Breakfast of champions

Morning Thunder starts the day off with a bang

HE’S A REGULAR Stephen Rose, shown here with server Dee Luna, lives in Magalia but says he drives down to Chico two or three times a week to have breakfast at Morning Thunder Café, he likes it so much.

HE’S A REGULAR Stephen Rose, shown here with server Dee Luna, lives in Magalia but says he drives down to Chico two or three times a week to have breakfast at Morning Thunder Café, he likes it so much.

Photo By Tom Angel

Rolling Thunder: Morning Thunder Café is located at 352 Vallombrosa. It’s open Mon-Fri 6:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and Sat.-Sun. 7 a.m.-2 p.m. No credit or ATM cards

If you’re just talking food, you can’t go wrong with Morning Thunder Cafà. This popular breakfast destination has charmed and satisfied Chicoans for years, and its status as a coveted start-the-day place is almost legendary. A recent trip confirmed: It’s still on top of its game.

Located on Vallombrosa, this hot-spot—often with folks waiting out in front—consistently serves up a breakfast that makes you think you must have laurels upon your head: Only champions could eat so well.

What is it about MT’s bacon? No other breakfast cafà in town offers quite the same sumptuous and tasty bacon; maybe it comes fresh from a farm in Orland. And the omelettes give new definition to the word “fluffy"—on a recent visit, the Denver ($8.50) was not only light but also chock-full of ham, bell pepper, cheddar cheese and tomato. The more esoteric-sounding St. Lawrence and St. Thomas omelettes will require a return trip.

Omelettes come with fried potatoes and a choice of toast, bagel, muffin or biscuit. The potatoes arrived fried to perfection, and the lightly flaky biscuit provided a superbly pleasant departure from toast. If you are health conscious, you can substitute “vegetaters” and egg substitutes or egg whites for a small additional sum.

I wanted to try the poppy seed French toast and a gazillion other things on the menu, including several of the specials posted on the board near the door; however, the portions at Morning Thunder are so grand you can easily split a meal. You’ll have to go back serially to try all of the items you’ll want to sample, including the buckwheat pancakes, which are inimitable.

If it’s lunch you’re after, you’ll find a pleasing set of options, including several different kinds of burgers. And if you simply want a good cup of coffee, Morning Thunder is an exceptional choice—its French roast could please the fussiest kings and queens, and the cafà always provides fresh cream with its java.

Although the food at Morning Thunder is exemplary, the service and atmosphere aren’t as good. Tattoos are fine for those who desire them, but most people who are about to order a meal don’t want to gaze at a tattoo-displaying bare midriff or lower back. Although the servers at Morning Thunder generally have nice stomachs and backs, they need to rethink the bare-midriff look. When you’re trying to decide between, say, an espresso and a latte, it’s distracting to find a tattooed tummy at face level.

Our server was notably polite and helpful, however, if a bit pressured due to the high traffic. She offered suggestions and, after the food was served, checked back to make sure everything needed was on the table. She kept the coffee mugs full, too. But she wasted no time engaging in any light-hearted repartee with us, which we probably would have enjoyed.

While you wait for your order, you can peruse the appreciable local photo art on the walls. A number of recognizable local scenes decorate Morning Thunder’s interior.

Concerning atmosphere, Morning Thunder offers a warm, friendly, convivial ambiance. True to its name, though, the cafà—a small venue that once was a classic drive-in hamburger joint—becomes noisy when it is crowded, which is most of the time. Eating there is reminiscent of breakfast at home with a large and boisterous family. We tried to converse but had to give up when we realized we were practically shouting. As long as you don’t go to Morning Thunder when you have an important conversation in the works (such as proposing marriage or asking for a raise), you’ll be OK.

Just focus on the food, and you’ll feel like a champion.