When Americana opened last March, it was a dream come true for Samantha and Ryan Ramey. The owners of Estero Cafe in Valley Ford had been saving for years hoping to bring their meal from the field to the fork in Santa Rosa.
So it looked like a kismet when the old Pullman Cafe space on Fifth Street in Railroad Square became available. The legendary place was once home to Josh Silvers’ Syrah restaurant, an incubator for many of the leading culinary talents in the North Bay. The Rameys jumped in just in time for a pandemic to turn everything upside down.
Over the past year, they have tried just about everything to keep their new restaurant open. Ultimately, however, they put Americana into hibernation and focused on Estero.
Now they are ready for another attempt.
With Americana still in boot mode, the menu evolves. It’s an ode to classic American comfort food. Think ’50s favorites like burgers, milkshakes, fried chicken, and onion rings with a side of the best pie you’ve ever had, but sourced from local farms and ranchers.
Think of the holy grail fries cooked in beef tallow. Yes, just like the original McDonald’s fries which taste really good. The fat is purchased at Stemple Creek (as is the beef for the burgers) and returned there. It is not a simple process, but the results are undeniable.
The couple recently built a take-out area to make dining at Americana even easier, with the full menu and a few extra baked goodies.
They’ve only been open for a few weeks and Samantha said the menu wasn’t exactly what they originally planned. They’ve simplified themselves a bit as they ramped up – there’s no breakfast (Estero signature) yet. Samantha said she hopes to include more cooked meals in the future.
But even in its infancy, the Americana is the kind of straightforward, straightforward food that’s a cure-all for the culinary slump and mental fatigue we’re all willing to put behind us.
Corn Dogs, $ 8.50: Dogs first, then corn. The crispy pastry shell is a delight, but Stemple Creek’s lively, beefy and salty hot dogs are exceptional. Served with house ranch sauce or mustard.
Blue cheese / mushroom / bacon burger, $ 21: It’s a bite of a burger, stacked with roasted trumpet mushrooms, fresh lettuce, bacon, homemade aioli and onions on a bun from the village bakery. Our only gripe is that the grass-fed beef could be cooked a bit rarer to really get that juiciness we love.
Fried chicken sandwich, $ 19: Juicy, juicy and juicy fried chicken breast with light frying. It has more chicken than the breadcrumbs, and the coleslaw gives it a second layer of crunch.
Cobb salad, $ 18: Fresh ingredients set this salad apart. Butter lettuce with farm-fresh egg, bacon and blue cheese with house ranch. Instead of a participation ribbon, this salad gets a gold medal.
Done For You salad, $ 15: You choose the ingredients and they do it. Think of the salad bar without the sticky clips and sneeze guard.
Homemade hostess cake: It’s not a Ho-Ho; it’s an oh-my-goodness chocolate experience for one. Pastry chef Jenny Malicki doesn’t overload this devilish dessert with too much sugar, and she lets the chocolate on the chocolate speak for itself.
Tarts: The crusts always seem like a waste of calories and the toppings way too sweet for my taste. Malicki’s Strawberry Rhubarb Pie is the exception. The buttery dough is baked into a crispy crust with layer after layer of flakes. Rhubarb pie and fresh seasonal strawberries make this the best pie ever. Whole pies cost $ 40, daily pies cost $ 7.
American tacos: These weren’t officially on the menu yet. They’re a nostalgic tribute to Midwestern moms, with the sweet crunch of fried flour tortillas and burgers, lettuce, sour cream, and tomatoes for the win.
Milkshakes, $ 8: A creamy vanilla shake is a wonder. Made with Straus ice cream, these aren’t full of stabilizers and artificial flavors and gums, but real milk and vanilla beans. Taste the difference. Try a float with Revive Kombucha Root Beer for a special treat.
Americana, 205 Fifth St., Santa Rosa, 707-755-1548, americanasr.com. Online ordering available. Hours of operation are currently 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Editor’s Note: Travel, dining, and wine tasting can be tricky right now. Use our inspiring ideas to plan ahead for your next outing, whether it’s this week or next year. If you are visiting restaurants, wineries, and other businesses during the pandemic, be sure to call ahead, make reservations, wear a mask, and walk away.