It would be almost impossible to eat at the thousands of little restaurants that serve cheeseburgers and fries in the Sacramento area. But Dr. Meat and I have sacrificed our bodies and families for the good of society; and with our guidance and supervision, many of you have begun to understand the difference between quantity and quality, frozen and fresh, and inherent flavor and the covert cover-up attempts to make a sale. Over the last quarter of a century of burger dining, we have developed our favorites, and Nation-Wide Freezer Meats is definitely on our "A" list.
Located in downtown Sacramento across the street from a tattoo-piercing parlor and a used book store, this thirty-one year old, family run business started out as a meat locker/butcher shop. The original owner still comes in the early morning to hand press and season the hamburger patties and carefully trim his steaks for sandwiches served for lunch and dinner. The outstanding quality of Nation-Wide's food has not changed and neither has the building and decor.
While many restaurants have tried to
capture the feel of the 50's by adding neon lights and lithographs of Marilyn
and Elvis, Nation -Wide never departed that decade.
Our orders of French Ground Steak Burgers with Cheese were written on and served in lunch sized paper bags by the number one customer of the tattoo-piercing parlor across the street. That hand pressed patty was fried and seasoned to perfection. The edges of the meat were fried well done, but the juices and grease ran down to my elbows when picked up and eaten. This twenty napkin burger was topped with a very thin slice of melted American cheese, a few shards of shredded iceberg lettuce, sliced tomatoes, large slices of white onion and a good squirt of 1000 Island Dressing.
The bun was big, toasted and chewy and was able to maintain it's integrity while being eaten. The potatoes were more planks than the standard French fry. One order appeared to be two full skin-on Russet potatoes, sliced into six to eight pieces and fried. The flavor was excellent and reminded me of a baked potato that didn't need butter.
Sadly, Nation Wide Freezer
Meats has lost its lease and will have to vacate it present building in
October. If it does not find a new home and closes it doors, it will
be great lose for all of Sacramento.
As a service to our readers we finally went downtown! Many letters have been written to us extolling the virtues of downtown, as if a couple of guys from the "burbs" could not appreciate what a city has to offer. Well call me cosmopolitan because I ventured along with my partner into the heart of "scooter country": 24th and "J". I must admit I did feel a little out of place, I don't have any tattoos, I was clean, I'm employed, I don't smoke, and I had a difficult time getting the old Lincoln Navigator to behave on those narrow little alleys called streets (my driveway is wider), not to mention all the neo-hippies screaming in terror as they saw a real Suburban Assault Vehicle majestically roll by.
Nationwide Freezer Meats was our destination, as you can expect there was no parking in front of this establishment so I chose a spot across the street in front of a tattoo parlor. A young unemployed able bodied worker walked up to me and asked if I had any spare change or a smoke, I just gave him a business card from a case worker at the local EDD office. We stepped over a couple of people taking a nap on the sidewalk and walked into the former meat rendering plant known as Nationwide.
A very tattooed young man greeted us with a grunt as he took our of two Steakburgers with cheese, an order of fries and couple of Cokes. He wrote our order on a brown paper bag, which is apparently customary in this part of town because all the people outside were drinking their lunches out of the same. We sat at a "booth" amid the dirty condiments containers on our table and soaked in the scenery. The best way to describe this place is urban squalor. It would take a good scrubbing, steam cleaning, and disinfecting just to bring it up to ghetto, it would take a major renovation to bring it up to Dive standards, and finally if they moved out of there all together you could probably call this dump a restaurant (they are moving in October hopefully some place with a little less urban charm).
Our food was delivered to our table in the afore mentioned bag (even if you plan to eat there I assumed people walked out after sitting there in filth for a few minutes), the burger came wrapped loosely in wax paper and the fries were bundled similarly. I tore off a bit off the meat to taste the seasoning quality and I must admit I was impressed. This beef was the absolute freshest I have ever tasted. I had to tear off another piece just make sure, outstanding! I took a wolf's bite out of the whole burger and I was equally impressed. My only dig against this beauty is that there was not enough lettuce and they use yellow onion. As I opened up the fries bundle I was prepared for the worst, but once again I was impressed. How can a place that should be condemned, stuck in the heart of the Sacto wasteland (I couldn't even find a Starbucks !), have food so good? The fries were fresh potatoes cooked with skins on and a light dusting of salt, sliced a little thick for my preference but nevertheless perfect. After I finished my meal I thought about coming here again, and I suffered from serious cognitive dissonance. I mean the food is a slice of heaven on Earth, the store is a filthy outhouse. The owners and managers were pleasant and competent, but the locals were extras from the cast of "Soylent Green". This place has a nice little bistro patio setup, if one were inclined to, eating outside would be an option if it weren't for the street zombies. Next time I think I'll eat in my car or wait for their move to a more inviting location
Point Total 90
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