If you haven’t yet been to 4th Street Café & Bakery, in Orland, what have you been thinking?
Owner Julie van Tol reports, “I had raised five children,” she reports, “and I needed someone to feed.” She’s found a hungry community, and you will want to join.
Housed in a downtown space first occupied by Purity market, a California grocery chain founded nearly a hundred years ago, the café boasts neighbors like the post office, Library Park and its gazebo, the police station, and city hall. Van Tol relishes the setting—smack in historic downtown.
First visible upon entering is a freezer holding take & bake items. Visible are family and single-serving entrees: lasagna (the customer favorite, according to van Tol) and pasta alfredo with grilled chicken (both also available gluten-free), meatloaf, chicken pot pie, and cottage pie. Two soups, beef taco soup and ham and summer squash soup, are available frozen this day. Labels clearly give instructions for thawing and baking.
And, there are 4th Street’s signature cinnamon buns, which van Tol highly recommends in their take & bake form. Her truth: “The whole house will smell like cinnamon!” The buns are packaged with a container of buttery frosting to layer on after baking, and the container holds far too much frosting for two cinnamon buns—but persevere! The still warm swirl of bun unravels piece by piece to eat with bare and soonsticky fingers. The result: cinnamon bun coma.
Baked goods tempt from a case to the right, including already baked cinnamon buns and fancifully decorated cupcakes. Van Tol notes “all the classic cookies”: good sized butter toffee cookies, cowboy cookies (oatmeal, pecans, white chocolate, dried cranberries, coconut), chocolate chip, oatmeal, peanut butter, and more (macaroons!). Cookies deliver the rich taste of butter—of course, since van Tol’s husband is a dairyman. Van Tol and two daughters do all the baking, and if pressed to name a favorite cookie, she demurs. “That’s like asking which child is my favorite!” The mother/ daughters team also bake cakes, pies, and cheesecakes to order.
All this is not even to mention the café menu. Open Thursdays through Mondays, from 9 to 2, the menu offers standard breakfast and lunch fare, with notable distinctions.
One is the “Country Burrito,” an egg- and potato- and chicken fried steak- and homemade gravy-filled tortilla. About the latter, van Tol quotes from an online review: “What kind of culinary genius puts chicken fried steak in a burrito!” Lunch standards like soups, sandwiches, burgers, salads) meet distinctive house-made steak-cut fries and crisp barbequed chips.
As for the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s made van Tol fearless. “Our guests continued to come, even when all we could do was takeout.” It’s an understandable loyalty. Travelers on I-5 to and from Seattle have made the café a regular stop. Local guests reminisce about when the building housed Big John’s Market, with its first-in-town cold drinking fountain: “Boy, that water was good!” Good is a tradition 4th Street Café & Bakery continues.
4th Street Café & Bakery
824 4th Street, Orland
Open daily, 9 to 2 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays)
More information, menu pre-orders online, and special bakery orders: 4thstreetcafe.com