Stay and Play

Restaurant scene

Rick’s Picks

I’m Rick Sanders, part of the Plymouth Economic Development effort, so forgive me if I’m a bit prejudiced in that direction. I love this County and I’ve been coming here since I was a baby and I have ancestors from here I love to brag about, and think about.

We want you to come here for more than just the wine tasting or then nice drive; we want you to take the time to experience many of the wonderful things we have for visitors and travelers. I’m very serious, Amador County is a wonder. Time spent here can be a dream, if you relax and go with the flow. People here have a very positive environment, and are, some of the best people you will ever meet.

For Rick’s Picks I’ve only included places where I have firsthand experience. Many of these people I’m privileged to call my friends. Why am I giggling? Anyway, read my “picks” and know that I am sending you to places I go as often as I can (if they let me in).

Things to see:

Amador 360, www.amador360.com

In Plymouth, about 3 blocks south of the Plymouth intersection of Fiddletown/Shenandoah Road and Hwy 49 is Amador 360. This is a 360 degree view of the Amador County wine region. We are the tasting room for hard to find, sought after, small wineries such as Fiddletown Cellars and Yorba Wines. We offer for tasting and sale the wines of many boutique producers that are too small to have their own tasting rooms and staff. We offer advice on which local wineries have what you’re looking for and can answer your questions about Amador wines and wine in general. Our staff has extensive knowledge of wine appreciation, winemaking, and the local wine scene. Check out our online store.

Things to do:

Shenandoah Valley Wineries http://amadorwine.com/new/pages/winerylist.cgi

Thanks to early settlers, some of California’s oldest vineyards are in Amador County. Snuggled mostly in the Shenandoah Valley, northeast of Plymouth, wineries reflect the continued focus on utilizing nature’s assets for a commercial economy. Most are family operations built on self-reliance and hard work, 30 plus wineries grow more than 2,700 acres of grapes. About 600 acres of the county’s vines are at least 60-years old.

Amador Flower Farm, Shenandoah Valley – http://www.amadorflowerfarm.com/

A pleasant country drive through the Shenandoah Valley will bring you to their fourteen acres of gardens, including growing grounds, a potted plant area, and four acres of landscaped demonstration gardens. The nursery boasts a wonderful selection of deer resistant plants.

Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the lovely picnic areas under Heritage Oak trees.

In addition to endless varieties of daylilies and other flowers, the Gift Shop offers a wide variety of gardening, gift and statuary items.

Deaver Vineyards, Shenandoah Valley – www.deavervineyard.com

Welcome to Deaver Vineyards where grape growing has been a family tradition for over 150 years. Browse our renowned gift shop for some of the best wine and home accessories you’ll find anywhere! Plan to stay and enjoy a picnic lunch by our lovely pond, and don’t miss out on our special events throughout the year.

Karmere Vineyards & Winery, Shenandoah Valley – www.karmere.com

Here are 5 quick quotes from cityvoter.com “Karmere has consistently fabulous wines”; “If you haven’t tried the jug wine yet, you are missing out!”; “I truly enjoy the barrel tasting and their beautiful grounds”; “The staff in the tasting room is always friendly and knowledgeable”; “These are REAL people”.

Karmere (Car-MARE) is a family-owned and operated winery producing some of Amador’s boldest red wines. Evoking a French chateau, the tasting room overlooks the winery – which resembles an old church, complete with bell towers – and carefully groomed, Shenandoah Valley estate vineyards, which are planted to barbera, syrah, zinfandel and nebbiolo. Visitors to the tasting room can enjoy Karmere’s gardens and picnic area, which afford wonderful views of the surrounding valley.  All that and the owners go overseas every year to help restore sight to the blind.  They deserve your visit!

Vino Noceto, Shenandoah Valley – www.noceto.com

Established in 1987, this small, family winery renowned for its premium sangiovese wines has been a pioneer in the renaissance of that noble Tuscan varietal. Noceto crafts a distinctive, fruity, Chianti-style sangiovese that complements a wide range of foods and offers fine value to the consumer. The winery also makes Frivolo, a light, lively moscato bianco, plus small quantities of zinfandel, barbera and grappa.

I don’t know of anyone who seems to have more fun on a wine project that has lasted 24 years, so far.  Jim & Suzy are recognized and respected throughout the Valley because of their knowledge and sincerity.   Besides, who else has a genuine giant “Doggie Diner” doggie?

Places to stay:

Imperial Hotel, Amador City – www.imperialamador.com

Step back in time to 1879 when the Gold Rush was in full swing, Amador City was a bustling mining town, and the Imperial Hotel opened its doors to prosperous Victorian hotel guests. Today the miners are gone, but Amador City retains its historic character, and the beautifully restored Imperial Hotel still offers a warm and gracious welcome to visitors to the Gold Country. Fine Bar!

Cabins or spaces at the 49’er RV Village, Plymouth – www.49ervillage.com

Located right next to the Amador Fair and Expo grounds in Plymouth, this RV resort has been in the same family since 1973. Owner Chuck Hays and his staff keep it sharp but looking quaint and you have a tough time realizing that there are 329 spaces here! That includes 13 vacation cabins if you don’t have an RV. The recreation complex features a store/café and Deli Espresso Café, meeting rooms, laundry, library and billiards room. Wi-Fi is available throughout the park and the pool complex is open year round.

Amador Harvest Inn – Shenandoah Valley – www.amadorharvestinn.com

Amador Harvest InnExperience Amador Harvest Inn, where the loudest noise you’re likely to hear is a frog croaking or a cork popping.

Four individually appointed guest rooms are named for wine grape varieties whose rolling vineyards embrace the Inn. Manicured lawns an tranquil lakes unfold from the Inn’s back porch as guests sip fine wine from neighboring Deaver Vineyards. At Amador Harvest Inn you may choose from any room available.

Plymouth House Inn, Plymouth www.plymouthhouseinn.com

Here is what somebody else wrote that works for me:  “I found the Inn to be cozy, warm and welcoming. A fabulous value of comfort, fun and good food /wine. The InnKeeper, Sandy and resident cat CeCe are delightful, full of excellent and interesting historical information. I will be back and highly recommend the experience.”  And that antique Merry-Go-Round!

Shenandoah Inn, Plymouth –

Just a short drive from the Amador County Fairgrounds, Rancho Murietta and Sacramento. Reasonable rates, along with great customer service, provided to every guest and a variety of accommodations. The rooms consist of king bedrooms, double queen bedrooms, with a suite and a Jacuzzi room available. Each room is equipped with many amenities and the pool has a great view.

St. George Hotel, Volcano – www.stgeorgehotel.com

16104 Main St., Volcano, CA 95689

Conveniently located near many attractions including hiking, skiing, cycling, cave exploration, wine tasting and many other interesting things to do! Just across the street from the recently voted for the 2nd year in a row “Best Historic Hotel”, “Best Place To Take A Date”, and the “Whiskey Flat Saloon” was voted one of the “Top 10 Bars in the world worth flying to” (as featured in GQ Magazine).

The Old Well Motel, Drytown

I’ve stayed here since Ed was skinny, but only every three years. My family came here for reunions and I can remember sitting under the trees while we talked about our cousins. The pool is just perfect and Ed’s dad (just passed a few years ago) has a fantastic patch of lawn right up against Dry Creek. It is a bit rustic for a fussy spouse, but I’m pretty sure God stayed here once.

Places to eat:

Amador Vintage Market, Plymouth – www.amadorvintagemarket.com

Beth Sogaard’s Market and deli provides the finest selection of fresh sandwiches, home-style

salads, charcuterie, artisan cheeses, desserts, and Ciao Bella gelato, in the County. They have everything to satisfy a snack or sitting down to a full meal. Want it ready for pickup? Give them a call at 209-245-FOOD. Great selection of Beer, wine and sodas!

Restaurant Taste, Plymouth – www.restauranttaste.com

Taste is dedicated to providing the highest quality service, food, beverage and ambiance. They strive to be innovative leaders in their field and to make a difference in our community.

Mark and Tracey Berkner are focused on creating a great work environment for their staff and a great dining experience for their guests. In 2008, 2009, 2010 the Wine Spectator awarded Taste with an “Award of Excellence” for the wine list. OpenTable.com selected Taste as one of the “Top 50 Restaurants” in 2009 and in 2010 for service in the United States. Why miss it?

The Pizza Factory, Plymouth – www.plymouth.pizzafactory.com – 209-245-5007

Plymouth Pizza Factory is proud of their restaurant and what they have to offer. Their pizzas come topped with fresh ingredients and their dough is hand spun at the time you order it.

They also offer assorted food trays including sandwiches, vegetables, fruit, cheese, meatballs, pastas, salad, or hot wings. They have a very nice outdoor seating area perfect for group gatherings.

Marlene & Glenn’s Dead Fly Diner, Plymouth

Here is what somebody else wrote that works for me: “True diner style food.  The shakes were great also.  The staff are as friendly as you would wish but also they give you your space which is nice.  It is a great place to stop midway from Shingle or Cameron Park on the way to Fiddletown or to Jackson.  I do recommend this understated, clean, and well run restaurant.  The food is very good.  A perfect break on a long drive.”

Colina De Oro, Plymouth www.colinadeoromexicanfood.com

Colina’s is a Mexican restaurant that also serves “American” food. One of a few hard liquor bars in the town, it is a favorite for after work relaxation. The service is prompt and courteous, the food is fresh and served hot. The food is brought to your table (or the bar) soon after ordering and the Colina De Oro’s fare is very tasty. The bartendress is always feminine, drinks are liberal and the chips are always on the bar.

Speed’s Diner, Plymouth

Here is what somebody else wrote. “Great burgers cooked by the owner. Thick, good quality, bacon on my burger. Very friendly. Asked for directions and owner gave me a 15 min review of all possible routes. Down home feel.” I’ve only been here twice and enjoyed it both times, although my picky wife . . . . . .

The Old Well Café, Drytown

This place does not have a web site, and if it did, God would strike it with lightning. Two years ago a woman ran into the corner of the restaurant and demolished much of the inside and outside. It took months to rebuild it and in the end, it looked EXACTLY the same!

Why change something the Kaffer family has been operating perfectly for 50 years? If you’re insulted, that is just the way it goes here. I like just about everything on the very standard fare menu. Friday Night Prime Rib $13.00 (get there by 5:30). Excellent help, just ignore the cook (Ed Kaffer). The conversations are fantastic. Always a fine experience! Early Breakfast, Lunch and an early Dinner. If Mary Lou (Ed’s Mother) is there, engage her in conversation.

Imperial Hotel, Amador City – http://www.imperialamador.com/amador_city_restaurant.html

Casual elegance in indoor and patio dining to visitors and local residents alike. This family-owned and operated establishment takes pride in featuring organic, locally grown produce, fresh meats and sustainably harvested fish and seafood. The Oasis Bar is always a place to meet people in a mystic atmosphere (Rick Fav). The menu varies with the seasons and honors the simple goodness of the ingredients in the tradition of the finest California cuisine.

Andrea’s Bakery www.andraesbakery.com

“Handcrafted Bread (made from scratch daily), Baked Goods, Sandwiches, Beer + Wine, Cheese + Charcuterie, Etcetera, European butters, olives, and salami”. That’s all you need to know. Can’t miss. The women go crazy. No dinner, but you can make up a great one from the parts offered. I love this quote:

“Andrae’s is located in the smallest incorporated city in California, Amador City.  An untouched, small town along Historic Highway 49 that will take you back to the gold rush era.  We are in the newest main street building designed by Jane, a well known bay area architect and student of Frank Lloyd Wright.  It is the perfect addition to a town that never changes (trust me, I grew up here).  We have been baking here for almost eleven years.”

St. George Hotel, Volcano, Volcano – www.stgeorgevolcano.com

The St. George Hotel restaurant has been voted the #1 Restaurant in Amador County for Best Fine Dining and Best Place to take a Date several times in a row.  The Dining room is warm with country elegance. The menu features locally grown produce and herbs from the St. George garden.  The grounds are delightful.

I’ve always loved this place because it is totally off grid and the town’s ambiance is very special.  I remember coming here as a kid and the nights were great and it sounded so different from where I lived – it was quiet with just sounds of the evening.  We have had group weekends here and the porches are natural gathering places.  And the Volcano Theatre is just across the street!and don’t forget that the “Whiskey Flat Saloon” was voted one of the “Top 10 Bars in the world worth flying to” (as featured in GQ Magazine).

Places to shop:

Amador City – www.amador-city.com

A charming gold rush town located along historic Highway 49 in California’s Gold Country. One of California’s smallest incorporated cities with a population of just over 200 residents is a little city with a lot to offer – around 20 shops and restaurants.

Original mining-era buildings are now home to shops including antique stores, boutiques, art galleries, and museums. Gastronomic options include an artisan bakery, old-fashioned soda fountain and gourmet dinners. In addition to great shopping, visitors can enjoy other attractions such as a garden railroad and miles of creek-lined back roads perfect for a relaxing walk or bike ride.

Sutter Creek www.suttercreek.org

A wonderful balance of old and new, today’s Sutter Creek maintains its Gold Rush facade while catering to the wants and needs of visitors from around the world. Shop, dine, slumber, stroll, wine taste, and enjoy the quaint atmosphere of Amador County.  Sutter Creek, the jewel of Amador County, is steeped in history being born of the California Gold Rush and nurtured by the hard rock gold mines of the 19th & 20th centuries.

Jacksonhttp://www.merchantcircle.com/directory/CA-Jackson/category/Retail.Shopping

I absolutely love Jackson. When I was in my early 20’s I frequently traveled from Sacramento to Jackson because it was so much FUN. This was shortly after the State of California had to step in because it was really rockin’.

Recently, the Big Box stores put a cramp on downtown business, but it is coming back into its own. The stores on Main Street have a great selection of things and if you get a chance, step into “Trader Stan’s” and thank Stan for buying and completely refurbishing the National Hotel! Seriously, If Stan had not stepped up, this icon easily could have been lost.

You will find a few very powerful stores there including a first class book store and a stunning kitchen store. It is our largest city, founded in 1848. It was destroyed by fire in 1862 and was rebuilt. Many of the existing historic Main Street structures date from that reconstruction era. Jackson became the county seat when Amador County was established in 1854.

Things to see are the Kennedy Mine and the new Kennedy Mine Amphitheatre, the Kennedy Mine Tailing Wheels Park, and the historic Amador County Museum

Places to Rock:

Drytown Club, Drytown – www.drytownclub.com

Laura and Amy do a great job. Dancing is terrific (they even have a pole) and usually some great dogs visit. Inside and outside areas – a great place
to enjoy the night, either way. It’s difficult to keep your hair up here. Karaoke on Friday night. Known for their awesome atmosphere and amazing live
music from some of the best artists in the area, including Alan. Watch the roof go up (takes at least three drinks).

The Annex at the American Exchange Hotel, Sutter Creek

Pool tables, juke box, darts, live music. Voted best bar/night club by somebody, but since this is the only Rockin’ spot in Sutter Creek, there is not much of a contest. HOWEVER, a friend from out of town enjoyed it. If you are looking for a hard drink and some loud music this is a great choice. It always has in action on Fridays and Saturdays. They have a live band many weekends and it is usually packed.

Places to Walk:

 

 

 

 

Plymouth (Walking or Riding)

 

Start
Main Street and Hwy 49 – East Sherwood St. – South
Landrum St. – North Hay St. – East
Church St. – North Empire St. – South
(Cemeteries) – Turnaround Locust St. (becomes Mill St.) – South
Church St. – South Poplar St. – North
Landrum St. – West Main St. East
Gunter St. – South Main Street and Hwy 49
End -Walking about 1.5 miles, about 50 minutes

 

Dry Town (Walking or Riding)

Start
Theatre parking lot – North North

Walk anywhere, but be sure to check out Spanish Street.  It is OK to go in the Catholic Cemetery, just close the gate behind you.

 

Amador City (Walking)

Start
South Parking Lot – North along Hwy 49 – North side Water St. – Right
Water Street – Right Hwy 49 – South Side – South along hwy 49
East School St. – Left Pig Turd Alley – Right
Church St. – Left South to Andres’s Bakery – Left
Cross ? St. – Left Cross Hwy to South Parking lot
West School St. – Right
Water St. – Right
Hwy 49 – South Side – South along hwy 49
Pig Turd Alley – Right
South to Andres’s Bakery – Left
End Walking Time .5 hours

You can ride this route, but you can’t turn onto Pig Turd Alley

Places to Ride:

Amador is blessed with spectacular scenery that changes with the season. Elevations range from 200 feet in the west, to over 9,000 feet in the east. Visitors can enjoy everything from quaint country valleys to breathtaking mountain vistas as they make their way along the county’s two primary roadways: historic Highway 49, which stretches generally north to south from El Dorado to Calaveras counties; and east-to-west Highway 88, which has been called “the most scenic highway in America” and is popular with travelers on their way to Lake Tahoe.

Close in to the Plymouth Side of the County there are a number of opportunities to get out and ride or walk. Most of these trips are easy to follow, but having a Central California Map from AAA (office is in Martell on Highway 88) is always a good thing. I’d like to say that these routes are difficult to get lost on, but not impossible. Just remember what Daniel Boone replied when someone asked him “Mr. Boone, were you ever lost?” and he replied “No, but I was perplexed once for three days.”

Plymouth / Old Sac Loop / Hwy 16 (Riding)

Plymouth Map

What you can expect: Country road with lots of Oaks and farms, etc. The last half is on the Highway.

Start
Sherwood/Carnival Gate

1

Plymouth Main St.

1

Old Sac Road/Main

5

Sherwood

0.4

Latrobe Road

2.4

Carnival Gate
Hwy 16 (also becomes Hwy 49)

4.8

End 18
Driving Time

.4 hours

 

Fiddletown & Shenandoah Loop (Riding)

Fiddletown Shenandoah Loop Map

 

What you can expect: Country roads with some traffic. Lots of Oaks and farms, small town and then vineyards and wineries with tasting rooms. Amador Flower Farm.

Start
Sherwood/Carnival Gate – North

0.4

Sabon (museum) – West

0.2

Old Sac Road/Main – East

1

Steiner Road – North. Straight – becomes Shenandoah School

1

Fiddletown Fork – Straight East

6

Hwy 16 – House Road

3

Tyler/American Flat Road – North

0.1

Highway 16 – West. Straight – Plymouth

2

Jiboom – West

0.2

Hwy 16/49 – Main St.

1

Ostrom – North

2

Sherwood – South

0.4

Highway 16 – East

0.2

Carnival Gate End 18
Driving Time

.7 hours

 

Quartz Mountain Loop (Riding)

quartz mountain loop

 

 

What you can expect: Country roads with some traffic then an unpaved road where you will drive through streams in the spring and winter (don’t attempt crossing if the water is close to a foot deep). Lots of Oaks and Pines. Ranches, Dry town and one winery with a tasting room. God takes this road to work. Includes 8 miles of good unpaved road.

Start
Sherwood/Carnival Gate – North

0.4

Hwy 49/Dry Town – North

3

Old Sac Road/Main – East

1

Plymouth Main St. – West

1

Fiddletown Fork – Straight East

6

Sherwood – South

0.4

Quartz Mt. Road – South

6

Carnival Gate
New Chicago Rd.

3

End

21

Driving Time

.6 hours

 

Volcano Loop (Riding)

Volcano Loop map

What you can expect: Country roads with some traffic. Lots of Oaks and Pines. streams, ranches, Fiddletown and Volcano, Whiskey Flat Saloon (usually open by noon). The last half is on the Highway, or you can take some Country short-cuts. Difficult to get lost, but not impossible.

 

 

Start
Sherwood/Carnival Gate – North

1

Volcano/Pine Grove Road

2.5

Old Sac Road/Main – East

6

Hwy 88

11

Fiddletown Fork – Straight East

8

Hwy 49

14

Hale Road

6

Plymouth Main St. – West

1

Shake Ridge Road

2

Sherwood – South

0.4

Daffodil Hill/Ram’s Horn Grade

2.5

Carnival Gate
End

54

Driving Time

1.5 hours

 

Poor Red’s Loop (Riding)

Poor Red's Loop map

What you can expect: Country roads with some traffic. Lots of Oaks rivers, ranches, Gentleperson farms, Shingle Springs and El Dorado. Try to make a stop at “Poor Red’s” in El Dorado. Go through the front door and take an immediate left to the top of the bar. Sit and order a Golden Cadillac. The stretch from there to Plymouth is curvy along the River.

 

 

Start
Sherwood/Carnival Gate- North

1

El Dorado (Poor Red’s)/Hwy 50 – South

19

Old Sac Road/Main – West

5

Plymouth Main St. – West

1

Latrobe Road – North

6

Sherwood – South

0.4

South Shingle Rd. – East

9

Carnival Gate
Shingle Springs/Mother Lode Drive (do not go onto Hwy 50!) – East

6

End 47
Driving Time 1.3 hours

 

Lake Tahoe Loop (Riding)

Lake Tahoe Loop map

What you can expect: Pines and then High Country meadows and enough granite to make all the countertops in the universe. Beautiful lakes, Kirkwood Resort Lake Tahoe. 60 miles are on Hwy 50.

Start
Sherwood/Carnival Gate – North

1

Hwy 50 – West to Placerville

59

Old Sacramento Road/Main – East

6

Hwy 49 to Plymouth – South

20

Fiddletown Fork – Straight East

28

Plymouth Main St. – West

1

Highway 88 – East

10

Sherwood – South

0.4

Highway 89 North to Lake Tahoe – North

11

Carnival Gate
Hwy 50 – North to the “Y”

5

End 141
Driving Time

3.5 hours

 

High Country Loop (Riding)

High Country Loop map

What you can expect: A ride you won’t believe. Some of the best High country scenery in the U.S. Markleeville, The Carson River, Beautiful lakes, Kirkwood Resort, Follow some of the emigrant trail and think about how they ever made it and what they thought. Stunning.

Start
Sherwood/Carnival Gate – North

1

Highway 4 to Angel’s Camp – West

78

Old Sacramento Road/Main – East

6

Highway 49/Angles Camp – North on 49

40

Fiddletown Fork – Straight East

28

Plymouth Main Street – West

0.5

Highway 88 – East

10

Sherwood – South

0.5

Highway 89 South to Markleeville – No Turn

6

Carnival Gate
Highway 89 South to Markleeville – South

12

End

182

Driving Time

5 hours

 

So, those are all Rick’s Picks.

There are a myriad of places in the County and you can access them at our absolutely excellent website www.touramador.com . If you need help, call me at 209-245-6973 or email me at rsanders@integritydm.com .

Best to you!

Rick Sanders

If you can’t find what you are looking for, please contact:

logoIntegrity Design & Marketing

Rick Sanders

P.O. Box 22

Fiddletown, CA 95629

Ph. (209) 245-4900

email: rsanders@integritydm.com

www.plyecondev.com

Posted January 16, 2012 by rsanders21