My brother had been singing the praises of the patty melt and beef barley soup at Dakota Jake's, where he chows with his buds when he's in town. So, today I had lunch with my parent there. It's across the street from the California Rodeo grounds in the Sherwood Gardens shopping center on North Main St., just off 101. You can smell the smoke from the outside.
The lunch special turned out to be the 1/2 lb. patty melt with fries for $7.95, and for a buck more you can add a cup of soup or a trip to the salad bar. My parents decided to split one, I ordered one for myself, and we got the soup and salad option.
The salad bar isn't that extensive, but everything does look very fresh as it should be here in the "Salad Bowl of the World". The beef barley soup (available every day) was very good. Toothsome and not too mushy separate grains of barley, and lots of it, in a deeply beefy stock with a tinge of powdered bouillion base taste under it combined with fresh mushrooms, chunks of sweet carrot, and the kicker: succulent and well-marbled cubes of roasted prime rib trimmings.
My parents' order was split in the kitchen without our asking, and at no extra charge, even though the menu lists a $3 fee for shared orders. Definitely a nice touch. Though mine was cooked a bit more than the "medium" we'd both ordered, this was still a fine hunk o' beefiness. Maybe the "certified Angus beef", trumpeted on signs all 'round the restaurant and on the table tops makes the difference, but I think the grilling over live oak gave the meat that Central Coast je ne sais quoi deliciousness. Thick slices of buttered then griddled light rye bread had an airy texture that deflated with each crunchy bite. The grilled onions were soft, but not carmelized, and almost sweet and creamy. Processed "Swiss" cheese laquered on both sides of the patty held it all together. Fries were standard food service material and the wedge of dill pickle was okay too.
Our orders took a long time to come out of the kitchen. We weren't in a hurry, but the wait would have been unacceptable for someone needing to return to work after lunch. All in all, we were happy with our food and would go back.