Black Bear Diner

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Considering the poor economy it's always refreshing to hear of a business that is actually expanding and therefore bringing new jobs. Such is the case of Black Bear Diner. I was first introduced to Black Bear Diner about 8 years ago when on a romantic getaway with a boyfriend.

Each area of the country has their chains. The freeway diner/restaurant chain in the Midwest and South is Cracker Barrel. For the west, it's Black Bear Diners. A decade ago there were only about ten in California. Now there are 28. It seems that a bunch of them have come on-line over the last couple of years. Here in Sacramento, we finally got one about a year ago. It's located by the truck stop at I-80 and West El Camino.

This year I used a couple of Groupons to try out the Sacramento location, one for brunch and one for dinner.

Black Bears serve breakfast through dinner and are famous for their fruit cobblers. My first visit was for brunch. If you are a brunch person, you can't go wrong with Black Bear Diners. They serve generous portions so that you won't leave hungry. I chose Eggs Benedict since I hadn't had them in ages. I opted for the country style potatoes versus the hash browns.

The eggs were beautifully poached and sat atop thick Canadian bacon and English muffins. I really enjoyed the potatoes because they didn't skimp on the onions and peppers. They also had nice crunchy bits for where the potatoes were allowed to brown up in the pan. The fresh fruit cup was just the perfect bit of refreshment and cleanse as I ended my meal. I had also ordered a giant biscuit because I tend to judge breakfast places on the quality of their biscuits. Black Bear's is large and soft, but not exceptionally flakey or tender. My search for my perfect biscuit goes on.

I also stopped for lunch at a Black Bear in Grant's Pass when I was heading home for Thanksgiving. So this bit about lunch may or not pertain to all Black Bear Diners or the one in Sacramento. It was a brand spankin' new diner and I stopped and ordered a grilled Reuben. Again, a generous sandwich, but my beef here was the greasiness. It appeared that they grilled the pastrami to get it hot before they added it to the sandwich and grilled it with the bread, cheese, and saurkraut. Although in theory this is a great idea because I want the contents hot as well as the grilled bread, it unfortunately created so much grease!

My most recent meal at the Sacramento Black Bear Diner was on Christmas day. I had driven back from Oregon this time and was happy to be home but wanted to have some sort of Christmas meal. Luckily ours was open until 6 p.m. and I got there at 4. They were serving holiday specials of turkey or prime rib. I opted for the prime rib and asked for medium rare.

No pictures for this meal, but it was a good one. I got a large slice of perfectly cooked prime rib - medium rare just like I asked for. Mashed potatoes and brown gravy with a side of sauteed veggies - the typical zucchini, onion, carrot mix. They had originally had green beans for the specials but had run out. It also came with a sweet cornbread muffin. I'm not a cornbread fan unless it is sweet cornbread. This one was a bit on the crumbly side but a nice one just the same. I was very happy with my meal.

small cobblers/pies can feed 1-2 people
I chose to take dessert home with me since I was so full. The pies and cobblers they sell are about six inches in diameter, so pretty large for one person. They could easily be split with someone else. I had their berry cobbler in the past and it was very good. This time I opted to try a pie and asked for a banana cream to be boxed for me.

Once I was ready for dessert back at home, I pulled out my pie. The crust was thick and a bit hard, making it difficult to break through with a fork. The custard cream was good, but there were barely any bananas. Finally there was the whipped cream topping. I suppose it is typical of any pie shop's that needs them to keep for a while, but I really can't stand the fakey Cool Whip-like toppings that was used. (Same at Nation's, which was another disappointment on a different day.) I think in the future I'll stick to the cobblers at Black Bear Diners instead.