Our intent this final morning in San Diego was to go to the original Pancake House. Alas, Sunday morning potterings, the explosion of people in town for Comic Con, and a stubbornness about lines meant I didn’t have the patience to wait 40 minutes for a table.
We went to the Studio Diner instead, a faithful standby. The diner isn’t just a theme diner. It is actually a part of a filming studio. And it was originally built as a set for a film. But the acoustics were so bad, it wasn’t successfully used in the film. Now it’s just a diner.
I got the breakfast called 1-2-3: one pancake, two eggs, three pieces of bacon or sausage.
But hey, check out Ted’s french toast with strawberries and whipped cream! It’s pretty!
Also, Katie pouring syrup on her short stack, short being the ironic word to our visiting Aussie who was still aghast at American portions.
We end with a minor complaint about the sad state of our doily that the creamer packets were served on. Not too crazy about someone else’s coffee stains on MY doily. Nuh uh.
Studio Diner (Kearny Mesa)
We’d walked by PJ’s often when going to the Saturday morning farmers market in Old Town. The dude had a hankering for pancakes and I had a hankering to try something new.
Sometimes it’s better to go with what you know.
We should have cut our losses when we sat at the sidewalk tables for about 15 minutes before the waitresses came out and said, “nobody took your order?” Who else would, but her?
Drew made a comment to me that he could go across the street, buy the ingredients at the market and then walk home to the cook it up faster than our order was going to be taken here.
Food was underwhelming. The pancakes were nothing special, a little spongy. I got the 2 eggs, potatoes, toast and jam dish – opting for homefries and wheat toast. The homefries were literally french fries, chopped up some and then deep fried.
My breakfast, left. Drew’s breakfast, right. Note fists of anger in Drew’s photo.
The only thing that inspired a little hope in me was a hand-written sign on the window that said, “place your tamale orders now.”
PJ’s Boulevard Cafe
Well, I had an excruciating three hours layover at LAX before I could catch my 25 minute flight back to Santa Barbara and the LA Roadhouse was where I opted to spend my extended lunch.
Service came from people with their souls slowly extracted from their bodies. I wish the short campy dude was my waiter. He seemed bitchy, but that spunkiness indicated a slight spark of life.
The food also came out so slowly I actually started talking to the guy sitting at the table next to me who seemed equally disagreeable and we ended up having a fun and interesting conversation. For this piece of coincidence, the Roadhouse gets an extra star.
I ordered the smoked turkey panini. Sorry, they were out of the turkey panini. It was 12:05 lunchtime, how did they already run out. The guy next to me was equally upset because they were out of iced tea! How is that possible? Here’s what to do when you run out of iced tea:
It’s not complicated and they certainly had time to make tea and add ice since our food took 30 minutes to arrive.
So, I grudgingly ordered a burger. “Cheese?” asks the waitress and I say no, and please also no onions. “So nothing on it?” says the waitress and I say I guess so.
She delivers a burger with nothing on it. Like, nothing but a burger patty between the bun. It was dry and miserable.
The man next to me left after barely eating his food because he had a plane to catch. I really hope he made it. A new guy sat down next to me.
After a few minutes of leaving him alone, so he can start getting that nagging suspicion himself that he’s not going to receive food anytime soon, I feel obligated to tell him I hope he’s prepared to wait a while.
My good deed is done for the day.
LA Roadhouse – Route 66
Dorothy’s, where old signs go to die.
Judging by the copious photos on the classic wood veneer walls, Dorothy’s Chuck Wagon cafe has been around for some time. Evidence is backed up by a gumball machine that is so old, the plastic compartment that holds the gumballs has turned such a dark yellow it’s actually hard to see the gumballs. If you want to see it for yourself, it’s in the back, just under the window where food is passed between the kitchen and dining area.
It’s a small establishment, patronized by stalwart American patriots and the working class who’ve made this fine country what it is today by the sweat of their brows. Above the door is a poster of John Deere agricultural products, our tablecloth was John Deere too.
Items of particular note on the menu: Gater sausage “made from ‘Gater” that came with 2 eggs, potatoes or fruit, and choice of biscuit, pancake or toast for $8.25 (I ordered this one). And there was the “Hobo’s Lullaby” that was a sampling of general breakfast items – 1 sausage, 1 bacon, 1 biscuit, 1 egg, etc, for $7.25.
My dining companion got the Pancake Sandwich. Two huge pancakes, two eggs, 2 pieces of extra crispy bacon.
They offer a special menu of flavored coffees, including the flavored coffee du jour. The official flavor of the day was “butterscotch” but I’d have to say that even the standard decaf coffee had a special flavor all its own, called “sludge.”
The waitress of note was fashionably adorned, wearing a girlie babydoll shirt, with matching set of camo shorts and hat. A similarly camo-trousered patron struck up a conversation with her about the highlights from the latest “My Big Redneck Wedding” reality show. I’m not making this stuff up.
So about those signs. You can’t even count the number of signs on the walls, many consisting of old jokes, like “everyone’s entitled to my opinion,” or “my butt jiggling is my way of waving goodbye after I’ve walked away.” Hilarious.
My favorite piece of art was a circular saw blade, painted over with a scene of an idyllic country lake. It’s on the back wall near the gumball machine.
I’ll be back. It’s an experience not to be missed.
Dorothy’s Chuck Wagon