Sacramento trip - Original Mel's Diner and Nationwide Meats

Post
Buffalo Tarheel
Double Cheeseburger
2010/10/23 13:36:49
Last week I had a business trip to Sacramento, and traveling to California is never hard to take as the days grow chillier here in Buffalo.  For the most part work took up a lot of time, and I suppose that's why it's called a business trip.  I did manage to visit two Roadfood restaurants listed in the restaurants section of the site (what a surprise).  I did not take the camera along and so have no pictures to post.
 
Wednesday night my coworker and I went to Mel's: the Original Diner at 565 Howe Avenue.  Mel's is a regional chain with several locations in Northern California (Sacramento, Placerville, Roseville, Vacaville, Folsom, Walnut Creek, North Natomas, and Rocklin) and one in Reno.  It is an old-style 50's diner with a lot of chrome and glass, and it does look like something out of "Happy Days."  The menu is pretty varied: sandwiches, salads, blue plate dinners, hot dogs, and hamburgers.  There is also a wide variety of milkshakes, and of course they boast an extensive breakfast menu.
 
My coworker ordered the hamburger and fries platter and found it very good.  The burger was fairly large and looked to be fresh, not frozen.
 
I remember reading Billyboy's comment on an earlier thread that the hallmark of a good diner is how they prepare a turkey dinner.  Mel's offers a turkey platter and an open-faced hot turkey sandwich.  I opted for the sandwich,and it came with mashed potatoes, vegetables, and cranberry sauce.  The platter has a choice of side dishes and also has dressing.  I was hoping that eating the smaller portion would leave room for dessert, but that did not happen.
 
The turkey sandwich was outstanding.  It came with large pieces of real turkey, not the processed deli stuff you find on some sandwiches.  The bread had been toasted and buttered, and it added to the flavor of the hot sandwich.  The gravy had a nice taste, and the mashed potatoes were a bit lumpy, enough to give them some authenticity.  The steamed vegetables (cauliflower, brocolli, squash, and carrots) had some reasoning and were easy to eat (instead of being like some vegetables that you know you should eat but don't like it).  The meal was one I would order again, although next time I might have the blue plate dinner to try the dressing.  After all, either meal makes me too full to try dessert, so why not have the dressing as well?
 
Service was attentive but not overwhelming, and Mel's does take credit cards.
 
Thursday night we tried Nationwide Meats on 1930 H Street.  As the RF restaurant review states, the place is a storefront in downtown Sacramento.   The place was pretty empty when we arrived about 6:30 PM, but we were ready to try the food.  The specialty is a French ground hamburger, and I don't quite understand the meaning of the term.  You can order single, double, or triple burgers.  We had the single  burgers, which come with lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onions, and a special sauce.  The sauce is like Thousand Islands dressing but better.  The fries are thick wedges of potato, just like the pictures on the RF restaurant page.  Whatever the French ground process is, it works because the burgers are very good.  If you like thin fries, like the ones from In-n-Out, Nationwide Meats may not be your choice, but you ought not to miss the burgers.
 
Nationwide does take credit cards (except for Discover).  The restaurant is located near a fairly busy part of town, and so I could see visiting the area, walking around and exploring what else is around.  It would make a great stop after landing on the next trip to Sacramento.
TnTinCT
Cheeseburger
Re:Sacramento trip - Original Mel's Diner and Nationwide Meats 2010/10/23 21:12:19
Always nice to hear about work trips where you can fit in some good roadfood!
Nancypalooza
Filet Mignon
Re:Sacramento trip - Original Mel's Diner and Nationwide Meats 2010/10/24 09:54:33
Oh dude, I do love a good turkey dinner.  I wonder if the 'french ground' thing is where they put in enough fat to get it to the 'ideal' level.
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Sacramento trip - Original Mel's Diner and Nationwide Meats 2010/10/24 11:30:29
Hmmm... that French ground thing has me wondering.  What could they mean?  I tried Googling, and most of the references point back to Nationwide, but I saw a French ground burger at Armstrong's in Pittsburgh, another place in Fort Wayne, and a third in San Francisco.  Someone on eGullet claimed it refers to the French bun the burger is served on.  Perhaps, but I have my doubts.  Maybe Buffetbuster or Ralph would like to take a trip to Armstrong's?
Nancypalooza
Filet Mignon
Re:Sacramento trip - Original Mel's Diner and Nationwide Meats 2010/10/24 12:10:16
I wondered about the 'fillet americaine' reference here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beef_mince
ChiTownDiner
Filet Mignon
Re:Sacramento trip - Original Mel's Diner and Nationwide Meats 2010/10/24 12:39:44
I've been to the Mel's near the Moscone Center many times in SF...always been pretty reliable!  I am unfamilar with the French term also.
smokestack lightning
Cheeseburger
Re:Sacramento trip - Original Mel's Diner and Nationwide Meats 2010/10/24 12:44:11
For what its worth,  teh quality of Mels has fallen in recent years and it is spotty at best. Some good menu items and some not worth it. After a horrible breakfast recently I ahve sort of given up.
Buffalo Tarheel
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Sacramento trip - Original Mel's Diner and Nationwide Meats 2010/10/24 14:36:42
TnTinCT

Always nice to hear about work trips where you can fit in some good roadfood!


You're right about that.  On some of my trips, it has been a challenge getting to RF places.  Usually the work obligations get in the way, and I hate it when that happens!
Buffalo Tarheel
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Sacramento trip - Original Mel's Diner and Nationwide Meats 2010/10/24 14:41:11
Nancypalooza

Oh dude, I do love a good turkey dinner.  I wonder if the 'french ground' thing is where they put in enough fat to get it to the 'ideal' level.

Nancy, it was an outstanding hot turkey sandwich, and I am planning to order the complete dinner next time.  I am not sure about the French ground reference.  I read the original review by roadfooders Erika and Jon (if you see this note, please accept my thanks for the good NoCal recommendations).  They used the term but did not explain it either. I suppose I have fallen down in my roadfood skills because I didn't ask the men on duty that night what the term meant.  You may be right about the fat content because the burger was juicy and tasty.  I ordered mine well done (sorry, but I can't stand the sight of red meat being, well, red), and it was not at all dried out.
Buffalo Tarheel
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Sacramento trip - Original Mel's Diner and Nationwide Meats 2010/10/24 14:46:08
smokestack lightning

For what its worth,  teh quality of Mels has fallen in recent years and it is spotty at best. Some good menu items and some not worth it. After a horrible breakfast recently I ahve sort of given up.

Smokestack Lightning,
 
I'm sorry to hear that.  The quality of food at the Mel's I ate at was very good.  However, I do understand what can happen.  Here in Buffalo there is a small chain that serves great roast beef sandwiches and ice cream, and the name is Anderson's.  Last years' Roadfood tour had an unscheduled stop at the original location on Sheridan Drive in Tonawanda after a stop at Ted's Hot Dogs.  I have found the food at the Anderson's Sheridan Drive location and the location in Lockport (near my home) to be consistently good, but the other locations around town have spotty quality.  Maybe I lucked out at Mel's, and I will find out again in a few months.
Cholula
Junior Burger
Re:Sacramento trip - Original Mel's Diner and Nationwide Meats 2010/10/27 13:14:25
I think the "French Ground" refers to a coarse grind on the beef. They mention using a coarse grind on their website. I will have to try this place the next time I am in the Sacatomato.