The breakfast club
Top spots for ‘the most important meal of the day’
Whether you’re nursing a hangover or just making up for a busy week subsisting on ramen noodles and soda, Saturdays and Sundays are the traditional time in Chico to chill out and chow down.
We Chico veterans have done our share of eating in this fine city and are happy to lend our culinary expertise to all the breakfast neophytes out there. These are the places that helped give us our freshman 15.
Morning Thunder Café • 352 Vallombrosa Ave.
We have friends and relatives from out of town who beg us to take them to Morning Thunder. Never mind the half-hour waits on weekend mornings. Never mind that two people will be lucky to get out for under $20. Students and businesspeople alike crave the Thunder.
The staff never balks at special orders, and we’ve been known to order masses of fried potatoes with topping combinations of our own invention. For a wake-up kick, a Java Shake mixes ice cream and coffee.
First thing, get your name on the sign-up sheet. Then, don’t stray! If you’re not there when they call you, you’re going to go hungry.
Sin of Cortez • 2290 The Esplanade
Many a time we’ve woken up on a Saturday or Sunday morning and pondered: Thunder or Sin? Sin or Thunder? We’re not alone, since the two consistently do battle in the News & Review’s annual readers’ survey for the top breakfast joint.
How do we decide? When we want a gut-busting, calorie-laden orgasm of taste, we choose Thunder. But when we’re feeling lighter in the belly, we opt for the California-style Sin with its breakfast quesadilla, Papas Loco, Eggs Lulu on a croissant or artichoke scramble.
If you’re willing to sit at the counter, you’ll be seated sooner. Otherwise, enjoy the lounge area while they get a coffee drink brewing. Sin, which has owners in common with the Naked Lounge coffee shop downtown, knows its stuff.
Golden Waffle • 701 Main St.
In a town where it’s becoming harder to get a good breakfast for less than $7, or even $8, Golden Waffle is the syrup-shining exception.
At Golden Waffle, which closes at 2 p.m., an omelet or huge stack of pancakes can be had for around $5. Forgo the beverage, and you and your breakfast buddy will be splitting a check of less than $12. But don’t forget to tip. The staff is efficient yet friendly, and the service is fast.
We recommend the pecan waffle or, if you’re yearning for extra nitrates, the bacon-pecan waffle.
Brooklyn Bridge Bagel Works • 117 W. 2nd St.
Our choice for the weekday breakfast-on-the-go has to be Brooklyn Bridge. Not only are the bagels filling, whether you go for the carb-loaded or low-carb option, but they’re also cheap: just over $2 for a bagel with cream cheese.
The cheese-onion bagel with garlic-herb schmear is a favorite, as is the plain bagel with jalapeño. But for a complete breakfast, the Egg McBagel is so tasty we’ll overlook the trademark infringement. Try it with sausage, veggies or other extras, and don’t forget to add a side of potatoes. You’ll still get out for under $5. They have coffee drinks, too.
The Culinary Academy and Café 265 Humboldt Ave.
This up-and-comer is gaining popularity, having been started by a popular local chef/ teacher who wanted to offer food and schooling all in one.
For morning munchers, this means unique takes like smoked pork chops and eggs, a portabella mushroom omelet and French toast stuffed with almonds, orange zest and cream cheese.
It’s on par price-wise with Chico’s best breakfasts ($7 to $9). The academy has a special “on the go” menu for college students, with hand pies, stuffed croissants and breakfast burritos.
Italian Cottage 2234 The Esplanade and 2525 Dominic Drive
Among red-checkered tablecloths, picnic-table-style seating and sawdust-covered floors is a good—and affordable—Chico breakfast. Try the French toast strips.
Word to the wise: if The Esplanade is too crowded, try the one on Dominic.
Jack’s Family Restaurant 540 Main St.
We couldn’t leave Jack’s off our list. The college crowd wouldn’t let us. On any given night (it’s open 24 hours), students can be found eating, drinking coffee and studying in this Chico favorite.
If you’re eating breakfast here, it’s probably at night, so adjust your gut accordingly.
If you’re still hungry:
7th Avenue Omelette House, 7th Avenue and The Esplanade. Attached to Nash’s Restaurant and a favorite of omelet-lovers.
Brunch House, 2201 Pillsbury (the Almond Orchard Shopping Center). They’re proud of their apple-walnut pancakes, served amid a ‘50s dàcor. Prices are comparatively low.
Bunz, 208 Cedar St. For good food and sexual innuendo, try this spot’s Saturday and Sunday brunch, complete with mimosas.
Cafà Flo, 265 East Sixth St. A fresh choice for the early-morning set, Flo’s is catching on as the new hot spot near downtown.
Country Waffles, 690 Rio Lindo and in the Raley’s Skypark Plaza. We’ve been known to head here when Golden Waffle is overflowing. Prices: low. Selection: good.
Chameleon Cafà, 1105 Fifth St. A new addition to the Chico restaurant scene, this spot offers unusual options, such as crepes, in the $8 range.
Russell’s (185 Cohasset Road), Cozy Diner (1695 Mangrove), Kalico Kitchen (2396 The Esplanade). These restaurants, almost identical because of their shared ownership, are where you’ll find penny-conscious college students seated alongside the retired set.
El Patrón Taquería, 1354 E. East Ave. A Mexican restaurant in a breakfast listing? Welcome to the weekend world of chorizo, breakfast burritos and menudo, gringo. l