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Jan 25, 2007 07:00 PM

Richmond - Alvarado Bar & Grill – Basic bar food & a few twists – Tri-tip, hot roast beef sandwich w/gravy, brownie sundae

Yes, I ate here finally.

- Tri-tip sandwich with fries (good)
- buffalo wings (ok)
- brownie sundae (who doesn’t like a brownie sundae?)

It’s along the lines of place like Tommy’s Joint and bar/hofbraus and a little old-time diner chow … basic American food … meat & potatoes with gravy.

They serve breakfast starting at 6am and then switch to lunch at 11 am which has sandwiches, salads, appetizers soup & dessert. At 4 pm they add one dinner special … only one … otherwise it is the lunch menu. The dinner special includes soup, salad & bread.

Through the end of February there’s a real deal … a free appetizer with lunch or dinner entrée (pick up a green flyers on table between bar & restaurant to get the special)

My nine buffalo, uh, drummettes, were free … normally $7.95

The menu describes them as “wings fried golden brown, toasted in red pepper sauce and served with ranch dressing & celery.”

No celery. One piece of romaine lettuce garnished the plate. It was blue cheese dressing. Could have been the meaty part of the wing. Seemed like drummettes.

I’m not an expert on buffalo wings. These were pleasant enough and the spice was not in your face. It seemed like there was red oil involved in the spice.

The tri-tip was soft roll with the juices from the thick slices of tender tri-tip as the only condiment. The fries were of the McDonald’s cut and sprinkled with seasoned salt … $7.95 (with free buffalo wings … a deal).

It was good, but the problem is both the fries and the tri-tip were over-salted. The next time I’ll ask for no salt.

The brownie sundae ($4.50) was enough for 2. Two triangular scone-sized chewy brownies were drizzled with chocolate syrup and had a scoop of ice cream on the side with a topping of aerosol whipped cream. What was really good about the brownies were the pieces of butterscotch mixed in.

Nothing trendy or fancy, just a decent all-American food. Nice for the Richmond/San Pablo area … good if you are near San Pablo Dam Road & the Casino & the hospital.

There are little twists here and there. The dinner for Friday is fish & chips. However the fish is grilled balsamic marinated salmon. The flyer is different than the menu. The flyer says beer-battered cod.

The Sunday special is Mediterranean chicken breast with apricots, dried plums, olives & capers. On Wednesday dinner is sage-roasted turkey with sweet potatoes. Dinners come with soup, salad & bread.

Breakfast is basic too with simple omelets, scrambles, eggs & breakfast meats, pastries, bagels, breakfast sandwiches & buttermilk pancakes ($4.95/half stack $3.95)

The twists are
- pumpkin pancakes with cinnamon butter & maple syrup ($6.95/half stack $5.95)
- Baked apple French toast

For lunch there is also an open-faced hot turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes as well as the hot roast beef. The server said the gravy is really good.

Other sandwiches are: meatball sub, club, deli, tuna pita pocket, patty melt, 1.3 lb burger, grilled chicken breast, & veggie burger.

There’s penne pasta with a choice of sauce: marinara, meat, pesto or creamy gorgonzola.

Salads include cobb, ceasar & house.

There’s clam chowder & soup of the day.

Other appetizers: beer-battered onion rings, bruscetta, fried calamari with marinara sauce, garlic bread and mushrooms stuffed with Italian sausage, cheese & herbs.

Full bar with basic cocktails. Bottled beer of the basic type. Blue Moon Belgium & Sierra Nevada were as fancy as it got. Wine is on order and it is something like Sutter House red or white right now … that might not be it exactly … but in that class.

It is unlikely they will have draft beer soon. The waitress said the pipes running along the ceiling needed a lot of work. Really, that’s all I know. Don’t know how the whole draft beer thing works, but it is too complicated & expensive at this time to fix.

Other desserts are chocolate thunder cake & NY cheesecake (both $3.75)

The lights are low. Turns out the place has the ambiance of a decent Asian restaurant, nothing fancy but nice. There’s a long bar with two hi-def TVs on either end. There’s a big screen TV on one wall of the dining room. During lunch it was softly playing big band music while the screen displayed info about the song / and the musician … Ted Heath … Bunny Berger, etc.

They are still working on the restaurant but the work doesn’t get in the way.

It is by the chef for Biaco's Deli and Catering in El Sobrante, Scott Tuffnell. Bianco’s is a nice little Italian deli in El Sobrante.

I like Alvarado Grill. There are lots of good ethnic restaurants in the area but not enough serving basic American food except for chains like Denny’s. Every now and then you need a hot roast beef sandwich with gravy & mashed potatoes.

Alvarado Bar & Grill
12889 San Pablo Ave (corner of San Pablo & McBride)
Richmond, Ca

It's in the same location where the Alvarado BBQ was located. Big parking lot in back of restaurant.

Daily: 6 am – 10 pm (but it is new … so that is subject to change)

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  1. RW, thanks for the detailed report.

    1. I swung by this afternoon for lunch. It seems they have a regular or two, as people seemed to know the diners at the other table.

      In any event, I had the Tri-Tip sandwich with fries. Verdict - very good. It is served with a cup of au jus, and of BBQ sauce. I hadn't noticed your comment above (re: nothing on the roll other than the meat), because I would have asked for a couple slices of tomato, which would have been just what it needed for me. The meat was very tasty, the roll was lightly grilled. Oversalted per your comment? Maybe, but when I cook, I undersalt, so I'm not a good judge. The fries were great.

      The place is probably cleaner than it has been in the past 50 years - even peeking into the kitchen it was spotless. I can definitely see this as a place to grab a decent sandwich (or try the daily dinner special) and a drink - I didn't ask, but I'm sure all the menu is served at the bar, which makes it a good spot to eat when alone in the evening.

      1 Reply
      1. re: lmnopm

        Didn't take advantage of the free appetizer?

        Rats I didn't get the cup of au ju or BBQ sauce. They are very new so I think they will be working things out.

      2. Here's a link to my report about the French toast ... still have the pumpkin pancakes on my to-try list

        Anyway, here a blog about the food at Alvarado Gardens with great pictures of the interior and the dishes. He liked it ... he really liked it ... except for the garlic mashed potatoes.

        1. After reading your detailed report, I decided (along with my husband and neighbor) to check out this bar as we don't live too far away. Talk about disappointing. The first thing we did was order the buffalo wings. Then we wanted a bloody mary but the inexperienced bartender didn't have any tomato juice or bloody mary mix. My neighbor asked for a VO and seven and there was no VO either. The bartender didn't even know what bourbon was. So sad. My husband and neighbor settled for beer and I just had a glass of water because I just wanted to get out of there. Back to the buffalo wings. I went back to the kitchen to find out what happened (after 45 minutes of waiting) and they said the bartender was getting them. I asked the bartender and he just gave me a blank look. The buffalo wings are an appetizer. Not in this place. Needless to say, we just left. The only good thing about the Alvarado was the new decor.