Redding and Anderson have their share of what Maman de Joie called “hard-luck spots” – places where businesses opened optimistically, closed quietly, and another business moved in rapidly – lather, rinse, repeat. For whatever reason, those locations seemed almost cursed, Bermuda Triangles of hopes and dreams that disappeared into the nether world where small businesses go to die. The cafe in a minuscule strip mall at 2083 Balls Ferry Road seemed destined to be one such place – Femme de Joie recalls a sandwich shop (run by the guy who used to host a free Thanksgiving dinner at his home) and an Italian takeaway in that slot, among others.
About ten years ago, Becca’s Cafe evolved out of Miners Cafe in that little strip mall and seems to have put the curse to rest. Run by Marvin and Becca Howsmon, this little diner has become a local favorite for its extremely reasonable prices, unpretentious menu, and well-prepared comfort food, as well as the friendly proprietors. When Amico del Signore tried describing it to a friend who was unfamiliar with it, the friend finally said, “Oh, that religious place?” Well, the walls are decorated with the sort of tchotchkes and bric-a-brac you see in many small cafes, including a poster with Psalm 23 and similar artwork, there’s a rack of Chick tracts by the cash register, and they wish you a blessed day when you pay your bill. No one whacks you upside the head with a Bible or proselytizes. They’re busy cooking and serving.
Chicken fried steak, $7.99 with biscuit and gravy
No one will ever claim that chicken fried steak is health food, but it makes a delicious breakfast when well-prepared with a crisp crust and tender, juicy interior as it is at Becca’s. A generous pour of peppery cream gravy over the biscuit on the side was enough to smear on the hash browns too. Owner Becca confirmed that they buy frozen hash browns but do not pre-cook them as many restaurants do – they cook to order, which makes them taste more like homemade.
Ham, tomato, mushroom, and cheese omelet with avocado (upon request), $7.99
Becca’s does omelets particularly well, with tender eggs and a plethora of fillings that are never gummed together with too much cheese. This one was a three-egg, but the menu indicates you can order a four- or five-egg omelet as well.
Ham and eggs, $7.99
Your basic diner breakfast of ham and eggs depends largely on the quality of the ham – will it be dried out and over-salted, or lightly browned and tender? In this case it was the latter, a more than fair serving for the price, with biscuit and gravy on the side.
Bacon, mushroom, and Swiss cheese omelet, $7.99
Even if you’ve cut back on bacon, sometimes its siren song calls to you; just a little bit can satisfy that craving as in this omelet. Though that second slice of cheese somehow hit the plate rather than the eggs, the rest of the omelet was on the mark: again, fillings (particularly crisp bacon) that weren’t obscured with excess cheese.
Avocado burger, $7.99
To be sure, the burger is a pre-made patty, but it had not been lingering in a freezer for six months. Cooked to order (not held on a steam table), it was still juicy and flavorful.
Fish and chips, $7.99
This was the only item Femme de Joie tasted at Becca’s that she wasn’t crazy about. Rather small portions of fish were on the dry side and unmemorable. She did like the simple fresh salad on the side.
Onion rings, $3.50
Yes, out of a freezer bag, but deep-fried at the right temperature – crunchy and not overly oily.
Becca’s is hardly fancy or au courant, and if you’re high-maintenance you might not love it. They use lots of pre-made and frozen foods. It gets noisy with kids and adults chattering. You have to slip to the (tiny) restroom through the kitchen and the kitchen staff isn’t going to dress up in their best duds to impress you. The ceiling vent could use some repair and cleaning. Not a hipster in sight, though we spotted a couple of folks who appeared to have just rolled out of bed. Sometimes it gets pretty crowded and you might have to warm a bench beside the front door to wait for a table (the whole place seats about 40 people). But the prices can hardly be beat with special extra-cheap menus for seniors and kids, and the portions of tasty fare are generous for the price. The coffee costs $1.00 – no, it’s not Blue Bottle, but it tastes pretty good for one dollar. Becca’s might not appeal to those seeking a fine dining establishment, and for those people there are all those other restaurants offering such things. For everyone else, drive on down to Anderson and check it out.
Becca’s Cafe, 2083 Balls Ferry Road, Anderson, CA 96007. 530-365-4511. Open daily, 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Parking lot. No alcohol. Cash, cards; no checks. Vegetarian options. Follow them on Facebook.