Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dinerwood on the Road: Best breakfast in San Diego is in Chula Vista

On the annual pilgrimage to San Diego Comic Con, me and mine stay in the lovingly rundown city of Chula Vista just south on the 5 freeway. Our usual place was booked up so I found place a few blocks away. Now, when I booked the Big 7 Motel I swear it had a 2 1/2 star rating on Expedia--which I was fine with since I only planned on sleeping there not eating off the carpets. During the approaching months I watched that rating eek ever lower. By the time Dinerfriends Greg and Paul and I checked in, I knew we were in for a crapbox of a stay.

The one saving grace of staying Chula Vista this year was our close proximity to this place--

Family House of Pancakes. If you want to just cut to the chase, let me say it: This place has the best breakfasts in San Diego.

On the first day it was just Greg and I and we had no idea what to expect.

It's a cozy joint with a charming decor ripped right out of a 70s movie.

Waitresses greeted patrons by first name and knew what they'd want to order the minute they sat down. Seriously--one of the waitresses basically did a magic trick. She asked this woman what she wanted and when she replied, the waitress said "I knew you would want that. In case you don't believe me"--she turned her notepad around for the woman to see--"I had already written it down." MAGIC.

To summarize the story: Dad had dreams of opening a restaurant although all he knew how to cook were pancakes. He realized his dream and learned that you should not open a restaurant when all you know how to cook are pancakes. The restaurant struggled until dad died. Mom, heretofore only a homemaker, came in to try to run it. She struggled too and it took the whole surviving family coming together in order to make it even function. Now they do okay.

On the first day I ordered the Tropical Pancakes. Pineapple bits in the batter and on top along with toasted coconut. This was heavenly.

To get some much needed protein to go along with my powerfully carb and sweet pancakes, I ordered a slab of ham. It was delicious.

That morning Greg was a little under the weather and honestly felt more like plain toast and tea but the lure of the bacon waffle was too much. Nice chunks of bacon were mixed in with the waffle--you would think that would go without saying right? I have unfortunately ordered a bacon waffle at places and that just means they lay some slices on top and call it a day. This had a perfect balance of sweetness in the waffle to work with the bacon chunks inside.

The next morning we ate downtown (Cafe 222 review coming soon), but on our last day we made a point of going back to Family Pancake House. This time we took Paul with us.

Paul had the banana pancakes with a side of bacon. His pancakes were almost as good as the ones I had two days before.

Whereas Greg and I ordered coffee (it was decent--not great), Paul ordered only water. They brought his water out in a gigantic cup. I think that actually says a lot about the thoughtfulness of the restaurant.

I had the roast beef hash with eggs and potatoes. I believe the menu said '2' eggs--this was easily 4 or 5 eggs. The country potatoes were thin cut and walked delicately close to crispy. The hash was a tiny bit salty but otherwise everything was delicious. I ate maybe half of what was on my plate and I was bursting.

Greg, fully recovered from his illness of the other day, was the big winner at breakfast. He had the house speciality Irish Benedict. The menu said "corned beef" for the meat portion and we had assumed they were using short hand and it would be corned beef hash, but we were wrong. It was actually hearty cuts of actual corned beef. It was amazing. The waitress (the one who did the magic trick the time before) looked at Greg and said "I know what you're ordering next time you come in. I'll remember." No doubt she meant it.

When our waitress brought out our food that morning she apologized for the delay. We had waited maybe ten minutes--I think it was probably closer to five. Their turn around was blindingly fast.

I love Family House of Pancakes. I was actually upset that it took four years to find this place and I had to eat at Aunt Emma's Pancakes more than once. This is officially my breakfast headquarters when I'm in San Diego. Now I just need to find a slightly better motel to stay at nearby for SDCC 2012.

Food: Great
Service: Exceptional
Price: $7-10
Pie: Yes.

Family House of Pancakes
562 Broadway
Chula Vista, CA 91910

1 comment:

Amish Stories said...

Nice diner review. Richard