Carson City, Nevada, is one of the smallest of the state capitals. Therefore, you are more likely to find small diners rather than large, fancy restaurants common in a large capital city. When in Carson City, a great choice for lunch is the Cracker Box. The place has been around for 31 years, in a fairly nondescript building that looks, oddly, like a cracker box. They are only open for breakfast and lunch.
It was obvious when I walked in for lunch that the place was very popular with the locals. I decided upon an order of fried oysters. It came with two sides of your choice. I ordered the oysters with a side of cole slaw, a creamy slaw with an interesting twist of having raisins in it. My waitress, Tessa, had mentioned home fries as one possibility and I asked about it. They were superb, with nice slices of potato fried with a decent amount of crusty edges, chunks of fresh tomato and freshly chopped scallions. The oysters were perfectly fried, golden brown and hot. All they needed was an occasional dip in the tartar sauce on their way to my stomach.
After my experience at the Cracker Box in Carson City on Monday and finding out that their Chicken Fried Steak was something special, I headed back there for breakfast to try it. Indeed, the CFS was phenomenal. Cut from a chuck steak, I was told that they hand pounded it and dipped it in batter. Instead of deep frying it, they put it on the flattop to grill. I ordered it, getting a side of tomatoes topped with a little fresh parsley rather than the eggs that usually came with it. The country fried steak was just amazing. The gravy was creamy and not lumpy, made from scratch like everything else in the diner. The crunch was good and the steak, although chewy, was perfect for me, having more of the texture of steak and less like those frozen cube steaks. I am not a fan of CFS that has no “bite” to it. The meal came with the same delicious home fries I had been impressed with the day before. An English muffin came on the side, tasty with some orange marmalade on it. Needless to say, I would find it a pleasure to work through the Cracker Box’s entire menu. The people there were very nice too, making me feel like a regular.
Of course, being primarily a breakfast and lunch place, the Cracker Box has a lot of egg choices, including omelets, Linguisa and eggs and Ground Chuck Steak and eggs. One of the specialties is the Joe Moore, consisting of their 100% angus beef, topped with green chiles, jack cheese and two eggs. They have a traditional dish from their large neighbor to the South, the Chili Size, an open faced chili burger created in Los Angeles in the 1930’s. Other dishes such as liver and onions and hot meatloaf are served homestyle, just the way owner Jerry Massad did it when he opened the doors 31 years ago. Jerry can still be found in the Cracker Box, even working the line occasionally. He makes sure the corned beef is still cured in the restaurant and that the gravy is made the way it was, from scratch, when he opened. The taste of the Cracker Box’s food surely shows that Jerry and his staff really care.