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May 10, 2009 09:47 AM

Original Red Onion - Pinole

Tried this place for lunch yesterday. Nice outdoor patio overlooking a creek. Super-friendly staff. Really diverse crowd. Very reasonable prices.

Started with some of the fried stuff. They use rice-bran oil and really know how to fry. Fresh jalapeƱo slices with ranch were the best, except to my taste were undersalted, which went for the onion rings and fries, too. Onion rings were good, light batter, nice and crisp. Fries were that old-school krinkle-cut Idaho mealy type, not my favorite, and again undersalted; after we ordered I noticed that you can ask for them brown and crispy, which I would probably have liked more. It was weird to be eating all that without beer--does the Vallejo branch have a license?

Burgers ($3.99 regular 1/4 pound plain) were fine, came medium-rare as ordered. Buns were OK but I like one that holds together better, mine was falling apart at the end.

Desserts were a shock: they've got a pastry chef at the Vallejo branch who turns out fancy French cakes better than you get at some expensive restaurants. We had a fresh strawberry cake, thin layer of sponge cake topped with berrries in lime "mousselline" (like a very thick pastry cream) topped with another thin layer of sponge cake and meringue.

They also have deep-fried banana cheesecake pieces ("Banana Forresters").

Probably a good place for that guy who was looking for chili dogs.

I'm not sure this place is connected with any of the other Red Onion branches except the one in Vallejo.

Original Red Onion
2870 Pinole Valley Rd, Pinole, CA 94564

Original Red Onion
1321 Springs Rd, Vallejo, CA 94591

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  1. I really like this place too, much better than the Red Onion I first tried in El Cerrito(?) which I understand is not related now if it ever was. Great burgers and as you mentioned, a deft hand with the fried things. I like a place that serves 1/3 or 1/4 burgers ~ the new standard seems to be a half pounder which is just too big, especially with bacon and cheese. It is nice to have concerned cooks and servers that make sure that their food is high quality and not just a fast food meal. Anyone going for the first time should be aware there is a charge, $2 maybe, to use the ATM to pay and you can't tip on your card. That necessitated a return trip the next week for another lunch and a retro tip, a real hardship! They pool their tips too which I like.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tomatoaday

      Oh yeah, cash only.

      I wouldn't call the burger I had great but it was fine for the price. I'm still craving another Mua burger.