Rich and I took a quick biz trip to Sacramento Wednesday and when the lunch hour rolled around he surprised me with a trip to the last Sam's Hof Brau in existence.
He grew up up in Folsom; I grew up here. But we both had vivid memories of Sam's. What a treat it was to go out with Mom and Dad and see all the six guns, paintings of steam locomotives and other wild West paraphernalia on display while standing in line waiting for a big slab of prime rib.
When we walked in, we saw that the last Sam's was doing a land office business on the corner of Watt Avenue and El Camino Boulevard. I ordered a reuben sandwich and Rich ordered a carved turkey sandwich with a side order of baked beans.
We both know that guys our age are not supposed to eat that way. We cursed the world of heart-healthy fare and dug in, taking comfort from our guilty pleasures.
We got to talking on the way back to Lodi about how eating out has changed. Remember the portions we used to get at Croce's and the red-checkered table cloths?
Or how about the Cosmopolitan here and the Ye Olde Hoosier and Villa Basque in Stockton?
Eating out was rarer then and more of a treat.
Lodi has many more great restaurants today and lots of them have either survived from that time to this — Richmaid, Hollywood Cafe and El Rancho Steakhouse — or borrow from that old style — Pietro's and Rosewood, just to scratch the surface.
There's something about those heavy meals and dated decor that create indelible memories.
What were your favorite old places? Share them in the comments.