Bright lights, Rail City

A hangover cure: a Bloody Mary and French toast from City Cafe in Terrible’s Rail City Casino.

A hangover cure: a Bloody Mary and French toast from City Cafe in Terrible’s Rail City Casino.

Photo By Lauren Randolph

Let’s be frank. City Café is not cozy; it’s not original. The food isn’t fresh from the garden, and the coffee isn’t first class. It’s a diner in a casino in Sparks, and that pretty much sums it up. However, it is also a terrific place to go for breakfast on a Saturday morning. The food is great, the service fast and friendly and the atmosphere agreeable. Best of all though, is the bill at the end. City Café offers one of the cheapest breakfasts around, and it’s worth every penny.

The previous night’s socializing with friends had marginally injurious consequences the following morning. And so my husband and I and our two visitors headed to City Café for the kind of greasy spoon breakfast we were all craving: eggs and cheese, pancakes heavy on the syrup, salsa, coffee and a couple of remedial Bloody Marys. Unhappily, most of Sparks had the same idea around the same time, and the place was jam-packed.

While we waited for a table to open up, we wandered the casino. It’s truly remarkable that in such a down economy, there are still plenty of clients for the craps tables and slot machines—even at 10 a.m. We played away an entire dollar, and then took our seats.

Our friends were ravenous and disappeared into the buffet line seconds after being seated. I opted to eat from the menu—buffets generally frighten me. I don’t like the thought of all that food sitting out in the open, sneeze guards or not. But this buffet was different. After quite a while, my husband and I were wondering what was taking them so long. When they finally came back, we were amazed at what they had on their plates: fresh waffles, omelets made to order, coffee cake, and heaps of colorful fresh fruit—and all of this for just $6.95. I immediately regretted my decision not to join them.

My husband and I stuck to the staples. I had a Spanish omelet with four cheeses, onions and salsa ($5.95). It was simple fare, but hot and filling. It came with toast smothered in butter, but our server was so busy that my omelet was almost gone by the time it came. Unfortunately, she was also so busy that the Bloody Mary I ordered when we first sat down was still nowhere to be seen, despite numerous requests. Our waters, though, were frequently filled by a cheerful, smiling, singing fellow. My husband had the French toast (two slices for $3.75/three slices for $4.25) covered in sugary maple syrup. While it was nothing to stand up and shout about—it was typical, moderately thin French toast, most likely made from white bread in a bag—it was still tasty and a good amount for the money.

Although our meals were fine, next time we’ll go for the buffet. For the same money, Greg made three trips, returning each time with yummy looking items that he generously shared with the rest of us, especially the waffles, which were wonderfully fresh and fluffy.

My Bloody Mary finally arrived … just as we were paying the bill. I confess I was annoyed. I almost demanded it be struck from the bill, but instead we shrugged and passed it around for a few quick sips before leaving with full bellies and, even better, full wallets. The drink, although late, was fine, and at $1.50, it pretty well embodied what you get at Rail City—a fantastic value.