This review has been a while in coming, but it was certainly worth the wait. Since spending so much time in Napa, and going back and forth with Marin, I have driven past this diner…. I don’t know, maybe two-hundred times. Each time I could not help but notice how busy it was, any day, any time unless it was past closing time. On weekends, as you approach this stretch of highway, you can count on the fact that you will have to come to a crawl and even stop because of one or more vehicles turning into the parking lot.
My friend Jack said the place is fufi (or foofee, given he invented the word). That could translate to shi-shi or, to get to the point, lofty. I laughed out loud the first time I heard that, and now it has become an inside joke. I love my friend Jack, but I have learned not to pay attention to what he says about restaurants, wink-wink!
However, there is nothing foofee about The Fremont Diner, but do not let the simple structure deceive you. All that traffic turning in and out all the time is right: the food here is gooooood!
The style is definitely quirky vintage, and the cuisine American comfort food with a definite Deep South slant and a few creative twists. The menu, supported by fresh local ingredients and available all day, is divided in unusual categories: Mill, Butcher & Smoker, Dairy, Coop, Fryer, Farm, House Specialties, and Pie Safe. Just to give you an idea, here you will find items like Shrimp and Grits, Biscuits and Gravy, Smoked Pork Nachos, Catfish Creole, Nashville Style Chicken, Fried Egg Sandwich, Fried Oyster Sandwich and Pecan Pie, just to name a few. You can see the whole menu on their website. I have heard from several sources that the coffee here is good, but I wouldn’t know because I do not drink drip coffee, and there is no espresso.
Seating is available at the bar, in the indoor dining area, and also in the ample outdoor patio. And, of course, you can always place your order to go and head somewhere for a picnic. Though they are always busy, service is svelte, very friendly and the food is always freshly made and hot when it needs to be. At least, this has been my experience so far. I have a seated breakfast and lunch under my belt, and several take-out orders.
My first ever meal here was breakfast with my friend Valerie for my birthday. We sat inside, at the table in the foreground, after the gentleman with the Captain Von Trapp profile and the thermos left.
Valerie ordered French Toast (brioche french toast with house-made vanilla syrup & butter – $9.99) with a side of Bacon ($4.99) and a Scrambled Egg. I ordered the Ace of Spades ($12.99), which is poached eggs with Tasso ham, on buttermilk biscuit, with Hollandaise sauce, served with a side salad. As usual my eggs were scrambled. I also ordered a side of Grits ($2,99) because I had never had grits before and was curious to know how different it would be from polenta. It was not that different at all.
Of course, when the food came, what happened was: we each had a taste of everything before focusing on our own order. Everything was really excellent, well prepared, fresh and flavorful.
After that, there were a number of take-out orders, which I did not photograph, but were all thoroughly enjoyed. Then my second sit-down meal was lunch with a friend, just a couple of days ago, and we sat outside.
I really wanted a salad, so I ordered the House Salad (mixed greens, pickled beet, Laura Chenel goat cheese, croutons, sunflower seeds & a deviled egg – $8). My friend ordered the Hot Pastrami Sandwich (house-cured pastrami on rye with chow chow, swiss, and remoulade served with dill pickle potato salad – $12.50). To share we ordered the irresistible Baked Mac n’ Cheese, with Vella cheddar and asiago ($7).
I had had the Hot Pastrami sandwich once before as take-out, so I knew how slobbery-good it was, and my friend confirmed it. The potato salad was also very good, with just the right amount of pickle. I thoroughly enjoyed my salad, which was light and tender greens, lightly dressed, and the deviled egg & goat cheese made for a very satisfying bit of protein. Their deviled eggs are really good, and can be ordered from the menu ($5.99)
When we saw the Mac n’ Cheese arrive I wiggled in my seat. This is how I enjoy pasta au gratin: finished off in the oven with a crust: a cheesy one or a breadcrumb one, or both. We polished it off in no time, one tiny bite at a time because it was sizzling hot.
Afterwards, I wanted to try a dessert as I had not had one here, so I asked. But given that we were there for late lunch, all that was left was pecan pie, which I do not like, and their selection of milk shakes, which to me are not a dessert. So we passed. But then it is always good to leave something for another time. And there will be another time.
I know that on weekends more happens at The Fremont Diner food wise, like barbecue for example, and possibly more pies and cakes. But weekends are seriously busy here at this diner, and in the wine country in general, so I tend to leave things to the visitors.
Mon-Wed 8:00 am – 3:00 pm / Thu-Sun 8:00 am – 9:00 pm | walk-ins only, no reservations
Dog friendly, with a designated area for all the lovely leashed pups
07/02/18 UPDATE: I have just found out that the wildly successful Fremont Diner closed suddenly last week without any real explanation. On their site there is a message that says that they are making new plans to reopen with a fresh food concept. But why close down in the middle of the super busy summer season and without alert… that’s beyond me. I hope all is well with the owners, and I look forward to more good things to come. Will keep you posted.
10/22/18 UPDATE: Well then, Fremont Diner is no more, and in its place is now BOXCAR Fried Chicken & Biscuits. Same building, though now painted white, and I think same owners. I have not stopped in yet, though given their chicken-centric limited menu, it is unlikely that I will. But if you love chicken, and especially fried chicken, this could be a good place. You can take a look at their website here.
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