Uptown Café’s owner is George Karyszyn. He’s been in the restaurant business 50 years. And with Uptown, he’s created a spot that pleases himself as much as his diners.
“When you come here,” he says, “you know where you’re going. Our business is repeat customers and word of mouth.”
And word of mouth must be working well, because Uptown Café has served a lot of locals for a long time.
It’s comfort food in a haphazardly, decidedly informal setting. And there’s an ease and familiarity that comes with a lot of practice.
Start with the oversized menu lined in plastic. Study the two pages of hefty breakfast items: eggs with links, steaks, chops, hash and chorizo, chicken fried steak, waffles, Benedicts and burritos, choose-your-ingredient omelets.
Not in the mood for breakfast? Examine the page of lunch items. Pastrami, BBQ beef, Dips, burgers.
Still looking? Find the specials board. Ours featured spaghetti and sausage, tri-tip, salads and beignets.
And while the breakfasts we saw looked enormous and satisfying, they’re not my test for evaluating comfort food. I have my own litmus list that tells me what I need to know. It includes corned beef hash and chili burgers. (There’s a reason why it’s called comfort food, not health food.)
And I can see why the Uptown Café hash and the burgers could have survived the test of time. They were as retro as they were up to date.
The hash had the right balance of corned beef and potatoes. But it also had a solid undertone of corned beef seasoning that brought out all the flavors.
As for the burger: it would be a formidable contestant in any Sacramento, three napkin, meal on a bun contest. Served open faced, it was a large patty smothered in mild chili with beef chunks as large as the beans. (There’s also hot sauce on the table if you find the chili too tame.)
And that’s the way a great neighborhood hangout ought to be. Part old. Part new. Totally affable. Totally recommendable.