provolone; salami and provolone; eggplant, red bell peppers, provolone, and pesto (my favorite); and marinara with mozzarella. If you don’t already own your own panini press, save the $200 and let Visconti’s make you a bellissimo one.
Pizza Lunch Special
$9.28 at Dominick’s NY Pizza and Deli
187 Blue Ravine Road, Folsom, 916-351-0900, dominicksfolsom.com
Dominick’s prides itself on their “old-school” approach to pizza in the classic, thin-crust New York-style. Current owners Ryan and Elayne Gee, who purchased the business from founder Dominick Bellizi in 2016, have upheld and expanded the trattoria’s reputation of delicious food from quality ingredients. Using locally sourced produce, scratch-made pizza dough, house-baked breads, and Boar’s Head brand deli meats, Gee serves up unforgettable pies and hoagie sandwiches. You must check out their awesome daily lunch special, which offers any two large slices from their fresh, featured pies; or one slice with a side salad, and a fountain drink. Rotating favorites include the veggie with bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, olives, spinach, and tomatoes; and the margherita with garlic, tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese.
Pork Shu Mei
$9.95 at Fat’s Asia Bistro
2585 Iron Point Road, Folsom, 916-983-1133, fatsasiabistro.com
Looking for traditional dim sum in the Folsom area would be futile if not for the folks at Fat’s Asia Bistro. Among the available offerings is their house-made pork shu mei—five, bag-shaped wonton dumplings (representing good luck gifts, I’m told) stuffed with ground pork, ginger, garlic, and chopped scallions, then steamed and served in the customary bamboo basket. A soy-brown sugar dipping sauce complements the savory dumplings. This is an excellent starter by itself or as part of the complete “dim sum basket,” which also features crab rangoon and chicken pot stickers.
Chicken Breast Teriyaki Bento Box
$8.95 at Kanpai Sushi
1013 Riley Street, Suite 100, Folsom, 916-983-7174
Unbeatable deal alert: Kanpai Sushi’s lunch bento box with chicken breast teriyaki, rice, miso soup, salad, and gyoza is the pre-OPEC oil embargo price of eight-and-a-half bucks! OK, maybe not that far back, but it’s still a phenomenal bargain for a huge lunch. Hibachi-grilled white meat (the only kind my girlfriend will eat, though a dark meat bento is available for only $7.50) with a not-too-sweet teriyaki plus the soup, salad, gyoza (pot sticker), rice, and I almost forgot—your choice of a California Roll or tempura. You can eat like it’s 1999 and have money left to fill your tank like it’s 2018.
The Hot Bar
$8.99 per pound at Whole Foods Market
270 Palladio Parkway, Folsom, 916-984-8500, wholefoodsmarket.com
When I can’t decide what I want for lunch, and I know I don’t want to spend a fortune, the hot bar at Whole Foods Market is a perfect option. I can browse several mouthwatering cuisines before settling on Italian meatballs, curried cauliflower, Hawaiian chicken wings, chicken fried rice, garlic green beans, cheese enchiladas, or mac and cheese. Mix and match to your palate’s content. Everything tastes fresh, is cooked in-house, and is of restaurant quality. Pay at the register then dine inside or out on the patio to enjoy your meal and engage in a little people-watching!
Tortellini Alla Panna
$8.99 at Folsom Strings Café
25035 Blue Ravine Road, Folsom, 916-983-8815, folsomstrings.com
Pasta! Pasta! Pasta! My little grandson Nolan is known to shout that at the top of his lungs whenever I ask what he would like to eat. That’s fine with me, especially if we’re at Strings in Folsom where a pasta lunch with minestrone soup or a salad starts at $8.99. We both like the tortellini alla panna (he calls them “little pillows”), which are filled with meat in a marsala garlic cream sauce alongside mushrooms and smoked ham. If Nolan could scream “deliciosa,” I’m sure he would, but his mom won’t let me teach him that one.
House Special Noodle Soup
$8.75 at Sunny Garden Restaurant
25085 Blue Ravine Road, Suite 150, Folsom, 916-983-8882, folsomsunnygarden.com
On rainy days, there’s nothing like a big bowl of steaming soup at lunch to leave you warm and fuzzy, and Sunny Garden serves a delicious and generous helping of it with their house special noodle soup. Starting with a heap of lo mein noodles in a light broth, the chef adds succulent shrimp, white meat chicken, and pork, along with carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, snap peas, bok choy, and white and green onions. Bring the heat with a little sriracha, and you’ll be satisfied well into dinner. Sunny Garden also offers amazing lunch specials Monday through Saturday that are all under $10 and include either a crab cheese puff or egg roll, with your choice of chow mein or rice (fried or steamed white or brown). With entrées like Thai spicy basil beef, Malaysian curry chicken, and dry braised string beans with tofu and spicy scallions—you’ll have a hard time choosing just one!
Supper is Served: Dinner Deals
The Works 7” Pizza
$10.26 at FLB Entertainment Center
511 East Bidwell Street, Folsom, 916-983-4411, flb365.com
This is literally “the works.” Sausage, bacon, ham, pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, bell peppers, and onions…and it’s just over $10. Throw a few strikes, a spare or two, and go get a pizza. Winner! Here’s a little nugget if you’ve never been here before: Not only is the bowling inexpensive, but almost everything on the menu—breakfast through late-night snacks (till 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday)—is around $10. Too bad I didn’t go to college in Folsom; I would’ve minored in bowling and pizza. Did I mention there’s also a casino? Pizza and Texas hold'em anyone?
Chicken Teriyaki Noodle Bowl
$7.25 at Teriyaki To Go
614 East Bidwell Street, Folsom, 916-983-5560
Teriyaki To Go is the go-to place for fast, delicious, and filling teriyaki plates, salads, and noodle and rice bowls at a fantastic price. Their chicken teriyaki noodle bowl is almost legendary in town, thanks to its generous serving of plump, pan-fried udon noodles and deliciously tender teriyaki chicken that’s stir-fried with carrots, cabbage, broccoli, and bean sprouts, then finished with a crunch of sesame seeds. With sauce that’s slightly sweet and a whole lot of savory without a touch of MSG, you’ll find yourself craving this more than your waistline will appreciate. Although “to go” is in their name and it’s a favorite for takeout, there is seating available should you decide to dine in and chat with the friendly owner.
Jezebel Baked Brie
$9 at Prohibition Wine Lounge
2776 East Bidwell Street, Suite 500, Folsom, 916-293-9070, prohibitionwinelounge.com
Somedays I like to go out and have a glass or two of a special, favorite wine (code for the pricey kind), and the budget doesn’t allow for a significant meal also. Prohibition Wine Lounge has the remedy with their $9 “shareable” Jezebel baked brie. It pairs with almost any variety, no matter the color or complexity. Smoky bacon, a hint of maple syrup and coffee, with a balsamic shallot jam finish over the warm, creamy brie stand up as well to a young Amador Sangiovese as a fragrant Napa Pinot Grigio. Don’t stay home because you’re afraid to bust the budget; there’s a Jezebel waiting in Prohibition.
$8 at El Dorado Saloon and Grill
879 Embarcadero Drive, El Dorado Hills, 916-941-3600, eldoradosaloonandgrill.com
Combining their two family-owned restaurants, El Dorado Saloon and Sauce’d Pizza and Cocktail House, the owners recently unveiled the reinvented El Dorado Saloon and Grill. Gone is the mechanical bull in the bar, but the same great service, local live music, and mouthwatering mules are here to stay. They’ve also introduced an exciting new menu that runs the gamut from Italian, traditional Southern, American fusion, and Mexican influences. For lunch or dinner, a hearty bowl of their house chili is a welcome change from the traditional burger with fries and features certified Angus ground beef and chunks of grilled tri-tip with chili beans, all topped with onions, cheddar cheese, and a dollop of sour cream. With plenty of cozy seating inside, El Dorado Saloon and Grill also boasts a pet-friendly patio in case you want to bring your favorite furry friend and enjoy your lunch in the sunshine.
$9.95 at Chantara Thai Cuisine
4361 Town Center Boulevard, Suite 110, El Dorado Hills, 916-939-0389, chantaraeldoradohills.com
Whenever available, I start every meal out with angel wings—part wing, part tempura-fried Thai chicken sausage, with a convenient built-in handle. Boneless except for the wing tip, they’re stuffed with ground chicken, ginger, garlic, carrots, and rice noodles. They’re ridiculously labor-intensive to make, and a rare, if not vanishing commodity in most Thai restaurants. I made them for a wing cook-off once and was almost disqualified at my own contest (it’s a long and hotly disputed narrative). Chantara serves them with a honey plum sauce that’s unarguably delicious. Factoring the labor involved plus the flavor element, they’re a steal!
Big Bang Roll
$10 at Hisui Sushi
25004 Blue Ravine Road, Suite 107, Folsom, 916-985-7778, hisuisushi.com
I remember my last time eating at Hisui Sushi and how impressive the chef’s knife skills and food presentation were. As I sat and perused the menu this time, I saw more evidence of the same. Steady hands and laser-eye precision—no wonder I write about food. As the chef deftly assembled my Big Bang Roll (deep-fried shrimp, spicy tuna, crab, avocado, and tempura flakes), I was in awe of the evolution of the simple California Roll to the techniques and flavor combinations on display here. Crunchy tempura, perfect vinegar rice, creamy avocado, and fiery tuna; OK, enough reflection, let's get it in the soy sauce and wasabi!
Mapo Tofu with Pork
$10 at Lotus 8
199 Blue Ravine Road, Suite 100, Folsom, 916-351-9278, lotus8folsom.com
Lotus 8 began by allowing their chefs to create their own interpretation of modern Chinese cuisine—using both traditional and new cooking techniques and ingredients from around the world to create dishes with the perfect harmony of flavors and textures. Current specials include unique dishes such as Cantonese sliced sausage and vegetables, shredded pork and julienned jalapeño, and cumin lamb. But they also offer more traditional lunch specials that they’ll graciously serve as takeout at dinnertime when requested, including an outstanding mapo tofu (with or without pork) braised with chili bean paste and garlic. Your filling meal is complete when paired with a serving of their tasty BBQ pork fried rice with hunks of fried egg and green onion.
Tandoori Chicken Pizza
$8.99 at Sacramento Pizza Company
2700 East Bidwell Street, Suite 500, Folsom, 916-673-9754, sacpizzaco.com
Although known for their make-your-own pies, Sacramento Pizza Company also serves up dreamy specialty pies that’ll leave you and your wallet stuffed. The 10-inch tandoori chicken is indeed unique—with a basil pesto sauce, mozzarella, grilled chicken, red and green onions, garlic, cilantro, a drizzle of tandoori sauce (a secret family recipe), and fresh squeeze of lemon juice. With a nice, thin crust that’s chewy yet crisp, your mouth will fill with delicious Indian spice and tons of glorious garlic. For even more heavenly heat, be sure to ask for a side of their spicy ranch for dipping. For milder palates, try their BBQ Hawaiian, or their namesake SacPizzaCo with traditional marinara, mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, olives, mushrooms, green peppers, and freshly cut tomatoes (both $8.49).
Pad Kra Praw
$10.95 at The River Thai Cuisine
424 East Bidwell Street, Folsom, 916-983-7388
Pad Kra Praw is a stalwart of Thai restaurants. It’s a piquant stir-fry dish with an intense bouquet of fragrant basil from Thailand, mixed with onions, garlic, and bell peppers with a coating of fish sauce over your choice of chicken, beef, pork, tofu, or vegetables. It has that mouth appeal derived from wok-frying garlic, chilis, and shallots in oil over high heat. River Thai adds the amount of heat you like, so be sure to let them know ahead of your order. Generally speaking, it’s served over white or brown rice, but it’s equally fantastic over noodles.
Grilled Pear Salad
$8.50 at Chicago Fire
310 Palladio Parkway, Folsom, 916-984-0140; 614 Sutter Street, Folsom, 916-353-0140, chicagofire.com
We’re fortunate here in Northern California to have access to quality pears, which makes us even more privileged to have those delicious, crisp slices grilled in a salad with creamy goat cheese, candied walnuts, and mixed greens. Chicago Fire’s house-made balsamic dressing is the perfect pairing and provides a tangy punch to a refreshing meal or a satisfying starter. I’ve eaten here multiple times, and the grilled pear salad is always the first item to hit the table. (True story: I’ve even DoorDashed it.) It comes with their garlic foccacia bread but I recommend ordering extra ($6.95) for a complete meal.
$9.85 at La Rosa Blanca
402 Natoma Street, Folsom, 916-673-9085, larosablancarestaurant.com
A family-owned and operated business with a second location in Sacramento, La Rosa Blanca is the lifelong dream of owner Patty, who still cooks with the recipes her mother passed on to her. With house specialties such as chili Colorado, tacos de lengua, and sopes, they certainly have authentic Mexican flavor in the bag. Yet when your appetite is on the less demanding side, check out the “light side” menu, which features great deals like a fish taco (your choice of either breaded and fried or grilled), paired with whole or refried beans, rice, and complimentary chips and salsa. Other options under $10 include a cheese enchilada, quesadilla, chile relleno, or carnitas taco. Enjoy your meal in their lively, festively decorated dining room or at their outdoor picnic table.
Fair Oaks Roll
$8.50 at Mikuni
185 Placerville Road, Suite 100, Folsom, 916-934-5250, mikunisushi.com
Fans of Mikuni are used to getting quality maki rolls with the freshest ingredients available, so it’s no surprise that their rolls typically run in the $11-$16 range. But if you’re diligent in perusing the menu, there are deals to be had. The Fair Oaks Roll is the Mikuni equivalent of a blue-plate special, exceptional value for a first-rate roll. It features crunchy, panko-coated shrimp with avocado, then is rolled in sushi rice and topped with their special sauce, masago, and onions. This is also a good starting point for those friends and family who are new to, or afraid of, anything sushi (we all know somebody).
By Heather L. Becker and Lorn Randall
Local favorite Pete's Restaurant and Brewhouse in Folsom serves Happy Hour in their restaurant with an extended hour in the bar, Monday through Friday. Order something tasty like their Mediterranean platter, Tuscan steak flatbread, or crispy brewhouse fish tacos, and wash it down with a $5 house wine or half off bottle wines on Wine Wednesdays.
The Happiest Hours
6608 Folsom-Auburn Road, Folsom, 916-988-8812, petesrestaurantbrewhousefolsom.com.
Note: Happy Hour is Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m., extended till 7 p.m. in the bar
The Fat Rabbit has some great European-inspired items on their menu, including an Irish taco for $1, deep-fried pierogies for $2 or a Bavarian pretzel for $3. Plus, enjoy a pint of Carlsberg for only $3, and take $1 off all other adult beverages. 825 Sutter Street, Folsom, 916-985-3289, facebook.com/thefatrabbitpublichouse
Note: Happy Hour is Monday-Friday from 4-6 p.m.
There's plenty on tap during Happy Hour at Folsom Tap House! They offer $5 small plates, which include Caesar salad, a soft-baked pretzel, and onion rings. What's more, you can get $1 off all pints, $4 house wines, and $5 well drinks, and $2 off their “shareables” menu, which features tots, wings, sliders, and wraps.
25005 Blue Ravine Road, Suite 140, Folsom, 916-292-5711, folsomtaphouse.com
Note: Happy Hour is Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m.
Available in the bar or on the patio, Bacchus House has deals on appetizers, wine, and cocktails. Try their blackened gulf prawns or baby back ribs, both for $10, and pair it with a glass of wine ($5-$13) or a specialty cocktail ($7-$9). Their Happy Hour menu is revolving, so come in with an open mind and an empty stomach!
1004 East Bidwell Street, Suite 100, Folsom, 916-984-7500, bacchushousebistro.com
Note: Happy Hour is Tuesday-Friday from 4-6 p.m.
Sienna serves up a daily Happy Hour in their bar and lounge that features an extensive list of wines starting at $6 a glass. Well cocktails are also $6 and a few specialty cocktails are available for $9, including their Watermelon Basil Martini. The food menu includes ahi poke wraps, risotto fritters, wood-fired flatbreads, and more, with prices ranging from $5-$12. Sienna also has a “Luxury Happy Hour” that includes discounted premium spirits available neat, on the rocks, or added to your favorite cocktail.
3909 Park Drive, El Dorado Hills, 916-941-9694, siennarestaurants.com
Note: Happy Hour is daily from 3-7 p.m.
Photos By Dante Fontana & Aaron Roseli
VISCONTI'S PHOTO BY MENKA BELGAL