San Diego 'With a donut in each hand, anything is possible."
This is one of the bon mots on the walls here at Yum Yum's. I'm guiltily glooping down a cinnamon donut at the one in Canyon Plaza, up L Street toward the boonies around Otay Lakes. Right now it's 10:30, Thursday morning. Been up since seven.
'Course I could have breakfast here. Yum Yum's is open 24 hours and sells breakfast sandwiches for $2.09 -- but no. I need more. I pop outside and stop the next burly guy going by. 'Cause burly guys always know where to eat.
"Just under the 805, buddy," he says. "Best breakfast deal west of El Centro. Except...it don't open till 11:00."
Man. That's another half hour. I drink another cawfee and wait. Then I take off.
When I get there, I see it's a fifties-looking glass-fronted place. "Canyon Club." "Breakfast/lunch 11:00 a.m. weekdays, 9:00 a.m. Saturdays, Sundays."
Inside's a black bar, tables and stools, a pool table, a juke box. Green walls, green carpet. is just opening. Lady hangs a sign behind the bar that says "Judy." Back in the kitchen area, another says, "Your cook today is Barbara."
"What can I get for you?" Judy asks.
"Breakfast," I say.
"Breakfast okay yet?" Judy calls back to Barbara. They're both middle-aged. It looks like this is their place.
"Sure," Barbara says.
I climb onto a stool at the cushioned counter and Judy hands me a menu with breakfast on one side, lunch on the other. Behind the bar another sign says, "U.M.F. of America."
"What's U.M.F.?" I ask Judy.
"Well, the first word is 'Ugly,'" she says. "You can guess the rest. It's a motorcycle gang. But they're good people. Not troublemakers. They do lots of charity rides. When they come here, the whole lot is a sea of bikes. It's awesome."
is mostly empty, but you can tell this is some neighborhood hangout. The signs, the ladies. Nothing's hard-bitten. Jesse, the guy who'd been checking the draft beer hoses, now sits reading the newspaper and chewing on a snack. A big dude comes in with a gallon-size bottle half filled with brown liquid.
"That's Oscar," says Judy. "He's partner with us here. He makes the salsa every couple of days. It's famous. You decided yet?"
"I'll start off with a coffee."
"Instant. Okay? And to eat? Our biscuits and sausage gravy are real popular."
They're a deal, too. $2.00 a half plate, $4.00 full plate. Omelets are $5.00 for the cheese, $6.00 for the ham and cheese, $6.00 for the Ortega chili and cheese.
The bacon and eggs plate catches my eye. It's $6.00. Sausage and eggs is $5.00, ham and eggs is $7.00, steak and eggs is $8.00." Below is written: "All items above include hash browns, toast, coffee, juice and (1) beer."
My giddy aunt. That must be what the burly guy was talking about.
"What the heck," I say. "I'll go for the steak and eggs."
"Barbara, we have steak out this morning?"
"Uh-uh." Barbara's shaking her head.
"Okay, I'll have the ham and eggs."
"Barbara, we have the ham out this morning?"
"What kind of juice?"Judy asks me. "Orange, cranberry, or tomato?"
They have things like Newcastle Brown, which ain't going to be in this deal. More like Miller, Bud, and Michelob.
"The Amber Bock part of the deal?" I ask.
"Absolutely, hon," Judy says. And pours me an eight-ounce.
Three Wise Men sit at the bar. "These guys have been coming here for 40 years," Judy says.
Steve laughs. Turns out he used to be the owner here. Jon's been coming 22 years, Paul since 1976. "went through a rough patch, but it's great again now," he says. "I've been to England. This is like one of their neighborhood pubs."
My meal comes. Big slab of ham and tasty hash browns. Like they've got Mrs. Dash on them. But add Oscar's fresh-arrowed salsa, and wow.
"Jalapeños," Oscar says. "Yellow peppers, tomatillos, garlic, and salt. That's it. I learned it from my mom. She's from Zacatecas, and one thing we never do is measure. It's all by feel. I guess I'm getting pretty known for the stuff."
You can tell he loves the place. Barbara, too. It kept her busy after she lost her husband to cancer. "Judy and I took this over three years ago," she says. "It gave me a focus. It saved my life, for sure. Best decision we've ever made."
So I do the rounds of my plates: cawfee, Amber Bock, cranberry juice, eggs, hash browns...it's one great combo. But what I like most is the generosity. Seven bucks, and Judy's still offering to refill the cranberry juice.
If this is breakfast, maybe I should stick around for lunch.