We usually don’t let two weeks go by without a visit to Rio Linda’s greasy spoon, the Creekside Diner. Since I was ten years old, I think I’ve consumed gallons of that peppery, sausagey gravy, hundreds of biscuits, and thousands of scrambled eggs.

This last visit was different for me. Not that it matters but we showed up at 1 pm, my wife and I, and for the first time I can recall I ordered a burger, and we’re going to talk about -that- event right now.

We’re hanging on but only because we’re inside. Things are still tight. I paid too many bills and rent and sales tax and payroll are due now. Hopefully, We’ll squeak by.

Julia Draper, Owner of the Creekside Diner

It’s no secret, and Draper makes no bones about it; during the winter, COVID be damned, the rule is to serve people inside or kiss it all goodbye. It’s that dire.

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She’s hired and fired multiple crew between shutdowns and expanded unemployment benefits. She’s put up a fantastic shade cover in the breezeway next to the restaurant that should really reap benefits in the spring and summer. Late brunch outside, under the shade? Maybe even some extended hours for an early supper in the summer? Sign me up. We’re all in!

Creekside Diner Chili

In this era of COVID countermeasures, making a profit in the food business is probably out of the question. The best you can hope for is to break even and keep the doors open. So, the dining room at Creekside Diner is open.

The servers are masked. Bleached cleaning cloths are hitting the tables and chairs and booth seating often. Social distancing is encouraged. Seating is appropriately distanced. And it’s truly no different than the meal we enjoyed at Mikuni weeks ago, seated in an enclosed tent.

I’m particular about where and how we eat. Particular about cleanliness and concern for hygienic guidelines. Very particular about limiting my exposure. I did not feel that a meal at Creekside significantly increased my risk compared to eating under a canvas tent at any other local restaurant, and, I’m not willing to allow a long-time favorite, a piece of our community’s history, go out of business because of some bizarre hodge-podge of State and County guidelines.

Now, lets talk food.

I had the bacon cheeseburger, while my wife had a bowl of chili.

It’s just a really great burger. It truly is. Patty was cooked medium-medium rare, just the way I like it. The produce was fresh; tomato ripe and lettuce cold and snappy. Light mayo on the bun, which with light and fresh and lightly toasted.

The bacon was crispier than I like, but I didn’t ask for floppy bacon so that’s a preference rather than a shortcoming. The American cheese was a problem though. It congealed into a glue-paste in my mouth, which I really despised. I’m not a fan of American cheese and it has a lot to do with this fact. Note to self: Remember to order swiss or pepper-jack next time.

The real star here is the fries. I don’t think they are hand-cut. I wouldn’t expect it at a place like Creekside, but they were so very good that I couldn’t tell. As I said, I don’t order lunch here ever, I’m a breakfast guy. If I’ve been missing out on these fries for all this time, I have failed at the game of life!

They are crunchy, but not hard. They are salty, but not briny. They are pillowy soft, but not saturated or floppy.

They are perfect.

My wife got the chili, which she has her own love affair with. Is it from scratch? Maybe? According to her, it doesn’t matter. it’s good chili, flavorful and not too spicy.

The tally came to $17.22 for two adults. $22.22 with tip. Not too shabby at all.

The Creekside Diner has 4.5 Stars on Google Maps on 355 reviews. They also rate 4.5 forks on Facebook. They are open 6am to 2pm seven days per week.

You can find them at the Mar-Val Plaza, 950 Oak Lane in Rio Linda. If you get lost, just yell. Someone will point you in the right direction.

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