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Enjoy Exploring Historic Folsom | Gold Country, California

Walking-around-historic-downtown-Folsom-California-Gold-Country

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Located on the American River and first established in 1849 Folsom is often termed “the place where the west came and stayed”. Named after Captain Joseph Libbey Folsom, a West Point graduate who arrived in California in 1849, Folsom is also the quintessential gold miner’s town, as the first gold seekers – known as 49rs, rushed to the shores of the American River and the foothills of the Sierra in search of fortune.

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Walking-around-historic-downtown-Folsom-California-Gold-Country

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You can find out more of Folsom’s history at this link. Beyond that, whenever I have mentioned my new location to friends both here in the U.S. and in Europe, I always got one reaction: Johnny Cash and Folsom Prison. And we all know of Johnny Cash’s famous performance at Folsom Prison in 1968.

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Walking-around-historic-downtown-Folsom-California-Gold-Country

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It does not take long to explore Folsom town, as it is only about 3-4 blocks across and two down, but it is well worth a visit. It has that vintage “Queen Anne/Victorian meets the old Far West” look and feel, and it is filled with a substantial selection of interesting shops, some vintage, some new, as well as cafes, restaurants and wine tasting spots. Some of these shops have been here for years, and I’m talking like more than twenty.

Unfortunately, from when I took these photos, a few did not survive the pandemic, which is very sad, as there was an especially adorable and good quality coffee shop that disappeared.

I am glad that new businesses took the places of those that closed, and I hope they will have better fortune.

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Walking-around-historic-downtown-Folsom-California-Gold-Country

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Emily’s Corner is one of the long standing ones: a vintage/antique shop where you can find all sorts of treasures. Snooks (below) will satisfy your sweet tooth with in-house made chocolates and salt-water taffy.

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Walking-around-historic-downtown-Folsom-California-Gold-Country
Walking-around-historic-downtown-Folsom-California-Gold-Country

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A recently opened shop (just before the crazies of 2020, and I’m glad it survived) is a really lovely independent book shop called Ruby’s books (image above right). The owner, Ruby, is a very welcoming and sweet Golden Retriever who is always eager for fuss and attention. I’m kidding, the owner is Ruby’s mum. I tried to capture a photo of Ruby, but in that moment she insistently did not want to look at the camera. So I have the photo, but it is not post-worthy. Just stop in and say hallo.

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Walking-around-historic-downtown-Folsom-California-Gold-Country
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Walking-around-historic-downtown-Folsom-California-Gold-Country
Walking-around-historic-downtown-Folsom-California-Gold-Country
Walking-around-historic-downtown-Folsom-California-Gold-Country

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I have actually lived in Folsom (residential outer lands) only for the first year (from November 2019 to November 2020) and then moved a little further east. I could say two towns over, except there really are no towns to speak of, just shopping centers large and small and sprawling residential areas. Such sprawl is essentially comprised between two actual towns: Folsom on the west side and closer to Sacramento, and Placerville to the east and closer to the Sierra on the way to Tahoe. I will show you Placerville in another post, though it is similar to historic Folsom downtown in look and feel, as many of the adorable Gold Country towns are.

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Walking-around-historic-downtown-Folsom-California-Gold-Country

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After three weeks of almost non-stop rain storms, last week we finally got some sunshine, so my friend and roommate Sally and I decided to take the day off and drive into Folsom, get a latte and pastry at the newly opened and glorious Faria Bakery, then take a walk about. I also needed a few more photos to complete this set.

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Walking-around-historic-downtown-Folsom-California-Gold-Country
Walking-around-historic-downtown-Folsom-California-Gold-Country

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I don’t really have many photos of shop interiors as, given that the buildings are old, they tend to be dark. Like Dorothea’s (see the lovely sign for it above), which is one of the long standing shops in town and features Christmas decorations all year round. As you explore inside you will find all sorts of Christmas treasures, especially in vintage feel, and the shop goes on forever.

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Another long time shop I am happy survived is Not Too Shabby, which is full of treasures for the home. They also have a studio section where they sell chalk paints and also teach workshops on using them – which I am planning to check out.

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Walking-around-historic-downtown-Folsom-California-Gold-Country
Walking-around-historic-downtown-Folsom-California-Gold-Country

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I am not mentioning or picturing all the shops and restaurants, but there are a couple more that are worthy of real notice, like the one and only art gallery in historic Folsom, which features some seriously good art: Fire And Rain Gallery. I need to make a point to go back and visit regularly, as it is a source of inspiration and, as all good art usually is, a source of upliftment.

As an artist myself, when I will have more money available, I will be purchasing original art!

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Folsom-Hotel-in-downtown-historic-Folsom-California
Folsom-Hotel-in-downtown-historic-Folsom-California
GH-Woodworks-shop-in-Folsom-California

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Another shop, more a workshop really, I love and I am happy to see survived, is GH Woodworks. I noticed that the workshop area has expanded and the shop area has gotten smaller. And it is fascinating to be able to watch the pieces being created right there. When we walked in to have a look last week, they were working on a beautiful, low (to the floor) platform bed.

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Walking-around-historic-downtown-Folsom-California-Gold-Country
Walking-around-historic-downtown-Folsom-California-Gold-Country

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Below is a glimpse of Faria Bakery. They only opened the Folsom location a few months ago, though their Sacramento one has been open for some time. Their naturally-leavened and whole grain breads are amazing, as are their pastries. Not to mention the fact that they are the only bakery I have found to make Kouign Amann, my absolute favorite pastry, in a radius of 100 miles. You either have to drive to San Francisco or Marin County to find another bakery that makes those!

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Faria-Bakery-in-Folsom-California

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This is where we started our out-and-about day, with a latte, a shared sandwich and a pastry. Next time I need to order extra Kouign Amann before going so I can take them home, as they sell fast.

The quality of their work puts Faria Bakery among the best in California, along such names as Tartine and B Patisserie in San Francisco. I am so glad they opened so close to where I live, and I look forward to whatever they will offer by and by as their new location becomes more established.

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Karens-Bakery-and-Cafe-in-Folsom-California

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One block down is another local favorite, one that has been here much longer and that I heard of immediately upon arriving in Folsom and asking around for good places to eat: Karen’s Bakery and Cafe. This is a place where you also can get a full sit down breakfast and/or lunch. Their pastries and cookies are excellent, and go fast with the morning rush. I find their cakes and desserts are nothing special and – to me – rather blah and same-same – but their breakfast and lunch food, including their deli counter dishes and sandwiches to go, is truly excellent and worth waiting in line for.

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Historic Folsom also features some interesting historical spots: Pioneer Village, Folsom History Museum, the Folsom Railroad Museum and the Historic Railroad Turntable, with the first hydro-electric powerhouse also nearby. However, unless things change in the future, these locations are usually only open to visitors for a few hours on Saturdays, so I have not yet had a chance to visit and take photos. If and when I do, I will show you in a separate post.

In the meantime, I will list below the good places to eat in the greater Folsom area, that is the sprawl that I mentioned above that is around and just beyond Folsom, that also includes nearby “towns”. I have to say the really good places are not that many, and I was spoiled for choice down in Napa, Marin and San Francisco. But I will list those I have found and experienced to be good, and those that I have on my list to go to as they look good.

I am also including Placerville locations at this time, though once I will create a post about Placerville, those will be moved to that post.

Here goes, in no particular order of preference:

PERSONALLY ENJOYED

Coffee Shops

Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters
25055 Blue Ravine Road – Folsom, Ca 95630
This is my favorite go-to place for seriously good lattes and espresso drinks. They feature a small sandwich and toast menu on the board, and have a small selection of pastries, though I have never been tempted.

World Traveler Coffee Roasters
Folsom location: 603 E. Bidwell
El Dorado Hills location: 4364 Town Center Blvd Unit 110
Roseville location: 106 N. Sunrise Ave (also roasting facility)
Sacramento location: 1111 24th st
I have been to all except the Sacramento location. Also excellent coffees and espresso drinks, plus a really good selection of teas. As far as food, there is a small menu with savories, but a really excellent all day selection of desserts made by local bakers. Sometimes I stop in just to pick up desserts. Aaaand, they do a fabulous London Fog!

Double Shot Coffee Bar
3381 Bass Lake Road #100 – Sienna Ridge Shopping Center – El Dorado Hills, Ca 95762
This coffee shop has become my go-to both because it is top notch, and because it is the nearest to where I live. It is also next-door to the Safeway store where I tend to go buy flowers for my photo shoots.
This is a small local business, and the very friendly owner is the coffee wizard as well. Besides excellent espresso drinks, they also have a nice selection of fresh pastries & cookies, as well as freshly prepared sandwiches and such. His wife is from Thailand, so you will often find a freshly cooked batch of curry for your lunch.

Pachamama Coffee
312 Main Street #104 – Placerville, Ca 95667
Besides the espresso drinks being wonderful, they are also organic, aaand they make their own syrups and infusions. The location is sweet, as it’s in the back of one of those “indoor” alleys with a beautiful and quiet courtyard that is ideal for sipping a coffee in relaxation. There is also a fountain, and the water runs at the perfect speed to create a relaxing sound. So definitely not to be missed.
This coffee shop is the latest (local) addition of several others in Sacramento and Davis, and you can find those on their website. Pachamama Coffee is 100% owned and governed by smallholder coffee farmers in Africa and Latin America.

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Bakeries with also coffee shop and/or café

Faria Bakery
Folsom location: 604 Sutter Street (Thu-Fri 9a – 2p | Sat-Sun 9a-3p)
Sacramento location: 3417 Broadway (Wed 8a-2p | Thu-Sun 8a-3p)
I have yet to try their lattes as they don’t have decaf espresso, and my body can’t handle regular, but what I have seen looks good. But this is a place to go for their fabulous breads and baked goods, including special sandwiches.

Julian’s Pâtisserie and Café
6610 Folsom-Auburn Road, suite 7 – Folsom
They feature a breakfast and lunch menu, with good omelettes, salads, sandwiches, as well as sweet and favorite crepes. They do have espressos and lattes, though again they don’t have decaf, so I have not tried personally. What is fabulous here are the breakfast pastries, their monkey bread, aaaand, their glorious French-inspired desserts!

Karen’s Bakery, Café and Catering
705 Gold Lake Drive – Folsom
This is a long time local favorite, and it’s just one block down from the main stretch in downtown Folsom.
Great coffees and espresso drinks, great pastries and cookies, and seriously good breakfast and lunch food. You can also stop in to pick up ready food from their refrigerated display, and they usually feature other pantry items. They also feature cakes and desserts, though, like I mentioned above, I have always found them rather blah: lots of white cake with buttercream frosting even where there shouldn’t be. I suppose it’s a matter of taste, but I am picky, especially with quality. For seriously good desserts in the area, Julian’s, Faria and World Traveler are the best choices.

Posh Bagel Folsom
25055 Blue Ravine Rd #110, Folsom (right next door to Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters)
A long time local favorite for seriously good bagels and schmear. That’s all I go for. The earlier you go, the better the selection. They also feature a board menu, but it’s not been my favorite option. I prefer to get my bagels and go.

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Restaurants

Corner Tavern & Grill
700 Glenn Drive, unit 170 – Folsom
Excellent American/California style food in a sports bar environment. Food is really excellent and freshly made to order. Everything is good, and they feature specials every day, especially on weekends. Best pizza in the area. It’s one of my frequent go-to places.

Wally’s Pizza Bar
4079 Cameron Park Lane – Cameron Park
Another really good American/California style sports bar with well done food and good flavors. Second best pizza in the area after Corner’s; a close second. It’s also five minutes from where I live now, so it’s another go-to place, mostly for pizza.

Relish Burger Bar
1000 White Rock Road – El Dorado Hills
The name says it all. Good American/California food. My favorite are their Slider Flight Trio, as I get three different burgers in mini size, so variety, and easy to eat. But, really, all food is good here, or I would not list it. The outdoor patio is my favorite dining space here.

Fat’s Asia Bistro
Folsom location: 2585 Iron Point Road
Roseville location: 1500 Eureka Road
I have dined here a couple of times and got take-out several more. The restaurant features dishes from several Asian cuisines. Quality food with good flavors and rather large portions in a spacious ambiance. If you have room for dessert, the Banana Cream Pie is house made and really good.

Thai House (sorry, no website)
3181 Cameron Park Dr, Cameron Park
Small, family owned and operated Thai restaurant with good fresh food. We dine here and get take out frequently. It’s our local go to Thai place.

Back Bistro
230 Palladio Parkway, ste 1201 – within the Palladio Shopping Center – Folsom, Ca 95630
I finally made it to this bistro yesterday (April 22, 2023) and I know it will become a regular go-to place. We were there for lunch and sat in the outdoor patio area. The food we had was excellent and beautifully presented. I personally enjoyed their Salmon BLT, and a taste of my friend’s Pulled Pork Sandwich told me it was one of the best I’ve had in general, and certainly around here.
Owned and operated by husband & wife team Gail & Jeff Beck, who have a 15 years local restaurant history, Back Bistro features excellent food prepared locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. They also have quite the wine selection and cocktail menu.

Pizza Norcia
6180 Pleasant Valley Road, El Dorado
Finally made it to Pizza Norcia last week (mid April 2023) and their pizzas are really excellent and baked in a wood-fired oven, which is quite visible as you enter the wide-open, polished barn style location. Just as a reminder for those of you who are new to my website: I am Italian born and raised and former chef, so I don’t go for so-so pizzas, or any so-so food for that matter. This will definitely become another go-to place for me.

Poor Red’s Bar-B-Q
6221 Pleasant Valley Road, El Dorado (not to be confused with El Dorado Hills)
As the name says, Poor Red’s serves barbecue, which of course include luscious things like pulled pork, burgers, ribs and fried chicken.
So far I have only been once (late March 2023). We sat indoors, and the interior ambiance is a dark and rustic gold-country sports bar type space, with fascinating time-period wall art. There is a large and airy covered outdoor area, but it was too chilly on that day. There were four of us at the table, and three of us ordered barbecue type food, while one of us opted for a Ceasar’s Salad and a cup of soup. I cannot say what the other salads might be like, or any other soup, but the Ceasar’s looked blah to me, and the soup was like pudding; you know, the “chowder” type thing that you can place a spoon it and it will almost stand up straight. Neither is anything I would ever order or recommend. But the rest of the barbecue category food is good and plentiful, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Bricks Eats and Drinks
482 Main Street, Placerville, Ca 95667
New American comfort food served every day in a vintage/contemporary pub-like setting in one of Placerville’s historic brick buildings. Even though Bricks is not in what I consider the Folsom area, I thought I would include it here as the food there is truly excellent. Portions are abundant, too, so you might get a take out box like I do. Excellent beer selection, and extensive by-the-glass wine list featuring local wineries.

Heyday Cafe
325 Main Street, Placerville, Ca 95667
Another Placerville favorite, this café serves a revolving menu of scrumptious food inspired by various ethnicities, the chef’s flair and the local produce. Excellent food in a casual ambiance, and a good place for brunch on Sunday. I have yet to try their pizza, so cannot comment on that other than to say that it looks good.

Franny’s Farm Table
311 Main Street, Placerville, Ca 95667
Almost next door to HeyDay Cafe, this restaurant features new ownership as of February 2023. We stopped in for lunch a couple of days ago (today is May 3rd 2023) and we are certainly going back. It was difficult to choose as everything sounded good, including the desserts which are made in house.

High Hand Café
3750 Taylor Road, Loomis
Located north of Folsom on the way to Auburn, the magic of High Hand Café is that it’s located inside a nursery, so you will be surrounded by plants, trees and flowers. Their California cuisine seasonal menu is very good, and this is another good place for brunch on weekends. Pizza looks good, too, but I have yet to try it. Will comment further when I do.

I don’t mean to mention this as the best Mexican food in the area, as I rarely go for Mexican food. After having enjoyed glorious true Mexican in Puerto Vallarta, I am not too fond of what is found outside of the country of origin. That said, when we have a fancy for those flavors, both Sally and I love and pick up our burritos at
La Fiesta Alteña Taqueria in Folsom, 1008 E. Bidwell Street, unit 100 (across from the Target parking lot)
Our favorite is the Alhambra burrito al Pastor.

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LOOKS GOOD, SOUNDS GOOD, WILL TRY SOON:

Sienna Restaurant
El Dorado Hills location: 3909 Park Drive
Roseville location: 1480 Eureka Road
Serving Modern American cuisine in an elegant setting, their menu looks good and so do the photos of their food. I have heard good things from nearby business owners, too. Will update when I get there.

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That’s all for now, folks!

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