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 saved for years with the hopes of bringing their field-to-fork diner fare to Santa Rosa.
So it seemed like kismet when the former Pullman Cafe space on Fifth Street in Railroad Square became available. The storied location once housed Josh Silvers’ Syrah restaurant, an incubator for many top kitchen talents in the North Bay. The Rameys leaped just in time for a pandemic to turn everything upside down.
Over the last year, they tried just about everything to keep their new restaurant open. Ultimately, though, they put Americana into hibernation and turned their focus to Estero.
Now they’re ready for another go.
With Americana still in startup mode, the menu is evolving. 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 sustainably sourced from local farms and ranchers.
Think holy grail French fries cooked in beef tallow. Yes, just like the original McDonald’s fries that really did taste good. The fat is bought from Stemple Creek (as is the beef for the burgers) and rendered in house. It’s not a simple process, but the results are undeniable.
The couple recently built a walk-up takeout area to make dining from Americana even easier, with the full menu plus some extra baked goodies.
They’ve been open just a few weeks, and Samantha said the menu isn’t exactly what they’d planned originally. They’ve simplified a bit as they ramp up — there are no breakfasts (Estero’s signature) yet. Samantha said she hopes to include more plated entrees in the future.
But even in its infancy, Americana is the kind of uncomplicated, from-the-heart food that’s a panacea for the culinary doldrums and mental fatigue we’re all ready to put behind us.
Corn Dogs, $8.50: Dogs first, corn second. The crispy batter shell is a delight, but the snappy, beefy, salty hot dogs from Stemple Creek are outstanding. Served with house ranch or mustard sauce.
Blue Cheese/Mushroom/Bacon Burger, $21: This is a mouthful of a burger, piled with roasted trumpet mushrooms, fresh lettuce, bacon, homemade aioli and onions on a Village Bakery bun. Our only qualm is that the grass-fed beef could be cooked a little more rare to really get that juiciness we love.
Fried Chicken Sandwich, $19: Juicy, juicy, juicy breast of fried chicken with a light fry. It has more chicken than breading, and coleslaw gives it a second layer of crunch.
Cobb Salad, $18: The fresh ingredients set this salad apart. Butter lettuce with farm-fresh egg, bacon and blue cheese with housemade ranch. Instead of a ribbon for participation, this salad gets a gold medal.
Done For You Salad, $15: You pick the ingredients, and they make it. Think salad bar without the sticky tongs 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 chocolate speak for itself.
Pies: Crusts always seem to be a waste of calories and the fillings far too sweet for my taste. Malicki’s strawberry-rhubarb pie is the exception. Buttery dough is cooked to a crisp crust with layer upon layer of flakes. Tart rhubarb and fresh in-season strawberries make this the best pie around. Whole pies are $40, daily hand pies are $7.
American Tacos: These weren’t officially on the menu yet. They are a nostalgic tribute to Midwestern moms, with the soft crunch of fried flour tortillas and hamburger, 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 stabilizer and artificial flavors and gums, but actual 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 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.