Cozy little diner
Pitt’s Stop Restaurant6610 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95823
Sacramento has its fair share of quirky, old-school breakfast spots that should be treasured, lest they go the way of the lost, lamented Market Club. There’s June’s Café, home of the Wienie Royal scramble; Aviator’s, where one can watch a Cessna aircraft land while eating a standard two-egg meal; Stagecoach Restaurant, where you can dig the Western décor and also dig into West Coast soul food; and the most kitschy (and perhaps least tasty) of all, clown-crammed Pancake Circus. To this delightful list add The Pitts Stop, in business since 1979.
A dual cowboy-hatted married couple bellied up to the ’70s, brown-tiled counter and debated whether they’ve been eating at Pitts Stop for 37 or 38 of its 39 years. The wall of photos of regulars also testifies to the loyalty of its clientele and also to the food that owner/cook Denise Shelton serves.
Shelton seems to wo-man just about every station, although said regulars sometimes wander behind the counter to refill their own coffee, or in a pinch, offer refills to adjacent tables. One such pinch occurred on my first Saturday visit, when she and the small staff seemed overwhelmed. Almost an hour ticked by between ordering and service. As the apologetic server offered free beverages, the undercooked home fries were an edible indication of the kitchen’s stress. On subsequent visits, the staff was relaxed and the food came out as quickly as scratch-cooked food ever does.
The smoky cream gravy and caramelized exterior on the pork sausage patty in the Country Benedict ($8.50) erase the memory of the underdone home fries, as do hard-crisped hash browns that accompany an airy Pitts Stop omelet ($8.75). This vegetarian omelet is not the least bit waterlogged despite the presence of juicy veggies such as tomato, spinach and mushroom.
Pitts also offers waffles, French toast and pancakes under the charming menu heading “Syrup Delights.” The pancakes likely come from a mix, but a short stack ($5.25) sports requisite lacy edges and fluffy interior.
Breakfast and lunch are both served all day, and Shelton will slightly incredulously grill you a cheeseburger at 6:30 a.m., although she might arrive to open the place right around then, rather than the 6 a.m. listed as the opening time online—early birds beware.
Said cheeseburger ($7.25) is medium-sized, thin-pattied and well salted, topped with American cheese and mayo, on a grilled Wonder-style sesame seed bun. It comes with crunchy, crinkle-cut fries, as does the Pitts Stop Bird ($8.25), and all the other sandwiches. This grilled turkey sandwich on sourdough has seemingly hand-carved slices of bird, thin and crispy bacon and “Swiss” that is actually white processed cheese that adds a gooey, melty blanket. The Chile Verde special ($9.25) can be seen on at least half the tables on weekends, with good reason; the flaky pork shoulder stew is served with a pile of grilled tortillas and topped with eggs of your choice.
It’s hard to be anonymous at Pitts, and you’ll inevitably find yourself in conversation with a customer at an adjacent table, or introduced to Shelton on your first visit as a “new victim.” Visit soon, and make a new acquaintance, with a side of gravy.